Katie Paul and Astra

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When we first bought Astra we knew her feet were not exactly what you would want from an event horse, they were flaky, soft shelled, prone to losing shoes and half the foot with it and abscesses if it got too muddy. So we knew they would need some serious management if I was going to be able to regularly compete her on the BE u18 Novice circuit.

Simon did a fantastic job advising us on the right feeds and hoof care to keep them in the best shape and was always there to come out at the last instant the day before a competition if something wasn't quite right. Never allowing us to miss an important qualifier or class.

Unfortunately in the summer of 2011 we realised something wasn't quite right as Astra didn't seem to be jumping as well as her normal textbook self, but was showing any real signs of back issues or obvious lameness. With the help of Simon and Chris Johansson at Western Counties she was diagnosed with bruising in the coffin joint of the foot, and lameness that was only very slightly noticeable on trotting on a tight circle on hard concrete.

Astra at PontispoolSadly this meant she missed the end of the season and the chance to compete in the South West u18 Regional Team at the u18 championships as she needed 3 months box rest initially. Simon was then key in helping me getting her back into work and staying sound coming into the next season. Initially he fitted heart shape bars with a pad underneath for support as we started to walk her out and then as we increased her work load slowly he suggested trying an innovative new type of shoe, completely made of plastic. Although these were completely new for competition horses, previously used mainly for foals, and new to Simons experience he fitted them at 4 week intervals with huge success and had us back competing in the Aldon ONu18 at the beginning of the 2012 season and Astra jumping confidently and happily. I can't thank Simon enough and would seriously recommend him to anyone, and his apprentices, as their attention to detail and care is second to none.

Astra continued to compete successfully with me up to Intermediate-Novice in 2013 and we sold her in early 2014 to carry on taking an u18 around with double clears as I moved out of juniors. I am now focusing on bringing on a few less experienced horses, all of who are shod by Simon, and know that he will offer me the best advice and shoeing expertise to help maximise their potential.