Vom Feinsten's Remarkable Golden Dancing Shoes
Above: Vom Feinsten's framed 24-carat gold plated Rio Olympic horseshoes.
It is true that behind every horseshoe is a story…some tell a tale of great triumph, others of sadness, many of picturesque hacks through the countryside but only a select few tell the tale of competing at the Olympic Games!
So, it was a lovely surprise and a great honor when David and his wife, New Zealand Olympian Julie Brougham, contacted me back in March about creating a framed Horseshoe Memento using two of Vom Feinsten’s Rio Olympic horseshoes and a photograph of their dressage performance. It was uncanny timing as I had just purchased the March issue of NZ Horse and Pony magazine which featured a lovely photograph of Julie and Vom Feinsten on the front cover – and I had read with great interest Helen Firth's article in the magazine about Julie’s inspiring Olympic journey.
David and Julie’s framed Horseshoe Memento was to be aptly titled ‘Dare to dream…’ and to carry Steiny’s name ‘Vom Feinsten’, his pedigree ‘Fidermark / Weltmeyer’ and credentials ‘NZL Dressage Rep. Rio Olympics 2016’. Both horseshoes were to be finished in 24-carat gold.
On receiving Steiny's horseshoes, the first thing that struck me was their texture. The shoes still had visible rasp marks from when the farrier had fitted them which coupled with the shoes wear had produced a really interesting texture and shine.
Above: Steiny’s off fore and near hind horseshoes worn at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
But what was even more fascinating than the texture was what I discovered when I turned the front shoe over! I encountered something I had never seen before on a horseshoe – two raised circular, rough edged steel nodes, on the underside of each heel.
Above: Steiny’s off fore horseshoe showing the raised circular nodes.
What I did not realise at the time, and what was only discovered after the framed memento was finished, was the incredible story of horse podiatry and expert farriership behind these shoes.
An ‘Olympic dream’ is all it may have ever been for Julie and Steiny when just three weeks out from their Olympic debut, it was found that Steiny had developed a quarter crack in his off fore hoof. En route to Rio, Julie and Steiny spent time competing in Germany to gain European experience and exposure. It was just after competing in Aachen CHIO that the crack appeared.
“Steiny had, had a quarter crack before, so our ‘alarm bells’ went off instantly!” Julie Brougham
As a consequence, Julie and David sought the services of a recommended remedial farrier. Horse podiatrist and expert farrier Carsten Neumann, based in Langenfeld Germany. Julie, David and Steiny, made the 90 minute journey from Aachen to Langenfeld to Carsten’s purpose built facilities for the work to be undertaken.
Above: Steiny at Carsten’s purpose built facilities in Langenfeld being fitted with his ‘Rio shoes’. Photo credit: Julie and David Brougham
Carsten and his assistant, Nadine Pesch, took a set of German “Kerckhaert” dressage shoes and fitted two raised circular steel nodes on the underside of the two front horseshoes, by the heels. Carsten then cut thick leather soles and positioned them between the foot and the horseshoe. The leather sole did not cover the foot’s frog, the inside was cut out. Lastly, the thick leather piece was attached to the circular nodes on the horseshoe to hold it securely in place and the shoe was nailed on.
Above: All smiles after Steiny’s remedial shoeing. From left to right: Nadine, Julie, David (holding Steiny) and Carsten. Photo supplied by Julie and David Brougham.
“Steiny’s feet had to be hosed every day to keep the leather supple.” Julie Brougham
After the Olympics and upon return to Aachen, the bespoke ‘Rio horseshoes’ were removed by Carsten and Nadine and replaced with new ones. This time Carsten and Nadine travelled the 90 minute journey to Aachen as David and Julie no longer had transport.
“Carsten’s remedial intervention certainly rescued us from what was ‘potentially’ a precarious situation.” Julie Brougham
The special shoes did not come without a high price tag though. The second shoeing where Carsten and Nadine travelled to Aachen to remove the Rio shoes and put new shoes on cost €400 (NZ$800) including travel time. “Was it worth it? Absolutely. As the saying goes, no foot, no horse” said Julie.
“Carsten was a very expensive farrier but I would have to say, it was the best farrier workmanship I have ever seen and I doubt I will see it again.” Julie Brougham
Julie brought Steiny’s Rio horseshoes home to New Zealand along with the rest of the horse gear and some months later the Horseshoe Mementoes transformation commenced.
Above: The 24-carat gold plated underside of the front shoe taken before framing. The back of Horseshoe Mementoes are left in their natural state before plating which produces an authentic raw texture and a stark comparison to the highly polished front.
Above: Steiny’s near hind Rio Olympic horseshoe plated in 24ct gold before framing.
Above: Both of Steiny’s Rio Olympic Horseshoe Mementoes before framing.
Above: The NZ Horse & Pony magazine article along with Steiny's Olympic Horseshoe Mementoes.
Above: Laying up the elements to be framed and getting a feel for the balance.
I really like the inclusion of a front and hind shoe as it adds an interesting aspect (rather than having two front or two hind shoes that look similar). It also gives a feeling of Steiny’s stance and movement.
As well as asking Julie about Steiny’s horseshoes, I also asked about the photograph that was chosen to frame along with the horseshoes. I knew Julie and David had received a number of beautiful photographs of their Rio dressage performance captured by photographer Libby Law. I just wondered what it was about the photo they had chosen for the frame that made it so special.
Julie's reply was, “David and I just liked the harmony between Steiny and me. Steiny does super flying changes, always off the floor - dancing! In the photo he looks happy – his neck is soft, nose in front of the vertical, mouth happy, ears pricked - a lot of expression and gaiety – and all this happening in spite of the tension of the occasion!! The photo also shows some of the stadium background - a lot of empty seats for sure, but that was Rio all over. It was quite hard to choose just one photo!”
Photo credit: Libby Law Photography kindly supplied by David and Julie Brougham courtesy of ESNZ.
The framed Olympic Horseshoe Memento will hang in the Brougham’s family room at their home in Palmerston North.
I just love how this framed Horseshoe Memento not only represents their incredible Olympic journey, but that it is also a reminder of Carsten Neumann and his assistant Nadine Pesch and the wonderful remedial work they performed to ensure Julie and Steiny's Olympic dream didn't get halted. As I said, every horseshoe has a story!
“It will always be a family treasure; I am quite sure of that. Also it is transportable. Wherever we live, it will come too ....” Julie Brougham.
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