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Friday, February 29, 2008

Laminitis Research from the Field to the Feed Room

Research by Bridgett Byrd (M.S., PhD candidate) at Virginia Tech, was used to create this graph. It shows that pastures at certain times of year have specific times of the day when plants contain high levels of non-structural carbohydrates (NSC). This is effectively mirrored by the insulin concentrations of the horses grazing on such pastures, in a similar way to the feeding of high starch and sugar diets. While this research has been available for the past few years, many horses owners have not been informed of the cumulative effects of long-term high-sugar diets on horses, particularly on sedentary recreational horses. (Graph and caption credit Virginia Tech.)

Remember the image in that graph. We have just turned the calendars to March, so spring will soon be here and the time is here to start planning how horses will be managed on spring grass.

This year, thanks to increased educational efforts, many horse owners are seeking advice on how to avoid laminitis caused by spring grazing. Many horses suffer annual bouts of laminitis that can adversely affect the horse’s soundness for months, or may develop into serious chronic laminitis with its many problems.

Nutritional experts, however, caution that laminitis and insulin resistance are year-round problems and that a horse's entire feeding program should be scrutinized, not just the turnout on pasture.

The Waltham® Equine Studies Group, led by Dr Pat Harris MA PhD, VetMB DipECVCN MRCVS, offers this summarized explanation: “Turning certain ponies out onto lush pasture in the spring and autumn is a common triggering factor for the development of laminitis. It is currently thought that high levels of water soluble carbohydrates, (which include simple sugars as well as Fructan – the more complex storage carbohydrate) – and/or starch may be involved in this process.

"Previous research carried out in collaboration with Virginia Tech by the Waltham® Equine Studies Group in 2004 confirmed a link between insulin resistance and laminitis. This work demonstrated that a high starch and sugar diet, that causes corresponding peaks and troughs in glucose and insulin, increases the degree of insulin resistance.

Dr Harris continues: “The new revelations linking pasture directly to the potential risk of insulin resistance have important consequences for certain horses and ponies prone to laminitis and tying up, as well as obese animals that will already have a greater degree of insulin resistance. For these animals it is likely to be safer to feed alternative sources of forage at key times of year.”

Last month, Florida-based Seminole Feeds announced that it would no longer be the US distributor for Spillers brand feed products, which are developed with Waltham research principles. “Happy Hoof”, a high-fiber alternative to high-sugar hay, was one of the products sold by Seminole in the USA. Seminole has launched a new line of low-starch feeds under its “Wellness” label.

Hoofcare and Lameness does not have much information at present for horse owners "orphaned" by the dearth of Spillers products in the USA.

Maine-based Lucerne Farms, makers of the Dengie product lines of alfalfa-based chopped hay in the USA, is now offering high-fiber, low-sugar products for horses at risk for laminitis. The company also offers excellent customer support.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Farrier Convention Update: Competition Alive with New Faces

Farrier competition at Peterborough, England's Shire Horse Show painted by Michael Murfin graces the cover of out 2008 AFA Survival Guide. Everyone thinks it's a photo, but it's a painting!

My energy is fading after standing up for six hours in our booth at the trade show, but the American Farrier's Association today made some history that I thought I would share.

A big part of this convention is the forging and shoeing competition, which this year is being held at a remote location in the big arena at the Kentucky Horse Park, while the convention lectures and trade show are in downtown Lexington.

But you can almost hear the hammers across the miles.

Some joyous faces stopped at my booth tonight to say hello. Today was the preliminary forging (horseshoe making, no horses), which count towards a farrier's qualification (or disqualification) from the "live" shoeing finals tomorrow.

The happy faces belonged to supporters of the Japanese team. For the first time, two Japanese farriers made it to the finals. Also in the finals: two women (congratulations, Raleigh and Sarah!), one American and one Scottish. There is at least one British male in there too. There were lots of new names and faces on the list, which is encouraging.

Competition chairman Myron McLane also told me tonight that the contest went very well and he is looking forward to tomorrow. Sadly, one of the USA's top competitors, former World Champion Austin Edens of Texas, had to scratch today because of a back injury, but said he hopes to compete in just the draft horse class tomorrow.

The convention is an international event even moreso than usual this year. I saw a European plastic shoe company's booth located next to an Amish booth and wondered, as always, about the way that this event brings people from diverse backgrounds under one roof.

A special highlight last night comes to mind. How many conventions have a "jam session" night? So many musicians showed up to play that they didn't even all fit on the ballroom stage. And many of them were superb musicians. There's no group quite like farriers!

From the AFA Convention: Dr Scott Morrison on Hoof Capsule Injury/Distortion

Dr Scott Morrison of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, KY was the AFA convention's first speaker.

Predictors of a low turnout at this year's AFA Convention could not have been more wrong, if attendance at the convention's first lecture this morning is an indicator of how many people are here.

Kentucky is coated in snow/ice and I know some people were not able to get here, but many hundreds braved the elements!

I attended the kickoff lecture this morning, wedged into a crowded lecture hall. I was privileged to sit next to Blaine Chapman of Lubbock, Texas, son of the late-great heart bar expert farrier, Burney Chapman. Blaine's running commentary at a low whisper was approving as Dr Morrison sprinted through a 90-minute narrated slide show of interesting cases from the Podiatry Clinic at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital here in Lexington,Kentucky.

Cases that drew the most comments and questions were the ones where he showed correction of negative palmar angles with roller motion shoes and his preference for the use of hoof casts on hoof wall avulsion and heel bulb injuries.

Much of the wall/bulb injury lecture really was based on the encourage of new growth, what Dr Morrison calls the foot's ability to "epithelialize" (generate new epithelial tissue, as in skin; epithelial simply means cells that form the outer lining of an organ or body structure. Endothelium is the inner lining.).

He recommended using tissue-friendly antiseptics, rather than iodine "...and not kerosene" he added with a chuckle.

Inventing another verb, Morrison said he "domes" the foot surface of his foot casts. Under the casting padding on the wall is povidene creme or a similar antiseptic, covered with gauze, with carpet felt under the sole. He also "domed" a wet leather pad before shoeing, inserted hoof packing from a gun, so the pad bubbled outward, forming a domed ground surface.

While some criticize the use of casts, Morrison saw no problem with leaving them on, and was confident in the healthy growth that he would find what it was removed. He said that if the coronary band is not under pressure from weightbearing, the growth will be more rapid.

A big hit was his slide of a racehorse with an interference injury: the front shoe was imbeddedin the coronet of the hind foot. Also food for thought: he showed a severely neglected miniature horse with grossly overgrown hooves.After a cleanup trim, the horse required extension shoes to stand because the collateral ligaments of the coffin joint (and probably the fetlock joint as well), had been so stretched by the deformity.

At the end of the lecture, a line formed to ask questions.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Survival of the Best Informed: Convention Insider's Guide Published

Once again this year, Hoofcare and Lameness Journal has collaborated with Vettec to produce an official insider's tip sheet for the American Farrier's Association convention, which begins in Lexington, Kentucky on Thursday. Here you see the front cover, which is graced by a Michael Murfin painting of a farrier competition. Competitions for the AFA this year will be held in the arena at the Kentucky Horse Park outside Lexington.

Anyone headed to the convention? If so, I can email you a pdf version of the Survival Guide so you can read our suggestions.

A few facts about the convention:

600 farriers from all over the world have pre-registered...

A big crowd is expected on Saturday, March 1 for a half-day program on racehorse shoeing and toe grab research...

Allie Hayes of Horse Science has revived the "anatomy lab" concept and has a crew of distinguished crew leaders including Dr. Ric Redden and AFA President Dave Ferguson. The lab this year will be on Thursday and Friday mornings and have a "wet" component with dissection groups supervised by Paul O'Sullivan of Kentucky Horseshoeing School. Water Varcoe will have a complete horse skeleton on display in the lab.

Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital has two speakers: Dr. Scott Morrison, who will speak on injuries and distortion of the hoof capsule, and farrier Chuck Jones, who will speak on therapeutic shoeing of sport horses, primarily show hunters.

The trade show has 98 companies listed as exhibitors. The big booths seem to be Delta Horseshoe Company and Farrier Product Distribution, each of whom has a city block of booths! Vettec will have a big presence too; they will be teaching everyone about their new Sole Guard product for barefoot horses. (See previous post on Sole Guard from February 1.)

Booths I will visit: Harry Patton Horseshoeing Supplies (Ada Gates has designed a new hoof measuring tool that I want to check out); Life Data Labs, to check out their expanded line of supplements; Vibram (as in the soles of your work boots; they are now making horse hoof pads); Footings Unlimited because I really do need to learn more about footing; AirShod because I want to see how the pump-me-up shoe inserts are going; Gibbins UK because Carl Bettison is bring over a treasure trove of old farrier books from England and they are for sale!

I want to check in with Thoro-Bred and Victory to see if either has plans for a shoe specifically designed for synthetic tracks, and with TracMe Shoes to see how their improvements are going with the high-tech new aluminum shoes.

The best things at trade shows are the ones that you don't know about until you get there. I'm sure there will be the usual flood of new products from all corners of the globe and I am prepared to be amazed at the world's largest hoof products trade show!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Friends at Work: Cheryl Henderson in Jacksonville, Oregon

If you looked into a crystal ball and could see the future of hoofcare for horses, you would probably see Cheryl Henderson smiling back at you. Cheryl started out as a hoof trimmer convert, but the bigger mission of sharing expertise with others, and studying the hoof more deeply inspired her to launch "www.ABC Hoofcare" and position herself as a clinic host and a friendly ambassador to veterinary researchers and anyone who might have something to share or learn.

The Southern Oregon Mail Tribune heard about Cheryl and her work with lame horses and sent a reporter out to get the story. I bet that reporter had no idea what a fun time she would have on this interview. And I bet she left with a head full of hoofish aspirations.

Be sure to visit Cheryl's website, http://www.abchoofcare.com/

Note: “Friends At Work” is a regular feature of the Hoof Blog. When newspapers and web sites alert us to features on our hard-working readers and friends, I sometimes can figure out how to link to the story and share the photo with blog readers. Preference is given to people who aren’t normally in the news…and the more exotic the locale, the better! Scroll down the blog to read more "Friends at Work" posts from all over the world. You could be next!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

California Update: Foot injuries up, shin troubles down since synthetic tracks installed

A six-hour meeting yesterday reviewed the status of synthetic racing surfaces at Thoroughbred tracks in California.

The California Horse Racing Board organized the meeting, which was attended by about 150 people, according to the Daily Racing Form.

I have reviewed three quite different reports on the meeting and extracted a few key quotes that relate to the concerns of Hoofcare and Lameness readers. Here are some key quotes, but I hope you will read the reports in their entirety:

Veterinarians Sue Stover of the University of California at Davis and Northern California track vet Diane Isbell reported that injury rates on synthetic surfaces often dropped when horses ran without toe grabs behind. Dr. Isbell said that some trainers have had success training their horses without shoes and urged the CHRB to allow horses to race barefoot. (from Blood-Horse report)

Jeff Blea, a private vet in Southern California, provided evidence that the number of shin X-rays conducted by his five-person practice had dropped since synthetic tracks were installed, but that injuries related to the pelvis and feet had increased. (DRF report)

Rick Arthur, D.V.M., the CHRB’s equine medical director, presented statistics showing that fatalities have decreased by 60% in racing over synthetic surfaces in California, compared to the previous dirt tracks. (TT report)

Trainer Bob Baffert: "I think these surfaces disrespect the ability of a horse and they disrespect the contest of horse racing, where the best horse is supposed to win.” (BH)

Trainer Ron Ellis: "I can unequivocally say that horses stay a lot sounder." (DRF)

Trainer John Shirreffs: “It’s like being in quicksand.” The Blood-Horse also attributed Shirreffs as saying that he sees more hind-end injuries, hoof bruises, and gravel (hoof abscesses). (BH)

Dr. Greg Ferraro of the University of California-Davis called for a five-year study on synthetic racetracks to gain information on how the tracks change over the short and long term. "You want consistency day to day," Ferraro said. "These synthetic surfaces are engineered surfaces and are the beginning of a new science to construct racetracks. This isn't the end, it's the beginning." (DRF report)

Read the Racing Form's report on the meeting, posted on the CBS Sports site so subscription is not required.

Read the Blood-Horse 's report.

Read the Thoroughbred Times report.

Laminitis Prevention: Body Condition Podcast for Scoring Exam


The International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) has a new podcast, which is now available for downloading via their website. The podcast is part of the ILPH's comprehensive educational effort to increase horseowners' awareness of the problem of obesity in horses. The audio program coaches owners through the weight tape evaluation to determine both weight and relative condition of horses.

Obesity and irregular body fat storage have been linked to a high risk of laminitis in horses; with spring on the way, now is the time to identify horses that may be at high risk for laminitis when spring grass increases carbohydrate intake in many horses.

The fat scoring podcast brings an expert (via ear buds) to the barn with owners while they "fat score" a horse for the first or the twenty-first time. By downloading this podcast onto an iPod (or any mp3 player), owners can follow steps correctly; then the audio helps them interpret the weight of their horse.

Project leader Samantha Lewis said: “We already have a body condition video on our website as well as a leaflet but we realized something was missing. We felt that if you could listen to someone while actually having a go at fat scoring, owners would be able to understand exactly what we were talking about and how this relates to their own horses.”

To download the free podcast go to www.ilph.org and follow the instructions.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ian Hughes of Wales Will Head Farrier Services at Hong Kong Olympics


Welsh farrier Ian Hughes DipWCF will be head of services in the farrier clinic at the 2008 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic equestrian events, to be held in Hong Kong in August.

It's a long way from Mold, Wales to Hong Kong, but Ian Hughes DipWCF already knows the way. After heading up farrier services at the Olympic test event there in 2007, Ian has been named head of farrier services for both the 2008 Olympics and the Paralympics.

In an interview yesterday with Hoofcare and Lameness Journal, Ian shared some of the details of his upcoming assignment, which may be of interest to readers who are connected to horses that will be traveling to Hong Kong without a dedicated Team farrier, or who may aspire to this type of work.

Ian will be assisted by Greg Murray, head farrier for the Hong Kong Jockey Club, and fellow British farrier Kelvin Lymer DipWCF of Worcestershire.

Ian spent 3 1/2 weeks in Hong Kong last year for the test event, trying out the new purpose-built forge area in the new veterinary center at Sha Tin racecourse. Only about 36 horses competed then, but the event put the footing, stables, humid climate, and facilities to a good test.

An estimated 240 horses are expected to arrive in Hong Kong; many will arrive in advance so that the horses can adjust to the climate and fulfill quarantine requirements. Only a few countries will send their own farriers, but many horses will arrive with spare sets of shoes all made up, and, hopefully, will have been shod before leaving home.

Ian said that he did not have much input on the design and layout of the forge and shoeing floor, and was glad to have had the test event to try it out in advance. The forge area was served by lots of fans but not air-conditioned, he said, "But it will be when we are there!" he remarked. He said that the workings of two double-burner gas forges cancel out the effects of an air-conditioner, so the shoeing floor would be separated from the forge area, so the horses (and the farriers) will be cool except when forges needs to be fired up.

Ian said that he would have to arrive before the horses to set up the service area, and that he would stay until September and serve the same role for the Para-Games. He'll need to be gone from his home in Wales for a total of eight weeks; he'll leave his busy practice in the hands of his two apprentices and his "qualified man" (a graduate farrier working as his employee).

Ian runs a general practice in Wales, and also serves as farrier consultant at Ashbrook Equine Hospital in Cheshire, England, one of Britain's leading clinics. He lectures on lameness one day a week at the veterinary college at the University of Liverpool.

One country whose horses Ian probably won't be shoeing will be those of his own Team GBR. Ian said that the British horses would probably be served by fellow Welshman Haydn Price and eventing specialist Brendan Murray. (You may remember my story about Brendan, who was one of the four escorts in the horse-drawn funeral procession of Princess Diana. According to tradition, the farrier must be present, in the event of a shoeing mishap on one of the horses pulling the gun carriage and casket.)

One note about "Olympic farriers" (and their tools, supplies, and equipment): Ian said that all gear will be shipped out several weeks in advance. Olympic protocol does not allow companies to make advertising claims that their products were used in the forge at Hong Kong. However, the policy is to allow nonreturnable donations of certain supplies, tools, and equipment that do not have strings attached.

Ian's announcement is great news, but I realize it should come as no surprise. Wales is a tiny country that has a penchant for producing farriers who excel on the international level. Calgary Stampede World Champion farriers Grant Moon, Billy Crothers, Richard Ellis, and James Blurton all are from Wales and come to mind, along with Haydn and Ian, and I remember from an earlier generation Glyn David and the late Tommy Williams excelling in the profession, too. I'm sure there are many, many more. John McEwen, chair of the FEI's veterinary committee and head vet for Team Great Britain, also lives in Wales.

Best of luck to Ian and all the farriers who head to Hong Kong this summer. It's great to see the role of farriers be recognized for the important part it plays in the safety and ultimate performance of the horses. The same is true if the farrier is working at a local horse show or the Olympics.

Read an interview with Ian Hughes for potential farrier apprentices.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Horseshoes in Art: The Kentucky Equine Summit Logo

My compliments to the artist. Louisville's Red7e is the marketing firm for the upcoming World Equestrian Games in 2010, but in the meantime, they created a logo for the University of Louisville's Kentucky Equine Summit, to be held in Lexington April 28-29, 2008.

At first glance, it looks like a snowflake, a star or a flower, but look closer, squint!; it's a horseshoe mandela.

Friends at Work: Greetings from France


This photo intrigues me. It was kindly provided by the French National Stud system (les Haras nationaux) but the farrier (le marechal ferrant) is not identified. If you double-click or otherwise enlarge the image to full screen view, you will see that this farrier is wearing his uniform; that's his coat and hat hanging on the wall behind the horse. This is odd, because the farriers I met in France at the national studs wore dark work clothes under their aprons, although the instructor at Haras du Pin (the famous state stud of Percherons in Normandy) would grab his military hat and put it on whenever I took his photo.

Perhaps this fellow had to wear his uniform to have his photo taken for the government.

All the military farriers I saw in France worked in teams--a floorman on the horse, a fireman usually some distance away in the forge, and several go-between fellows who tried to get the hot shoe to the horse while it was still hot. The go-betweens were very fit from running back and forth all day, but they did seem to bear the brunt of impatience from both the fireman and the floorman. They couldn't scurry fast enough and because so many horses were being shod at once, they kept bumping into each other.

The forge fires were in the shape of a huge wheel, with individual fires between the spokes. So the firemen were facing each other around a big round hearth. They were much too important to bump into anyone. And on the wall was a shrine to St. Eloi, the patron saint of farriers in France.

Also in the middle of things was the rider, in uniform, whose job it was to hold up the horse's foot for the floorman.

Maybe things are changing in France and the farriers work alone at the studs now.

Notice that there is no footstand in the photo. There are some very spiffy new Euro designs (and hot colors) for hoofstands, but you don't see them in traditional shops or schools. I remember they were outlawed at the British farrier school when the late Tommy Williams was the instructor. I wonder if that has changed too!

Except for the fact that this fellow's shirt seems to be a modern one, this photo could have been taken 100 years ago. Or 200 years ago. I wonder how long I'll be able to look at a photo and say that.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Texas A&M Seeks Full-time Farrier for Vet Hospital

The Large Animal Hospital at Texas A&M University is seeking a full-time farrier. To learn more, click here.

Among the requirements: "Requires a High School Diploma and five (5) years of experience as a Farrier, with at least two years experience working under a corrective Farrier. Farrier Certification or ability to achieve Farrier Certification within 12 months of employment.

"Preferred Education and Experience: Completion of a Farrier training program recognized by the Professional Registry of Farrier Educators and four (4) years of farrier experience as a Corrective Farrier. Certification as a journeyman farrier through the American Farrier's Association."

Friday, February 15, 2008

Robert Bowker Heads Down Under on Lecture Tour

One of Dr. Bowker's many beautiful macro images of hoof structures. This one, from 2003, was part of a study of the tissue of the bars in the heels, where the hoof walls hooks inward. Bowker studied the laminae of the bars and found migrating cells from the laminar tips in the bars contributing to growth of the sole. This research was presented at the American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention in New Orleans in 2003.

Robert Bowker VMD PhD will be headed to New South Wales in Australia next month to speak at a March 29- 30 workshop for professional hoof care providers and veterinarians who deal in barefoot rehabilitation.

Organizer Chris Ware said about the event: “Attending are professional trimmers some who are traveling from as far away as Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory. It is fully booked already and we are looking forward to having a wonderful weekend with (Dr. Bowker), who is keen to present his latest research and explain how it relates to hoof care at the ‘coal face’.”

As part of the weekends lectures, Andrew Bowe "The Barefoot Blacksmith" will also talk about his work with seriously foundered horses. Bowe is a Master Farrier of 20 years experience who runs Australia's leading rehabilitation centre for foundered horses, according to Ware. Mike Ware of Easycare Down Under will talk on the many aspects of using Easycare’s range of hoof boots for the rehabilitation of hooves with serious issues and present the new range of boots.

All the proceeds from this workshop will be given to Dr. Bowker for his new research.

On the following Friday Professor Bowker is scheduled to teach the first module of a new Diploma course in Equine Podio-therapy course in Melbourne at the National College of Traditional Medicine. Other lecturers in Melbourne also include Bowe and Ware plus Dr. Alison Mcintosh (a veterinarian and equine chiropractor and barefoot trimmer who has long championed the cause of barefoot rehabilitation for serious hoof issues), and Wayne Anderson, also a Master Farrier, barefoot trimmer, and natural horse educator.

Dr. Bowker’s role in this course is largely due to the generosity of Easycare’s Garrett Ford who has kindly offered a grant towards Dr. Bowker’s nonprofit research.

Dr. Bowker, head of the Equine Foot Laboratory at Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine is a consulting editor to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal, where many of his papers have been published, along with those of his former research colleague, Lisa Lancaster DVM PhD. Lancaster's histological studies from Bowker's lab on the crena of the white line appear in the upcoming issue of Hoofcare and Lameness.

Dr. Bowker and his microscope at home in Michigan.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Put the Hoof Blog's Headlines on Your Web Site, Blog, Or Facebook Page

The Hoof Blog now has a headline "widget", which is a little piece of code that will create a headline box on your web site, Facebook page, or blog so you can all display a list of the recent headlines from the Hoof Blog to keep your visitors informed. Once it is installed, if you or your visitors click on a headline, the Hoof Blog will open on the screen and display that story.

Just go to this link and copy the code; for many applications, it will load with one click.

Please let me know how it works for you!

British Hunt Racer Comes Back After Tendon Stem Cell Treatment

Knowhere charges home after a long, grueling jump race...notice how clean his right front leg looks, in spite of a serious bow in his past. Photo © Trevor Meeks/Horse & Hound/IPC+ Syndication.Thanks for the loan!

A horse with the intriguing name of Knowhere won the Cheltenham Gold Cup Trial (brush-type jumps) last week over favorite Our Vic. The celebration extended out of the winner’s enclosure and into a nearby veterinary hospital.

Three years ago, Knowhere was, literally, nowhere. After two wins in novice hurdle company, his promising four-year-old race career ended when he injured the superficial flexor tendons of both front legs. The left fore showed low grade tendonitis while the right fore had a significant percentage of fiber rupture—what we call a “bow”.

Knowhere’s connections opted for stem cell therapy and a long layoff, in hopes of returning him to the top races on the National Hunt circuit. He was treated by Tim Beauregard MRCVS of Summerhill Farm in Gloucestershire, west of London.

Bone marrow samples were collected from Knowhere’s sternum. The marrow was then processed in a laboratory over a five week period to generate millions of stem cells. Knowhere was sedated, the tendon area was anesthetised and then the leg was surgically clipped and disinfected The stem cells which had been suspended in serum obtained from the original bone marrow sample, were then injected using ultrasound guidance, into the core of the damaged area of the tendon fibers.

For the first week after the implantation, Knowhere was kept in his stall to allow the cells to adapt to their new environment. Each day after this he was given walking exercise in order to stimulate the activity of the stem cells, encouraging them to differentiate into tendon cells and form into strong tendon fibers. The amount of exercise was incrementally increased, building up over a three-month period from five minutes each day to 45 minutes twice a day.

By the autumn of 2005 both of Knowhere’s tendons had healed very well and showed good fiber pattern on ultrasonography. He was re-introduced to the racetrack the following year and of the 15 or so races he has been in since then he has finished in the frame on eight occasions and has amassed some £175,000 (US$345,000) in winnings.

Vet Tim Beauregard concludes: “Knowhere’s successful return to the track has been exciting and immensely satisfying to follow and he showed particularly brilliant form in the Cotswold Chase. It remains to be seen whether he will be heading for the Ryanair Chase, the (Cheltenham) Gold Cup or the Grand National (three top jump races in the UK) but all involved will be hoping for the best.”

Note to American readers: the procedure used on Knowhere is different from the Vet-Stem system commonly used in the US, which extracts fat cells at the tail head and harvests stem cells from the fat. The procedure detailed in this post is a specific treatment program from the Vetcell company in the UK, developed at the Royal Veterinary College of London.

Why Horses and Bicycles Never Mixed Well

Veterinarians and farriers shared a hatred for bicycles and bicyclists in the 19th century.

Kirkpatrick MacMillan, a 19th centuary Scottish blacksmith from the border county of Dumfries, is credited with the invention of the two-wheeled rear-propelled bicycle.

MacMillan’s first bicycle was made of wood and had iron wheels. But it didn’t make him popular with other smiths.

In the 1800s and early 1900s, there were anti-bicycle protests, with farriers leading the protest line. Bicycles frightened horses they said, but in reality, the problems opened by bicycles were worrisome on another level: they provided inexpensive transportation that replaced horses and also caused a drop in value of saddle horses. And they were ridden by "dandies", the precursor of today's metrosexual male, who demanded smoother manmade roads that would make the automobile a more viable option.

An interesting twist of urban history is the role that the railroads played in the horse populations and value of horses in urban society. If farriers hated bicycles, they loved railroads. Every city needed an army of freight horses to serve the docks and railway yards. Every store and factory relied on horses to get their goods into the hands of customers or onto waiting ships or trains. Horses pulled the street cars, the hearses and the snowplows.

Both farriers and veterinarians felt the pinch caused by bicycles. In 1850, only 46 people in the United States census said that they were "veterinarians"; and 20 of them lived in New York City. By 1910, more than 11,000 veterinary surgeons practiced primarily urban equine medicine in the USA. And they weren't pleased about the popularity of bicycles.

Oddly, the popularity of the bicycle is benchmarked as heralding the migration of veterinarians into specialization in species other than horses. In 1897, an article in the American Veterinary Review claimed that horse values had dropped so sharply because of bicycles that owners were letting horses die rather than seek treatment.

Resentment toward the bicycle was shared by both vets and farriers. In this 19th century illustration kindly on loan from Scotland’s Wellcome Library, you see a veterinary surgeon and farrier have just smashed a bicycle and the vet is dosing the dandy cyclist. Double-click on the image to view it at a larger size.

Statistics quoted in this article are from the interesting new book The Horse in the City: Living Machines in the 19th Century by Clay McShane and Joel Tarr. The authors have created a trove of facts and figures about the role played by horses in urban life.

Monday, February 11, 2008

New Treatment for Pain of Lam-"Mint"-Itis?

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh's Royal (Dick) Veterinary College in Scotland are turning to ancient medical traditions to help horses deals with the pain of laminitis.

Professor Sue Fleetwood-Walker, with researcher Rory Mitchell, is taking a clear, scientific look into Chinese and Greek traditions using mint to treat pain, in hopes that mint therapy might be key to the nerve-damage pain that is part of the complex response that horses have to the damage in their feet when laminitis strikes.

Previous research by Fleetwood-Walker, also conducted at Edinburgh and published in the journal Pain, chronicled evidence for a neuropathic component to the chronic pain state associated with equine laminitis, indicating that anti-neuropathic analgesic treatment may well have a role in the management of laminitic horses. In that study, electron micrographic analysis of the digital nerve of laminitic horses showed "peripheral nerve morphology to be abnormal, as well as having reduced numbers of unmyelinated (43.2%) and myelinated fibers (34.6%) compared to normal horses", according to the study's abstract.

Fleetwood-Walker has researched "phantom" pain in human amputation patients and also horn pain response in small mammals; her team discovered that cooling chemicals with the same properties as mint oil had powerful painkilling effects when applied in small doses to the skin.

The receptor molecule TRPM8 is responsible for the sensation of moderate cold and it has long been known that cooling eases pain. However, the Edinburgh researchers have shown that this receptor acts to induce a pathway of responses that ease the crippling effects of neuropathic chronic pain which is very different from the acute pain associated with direct trauma. Substances such as icilin or menthol, known activators of TRPM8 which mimics the sensation of cooling, may then be used to treat neuropathic chronic pain.

The compounds were likely to have minimal toxic side effects, being applied externally, and were likely to prove ideal for patients with chronic pain who found conventional painkillers ineffective. The next test is to find a way to test mint medications on horses with laminitis.

This research is funded by The Horse Trust, a leading British horse charity.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Oklahoma! (Sponsor Message)

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French Study Compares DOD in Thoroughbred, Standardbred and Warmblood Foals

An example of a French warmblood sport horse; photo provided by the national stud system of France.

A new study from France compares developmental orthopedic disease (DOD) in three breeds of horses raised with similar environmental and farming conditions. Warmblood, Standardbred, and Thoroughbred foals were compared. The study’s authors include Hoofcare and Lameness Journal consulting edition Jean-Marie Denoix of the CIRALE Center in Normandy, France. The study is published in the February issue of ANIMAL, The International Journal of Animal Biosciences.

Developmental orthopedic disease (DOD) affects all breeds and is a common cause of pain and lameness for horses in sports. The authors remark that no comparison studies have ever been conducted between breeds that included consideration of the conditions on the breeding farms.

The study examined the limb joints of 392 weaning-age foals from 21 participating stud farms. The foals were radiographed on the front- and hind-limb digit, carpus, hock and stifle joints. X-ray data were analyzed by three experienced equine veterinarians who gave a common assessment about the entity and the severity of radiographic findings.

Distribution of breeds in the study was 25.0% Warmblood, 41.1% Standardbred and 33.9% Thoroughbreds.

To quote the authors in the findings of the study:

“DOD was present in 66.3% of the foals (95% confidence interval = 61.6% to 71.0%). The most severely affected sites were the proximal part of the hock and the femoro-patellar joint (of the stifle region) for Warmblood and Standardbred foals, and the fore fetlock and the distal part of the hock for Thoroughbred foals.”

Finding such prevalence in the breeds of horses should make it easier for veterinarians to confidently use radiographs of specific sites to monitor growing horses for developmental problems.

Perhaps the most shocking news of the study was that two-thirds of the foals showed evidence of DOD, in the first place.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Freedom!


DSC_9308kopie Jumper, originally uploaded by Ton van der Weerden.

Ton van der Weerden was in the right place at the right time. The place was the North Brabant region of Holland and the time was a split second when a huge Brabant draft horse (one of the the foundation breeds for American Belgian) took a flying leap over a two-strand wire fence.

Did he make it? Did he see the top strand at all? Ton's not telling.

But this horse got some air under him. He probably could have just leaned on the wire and stepped over it.

Thanks, Ton!

Friday, February 08, 2008

End of an Era for Kentucky Horse Park Farrier


Farrier, originally uploaded by XianRex.

Harlan Pennington told me today that his last day as farrier at the Kentucky Horse Park will be February 24th. That's Harlan in the nice photo with this post.

Harlan has been farrier at the Horse Park outside Lexington for more than eight years. His job is to shoe the Park's 100 or so horses--including 20 draft horses--and also meet and greet the public who wander through the shop as they tour the grounds.

He said he did not know who his successor would be or what the hiring process would entail.

The farrier shop is centrally located on the grounds and will soon be expanded. Harlan will still be associated with the project, as he is chairman of the American Farrier's Association's Kentucky Horse Park Visibility Committee.

Harlan said that the front part of the shop, where the public enters, will be enlarged into a 10 x 20 foot room that he hopes will become an educational display area to explain blacksmithing and the American Farrier's Association. The AFA national headquarters is located in a nearby building.

By my count, Harlan is the fourth farrier to work at the Horse Park since it opened. The first farrier, John Bodkins, had two assistants...and only 20 horses to shoe. Bodkins was followed by Saddlebred expert Shorty Roberts, who in turn yielded the anvil to Dave Gibson. Harlan came in to help Dave with the draft horses when he was hurt...and never left.

The farrier shop should be open during the upcoming American Farrier's Association convention, to be held in Lexington at the Lexington Center downtown and the Horse Park arena February 28 to March 1.

The centerpiece of the shop is no doubt the huge framed photo on the wall, showing farriers from (probably) England or Ireland shoeing a light draft with roadster shoes.

Double-click on Christian Lipski's photo to see an enlarged view of this wide-angle shot of one of America's most talked-to and photographed farrier icons. What you are seeing on the blog is a cropped version of the original photo.

Harlan is president of the Bluegrass Horseshoers Association and will serve as the host association's convention coordinator for the AFA.

We'll miss you, Harlan.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Santa Anita Cancels Friday Racing While Artificial Track Rehab Continues


Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California, announced today that live racing will be canceled Friday due to a one-day delay in the last phase of its main track renovation. Racing is set to resume on Saturday. This is the track's second closure for track revamping in the 2008 race meet; some racing days were also lost because of torrential rain that aggravated the situation.

According to Ian Pearse, founder of Australian based Pro-Ride, whose synthetic polymer and binder is being blended into the troubled Cushion Track synthetic surface, the initial timeline of starting last Sunday and completing on Thursday was jeopardized because the track was still wet from Sunday’s rain, which forced cancellation of live racing on Sunday.

“We expected to make substantial progress starting late Sunday,” said Pearse. “We began amending the track, but the uneven drainage left it very wet in places and drier in others. The binder and polymer application is the most crucial piece of the renovation puzzle, and it cannot be done properly unless the surface is consistent, which delayed the initial application of the polymer until Monday.”

Santa Anita President Ron Charles said, “We know and deeply regret that the lost days have inconvenienced many horsemen and fans. At this point, as painful as it is to everyone to miss another day, an extra 24 hours is absolutely necessary to make sure that we allow Pro-Ride the time to complete this massive project according to their exact specifications.

"Our track crews have been working from 7:00 a.m. until after midnight every day, and will continue to do so until we get this finished. We will definitely race on Saturday. Ian agrees, and is very confident that the process is going well now. The portions of track that have been completed so far are as good as we expected. We have become increasingly encouraged that this new surface is going to be what we had hoped -— a good, consistent and kind surface that we all believe will drain properly for the rest of the meet.”

After rain caused drainage problems in the new Cushion Track, Santa Anita contracted with Pro-Ride to remix the Cushion Track with Pro-Ride's liquid polymetric binder fibers, which are not waxed. Pearse was interviewed by the Blood-Horse earlier this week.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

You Asked For It: Here's the 2008 Budweiser Clydesdale Super Bowl Commercial

Thanks to YouTube for making video blogging possible! My guess is that we will see a lot of foals (of all breeds) named Hank this year...

Monday, February 04, 2008

American Farrier's Association Board Election Results

The American Farrier's Association (AFA) announced the results of its new governance board election tonight via email from election committee chair Don Gustafson.

The AFA board was formerly made up of representatives of some 60-odd "chapter" organizations around the United States and Canada. The reformed government consists of an executive committee and three representatives from five regions.

And the winners who will test the new form of governance, according to Gustafson, are :

Region 1 (135 ballots cast)

3 Year Term – Bill Searle, CJF, #819, OR (103 votes)

2 Year Term – Jason Harmeson, CJF, #1371, CA (88 votes)

1 Year Term – Pat Gallahan, CJF, #2986, AZ (82 votes)

Thanks also to Kenny Lyon, CJF.


Region 2
(164 ballots cast)

3 Year Term – Dusty Franklin, CJF, #4361, OK (102 votes)

2 Year Term – Alan Larson, CJF, #2785, TX (92 votes)

1 Year Term – Dennis Manning, CJF, #270, UT (74 votes)

Thanks also to Michael Chance, CJF, and Walt Taylor, CF.


Region 3
(173 ballots cast)

3 Year Term – Roy Bloom, CJF, #1102, WI (129 votes)

2 Year Term – Dave Farley, CF, #1516, OH (88 votes)

1 Year Term – Garnett Oetjens, CJF, #2038, MI (48 votes)

Thanks also to Rick Burten, CJF, David Kleinendorst, CF, Dion O’Brien, CJF,
William J. (Toby) Tobler, CF and Chris Zizian.


Region 4
(181 ballots cast)

3 Year Term – Dan Bradley, #522, MS (106 votes)

2 Year Term – Jerry Langdon, CJF, #1879, NC (103 votes)

1 Year Term – Steve Davis, CF, #3980, TN (97 votes)

Thanks also to Ron Kramedjian, CF and Mike (Dr. Michael) Miller, CJF.


Region 5
(147 ballots cast)

3 Year Term – Bruce Daniels, CJF, #460, NJ (125 votes)

2 Year Term – Steve Kraus, CJF, #360, NY (103 votes)

1 Year Term – Jack Millman, CJF, #1489, MA (85 votes)

Thanks also to Mike Givney, CF and Sean McClure.

Thanks to the AFA for providing these results. A more detailed report is available at http://www.americanfarriers.org/

Vettec Launches Sole-Guard for Barefoot Horses at Cincinnati Conference

Start to finish application of the new Sole-Guard material.

Sole support and hoof protection ramped off in a new direction today at the International Hoof Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hoof repair specialist manufacturer Vettec Inc. added to its family of hoof repair and sole support products with an adhesive sole support product that is designed to alleviate foot soreness in newly-barefoot horses,or in other sore situations where shoes can't be used, and will stay in place for up to three weeks, according to Vettec vice-president/general manager Frank Rovelli.

"Sole-Guard™ is the first product of its kind to offer fast and effective protection and support for the unshod foot," Rovelli told Hoofcare and Lameness today at our booth in the trade show. "(The hoofcare professsional) simply fills the bottom of the foot with Sole-Guard, creating a protective coating that bonds to the foot for three weeks (in most weather/environmental conditions)."

"Sole-Guard sets firm to protect the unshod foot, but retains flexibility to move naturally with the foot, providing comfort and support," he continued. "Sole-Guard provides complete protection and support in one easy application."

He did mention that an application "gun" is needed and that is should be applied by professionals experienced with its use.

Photos of the new product will be added to this post. He also mentioned that the price point will be about $30 per tube and that should do four feet. This seems like a great application for barefoot broodmares and newly-shoeless-but-ouchy horses.