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THE WAY A HORSE MOVES speaks volumes to Leif Erickson. He has been shoeing since 1965 and has taken his own keen sense of observation and honed it to and art that can only be called movement analysis.
A native of Litchfield County, Conn., Erickson has been a horseman since the age of three. For almost three decades, he shod Standardbreds, Thoroughbreds and hunter jumpers in Connecticut before he moved to New Hampshire.
I first met Erickson on a cold winter day at the Donegal Farm in Brookfield, N.H. He had been called in by dressage trainer Susanne Winslade to do an analysis of a Dutch Warmblood mare.
Erickson is not unlike the New Hampshire landscape: understated, honest and possessing a quiet manner of authority. The normally fidgety mare stood calmly under his touch.
He looked at the mare from all possible angles, watching her walk, trot, stand and turn. His hands moved across her top line, down her shoulders, to the sides of her neck and finally down her legs.
After 20 minutes, he paused and glanced towards the trainer.
“Well Leif,” the trainer asked, “what do you think?”
In great detail, Erickson covered every facet of the mare’s movement. He discussed her stance, the angle of her poll and the pinch points he could see in her back.
She was not able to move correctly or in harmony with her frame. He pointed out the lack of bend in her neck and invited us to…