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There are very few advantages to having had a lot of birthdays and some gray in your hair, but the big benefit is having a lot of experience and a personal sense of history. In the 40 years I have been shoeing hunters and jumpers, I have witnessed a lot of changes. The biggest is the shift from using ex-racing Thoroughbreds to European warmbloods as the primary breeds.
The shift was supposed to make life easier for all of us. These horses were touted as being sounder, easier to train and better at jumping. The soundness part was a bit overstated. The problem stems from the fact that our modern warmbloods have a lot of modern Thoroughbred in them. This is a problem because the modern Thoroughbred has changed to a finer conformation, with longer pasterns for greater speed. For the Thoroughbred this is not as big an issue, because they are light-framed and their careers are short (sometimes VERY short). But now we have genes for these long pasterns with those for the heavier frames in warmbloods. As a result, over their much longer careers, we seem to see a lot of long-toe, low-heel (LTLH) syndrome.
The second biggest change is the show season that never ends. This means the horses rarely get an extended period to recover from the stress of showing.
In one way, we farriers and veterinarians have almost done too good a job. The responsibility of keeping these horses sound has…