Werkman Spring Games 2013

We’ve been driving a whole day and night from Netherlands to Stockholm and now I’m on the boat from Sweden to Finland. On the boat is an internet connection, so I can post you photos of the great weekend. Then I think I’ll get some sleep in a cabin. A few hours sleep in a car is not really the best way to keep oneself up and running :D

The Spring Games weekend is a combination of lectures, clinics, competitions, and lots of fun! I didn’t have much time to practice after the Nordic championships, but I wanted to have some fun and travel to Holland anyway, so I skipped the tough open class and took part in the student class. I don’t got right now the results with me to write them down here, but hopefully they’ll appear in the Spring Games website.


Steven Beane won the open class. He was with Danny Elliot also having a demo of shoeing a draft. First in the morning you forge the speed class, then shoe one little shire pony in between and straight after that to the final shoeing class. That’s already a tough day, I’d say :)


The weekend included a pot luck class, where farriers made all sort of items they liked to, and the items were auctioned in the end of the day. The auction profit went to the Flying Anvil Fondation. They are educating farriers and helping that way people and animals in less developed countries.


Uno Yxklinten making a unicorn out of a horseshoe.


Dutch men with wooden clogs.



Steven and Sarah.


Competition is hard and incidents happen. Vetle cooling his burned hand in the water. But the grin never disappears. Competing is fun! :D


A careful preparation to contest is important. My competition nails this time :D I try to take care that they are always nice and colourful in competition. For some reason they never look very nice anymore after a couple of classes :D


I had a great time with Norwegians in the “army truck accomodation”. We were six persons in the same room and there were lots of shoes lying around everywhere. Guess which of the shoes are used at work and which are for the dinner :)


The Friesian horses in the final shoeing class.


A line of dead legs to be shod in the student final class. It’s handy to pack the bloody ends to the plastic gloves, but my sense of humour seems to be brutal enough and I can’t help laughing at that sight :)

Neverending winter

I’m leaving today to Netherlands attending Werkman Spring Games. This morning I shod the last horse before doing all packing etc. stuff. 

I checked the weathercast and in Netherlands it has been some days +20 C°. A summerweather. We are not THAT much far North from Netherlands, but the photos under reveal the harsh reality we’re living in here. I have many times suspected the sanity of our ancestors. Why anyone wanted to come this North to live in these conditions? Summer is most lovely and beautiful, but the rest six months of the year…

I hoped so much that I could do at least one shoeing without studs before I leave to Holland. Every spring it is a small celebration and wonderful feeling to nail on the first shoes without studs. Today was not the time for celebration. I still had to put two studs on the heels.


This is the reason why the horse needed the studs. We’re in the middle of April and this is the South coast of Finland! I’ll leave now to Holland and won’t come back before next week when the spring is probably finally here, too.

Natural hoof?

In 2010 I attended a lecture concerning the hoofs and lifestyle of Australian feral horse, Brumby. A more thorough research than ever before of feral horses hoofs had been going on for some years in Queensland University, led by Professor Christopher Pollit. Brian Hampson from the research group visited Finland and I was happy to hear the first hand information of an interesting research. After the lecture I wrote a report based to my notes in my blog in Finnish (The language of the blog was Finnish that time).

Recently something interesting caught my eye. A report of the research, written by C.C. Pollit and B.A. Hampson, has been published in 2011. The report can be downloaded as pdf. The report is meant to spread the information received from the research to veterinarians, farriers and horse owners. The report was quite easy to read and I recommend everyone interested in barefoot trimming or shoeing warmly to read it, at least the conclusions at the end of the report.

In the recent years many people have questioned the necessity of shoeing a horse. By some, shoeing has even been accused to be very harmful for the horses health. There has been admiration towards the wild horses’ lifestyle and the “natural” hoofshape. So far there haven’t been many studies concerning wild and feral horses hoofs. Most of the assumptions made of the wild horses’ hoofs have been based on Jamie Jackson’s research of 107 feral horses (Mustang) in North America.

The more thorough research in Australia showed, that there is no particular “wild horse hoof model”. The hoof shape and condition differs depending on the environment. The life of a feral horse is harsh and the hoofs have lots of abnormalities. If you think a little bit further, it is very easy to understand that it may be possible to survive and breed in some conditions, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that those conditions would be ideal for health and wellbeing. The research of wild and feral horses give valuable information that can be used in developing the wellbeing of a domestic horse, but there is no reason to admire and copy the lifestyle and hoofs of a feral horse as a such.

Shoeing horses is time-consuming and thus expensive. All that effort wouldn’t be spent if there was a better solution than to use a professional farrier to trim and nail on steel shoes. Not every domestic horse needs shoes and it is normal that horses without work or on very light work go barefoot, but very rare are the horses that can fully perform without shoes. At least in Finland where the ground is usually very wearing for the hoofs and we have the icy season when horses need studs and protection on the slippery, rough and hard surface. New materials and solutions are invented all the time but so far every of them have had more disadvantages than the traditional steel shoe.