Friday, December 6, 2013

Some great reviews...

Without reservation, I heartily recommend "The Littlest Racehorse." Juell has an encyclopedic knowledge of the racing industry and is a great storyteller. Helluva read!


Mares, Foals &Ferraris: Recollections of a Farmer in the Sport of Kings (Paperback) A. Allen Juell's "Mares, Foals, and Ferraris" had me ricocheting between continuous chortles and great, guffawing, belly laughs until I had tears rolling down my cheeks. His always witty, often pithy, and sometimes poignant observations on his accidental career as a farm manager, and the inner conspiratorial life of thoroughbreds, their owners, and other animals (some human!) that share their orbit will take you by surprise, just as though you had run into Dick Francis and OE Sommerville Ross in the company of the gang from The Cuckoo's Nest. A magnificent first novel and sure winner for horsemen and non-hosemen alike, it will make everyone wish they had a cat of undetermined gender as an advisor and confidant while muddling through the maze of love, malignent farm equipment, and the inevitable tragedy that can change one's life in unsuspected and permanent ways. This is a must for the reader on your holiday gift list.


The Littlest Racehorse (Paperback) I found this book to be an enjoyable mixture combining historical and personal events, real horsepower and heart. The novel crosses historical, young adult and general fiction genres as it recreates the confusion and tension of the Cuban Missile Crisis and its aftermath in the lives of everyday Americans, weaving personal crisis with the chaos of national crisis.

The story is a forthrightly-told account of horrific incidents and events in lives of two children, Emily and Josh, and the grownup people and situations they are forced to deal with. The story opens the morning of the Missile Crisis’ commencement, and immediately establishes rapport with the two children the novel’s events revolve around. Events trigger great change in the children’s lives, involving along the way a spurned ‘little’ horse that helps to bond them to a new life.

Family tragedy tests old bonds and brings new ones, and readers are brought along on a journey of change and regrowth ... finishing with conclusion that is both page-turning and heart-warming.

The book treats the subject of horses with mature understanding and humor ... not always glowingly but lovingly all the same. One of the book’s highlights is that readers are treated to an accurate and honest view of the horse industry.

Surprises in the book run the scale from twists and reversals of fate to the emotional high points that suddenly bring real feeling out. Mirrors to others’ experiences spring up in the writing. This is a layered work that meanders into unexpected places we recognize from another angle.

There is a style to the story and it not completely even; there are stories within the story that grow distinct and at times the mix becomes a tangle. The eddies form part of the experience ... as with life the story’s digressions and observations of reactions to events play a larger part than the events themselves. At times the author invites readers to find their own thoughts, not to simply read and record.

There is a lot going on in “The Littlest Racehorse,” between historical glimpses, realistic equine portrayals, and a faithful undercurrent of morality and meaning under examination. Those familiar with the author’s work will recognize Juell’s whimsical, sardonic tone and his sudden insights that become the purpose of the journey even as we are narrated through larger events.

The story changes pace and direction and comes back again, until the heartwarming end pages fire a series of scenes with real emotion and joy ... and you realize the characters have grown in your affections, and that you have not only enjoyed the characters’ story but have remembered forgotten parts of your own.

The author with his aging war-horse, Rocinante...leaving for somewhere.
Signed copies available: or PM via Facebook.
Gosh that sounds silly....

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving revisited...



Excerpted From:

     As the holidays approach, I tend to get a little retrospective.  Or maybe introspective, or even overly inspected by potential in-laws who figure they can avoid a messy divorce by killing one of the potential nuptials.  A few cold nights spent staring into the hypnotic flames of a fireplace converts quiet solitude into a stupid quest for the meaning of life.  The cat’s already figured it out anyway:  eat, drink and shred things.  Me, I think it’s carbon-monoxide poisoning precipitated by a wood stove left over by the Pilgrims.  Either way, the two of us sit and gawk at the flames, enamored by the warmth and all those unanswered questions the millennium have produced.  Eventually, he lays a claw into my thigh clarifying the whole situation.  This cat has connections that I don’t even want to think about.

     Fall is tough because it launches itself midway between summer’s last exhale and the cryogenic handshake of Ol’ Man Winter, so successful in this state that he was able to take early retirement.  Some genius also fooled around with the clocks and I have it on good authority that it was a cartel of Candy Corn producers in Georgia and the American Dental Association.  It’s no accident that the meddling starts the day before Halloween.  An extra hour of sugar extortion is worth about $14 billion in annual profits, a third of which is funneled directly into the cavity industry.

    Even so, we don’t get too many trick-or-treater's visiting the farm.  The driveway is about a half mile long and runs through a primordial forest.  It is full of all kinds of lurking creatures and strange shadows, most created by our gang of wolves on a chicken hunt.  The dogs don’t normally collect children, but they might go for the Hershey bars.  Since Doc was a veterinarian, post-assault stomach pumping is readily available if their natural tendency toward bulimia fails them.  Still, only the bravest pirate, ghost or ballerina-bat-girl would ever make it to the front door.  Those that overcame the forest and the boogey man earned a cab ride back to the street.

      On a farm, molesting a clock causes dinner to be late.  Horses respond by immediately forming a revolutionary council, donning berets and storming the nearest radio station.  Since nobody knows what the hell they are talking about, the government remains secure.  Peace is restored by reverting back to Daylight Savings Time, which, unbeknownst to my gang of outlaws, means that I get to sleep in while they wonder what in the hell happened to their waiter.  One more piece of evidence as to why we’re at the top of the food chain.  We control time.

      In spite of the clock, projectile hairballs, and carbon monoxide poisoning, I do dwell on esoteric principles when they pop to the surface right before I finish my second beer.  Yeah, I’m kind of a lightweight, so the beer buzz arrives before the first bathroom trip.  Reincarnation is one of my favorites.  It’s the perfect compromise.  Golf every Sunday morning, prime rib instead of tofu and those trips to the beach that have more to do with blood pressure than a good tan.  Well, someone else’s tan.  It’s the perfect arrangement:  no guilt!  You don’t get it quite right in this life, then you get to come back and screw it up all over again!  No fifteen-yard penalties, no stern lectures from the big guy and no vacationing in purgatory.  Most importantly, no regrets about going to heaven and finding out that most of your friends took the second option.

      I have given reincarnation a lot of thought lately.  Two reasons really.  The first is that with my kind of résumé, a future career of any kind seems unlikely.  The second is how this job has aged me over the past year.  I’m pretty sure it is a mid-life crisis even though my doctor insists I’m only 24 years old.  I tell him I'm a Thoroughbred farm a manager and all he does is grunt and make copious amounts of notes during the appointment.  Finally, he tilts his glasses a little further down his nose and asks, "So...what do you think about the third race at Hialeah?  I'm thinkin' Twinkleears. She's 30-1 in the morning line."  Yeah, more Prozac.   

      Meanwhile, I’m deluged with television commercials for calcium tablets and oat bran while the salesman from Modern Maturity camps out at my mailbox.  Suddenly I see a crinkled old man, humped over one of those aluminum four-legged walkers, trapped in the middle of a crosswalk while the LA riot police battle with a horde of latte-crazed commuters with no air-conditioning.  I’m trapped there with an artificial hip, nitro tablets in the left shirt pocket and a few bored paramedics taking bets on when the old fart will drop.  Just the other day, while shaving, I was positive I saw one of those age spots – right next to a gray hair.  It turned out to be leftover gravy, but the image in the mirror wasn't lying.  The big thirty was just around the corner; another old stallion about to be driven from the herd and I hadn’t even decided on burial or cremation.  Old, flatulent, decrepit – forced to eat day-old bread and cat food.  Cat food?  Next thing would be that dreaded magazine subscription.  Ever thought about that title?  It’s the life-support-system-of-the-month club.  With each subscription, you get an oxygen tent, 50% off on colostomy bags and a video on four-way bypasses.  Never mind the special on sex toys.  Nobody ever orders them because dementia has set in – we’ve heard the word ‘sex’ somewhere, but can’t remember why or if we had that for dinner last night.  Hell, we can’t even find our teeth because we can’t see without our glasses and if help arrives we can’t hear the doorbell because we can’t find our glasses in order to locate our hearing aid which we’re pretty sure is sitting next to our teeth.  The closest thing to sex is the Pekingese down the hall that humps an orderly’s leg, or maybe it’s just a large rat eating Mrs. Eddington’s left foot.  Hard to tell with cataracts in both eyes.  A doctor finally shows up.  “Good news Mr. Reynolds, it’s not Alzheimer’s, just senility!  Mr. Reynolds?  I’m over here, Mr. Reynolds.”

      I skipped the third beer and got on the phone.  “Hey Jess.  Got a question for you.”


     “It doesn’t involve horses, just a quick question.”

     “It better be quick.  I’m in bed.”

      “Are you sick -- you need something?  It’s like 6:30.”

      “I’ve got horrible cramps.  You know.”

      Great!!  There is hope!  It’s not menopause!  “Geez, I’m sorry, anything I can get you?”

      “No.  My doctor said I should go on the pill.  She said it would reduce the severity of them.”

      “Really?”  I was suddenly somewhere between heaven and a transmission problem.  “Listen, do you think I look older, or like getting decrepit or something?”  I didn’t dare explore the ramifications of birth control.  I’d write Ann Landers in the morning.  Wow, her doctor was a her.  Every doctor I had ever seen was an old fat dude that always said, “Cough.”  I knew it was a hernia test, but shit?  Even if I had pneumonia…?


      “I found some gray hair.  I was starting to think that life is kinda skipping away.  Maybe it’s the job, I don’t know.”

     “You’re twenty-four, sometimes going on twelve.  You look fine.  You could even look cute if you wanted to...I mean...never mind.  And it’s slipping away, not skipping.  What’s this about?”

     “I could look...cute?”

     “I want to take a nap...please?”


     “Polo shirts.  Good-bye!”

     Back to reincarnation.  Most days, I’d like to come back as a rock.  Sort of sit around the Himalayas and watch mountain climbers run out of oxygen.  Other times I have a certain desire to be an opossum.  It’s such a simple existence – you are born, make a beeline for a busy highway and boom!  Off to life number three.  Not even enough time to develop a bad habit or two.  But, given my experience, I think the best option is to come back as a broodmare:  a fat, expensive one.  Oh, you were thinking maybe Nijinsky?

     Some folks might question such a choice, opting for something like Julia Robert’s mirror or Tom Cruise’s lips – maybe the obvious, a stallion, but just maybe they are missing the point.  Most broodmares live a pretty corrupt life.  They start by being born a female, which I guess is a prerequisite for the job.  Once that part is finalized, they go through the usual pre-puberty junk; make-up, frustrating boys, getting their ears pierced or some other part of their anatomy.  Then, it is off to college, the equivalent of two semesters at Vassar, only sweatier.  You know, twice around the track and then fall back on your upscale family connections.  Or, in the odd case, actually win a big race named after a governor that managed to die before the grand jury got hold of him.  That really seals the deal.  Five minutes after the photo shoot, the mare develops a walk like Matt Dillon’s sidekick – and no, not Miss Kitty, but off to the farm just the same.  Either way, that forces everybody in upper management to do the sensible thing:  they pack her bags, cancel the Mint Julep party and try to get the broad married off before American Express figures out why the payment is late.  Miss Potential has a brief and fiery romance (not the kind the Surgeon-General had in mind), and is plopped, with somewhat glowing hormones, into a forty-acre field with her name on it.  And she doesn’t even have to come up with a damage deposit.  There she sits for eleven months, sigma delta whoopee as a graduate of the Peter Principle – the severance package already tucked safely in the bank.  If I could sprout an ovary, I’d get in line, but I think I’m stuck with the rock request.

     Oh, the stallion choice?  Two problems.  First, you spend most of your life being led around with a stud chain under your upper lip by a guy holding a baseball bat designed to curb your enthusiasm.  Secondly, if your first crop of foals are duds, then you get demoted to a ‘teaser.’  I’m already in that kind of a relationship so turning it into a career doesn’t seem like a smart choice.

     Now I know that Shirley MacLaine has her own ideas on reincarnation.  Working out past conflicts, traveling up and down the existential ladder, really complicated stuff.  She could be right, but then again, she could be wrong.  And as much as I’d like to come back as General Patton’s favorite jeep, it might be a lot safer in that forty-acre field.  I’ll get back to you on the labor pain thing.


     November concludes with something called Thanksgiving.  It’s a holiday that supposedly focuses on positive thoughts, copious amounts of cardiac-flawed food and the death of 280,000-odd birds that as a group, are far too stupid to figure out that an oven is a bad place to hide.  “Hi, this is Foster Farms, wondering if you guys could drop by for cocktails?  Great!  Hey, could you pick up some stuffing?”  The snickering comes later, not to mention the cranberry sauce.

     We all have this image of the Pilgrims – overdressed, somewhat plump people that seemed to get their clothes at K-Mart.  They always had a few Indians standing around looking passive, but intent on butchering the whole bunch after dessert.  The Indians weren’t stupid.  Quaint perhaps, but they had already met the Vikings so they had a fair idea of what to expect from tourists.  They also knew that this bunch of idiots didn’t seem to know the difference between an ear of corn and a parakeet.  Sadly, the Pilgrims persevered through that first winter, quite contrary to what the Indians had hoped.  Next thing they knew, the place had been renamed Manhattan and sold to Donald Trump.  The Indians never could fathom the real estate business.  It was like selling the sky.  The land had no intention of going anywhere, so why would someone need to own it?  Or build a fence around it.  Was the land going to escape?  Run away perhaps?

     Chief Joseph of Idaho’s Nez Perce described it best:  “The white man comes to my house and wants to buy my horses.  I say, ‘No, I need my horses.’  So he goes to my neighbor and buys my horses from him.”

     Dynasties do come and go.  Most don’t go quietly.  The quiet departures are those accomplished through population transfers.  They get less media attention than outright genocide and manage to accomplish about the same thing.  It is how a majority becomes a minority without ever leaving home.  Goes a long way to explain why Tibet has a 54% Han Chinese majority.  Beijing’s response?  “Oh, they’re just migratory labor.”
     So, the problem is not enough buses.
     One day the great American dynasty will join the ashes of the long dead pharaohs of Egypt’s great kingdoms.  Archaeologists and anthropologists will be left to pick through the rubble, noting with astonishment that this civilization had 187 different kinds of cars.  Nothing else, just the cars.  And nobody knew where they drove off to.

     The only bright spot in American expansionism was when Custer scratched his head and said, “I think we have a problem here.”  Well, it was probably more like using the ‘F’ word as a noun, verb and adjective in the same sentence, but I’m trying to keep my ratings intact.  “Holy something!” is quite likely a more accurate declaration of the situation at hand.  I’m pretty sure a lot of turkeys can relate to that image especially if they hang around Wal-Mart the week before the big day.  But that’s the bewildering part about American culture – we seem to be always celebrating somebody’s bad luck, even our own.  What’s the difference between Thanksgiving and Pearl Harbor Day?  And who honestly believes that George Armstrong Custer got a bad deal?


     Jesse was still working at shotgun Earl’s down the road, no doubt plotting my embarrassment at some future sale.  That in itself was almost a given, since the owners of her place of employment didn’t have to invest large sums of money preventing a divorce that had no likelihood of happening anyway.  Doc was into preventative medicine:  a few Cadillac’s, the revolving account at an upscale jewelers and gassing up the old 727.  Cheaper than three guys with briefcases.  Ah, but there was more.  An affirmation that odd couples seem to make the best couples.  Depending of course on just what kind of odd you find appealing.  So given that…

      …I decided to ask Jesse over for Thanksgiving dinner.  By phone.  They’re safer.

      “You’re going to actually cook something?”

     “Yeah, four or five rats, those green beans in the freezer, maybe pheasant if the cat comes through.  I’m thinkin’ of something traditional, you know, forage around the old farm and see what I can catch.”

     “The green beans?  They were in the freezer when I met you.  What’s this foraging stuff?  Safeway’s right down the road.”

     “Well, I thought Thanksgiving should be about giving thanks, enjoying the bounty of the land.”

      “You’ve been watching the Discovery Channel again.”

     “Actually, Walt Disney World.  You know, I only get a couple of channels.  What about that turkey farm over the hill?  We could pick out a bird, whop its head off – like the old days.  Sounds kinda like something people do on a farm.”

     “Sounds kind of sick.  Besides, who’s going to eat the thing?  And you’ve got way too much of this farm thing going.  ‘Ol’ MacDonald’ raises racehorses.  We’re in the entertainment business in case you haven’t noticed.  Is your family coming?”

     “No, I’m saving them for Christmas.  ‘Sides, I don’t do family stuff.  We’ll eat it.”

     “I’m a vegetarian.  What about your sister?  Seems I heard somewhere you had a sister.  And that trip to eastern Oregon?  The old lady in the shoe?”

     “Since when?  And I might point out that honesty and Oregon aren’t mutually inclusive.”  Only good comeback I’d had in months.

     “Which when?  And I don’t want to rehash that.”

     “The vegetarian when.”  First signs of crinkling here.  The nose.  I can actually hear it over the phone.  It’s a male skill – one of the few.

     “Since my cramps got so bad.  The doctor said too much protein might be a problem.”

     Oh God, the cramp thing again.  Why couldn’t it be a bicep?  She uses this menstrual process like a turn signal.  “Okay, so Emily and I’ll eat it.”

     “She’s on a diet!”

     “She’s a shark for God’s sake!  She eats bugs!  What about Diet-Coke Sue’s Pit bull?”

     “Shot by the Humane Society last month.”

     “Oh yeah.  Sad deal.  What about your mother?”  Damn.  I hate it when anger and enthusiasm get together.  Makes the line go dead.

     “Let’s not go there.  You want to murder a turkey, be my guest.  I’m going to cook some eggplant.  You can come over if you want.”  Click.

     Eggplant?  One of those purple footballs with a bunch of Kleenex inside?  No giblet gravy, no wishbone to break, no quart of Pepto-Bismol afterwards?  That’s not a holiday, it’s sacrilege!  Besides, what’s the turkey going to think?  Last rites, halfway to the gallows, at peace with the world – then boom, the rug gets pulled out!  The poor bugger will be in therapy until next November.  It’s not fair!

     Over the years, I have gathered up a lot of stuff to be thankful about.  Skipping the eggplant has just been added to the list.  Most have involved physical carnage and a severe lack of personal discretion.  Okay, so it’s a 50/50 split between women, power tools and horses, but I’m still pretty relieved about the results, just a bit confused about who’s grading the exams.  I’ve been hit by a train, fallen off a motorcycle a few times, out of a car at 45mph (that was in the ‘woman’ category – a 70/30 split of opinion on whether I got to stay), a minor thing with a roll-over accident involving a ’57 Chevy, a console TV (first one that had color) and an Irish Setter.  The dog was driving.  Then there were the ‘tree falling’ episodes, a couple of minor drowning’s and a small problem with plugging my transistor radio into the dryer outlet.  Still a little confused about drowning twice.  Not sure if it’s legal since drowning is normally a fatal activity.  I think the confusion lies in the fact that they invented CPR and didn’t bother to check with the English department at Yale for a new adjective.  Something like, ‘nigh upon drowning,’ but saved.

     I also discussed Paulette, so the only remaining question is why I am sharing this.  I guess it’s Jesse.  She has a way of dragging confessions out of people.  She missed her calling.  She should have gotten a job as either Father O’Malley, or lead fingernail puller on a federal interrogation team.  Or, maybe both – get to the truth and then confirm the confession with a pair of pliers.  I guess that explains the look in her eye sometimes.  I’m dating a mercenary who eats eggplant.

     A lot of my recent near-death experiences have naturally been associated with horses.  Or caffeine.  Most are well documented by the hospital up the road.  A few went unreported since they would have led to prolonged incarceration.  Like the yearling with its head caught in the gate.  He was the one with the motorcycle gang attributes.  I first pictured him as the ‘Flying Nun,’ racing toward heaven with me in tow, but he merely backed up, depositing the gate on my head.  I could picture the headlines the next day:  “Horse Kills Man with Gate, Then Itself.”  Pictures at eleven.

     I guess, given the state of the world, I should be thankful.  War, famine, genocide, dislocation.  The very fiber of life ripped away whether it happens to be a holiday or not.  And here I’m having a conflict over turkey versus eggplant.  I guess I could try the purple stuff, but I’m going to keep some Tabasco sauce handy.  Or maybe hide a ham sandwich in the truck.  And the turkey?  Okay, I’ll get him a bus ticket to Canada.  Maybe he can ask for asylum.
     ‘Tree falling episodes?’  When I was pretty young, I tended to fall out of trees a lot.  Usually around nine or ten o’clock at night.  We were pretty lucky in that there were at least seven different emergency rooms around the area to deal with tree fallers.  Mother liked to share our business I guess, since we never went to the same one twice.  Usually it was minor stuff – a broken arm, maybe a rib, a few stitches or something.  I was a sleepwalker, she told them.  Fooled her.  I was awake the whole time.

     Eggplant?  God.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"I'm Back!"

After a brief cross-country foray....
In which I discovered the true meaning of 'inner happiness' for Chevron, Union 76 and Mobile -- we're safely ensconced in Racine, Wisconsin checking the classifieds for some new body parts.
Will have new ordering information on-site soon, or really, you could just e-mail me. Electronic versions a work in is most of my life lately AND...
I am teaming up to hold clinics in the Greater-Chicago area on:
 "Having Fun With People Who Think Their   Horse Actually Likes Doing Dressage!"
Xmas is coming, so buy a book.  God knows, it is not the first time you've wasted money on absolute nonsense.

Monday, September 16, 2013

So, You Want to be a Show Farrier...

Horse shows are serious business and fun too...well, they can be!

[Bold/ital. is annotated and/or updated from original -- 1988]

From the Archives:
November, 1988
                                                      Somewhere in the long history of horsedom, the American Horse Shows Association (AHSA) decided that show farriers needed to be an integral ingredient for a successful show.  They probably came to that conclusion in the same manner as the Crusaders -- when they discovered that riding from Central Europe to Jerusalem might require a farrier or two.  And, as many of today's classical disciplines evolved from the needs and demands of mounted cavalry, the idea kind of stuck around.  However, much of the American regulatory system (horse show rules), changed in 2001 with the merger of the various sport organizations, including the AHSA under the broader umbrella of the United States Equestrian Federation, (USEF):

"In 2001 the American Horse Shows Association changed its name to USA Equestrian, to better designate the member organization it had become. With more than 80,000 individual members, more than 2,700 member competitions, and 100 affiliate organizations, the Federation oversaw 26 breeds and disciplines of competition.
In 2003 USA Equestrian and the United States Equestrian Team developed a new organization, a single unified family woven together from the many parts of equestrian governance and leadership.

The primary objective remains the same, to uphold the welfare of horses, regardless of value, as a primary consideration in all activities. The United States Equestrian Federation requires that horses be treated with kindness, respect and the compassion they
 deserve; and never be subjected to mistreatment. The United States Equestrian Federation ensures that owners, trainers, and exhibitors or their agents use responsible care in handling, treating and transporting of their horses as well as horses owned and placed in their care for any purpose.
An extensive awards program with an incredibly large and beautiful trophy collection is the pinnacle of excellence many strive to reach. The USEF Rule Book has become the definitive guide to equestrian competition and the Drugs and Medications office, a cornerstone to the Federation’s regulatory process, is copied world wide."  From: USEF Home Page.

Of course, the addition of an on-site farrier to sanctioned shows was sometimes viewed as an added financial burden to management -- one of many unseen costs of running a show.  However, the AHSA (and show management), bowed to the demand for all 'A' rated shows, or shows with 'A' rated divisions.  Much like the racetrack, this rule required that a show have a farrier on the grounds and available during all hours of show operation.  For lesser rated shows, it is considered a 'courtesy only,' one that most managers have come to accept as one of many necessary benefits afforded the competitors; i.e., the paying customers.  In many respects, exhibitors are virtual prisoners of a show until its conclusion, and the possibilities of finding the necessary help in an unfamiliar area may negate the entire purpose of the entry fee -- the ability to show.  Thankfully, that is a rare occurrence today.

Since breeds, disciplines and classes vary greatly, it goes without saying that shows within a specialty should try to obtain a farrier familiar with that discipline.  It is completely counter-productive to employ an Arabian show farrier at a hunter show -- no different really than employing a brain surgeon to operate on a bunion -- NOT because of any perceived level of competence, but because every discipline has its nuances, styles and specific needs.  But regardless of specialization, the top requirement is experience.  Horse show management is often tempted to negotiate the day fees for farriers based on the old adage, "Oh, the exposure will be great for you!"  But will it be so great for that captured audience trying to convert those high entry fees into ribbons or cash?  Not likely.

Retainers, or day-fees should be assessed to management according to the requirements of the individual show.  Hours/days of operation, mileage, food, motel accommodations (if needed), inventory additions and most importantly, the number of entries -- i.e., the number of horses on the grounds.  It is also to critical to outline YOUR needs clearly;  access to electricity, suitable shoeing area, protection from the weather, maybe a psychiatrist on staff.  Since farriers do have the capacity to generate income at shows, these fees are considered 'day money' and can be regulated by past experience at a particular show -- even by simple intuition.  Another factor to determine is how being away at a show may or may not have an impact on your stationary business at home. But to be realistic, these 'day fees' are NOT designed to compensate you for the loss of regular wages -- rather the incidentals associated with the responsibilities demanded.  And today, these mutual needs have evolved considerably along with the sports in general.  More on that later.

However, it is also important to realize that while many horse shows are in a sense underwritten for one charity or another, the show itself is a profit-generating entity and as such, a farrier is not duty-bound to support any cause via their labors.  What they do with those profits is entirely up to them.  That is of course, simply an option and really up to the individual farrier to determine on his/her own.  The rules that apply under the USEF regulations are forced compliance for the show itself -- not for whatever supporting staff the event may require.  But don't smile too wide, you are still on the hook with the Stewards.  We'll get to that.

All official show farriers should receive or request a written contract in advance, outlining clearly each party's responsibilities, fees and acceptable options.  Very often, a farrier may have an apprentice or assistant cover portions of the day or handle the more remedial repairs...lost shoes, stripped caulks, etc., things that must be accommodated according to class schedules.  Major work can be referred to off-show hours.  The main thing is that farrier and management must be on the same page -- and the terms of any contract be honored, whether you shot yourself in the foot or not.  The bottom line is that I have never seen an 'A' level show shut down because the farrier went missing, but formal complaints by competitors CAN result in a show losing its accreditation.  Which means if it is your face that will show up on the milk you might want to look for work in another state. Because you will quickly come to realize just how small the horse world has become for you.

As stated earlier, the census (number of horses on the grounds), will determine the nature and practicality of the arrangement or contract.  Conceivably, a single farrier could handle an indoor show of up to 500 total entries -- an outdoor show (say, jumping), that figure would be reduced.  Footing and traction needs (not to mention the experience level of competitors), could stretch a person pretty thin. [Note: Given the nature and expansion of the high-discipline sports; notably hunters, jumpers and eventers, that figure could easily be 1500-2500 horses on the grounds, as the trend nowadays in these sports is what can best be described as 'stationary circuits.'  Wellington, in Florida would be a prime example of this trend.] 

Since show farriers are an extension of management, behavior, appearance and professionalism should the rule of the day.  Though not a suit and tie undertaking by any means, every effort should be made to project a positive image -- not only for the competitors, but for the general public as well, remembering that you are also representing your trade.  Every show will have its difficult people, impossible scenarios and unrealistic expectations, which means you are going to need an extra bag of patience.  So don't leave it at home.

Have fun...but maybe not this much fun!

NOT horseshow attire!
However, one thing show farriers CAN leave at home is their opinions. Appraising the inequities of other farriers or the shortcomings of an approach to a particular problem is basically unethical, even if requested, coerced or demanded.   And of course this gets a little problematic on a number of fronts.  The  key here is in who is asking the questions?  Just like the racetrack, horse shows demand confidentiality by visiting sub-contractors; which is really your definition -- meaning outside of a particular horse's 'loop.'  Because like racing, every horse on the grounds is potentially for sale and you are now in the realm of 'priveledged information,' which doesn't equate to you having a right to it.  Just like the real world of human medicine (HPPA)...horses (via owners) have an unwritten right to a degree of privacy;  violate that trust and a trainer that personally pull your lungs out through your nose.  Often at shows, the farrier attracts an audience of all types. So in proper racetrack etiquette, every horse is now named Brownie and that is about all you know. Save any discussions for the owner, trainer or consulting veterinarian privately if needed. Never be afraid to assert that conviction, as it is one of the finer points of professionalism.  And beware of those amateurs that every barn seems to enjoy -- the ones that love to go over the trainer's head on a regular basis:

"I just know he is sore somewhere!"
"No ma'am, it is just that you can't ride."

Don't believe horse shows are serious business?
Ask George.
Conservatism should rule in all services performed.  A horse show is a very poor environment in which to test a new theory or overly market your perceived skills.  Stick a horse at 8:05, by 8:10 even the janitor will know about it.  Be willing to leave a little extra foot, use a little lower nail; let caution dictate.  Outside of the racetrack, a horse show is the biggest excuse factory on the planet and the farrier is often the most convenient target for unmet expectations.  If a dispute should arise, request an immediate meeting with the show veterinarian, the steward and the principles involved.  Often that request alone will either diffuse the situation or reveal the real truth in the matter.  Do not merely accept the situation as the opinion of a moron.  Morons have mouths.

Thankfully today, that is a rare occurrence, attributable to a higher degree of professionalism on all sides, and what you could call a standardization of thinking in certain disciplines; really, a matter of style rather any significant differences in approach to the actual shoeing needs.  This has a lot to do with both the increasing quality of horses out there, but the fact that the better advances in style, technique and adaptation tend to travel with the shows.  And for farriers, this is a real-time classroom for seeing how other farriers handle similar shoeing needs and issues.  Want to see the top shoeing?  Then pay attention to the top horses.  They didn't end up there by accident.   

Occasionally, difficult or high-risk procedures come up at shows.  Not the place for them, but accidents and unforeseen circumstances do occur most anywhere.  They too require a cautious approach and in many cases, sufficient history is missing, unknown or undependable. Basically, if the horse is done showing anyway and NOT at imminent risk for aggravating the situation;  or perhaps maybe your comfort level is a little lacking, for whatever reason -- walk away. You are obligated to service the show, not to explain it later to that other kind of judge -- the one in the black robes.  Same with a pre-purchase that may take place at a show.  Pull the shoes, put them back on with the same nail holes. Do not get cute if you are not acquainted with the principles involved.

Since the AHSA (now USEF) publishes rules, know them as they pertain to the particular breed, show or discipline.  DO NOT ASSUME.   And under no circumstances engage in anything illegal, unethical or even close to questionable.  The cemeteries are full of ego-centric dead heroes. Try not to join them. Be aware too, what jurisdiction the show is operating under; particularly in the case of USEF vs. FEI -- the latter becoming more common in the continental United States, the result of an upsurge in international competition. (Dressage, jumping and 3-Day.)  Be aware too of what may contaminate your hands, tools or lying around in your truck.  Cross-contamination can be a problem and since many horse products are not registered or identified (as to contents), these can easily be transferred to the horse.  While this remains fairly rare, the sophistication of today's testing leaves little to chance, particularly under the tighter rules of the FEI.  And leave the syringes at home.  What did you say?  Yes. I also managed a Thoroughbred breeding farm, kept medications, etc. in the truck.  AND ended up having to explain myself to a Steward.  It happens.   

Come prepared.  Bring your imagination and what ever MacGyverish tools are at your disposable.  Also consider the hours involved, the weather conditions and the likely inability to drive down to McDonald's for lunch.  During my show years my shop was a step-van...including refrigerator, microwave, coffee machine, TV and if I could have added a hot tub, I would have considered it.  Also folding chairs and extra clothes.  Half of the people that will show up at your tent will be grooms.  Give them a chair, something cold to drink and a chance to relax for a minute.  They are the hardest working people on the grounds after you, and probably paid a lot less.  So be a gracious host.

Collections are not as difficult as they might seem.  As a general rule, individuals pay at the time of service; barns will generally run a tab and close it at the end of the show.  In all my years around the jumper circuits I have never lost a dime.  Perhaps others have, but these shows/circuits are really a traveling community and as such, we're never strangers on the road.  Be a little flexible, understand that kids sometimes show without parents, purses and wallets are locked in tack trunks or cars...collect personal information if necessary, but always remain professional.  And nowadays, have a credit card reader. Even if you lose a percentage or two...the money is in the bank, not the mail.  It is how people do business nowadays.  And oddly, it attracts tips for timely and good work. 

Lastly, controlling the shoeing environment and the competitors themselves.  If behavior problems arise. whether human or equine, remember that tact is more powerful than force.  Fractious horses should be returned to the barn area for work, or a more competent handler found.  The act of disciplining a horse is compounded tenfold in a horse show environment.  If the situation really calls for a ten-minute meeting of the minds, then suggest it be done discreetly and BY the owner if really needed. But ELSEWHERE.  Admittedly (and thankfully), it is a rare need. Today's show horses are so completely broke to most everything that rarely is it a behavior problem anyway. Just remember that everybody on the grounds has at least one camera phone around their neck.  Remember too, that many of your show clients will be minors.  If no other adult is present, then you have care, custody and control of both horse and child.  That means a great deal of responsibility to keep everybody out of trouble.  If a situation feels uncomfortable, for whatever reason...stop.  Have the person come back with a responsible adult.

And now that you are completely paranoid....try to have fun anyway.  Most riders swear that is why they show horses.  Hmmm.

[Note: This article was originally published in 1988. Much of it is still very pertinent today. What has changed is the nature of the shows and as I mentioned earlier, the degree of professionalism at the top levels of the sport.  Today, many shows are serviced by many farriers, official or otherwise and few problems occur in this model.  Jumper shows (I know little about other disciplines), as I stated earlier have become more and more what I called 'stationary circuits,' in that the management, sponsorship, etc. changes, but the grounds remain the same, as in the Wellington and Palm Springs winter circuits. Summer circuits continue to roam from place to place and many barns are now also competing in Europe as well.  Show barns themselves have more and more become clustered near large urban areas and barn and farrier alike tour with these circuits. It is so common now that many farriers maintain complete rigs in different parts of the country.  So some things change and some remain the same.  And the circus goes on!]


Okay, shameless commerce.  Thought I'd add my own commercial!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Now Available...

Soon has Come!
Great Xmas Gift for People You Don't Really Like.
Available now at most retail outlets...and as promised we will have versions translated into Bulgarian, Swahili and whatever the hell they speak in Chicago. 
The Littlest RaceHorse

A Novel

By A. Allan Juell

536 pages...
ISBN: 978-1-4575-2145-4

$24.95 paperback

Whew!  Also available in e-format,
 and in November on Kindle


Once again we will be offering it as a T-book;  for our many clients who like to multi-task!


Late October, 1962.  The US and the Soviet Union stand toe to toe, poised to unleash their nuclear arsenals over the deployment of offensive missiles in Cuba – a mere 90 miles off the coast of Florida.  This is the Cold War, suddenly too hot to touch.  Apprehension flows relentlessly down the irrational corridors of chaos and panic – personal choices driven by the political realities of a world gone mad.  A pair of kids, suddenly cast adrift by the week’s escalating events, find themselves forced on a journey not of their own choosing – while the adults around them ponder the longest week of their lives.  Forced to finally choose between the past and perhaps a very different future…one that seemed to share an improbable link to a young Thoroughbred horse halfway across the country.  Lives that were stolen on a Thursday – and returned the following week. Irreversibly changed.
And some 2000 miles away, one Bobby Lee Hancock and his common-law wife, Fennel McCartney. A farmer, a horse breeder – a man grown hard by difficult times and unforgiving choices.  And on that farm, a young Thoroughbred colt, seemingly doomed by the peculiarities of his own birth.  Or so the old customs had always dictated.

“Fen, I’m a farmer ya know.  Shoulda hit that damn thing in the head with a hammer when it was born.  Hell, next thing you’ll havin’ me raisin’ rats and corn weevils!  And that damn Kennedy’s gonna get us killed anyway…or somethin' worse!”

But the young President had already moved beyond the brink of a final apocalypse – opening a second, perhaps more volatile door by questioning the very core of American values.  Civil rights, the desires and ambitions of the country’s largest minority – women; and the wider responsibilities inherent to leading the world’s greatest democracy through an era restless for change.  The 1950’s were the calm between very different storms – one engulfing the world, the second threatening the nation.  But often, that change was personal and highly private as well, especially for children caught in a sudden and seemingly unrelenting tempest.  And just as often, the salvation, perhaps life’s balance itself comes with four legs and a tail.  Just a horse?   Maybe not.
Yes, I really did write that...

Movie to an up and coming French film director. 
Wouldn't that be fun! 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Shoeing in the Fast Lane:
Jumpers, the Accessories and Always...
 Pet Peeves
From the Archives:
[Note: Never did like hunters much, but in this business they are the tail that wags the dog.  The hunter/jumper world, unlike other disciplines, is founded on the principles of 'development;' both riders and horses.  This is the core of show jumping, which begins with a kid and a pony and may end at the Olympics.  Hunters are what teach jumping, equitation...hopefully sportsmanship and a love and appreciation that lasts far beyond the applause of the show ring.  And too, jumpers are an objective kind of animal. They might be a bit ugly, happily unorthodox...maybe either fearless or not that bright.  But, when the horn blows and they challenge that first gotta love them for simply showing up for that rare moment under the sun.]   
From the previous discussion:  (From 1988): "Reducing the heel elevation on a jumping horse is subjectively controversial."  No kidding.  "This due to a broad-based condemnation based on personal prejudice, disinformation and what could be termed: structured or textbook shoeing.  (Farrier and vet combined).  In many ways, the idea that a lower heel length might be better for the horse was received with the same enthusiasm a French waiter might exhibit -- shortly after you ordered that Bud Lite.  A disconnect seemed to exist among professionals of both camps that a jumper is an athlete; thusly, you wouldn't find Jesse Owens running in loafers anymore than me playing tennis in cowboy boots. (Yeah, tried that with really uneven results.)  And further, no one was making the connection between chronic suspensory and check ligament issues or what was casually written off as wear and tear; the cost of doing business -- granting that jumpers and NFL types do share some common difficulties with longevity in a hard business.  But hunters too? 
The fun thing about jumpers is that the rule book can be tossed out the window.  These horses are not conformation ideals, necessarily pretty or concerned about smiling for the camera. They are really just hairy freaks in an odd business, which is why I often wonder if they are incredibly stupid or fabulously gifted with both talent and a deep sort of compassion -- for actually agreeing with the rider on such an absurd adventure.  Or maybe it is that these horses have an advanced sense of humor we humans fail to understand.  I've seen a jumper come out of a triple combination, take a stride or two, kind of half-snort and offer an expression like, "Boy, how did I do that?"  Yes, watch them carefully sometimes, because they too are learning just what their own body can really accomplish.  And often, they seem genuinely surprised at the results.
(From 1988):  "Jumpers will not necessarily work off either end.  They are highly stylistic in their approach and often training regimens may have to take a back seat to personality issues."  (I'm reminded here of a grand prix horse from a couple of decades ago -- Balbuco -- a horse who seemed to have invented the term: unorthodox jumper.  Trouble is, he won consistently.)   And remember too, this is a game about clocks and standing lumber...getting it done on time and worrying about pretty later.
Jumpers are shod for stoutness, protection and traction.  Besides keeping the horse on his leg, you need to keep the horse on the course.  Absolutely nothing should deviate from that criteria...meaning that soundness issues, the vet's creative shoeing prescription or the latest astrology projections don't count here.  All must either fit into the horse's job description or be cast aside.  There is no difference between an unsound jumper and a jumper compromised by shoeing that hinders his work.  Either way, the horse is non-competitive or unemployed.  Yes, some middle ground can exist, but it will be a narrow discussion. 
Shoes are an end to the means.
[image: Sandra Mesrine]
Actually, I could care less.  Why?  Because there are horses for courses and I'll look at that later.  What is more important is that aside from heel-length considerations, jumpers need some extra foot length.  Forget the 6-week, 8-week schedule...all that self-selling crap that is both unrealistic and just plain ludicrous.  On an average shoeing cycle, at half to two-thirds -- say 30+ days, the shoeing has gone from supportive to destructive.  Certainly not all horses -- variables abound -- but with a high performance horse you want 25% maximum deviation from your ideal.  Think of it like driving that BMW that is out of alignment.  Yeah, there go the tires shocks...maybe a ball joint. For jumpers, the shoes merely need adequate width and strength for the job...pretty is secondary to utility. Which doesn't mean a person does not take pride in their work -- just that the pride must not get in the way of the purpose. And this happens a lot in this business.
Good example of leaving ample foot.
Note, the toe treatment. More on that
Wide-web aluminum.  In this case,
manufactured by Delta.
[Note:  Needless to say, the options in shoe style and type has changed dramatically over the last two decades.  Of particular note, the wide-web aluminum shoe released by Dutchtown Forge in the late 70's.  Excellent shoe, but often misunderstood.  The shoe was actually developed for jumpers as a way to gain better floatation on indoor courses -- how the majority of American shows were conducted in the past.  Culprit was deep footing and the shoe was designed to keep the foot more on the surface without adding weight.  Course, then the hunters got hold of them...superstitious bunch when it comes to weight considerations.  Chief drawback: some fatigue issues, difficult to maintain stud holes, but overall an excellent shoe for protection.
Hinds: Shoe on the right is one of my favorites, with or without the pad.  The shoe adds length, support and the sulci spaces are opened, allowing the foot to clean itself over a course.  The shoe on the left shows that jumpers need not be complicated behind...just clean and straightforward.

[Minor pet peeve here though: Why are so many farriers today making either clunky heels, or adding good lateral support, but leaving all that metal to the inside, over the lateral sulcus?  Yes, that question is somewhat rhetorical.]   
Defending the Coffin Bone:
Sounds like something from Mission Impossible.  Yet, that is the purpose of allowing some extra foot as protection.  Everyone knows that the coffin bone sits in a bucket of blood, further that the bone does not remain static under load.  A horse coming off a 4-5' fence will send the bone downward AND forward within the confines of that hoof capsule.  It is bad idea to have it bouncing off anything more than the natural blood pressure within the surrounding laminae.  Don't believe that?  Not sure I care to explore the issue in real time.  However, the incidence of  degenerative changes in P-3 among jumpers, dropped dramatically after this notion was accepted in the early 1980's.  And no, external concussion is NOT a factor.  A horses leg and hoof are remarkable at absorbing concussion without the aid of additional shock-absorbing materials.  Sure, pads and packing are fine, both as a preventative and a palliative -- however, they have no influence on what is occurring inside the hoof capsule.  
[Note: I'm reminded of Sorbothane here...a technology transfer from running shoes.  It was an extreme example of A + B = F.  I asked the representative at the time:  "You ever tried to nail Jell-O to a fence post?"  And that is the end-point argument on external shock absorbing notions, at least by my experience.  Anything thicker than about 1/8 inch or so, and soft, is going to wobble so much that it will turn the nails into drill bits.  Human dynamics; issues that do not transfer well to horses.]    
Contrary to many assumptions, horses do not need traction to jump -- however, they do require a great deal for the preliminaries of jumping; notably to set for a fence and to navigate the turns.  Three-fourths of the time when a hunter or jumper stops on course...there is a good reason and confidence heads the list.  As in, "Momma didn't raise no fools!"  Second reason is pain -- negative reinforcement; on an experienced jumper, pilot-error falls somewhere down the list.  Sure, good riders on great horses screw up occasionally.  But if a horse isn't comfortable with his ability to check his distance, he will stop.  And rightly so.
Courses have changed dramatically over the last decade or so.  More and more shows are held on the lawn, rather than the arena.  And grass is not only slippery, but comes in a lot of different forms.  So today, most jumpers are drilled and tapped year-round.  And the addition of these caulks should not be a case of random physics.  They need to be part of the plan -- an accessory that is both necessary AND somewhat dangerous for the horse.  Well, the farrier too if your tennis shoe happens to end up under the foot.

Hinds: I position them in support of the trimming/shoe. Outside further down the shoe than the inside hole. This also helps to avoid treading injuries.
Fronts: the same, but for different reasons.  1)  First is to avoid a horse catching an inside caulk or wedging a hind shoe between the caulks, ripping off the shoe.  2)  Belly stabbers.  Sometimes this doesn't even help. 3)  Again, avoiding a caulking injury to the opposing hoof.
Nature of caulks:  Caulks should be varied according to position on the feet.  Example: Sharp to the outside holes, blunt inside.  Same with using square caulks on outside, round on inside. This is to avoid anchoring the horse in a turn.  Good example is the Polo Horse.  In this job, the horse needs to be able to slide a bit and turn freely.  If the foot is anchored in the ground and the body pivots around the anchored leg...well, ever heard of a spiral fracture?  Not pretty.  So some thinking needs to take place here and caulks should fit the minimum need for a particular course. That means go and find out what the footing is like.  Same considerations apply if the weather suddenly changes. Some caulks are better for mud, others for hard, dry ground, and of course, whether the horse is a hunter, jumper or a CT horse. Needs vary. It is also not uncommon to three-dot the toes (borium, drill-tech), on a hind shoe of a jumper that seems to need the grip there.
My scientific course evaluation tool!
So-called Olympic stud
     [Note:  Oddly, the well-maintained courses turn out to be the most treacherous. Why? Maintenance encourages root growth -- to the point of almost being impenetrable.  When Spruce Meadows opened in about 1976 or so, it was one of the first grass courses for many horses and riders on the west coast.  I was fortunate to get up there often, particularly to get a look at some of the best US horses, as well as the European teams.  And of course, what was going on with their shoeing. Invaluable education.  However, I did notice that the UK horses were drilled in the center of the shoe (between the third and fourth nail hole -- and at this tournament, they were packing Olympic caulks -- so named for their size -- on top of one inch extenders. Walking the course with my probe explained why.  It was the only way to penetrate that particular turf.  Now oddly, I noticed that this past year, Spruce Meadows tore out and replaced the entire Grand Prix ring turf.  Could be one of the reasons.  However, aside from that observation and with the influx of European horses in America, I took the nod from the English and began 3-holing my jumpers -- the third hole placed between the 3rd and 4th nail hole.  This was primarily as an option for jump-offs -- little extra power steering for when the course designer got overly trappy in his final test.  Course, trying to do a switch-back on a Warmblood often ended up like trying to win a barrel-race on a Yak. Lots of scope, but often not handy in the tight stuff.]       

Quick fixes:  Often, grass shows are more challenging on the first day, improving greatly as the surface gets chewed up a bit.  Also, particularly in the case of hunters, amateur riders, etc., poor preparation plays a part. It is unrealistic to re-shoe 400 horses for the first day of a show. lib.  Mud and frost nails can be added, or an assortment of copper washers that can be added to the shank of a conventional nail -- when you seat the nail, the two sides of the washer fold vertical, thereby producing a modified sticker of sorts.  More permanent solutions can be addressed later...including that lecture on preparedness.

 Horses for Courses, Clips and Pet Peeves:
Clips:  I don't like toe clips.  To me, they are similar to the hood ornament on a Cadillac. Now, I don't mind them on hunters...kind of pretty and they prove you own a forge, but not jumpers.  As I stated earlier, the coffin bone shifts forward on impact, particularly from a perch 6-feet high or so over a fence. Far too many toe clips are seated into the wall or pounded excessively into the toe.  Over the years, I've seen a number of radiographs where it appears a rat has taken a bite out of the leading edge of the coffin bone -- where the bone is about the thickness of your business card.  People loved to offer, "Oh, he hits a lot of rails."  To tell you the truth, I've worked on hundreds of these horses that jump using the Braille system and have never found a correlation to rapping rails.  If hitting rails with the hoof actually hurt, logic would indicate that the horse would quit doing it.  Why do you suppose they used to pole horses?  On the shins...
PP #1
Side-clips:  All around normally.  Especially with studs.  Caulks put tremendous torque on the nails and can literally twist a shoe right off the foot.  Consider it an insurance policy.  And for the critics out there, in 35-years I have never seen a downside to a properly constructed and fit side-clip.  However, I have seen a great many badly made clips.  Sure, they look pretty, but they can become a liability in a hurry.  A proper clip should have its strength at the base, diminishing in thickness and strength as it tapers to a peak.  They also do not need to be deep-seated into the wall.  Save that for the contests.  The problem with an over-engineered clip is if the horse happens to pull the shoe off and steps on one these knife blades -- you are going to have a very unhappy horse.  Example:  Horse vanned down from Canada for a series of shows and got to scrambling in the box.  Half-pulled two shoes and spent a good part of 400- miles slicing his sole, frog and yes, the bottom of his coffin bone into Swiss cheese.  And no, he never showed again.  Clips must collapse if stepped on by the horse.  Period.  Art has no business compromising safety.  
PP #2
Leave your prejudices and peccadillo's at home.  Try to understand that other farriers, particularly show farriers, may not be interested in your art work -- further, have no intention of duplicating it when there are 2500 horses on the grounds with one kind of issue or another.  Example:  A well-known and respected farrier from England came to western Canada some years back, importing the English thinking to the teaching of farriery.  I have a great deal of respect for the man as a person, a clinician and a farrier. I consider him a good friend.  However, when in Rome...
The issue had to with convincing a whole new round of aspiring farriers that concave was the cat's meow for hunters, jumpers and whatever else stumbled into the shop. The problem was that concave is outside of American shoeing culture and horses nowadays cross not only borders, but cultures as well.  These horses would also show in the states and if they lost a shoe, they were, for the most part SOL.  Nobody uses, carries or finds much need for concave bar (shoes) in the states, and most show farriers can't find time for lunch, much less trying to duplicate something that is pretty much irrelevant to the job anyway.  It is a shoe designed for a field hunter, NOT a show hunter.  Practice a little professional courtesy and appreciate these differences...and if for no other reason, as a service to your clients.  Or, as I had always done with my CT clients...send them on the road with a full back-up set.  Issue resolved. 
PP #3
Backing up the toe excessively.  If you need to back up the toe, this is the way to do it.  Excessive reduction (by rasping over the length of the wall at the toe) -- severely weakens the toe.  By doing this -- (according to Einstein and Newton's wisdom concerning cause and effect.) -- you are contributing to the medio/lateral migration of the quarters. Particularly if the environment includes moisture. The owner or the vet might not like the look, but this approach will not compromise the overall hoof structure.  Nice clips too...
And lastly, as I have emphasized often here, know the horse if possible, but always know and appreciate his job -- because it all begins or ends at that first fence.  And yes, I do have an opinion and that is all this really represents.        

And always be kind...this is not the enemy.
 Thanks to Farrier's Seth Parker and Sandra Mesrine for the use of their photos!