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Riders are increasingly aware that having a good team around them is an essential ingredient in success. Good farriery is sometimes an overlooked element — until things go wrong. Master farrier Tom Smith’s Elite Farriery offers a practical solution.

Ensuring your horse’s feet are correctly looked after and protected not only helps to prevent injury, but also drastically helps in training and competition, explains Tom Smith AWCF, a master farrier from Hampshire, who is the founder of Elite Farriery. Making an educated, analytical shoeing plan and implementing it using the best materials, equipment and skills will help make those marginal gains that could turn a good dressage score into a great one.

The realisation that small, but educated changes to shoeing, based on crucial rider and trainer feedback could make such a difference came to Tom several years ago. He had been shoeing a grand prix dressage horse for a few years when the rider reported that she was struggling to achieve a good half-pass on one rein. Following careful consideration, the shoeing was changed fractionally, and a massive improvement was observed.

“The degree of improvement was so unexpected it made me wonder what a difference I could make if every millimetre of trim and shoe was considered,” reasons Tom.

Several years on, Tom is offering a specialised bespoke service to riders who appreciate how important attention to shoeing detail is via Elite Farriery. Gathering all information available before meeting the horse gives Tom the ability to offer an in-depth assessment.

“X-rays, veterinary history, past competition results, rider feedback and other professionals’ opinions piece together to help create a picture of where strengths and weaknesses lie,” he says.

: Tom watches a horse move in hand

Tom watches a horse move in-hand alongside Sarah Oppenheimer at her Hampshire yard

Before shoeing, Tom watches the horse move in-hand and under saddle, often using gait analysis to help assess finer movements. All this information is used to compile a detailed shoeing plan for Tom to implement.

Taking time after shoeing to assess the alterations is also key. “It’s so important to assess the changes we’ve made, and add this to the subsequent shoeing plan to ensure we continue to progress,” he says.

He places emphasis on working not just with the horse’s feet, but the whole team to enable horse and rider to compete at the highest possible level.

For more information, please visit elitefarriery.co.uk or call 07948 238056 to discuss your requirements with Tom.

Tom to create a shoeing plan

Exploring any areas of weakness helps Tom to create a shoeing plan. Dannie Morgan works Southern Cross Braemar prior to shoeing.

“The combination of feedback, observations and team problem-solving is so important in achieving the best outcome,” he says.

Working closely with professional owners and riders enables Elite Farriery to take more time to understand each horse, finding ways to complement them for the task they are required to do. Through this business model, Tom is able to offer the service discerning owners and riders have been looking for.

Through both sponsorship and shoeing, Elite Farriery is currently supporting 26-year-old old eventer and dressage rider Dannie Morgan, who rides for the Oppenheimer family, among others.

“The analysis and depth of understanding Tom at Elite has is vital,” says Dannie. “It’s making a real difference to my horses in training and competition.”