Combined Training/Eventing

don Don Shepherd starting shoeing my horses when I attended the Ethel Walker School– where I discovered my passion for combined training fourteen years ago. Who better to shoe an event horse than an event rider? Don is an experienced combined training rider,so he truly understands the rigorous demands one requires of an event horse.

Over the years, I would not say that any of my horses have been simple. Don understands that each horse and each foot is truly unique and requires a skillful assessment and expertise.

My family’s first horse, developed significant navicular changes; however with correct shoeing, Don has been able to keep Wayland sound. Wayland is now 30 years old and still loves to be ridden.

My first event horse, Royal Commander, who won the 2001 Area 1 USCTA Training Horse of the year, was well known for breaking cross ties. Don still laughs when he ponders exactly how many sets of cross ties were broken at Ethel Walker because the automatic bug spray system went on or the wind blew the wrong way. Don has shown patience with these quirky horses as well as with my young imports and OTTBs. Event horses must be the master of all trades. They must master a dressage test, gallop and jump across country then finish with a show jumping round proving their soundness of both mind and body. All event riders can recall those events when the weather or footing has been less than ideal and we rely on our shoes and studs for traction to get around the course safely.

We don’t always a have ‘perfect’ footing to gallop in. With that said, only a barefoot horse has never thrown a shoe. Don always leaves me a spare set of shoes for any horse that I am competing. Unlike ‘the farrier’ we have all had in the past Don is prompt and timely at putting shoes back on. Although he often has a few choice words, shakes his head then laughs, when my horse returns home from an event missing a shoe and half a hoof, he always manages to keep my horses sound and repair the damage.

Don understands the importance of just tightening clinches before we travel to an event. He always returns phone calls or text messages. He has come on several occasions late at night, or weekend nights after to eyeball a horse with an abscess or fix a shoe so I could compete the next day.

Most recently, he worked collaboratively with my vet and I to conquer a lameness issue that suddenly arose with my horse Sylvus, who was the 2006 and 2007 Area 1 Adult Amateur Training Horse of the year and second nationally in 2007. I have faith, that with Don’s expertise, Sylvus will be back competing at the Preliminary level soon. I am honored and privileged to have Don Shepherd as part of my event team at Optimum Times Farm. Respectfully submitted,
Kristen B. Woodworth
Optimum Times Farm
Tolland, CT