Related Posts with Thumbnails

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Great Britain Publishes Proposed Welfare Guidelines for Hoof Trimming; Distinctions Held Between Farrier, Trimmer and Veterinarian Roles

The National Equine Welfare Council of Great Britain has taken a very big bull by the horns with the publication of welfare guidelines in the trimming of horses by persons other than registered farriers and veterinarians. The first-ever guidelines were published this week, and herald the opening of a 30-day period during which time trimmers and others may comment on the proposed regulations.

The two-page document speaks firmly to the need for painfree trimming of barefoot horses, while adding a proviso that newly-barefoot horses may be painful during transition. According to the guidelines, sore barefoot horses need to be aided with oversight "including the use of protective boots and limited workload to ensure there is no pain or suffering."

The provisional text adds that "Care should be taken to ensure that any protective boots are fitted properly to avoid significant injury from straps and fixings."

In what appears to be a victory for those making a living as hoof trimmers, the regulations stop short of specifying any sort of minimum training standards, examinations or registration for trimmers. Farriers, on the other hand, will still be required to complete college training and a four-year formal apprenticeship before being allowed to shoe a horse for pay.

Under British law, only a registered (graduate) farrier may apply a horseshoe. Under the Farriers (Registration) Act of 1975 horse owners have the legal right to trim their own horses' feet, but may not put on shoes or attempt to change the shape of the horse's feet.

The new regulations specify the involvement of a veterinarian in the treatment and management of horses with hoof disease or lameness, but the language is quite vague as to when a horse's hoof problems are considered lameness vs. superficial or mechanical defects or hoof capsule deformation that may cause pain or gait abnormality.

In 2006, two British horse owners were convicted for following what were deemed to be "radical" methods advocated by German veterinarian Dr Hiltrud Strasser; the court held that the practices used lead to the unnecessary suffering of the horses in their care. No veterinary supervision was provided in that case, which involved laminitis. (See Hoof Blog posts for 17 July 2006, 31 August 2006 and 7 September 2006.)

The true acid test of the new guidelines will no doubt be the treatment of laminitis by hoof trimmers without veterinary supervision. Many claim to obtain excellent results on laminitic horses with changes in lifestyle, diet and judicious hoof trimming and dismiss the need for pain medication, radiographs and veterinary supervision. The new guidelines would suggest that trimmers should obtain precise interpretation of the new equine welfare violations if working without veterinary supervision.

"Having a code of practice will allow the (equine welfare) charities to intervene at an earlier point when they see someone is doing work that should be undertaken by a vet or farrier," commented the British Equine Veterinary Association's Chris House, who is chairman of the NEWC's equine hoofcare sub-committee.

Attached to this post are two jpeg files (below), each representing one page of the proposed British guidelines. If I have created these documents correctly, you should be able to click or double click on them (depending on your web browser setup) and they should enlarge to full page size for you to read on the screen or print out on letter-size paper. (Sorry, if it doesn't work on your system. They are large high-resolution files that may take some time to open or download.)

These documents are part of a legal process and should not be altered. Please respect the posting of these documents for your personal information. Remember that these are "in process" documents provided for comment and these regulations only affect hoof trimmers in the United Kingdom.

Blogger's Commentary: It's not likely that any proposed regulations could please all parties. I'd interpret these rules as a victory for hoof trimming as an unregulated profession in a country where almost everything else seems to be regulated. As I read this document, it is also an endorsement of the value of hoof boots when fitted properly and a warning that improper use of hoof boots would be contrary to horse welfare regulations.

Hoof Blog readers from Great Britain may comment to the NEWC using forms available on their website. Deadline for response is midnight, April 30, 2008.


Friends (No Longer) At Work: Florida Farrier Dirk Braak Shoes His Last Horse

Mr. Dirk Braak, an icon of farriers in the state of Florida, announced his retirement and stuck to it. He will no longer be shoeing horses for his long-time customers in the Tampa area.

Dirk's long career and colorful ways were beautifully documented in an article in today's Plant City Courier and Tribune.

Dirk learned his farrier skills at the Eastern School of Farriery (now Danny Ward's Horseshoeing School) in Martinsville, Virginia in 1967. His retirement date, April 8, is timed to the day so that his career will have spanned forty years since he left farrier school.

In the article, Dirk remembers that he slept in the front seat of his pickup truck while at school because he couldn't afford the dormitory fee. But he desperately wanted to learn to be a farrier.

After moving to Florida, Dirk sparked interest in farrier meetings in the Tampa area, which led to the formation of the Florida State Farrier's Association.

I have known Dirk for at least 25 years. He is passionate about his profession and has always been a leader. I can't imagine him doing anything else but I'm sure he will give anything he undertakes his all. I hope he will continue to wear his trademark suspenders!

His customers will have to learn what it's like to find and keep and pay a new farrier. How lucky they have been to have had Dirk on their farms and in their lives.

In addition to the story, the Tampa Bay Tribune has a slide show of Dirk working on their website. (Click or double-click on a photo to enlarge it for viewing.) Please read the article!

Good luck, Dirk, we'll miss you!

Photos of Dirk Braak courtesy of the Tampa Bay Tribune.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Anatomy Class in Vermont Today

The snow is falling and the roads don't look too inviting, so I won't be attending the Vermont Farriers Association's clinic today. Allie Hayes of Horsescience is giving one of her stellar anatomy classes, and I was hoping I could get there.

If you're already in Vermont, here are the coordinates: Howden Hall, 19 West Street, Bristol, Vermont (about 30 miles south of Burlington); time: 8:30 AM to 2:00 PM. Diane Saunders is the organizer: 802-453-3750.

The Vermont Farriers Association is a terrific organization that welcomes both mainstream farriers and newstream hoof trimmers, and they all seem to get along. Vermont's that kind of place. If you ever have a chance to attend a VFA event, go.

Click or double-click on the image at left to see an enlarged example of one of Allie's leg models. One of the "ah-ha!" moments at her clinics is seeing legs of horses at different stages of growth and development, side by side. Or, seeing a normal foal leg like this one compared to that of a foal with a limb deviation. What looks like minor "toe in" or "toe out" from the outside is interesting to study within the limb when you have an aid like this.

A "growth plate" is the softer cartilage portion of the foal's bones, where growth takes place. The plates gradually ossify (turn to bone) or "close", but at different stages of development, so that corrective trimming of the hoof may be helpful for certain deviations, but only until a certain age. You may have heard it asked of a Thoroughbred colt, "Have his knees closed yet?"

It makes a big difference where a conformational/skeletal deviation is, what type of deviations it is, and how old the foal is when treatment begins. Some deviations require surgical intervention, while some respond to splints, extension shoes, frequent hoof trimming and increase or decrease in exercise and nutritional values.

The leg you are seeing has been surgically prepared and then freeze-dried by Horsescience for use as a permanent study or teaching aid by equine professionals. Order yours at horsescience.com.

Vet school anatomy class image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Big Day for Horse Racing Dawns...on the Internet

It's a great day for horse racing. Some of the world's best horses, representing 16 different countries, have been keeping cool in air-conditioned quarantine stables at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse in Dubai, capital city of the United Arab Emirates. They will be on the track today for the world's richest day of racing: more than $20 million in prize money is at stake in the Dubai World Cup.

You might think that I'll be down at the pub with the big-screen high-definition television monitors to watch the races...but you're wrong. The Dubai World Cup will not be televised, except on the subscription-only racing networks for handicap aficionados with dish services.

So instead of explaining horse racing to the folks down at the pub, I'll be huddled over a computer monitor, since ESPN just announced that they will "broadcast" the races live on their espn360.com web site.

Make no mistake: the world's best horses, including the world's #1 racehorse (2007 Horse of the Year Curlin), will be running for more than $21 million, but there is not enough of an audience for television coverage by a network.

There is enough of an audience (ESPN believes) for a live broadcast of the Florida Derby from Gulfstream at 5 p.m., presumably because it is one of the final prep races for the Kentucky Derby.

People will watch poker, though. I'd rather watch Curlin.


Top American racehorse Curlin is the overwhelming favorite to win today's Dubai World Cup. If your internet service provider has an agreement with ESPN, you can watch the races live today on espn360.com. The Hoofcare office has Verizon dsl, which is an ESPN internet partner, so I can watch. The races start at 9:30 EST, with the Big Race going off around 1:30 p.m. EST. I think there is a nine-hour time difference, so do the math: these races will be under lights. Let's hope Curlin's a night owl. Two interesting factoids about this day of racing: admission to the racecourse is free to the public. And there's no betting.


Photo of Curlin by Dave Harmon, courtesy of Dubai World Cup Media Centre. Thanks!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friends at Work: Michael Bell Helps Hooves in Need


Farrier Michael Bell spends some time each week with the least glamourous horses in the equestrian world. He's the farrier at Horse World, the Friends of Bristol Horses rehabilitation farm in Bristol, England.

You'll find him rubbing up against the horses with sweet itch, mange and he probably sometimes feel a bony hip poking him...a bony hip that should be padded with flesh.

Take a moment to read the shelter's nice article about how much they appreciate Michael, and consider the neglected hooves of the rescue foundered pony, below. The owner received a two-year ban from owning horses and was forced to pay over $3000 in fines and court costs.

Note: “Friends At Work” is a regular feature of Fran Jurga's 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, or use the "search" box at the upper left of this page to find more "friends". You could be next!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Viagra: Will A Little Blue Pill Be the Next Big Hope for Laminitis Therapy? Some Vets Think So

Today, March 27, is the tenth anniversary of Pfizer’s launch of the drug Viagra.

Disclaimer: This post is published as "food for thought" only. Please contact your veterinarian about the possible benefits of vasodilation therapy for individual cases of laminitis and remember that the mention of Viagra in this article is based on a veterinarian's anecdotal experience with its use in a combined medication/therapy program and that Viagra's use is countered by other laminitis experts quoted at the end of the article.

Viagra’s primary use was discovered by accident, during clinical trials. The drug’s active ingredient is sildenafil citrate, a cardiovascular drug that was being tested for its ability to lower blood pressure. Test subjects started asking for more.

Since then, sildenafil citrate has helped rare Panda bears regain interest in breeding at zoos. The newest hope for the little blue pill is that it may be a potent treatment for jet lag. Hamsters given sildenafil citrate recovered from jet lag 50 percent faster than those without it.

Studies at Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and published by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) found sildenafil citrate helpful for dogs with pulmonary hypertension. Veterinary researchers in Turkey found it helpful in canine wound healing.

A quick search of the web suggests that sildenafil citrate is being tested for EIPH (“bleeder syndrome”) in racehorses and for breeding problems in some stallions in Europe. Horse and Hound reported that a German judge ordered Viagra therapy for a stallion during a post-sale dispute, and in Italy, racehorses have tested positive for the drug.

But what about laminitis? Vasodilation therapy is encouraged by some veterinarians, and dismissed by others. And not all vasodilators work in the same way.

California's James Giacopuzzi DVM, who started his career as a farrier and now calls himself “a shoeing vet”, strongly recommends sildenafil citrate (Viagra) for laminitis therapy. He writes enthusiastically, “Viagra is a drug with extremely strong vasodilatory effects and will dilate all capillary beds including the coronary band and blood vessels to the feet. Try it! It works especially with the sinkers.”

His treatment regimen for laminitis includes most traditional medications used by other equine-specialist veterinarians, plus the Platinum Performance supplement Hemoflow, in hopes of nitric oxide enhancement.

His Viagra therapy is roughly ten days on followed by ten days off, so he can monitor the pulse in the foot. “If the pulse comes back, I put them back on it,” he said.

In a telephone interview with Hoofcare and Lameness Journal, Giccopuzzi said that he thought about laminitis as a potential application for Viagra as soon as he read about the drug’s chemical composition. “I started using it on the next founder case,” he said. “And I’ve been using it ever since.” He noted how difficult it was to stimulate blood flow to the damaged capillary beds in the horse’s foot.

“I like to think of the coronary band as a penis for the foot,” he said, “in terms of the way that most people think of Viagra therapy. I’d rather see people spend money on Viagra for their foundered horses than (to spend it) on Bute.”

He also recommends it for specific cases of sore heels, along with corrective shoeing, when indicated by scintigraphy. “I can see the change in the nuclear scan after 30 days,” he said.

Not everyone agrees it’s worth a try. In May 2007, the Blood-Horse.com conducted an interactive web interview with Dr. Dean Richardson, head of surgery at the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center. He is widely remembered as the veterinarian who cared for the 2005 Kentucky Derby winner, Barbaro, whose death was linked to complications of severe laminitis following surgery for a complex hind leg fracture.

During that interview, an anonymous Texas veterinarian queried the famous surgeon about the viability of Viagra in laminitis therapy, saying that he was having excellent results combining mechanical de-rotation (of the foot) with Viagra (as medical therapy).

Richardson responded: “Viagra is a specific type of phosphodiesterase inhibitor. This means that it regulates blood flow in a very specific manner. The problem with phosphodiesterase inhibitors is that they are highly variable in terms of which tissues they affect and there is also considerable variation among species.

“I don't believe that there is yet any good evidence about efficacy or safety of sildenafil or any other commercially available related drug in horses.”

When asked about the potential use of Viagra for laminitis, researcher David Hood DVM PhD of the Hoof Project in Bryan, Texas was quiet for a minute, then responded, “Well, yes, but we don’t really know. It has never been studied. There are no tests.

“Another drug to consider along those lines,” he continued, “is Minoxidil (Rogaine), the hair-growth treatment. You could make a similar argument for it.”

Let the jokes begin, but we have seen many strange things on the road to a cure for laminitis. This is just the latest, and it probably won’t be the last. If more people come forward to give anecdotal testimony, perhaps some sort of study will materialize. Or, perhaps a formal study is already underway.

Thanks to Dr. Giacopuzzi for sharing his success stories and enthusiasm and imagination.

Photo links to healthjockey.com

All HoofBlog text and images © Hoofcare Publishing 2008 unless otherwise noted.

To learn more about new research, products, and treatments for the horse's hooves and legs as reported to veterinarians and farriers in the award-winning "Hoofcare & Lameness Journal",
go to http://www.hoofcare.com

Direct “subscribe now” link to Hoofcare & Lameness Journal: http://www.hoofcare.com/subscribe.html

Contact Hoofcare Publishing anytime:
tel 978 281 3222 fax 978 283 8775 email bloginquiry@hoofcare.com

Visit Hoofcare’s ever-changing “Book Sale Blog” for closeouts, great bargains and rare finds for your studies, reference, or vacation reading!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Molly the Pony Romps to a New Role in Life…on Three Legs

Molly the Pony, photo © Pam Kaster

MOLLY THE PONY BOOK UPDATE: Molly's book is now in its third printing! Use the instructions at the end of this email to order yours or just call 978 281 3222. Molly continues to be in great health. Pricing and order info at the end of this article.

Meet Molly. She’s a gray-speckled pony who was left behind by her owners when Katrina hit southern Louisiana. She spent weeks on her own before finally being rescued and taken to a farm where abandoned animals were being cared for. While there, she was attacked by a rescued pit bull terrier, and almost died. Molly's gnawed right front leg became badly infected and her vet went to the equine hospital at Louisiana State University (LSU) for help. But LSU was overwhelmed, and this pony was an equine refugee. No American Express card dangled from her frayed halter. If you've ever had an animal in need of major surgery, you know what the criteria is.

But after the local veterinarian persisted, LSU surgeon Rustin Moore agreed to meet Molly face to face, and that meeting changed his mind. He saw how the pony was careful to lie down on different sides so she didn't seem to get sores, and how she allowed people to handle her raw, infected limb. When she stood up, she protected her injured leg. She constantly shifted her weight, and didn’t overload her good leg. She was a smart pony with a serious survival ethic.

Dr. Moore agreed to remove her leg below the knee in a very special surgical procedure and a temporary artificial limb was built. The Humane Society of the United States and Lifesavers Inc. (an animal-angel arm of Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue in California) provided the funds for the operation. Molly walked out of the clinic and her story really begins there.

“This was the right horse and the right owner," Moore insists. “Molly happened to be a one-in-a-million patient. She’s tough as nails, but sweet, and she was willing to cope with pain. She made it obvious she understood (that) she was in trouble.”

The other important factor, according to Moore, is having a truly committed and compliant owner who is dedicated to providing the daily care required over the lifetime of the horse. For the rest of her life, Molly will be at risk for the terrible disease called laminitis, which often affects horses who bear unequal weight on their legs and makes amputation a controversial option for many horses. But expert care has kept Molly free of laminitis.

Molly’s story has turned into a parable for life in post-Katrina Louisiana. The little pony gained weight, her mane felt a comb. A human prosthesis designer built her a leg.

“The prosthetic has given Molly a whole new life,” Allison Barca DVM, Molly's regular vet, reports. “And she asks for it! She will put her little limb out, and come to you and let you know that she wants you to put it on. Sometimes she wants you to take it off too." And sometimes, Molly gets away from Barca. “It can be pretty bad when you can't catch a three-legged horse,” she laughs.

Most important of all, Molly has a job now. Kaye, the shelter farm owner, started taking Molly to shelters, hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers--anywhere she thought that people needed hope after losing so much in the storm. Wherever Molly went, she showed people her pluck. She inspired people. And she had a good time doing it.

“It’s obvious to me that Molly had a bigger role to play in life,” Moore said, “She survived the hurricane, she survived a horrible injury, and now she is giving hope to others.”

“She's not back to normal,” Barca concluded. “She's going to be better. To me, she could be a symbol for New Orleans itself.”

This month, Molly the Pony, a children’s book about the pony who has already inspired thousands of people around New Orleans, has been published.

It’s not a book about amputation or prosthetics, it’s a book about people and a pony. But the photos you see here are a few of the great ones from the book.

Maybe Molly won’t make the vet textbooks, but she might reach more people from the pages of this book for children. If you know a child, a library, a hospital, or maybe a therapeutic riding program that can use a lift, here’s a book that can do that. And a lot more.

HOW TO ORDER: This book is oversized, (approx 10 x 10") with a "laminated" cover (so it wipes clean). It is a hard-cover book. It will arrive in a large, flat mailer and may not fit in your mailbox.

Hoofcare Publishing is proud to offer it for sale to you at the price of $16 each plus $6 post. A portion of the sales price will go toward Molly's fund.

Update: Molly the Pony has been awarded the 2008 Henry Bergh Award from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for children's books about animals.

Click here for our faxable, mailable, printable order form.

To order by mail, send check or money to Hoofcare Books, 19 Harbor Loop, Gloucester MA 01930.

To order by phone, call in orders to (USA) 978 281 3222.

To order by fax, transmit orders to (USA) 978 283 8775.

NOTE: FOREIGN ORDERS require $15 per book postage.

EMAIL orders to directly books@hoofcare.com or franjurga@earthlink.net. Visa or Mastercard accepted; please supply account number and expiration date. When ordering, please give phone and/or email details.

You will LOVE this book--and Molly!

PS Many, many thanks to all the people who are forwarding the link to this story around the web--and around the world. This has been the most popular story ever posted on this blog, and deservedly so.

Interesting to note: almost everyone who has called was ordering as a gift for a child with some sort of a hurdle to overcome. It is the perfect gift for that...and I am so moved by the stories that callers have told me. Thank you, everyone. This is truly a "grassroots" effort since neither the university nor I has the funds to properly promote Molly and her story. She's an underground classic!

To forward this blog article, just click on the little envelope icon at the end of this story, if there is one, or copy and paste the address from the browser window.


This is Molly's most recent prosthesis. The bottom photo shows the ground surface that she stands on, which has a smiley face embossed in it. Wherever Molly goes, she leaves a smiley hoof print behind! (Photos © Kaye Harris)

Here's Molly at her new job! In the book you will see her with children in wheelchairs. She's just the right height to look them in the eye! As a matter of fact, Molly looks everyone in the eye, no matter how tall they are! (Photo © Pam Kaster)

All HoofBlog text and images © Hoofcare Publishing 2008 unless otherwise noted. Molly's photos from the book MOLLY THE PONY by Pam Kaster. Most photos of Molly are © Pam Kaster.

Web page on MOLLY THE PONY book: http://www.hoofcare.com/mollythepony.html

To learn more about new research, products, and treatments for the horse's hooves and legs as reported to veterinarians and farriers in the award-winning "Hoofcare & Lameness Journal",
go to http://www.hoofcare.com

Direct “subscribe now” link to Hoofcare & Lameness Journal: http://www.hoofcare.com/subscribe.html

Contact Hoofcare Publishing anytime:
tel 978 281 3222 fax 978 283 8775 email bloginquiry@hoofcare.com

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dutch Team Farrier and Vet Check Olympic Prospects

Legendary Dutch trainer Tineke Bartels (also mother of team rider Imke Schellekens-Bartels), team farrier Rob Renirie and Dutch Olympic sports coordinator Ad Wagemakers.

The World Cup Dressage Finals may be only a few days away, but the Dutch dressage team has set its eyes on Hong Kong.

Last week, the short-listed horses and riders who will likely represent the Netherlands at the 2008 Olympics were inspected by a trio who have their best interests at heart: team veterinarian Jan Greve, team farrier Rob Renirie, and Dutch Olympic team sports coordinator Ad Wagemakers.

Sjef Janssen is once again trainer for the dressage team; he organized a group session at his headquarters in Erp.

The Dutch will have home court advantage at the World Cup this weekend; it will be held at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands.

Learn more on the website of Dutch rider Anky Van Grunsven.


Team vet Jan Greve listens to the heart of Dutch team prospect Hunter Douglas Sunrise, as rider Imke Schellekens-Bartels holds him.

Note: all photos used in this post reside at anky.nl. Thanks, Anky!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Rags-to-Breeding Shed: Thanks for the Memories

Rags to Riches in Saratoga last summer. Photo by Fran Jurga, no use without permission, which is easy to obtain.

There were plenty of riches along the way, but 2007's top filly, Belmont Stakes winner Rags to Riches is leaving the racetrack forever. Trainer Todd Pletcher announced today that she re-injured her pastern, which just healed from a hairline fracture.

Thousands of American racing fans and horse lovers simultaneously sighed when the news hit.

After a combination of fevers, injuries and a dismal return to racing for a single race last fall, Rags seemed destined to live in her own shadow. Did she run her heart right out when she battled 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin to the wire in the Belmont last June (and beat him, after running a mile-and-a-half)?

We'll never know. But Curlin came back and regained his winning ways. There was never a re-match between the top filly and top colt. He'll run this weekend in the Dubai World Cup and hopefully will return to the States for the Grade 1 older horses stakes circuit this summer.

I know what you're thinking and I agree. Rags will be bred immediately to Giant's Causeway, a top sire and a stunning racehorse. But maybe in a year or two, let's hope the Ashford Stud powers-that-be have a romantic side and breed her to Curlin once he retires (hopefully, safe and sound). But I'm happy to watch him race for as many years as his connections will let him.

Rags was great for racing, while she lasted. She even had her own blog. I'm sure hers got a lot more traffic than mine...and I wouldn't have it any other way.

You can relax now, filly.

New Podiatry Center Set to Open in Texas

Dr. Conklin with the famous Quarter horse mare Royal Blue Boon, who was one of his patients when she suffered from laminitis. The mare is the leading dam of cutting horses, and the dam of the great Peptoboonsmal. "She is living out her days at her owners' ranch, is virtually pain free from the laminitis and hasn't had any complications in over a year. She has arthritis but gets along really good for being 27 years old," says Conklin's technician, Kelsey Bohannon.

In just a week, the doors will open on a new podiatry center in the heart of cutting horse country in Weathersford, Texas, west of Fort Worth.

The 3,000 square foot, climate-controlled Podiatry Center at Reata will be the realization of a lifelong dream for Dr. Britt Conklin, a certified farrier and equine-specialist veterinarian, when it opens on April 1, 2008.

The new facility includes a complete farrier shop, several treatment areas, four stalls and a conference room. Clients will have the benefit of state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment such as Eklin digital radiography, venograms, GE Logiq 5 Ultrasound, MRI and bone scan modality access. Local farriers will have access to the facilities and diagnostic equipment to allow them to better serve the needs of their clients.

Cutting-edge treatments and services will include shock wave therapy, IRAP, stem cell therapy, sling and high scale bedding parameters, and customized diet, nutrition and rehabilitation plans for patients.

“We are excited about the opportunities The Podiatry Center at Reata will offer Texas horsemen,” said Conklin. “A top-notch equine podiatry center has been a goal of mine for many years. Having such a center available and easily accessible will allow us to better serve the horses by offering the best possible care and treatment of all hoof problems.”

Dr. Conklin worked as a farrier to put himself through undergraduate school at Texas Tech University and attended veterinary school at Texas A & M University. While at A&M, he apprenticed under Danny Taylor CJF, PhD, who in turn worked in conjunction with Dr. David Hood on "The Hoof Project"; Taylor earned his PhD for his research in the biomechanics of the equine foot’s digital cushion.

Dr. Conklin is co-owner of Reata Equine Hospital, and he has dedicated the majority of his practice to equine podiatry. He is very passionate in his research and is continually working to find new and more improved ways to prevent and treat laminitis.

“We do 90 percent of our work on cutting/reining horses, but have several dressage/eventing barns as well,” Dr. Conklin writes.

Reata Equine Hospital is a seven-doctor referral practice, located five miles south of I-20 in Weatherford, Texas. It houses complete reproductive, surgical, sports medicine facilities in addition to the new podiatry center. Veterinarians on staff include a board certified theriogenologist, surgeon, and certified farrier.

For additional information on The Podiatry Center at Reata, please contact Kelsey Bohannon by phone at 817-599-9635 or via e-mail at brittconklindvm@reataequinehospital.com.



Dr. Conklin bandages a patient's legs.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

American Farrier's Association to Provide Farriers for 2010 Games

(Note: this is an official press release received today from the World Equestrian Games 2010 Foundation, confirming news reports previously published on this blog. It is published in its entirety without edits or interpretation and contains no graphic symbols or images.)

LEXINGTON, KY- The World Games 2010 Foundation today announced that the American Farrier's Association has been named the Official Certified Farriers of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

As the Official Certified Farriers, the American Farrier's Association will provide a farriery on the venue grounds of the Kentucky Horse Park from September 11 until October 10, 2010. Two farriers will be on site per day for the two weeks prior to the Games, and up to six farriers will be on site daily during the 16 days of competition, depending on the event schedule. Athletes will be charged on an individual basis for farrier services according to their needs.

"We are so pleased to have this partnership with the American Farrier's Association," said Competition Director Kate Jackson. "We know that the equine athletes competing in these world championships will be in professional and skilled hands."

"Naming the American Farrier's Association as the Official Certified Farriers of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games constitutes a true honor for our organization. While this event showcases competition, it's genuinely built upon cooperation, and our association is pleased to be a part of this international effort that will bring us together in Lexington," said Andrew Elsbree, CJF, President, American Farrier's Association. "We look forward to 2010 and the opportunity for our AFA Certified Farriers to offer participants the finest in hoofcare services."

Headquartered in the Kentucky Horse Park's National Horse Center, the American Farrier's Association (AFA) focuses on improving equine welfare through excellence in the practice of hoofcare and farriery. As North America's premier farrier organization, the AFA centers upon five basic tenets: certification, education, communication, research, and innovation. Working through the AFA's education and certification programs, AFA farriers provide exceptional, professional services for horses and the people who use and enjoy them.

"Many of the horses competing in the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games will be there, in part, due to the ongoing, exceptional work of AFA Certified Farriers," said Elsbree. "We are honored to have the opportunity to continue providing excellent care throughout the Games."

The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, to be held at the Kentucky Horse Park September 25-October 10, 2010, are the world championships of the eight equestrian disciplines recognized by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), and are held every four years. The Games have never before been held outside of Europe, nor have all eight disciplines ever previously been held together at a single site- both firsts that will be achieved at the Kentucky Horse Park. The 2010 Games are expected to have a statewide economic impact of $150 million. It is anticipated that more than 600,000 spectators will attend the 16-day competition.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Humane Society of the United States Announces $10,000 Reward for Information on Horse Soring in Tennessee

(this is an abbreviated version of an HSUS press release received March 18, 2008)

The Humane Society of the United States has announced it will offer a reward of $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any violator of Tennessee's "horse soring" law, which prohibits the deliberate infliction of pain to horses' feet to produce an artificially high-stepping gait.

Ads announcing the reward will appear throughout middle Tennessee, an area still believed to be a hotbed of soring activity.

The soring of Tennessee Walking Horses and other breeds of gaited show horses is one of the most heinous forms of abuse inflicted upon equines in the U.S. The practice involves the use of caustic chemicals and chains on the legs of the horse, creating severe pain and forcing an exaggerated, high-stepping gait.

Pressure shoeing — another especially egregious form of soring — is the abusive technique of cutting a horse's hoof almost to the bloodline so the shoe puts painful pressure on the horse's sole with each stride. In some instances, foreign objects are placed between the hoof and the shoe to create painful pressure on the sole.

Passage of a federal law (the 1970 Horse Protection Act) has not had the intended effect of eliminating soring. Tennessee also has a state law prohibiting soring, but enforcement of these laws has proven difficult.

Anyone with information on this cruel practice should call 1-866-411-TEAM (8326). The Humane Society of the United States will protect the identity of all callers.

(Editor's note: please read this announcement carefully: this reward apparently only applies to alleged violations within the state of Tennessee)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Have some fun today! This photo is from sport.yahoo.com's coverage of this year's Cheltenham Festival of steeplechase racing in England.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Hoof Blog Retrospective: Slide Show for the 500th Article Published



Photo highlights from the first 500 posts on Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog.

Sometimes a good idea sticks, and that has been the story with this blog. We now have 500 stories posted here and hundreds of people visit this blog daily...from every corner of the planet. Most zip in to grab details of a single story (Tildren and collateral ligament injuries are always at the top of the list) or watch a video. Others, mostly loyal Hoofcare and Lameness Journal subscribers, start at the top and read the new posts each day.

An uncountable number of people read this blog by email now and many more read an RSS feed of the headlines on their Yahoo/Google/AOL newsreader pages (but miss all the photos and videos). This blog now have a "widget" of code that will display the headlines on anyone's web site or blog (just ask).

No matter how they read it, people do read it. I know because so many leave encouraging or disparaging remarks, usually by email. These remarks either make or break my day.

The only thing that gets me up in the morning (or keeps me up late at night) to post these stories is the positive feedback from the people who tell me that they check the blog before they head out off to work or the barn/track/forge/clinic or when they get home at night. That, and wanting to share with you all the news of the hoof.

It's just too interesting to keep to myself.

Thank you all for reading and for the emails and occasional comments. Thanks for being patient about the erratic publishing schedule of Hoofcare and Lameness. Thanks for being not passive readers of the news, but the makers of the news. This blog is yours.

All HoofBlog text and images © Hoofcare Publishing 2008 unless otherwise noted.

To learn more about new research, products, and treatments for the horse's hooves and legs as reported to veterinarians and farriers in the award-winning "Hoofcare & Lameness Journal",
go to http://www.hoofcare.com
Contact Hoofcare Publishing anytime:
tel 978 281 3222 or fax 978 283 8775 or email bloginquiry@hoofcare.com

British Farrier/Vet Conference Planned for April


The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) and the National Association of Farriers, Blacksmiths and Agricultural Engineers (NAFBAE) have joined forces to present an informative and stimulating one day conference with international speakers from the USA and The Netherlands.

The Diagnosis and Management of Conditions of the Foot: An International Approach will be held on Monday, April 14 in Nottingham, England.

The event will feature a Commercial Exhibition, strongly supported by manufacturers of equipment and related products, which presents an ideal opportunity to acquire the latest tools and materials and discuss the application of new techniques.

This conference sold out when last run. The event will be held on a Monday, at the East Midlands Conference Centre in Nottingham, a slightly larger venue than in previous years, with tiered seating and enhanced audio-visual aids to improve the ability to present to a large audience.

Speakers and topics include:
MRI of the equine foot (Application of a new technique and its implications): Tim Mair
Useful foot-related measurements from the horse and its radiographs: Richard Mansmann
Advances in diagnostic techniques: Peter Clegg
Pressure mat analysis in the assessment of foot balance: Ian Hughes
International perspective: Meike Van Heel (replacing Pascal Ebel)
Pathological conditions of the donkey foot: Karen Rickards & Colin Goldsworthy
Slip and grip (Dynamics of the hoof): Chris Pardoe
Foot measurements in approaching clinical cases: Richard Mansmann

Unfortunately Pascal Ebel of The Netherlands,who was scheduled to speak, has been injured and will be replaced by Dr Meike Van Heel. Van Heel is a movement scientist, equine physiotherapist, and part of the same team at Utrecht as Ebel. Meike Van Heel completed her PhD on "the effects of trimming and shoeing warmblood horses" and has developed a prototype horseshoe which benefits the horse’s joint load and limb movement. She has also carried out studies into the development of uneven feet in foals due to grazing behavior and conformation.

Click here to download the updated program schedule. (A one-page Adobe Acrobat pdf file will automatically download from the NAFBAE web site.)

Click here to download the seminar's complete color brochure. (A larger Adobe Acrobat pdf file will automatically download from the NAFBAE web site.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Inside Track: Summit Sessions on Shoeing and Surfaces at Next Week's Jockey Club Racehorse Welfare and Safety Meeting


The second Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit will be held Monday, March 17, and Tuesday, March 18, at the Keeneland Sales Pavilion.

Most of the topics to be covered will be of great interest to Hoof Blog readers, in particular reports on committee studies of hoof care and horseshoeing, synthetic racetrack surfaces and injuries in racing.

Click here to read a complete press release describing the mission of this meeting and its unique structure for dynamic planning sessions and also visit the Summit's web site, which describes accomplishments of the first Summit, held in October 2006. Several PowerPoint presentations are available at that site's "Presentations" menu for download and study, including Bill Casner's animated slide show on the detrimental effects of toe grabs. (Note: this is a 7 MB PowerPoint file. Download only if you are sure your system is capable.)

Fran Jurga of Hoofcare Publishing will be one of 60 participants in the study groups. Fran joins shoeing and hoof care committee members Bill Casner (chair), Dr. Rick Arthur, Ed Bowen, Bob Curran, Bob Elliston, Dr. Rob Gillette, John Harris, Richard Mandella, Chris McCarron. Wayne McIlwraith, Dan Metzger, Steve Norman, Denny Oeschlager, Dr. Mick Peterson, Todd Pletcher, Richard Shapiro, Dr. Scott Stanley, Gary Stevens, Dr. Sue Stover and Mitch Taylor.

Mitch Taylor of Kentucky Horseshoeing School will present high-speed video studies of racehorses galloping on different surfaces wearing different shoes. Mitch has been building on his initial filming of horses with and without toe grabs that he presented at the "Hoofcare@Saratoga" forum last August and at the 4th International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot in November.

In the synthetic surfaces study group, Dr. Preston Hickman of the Wichita Equine and Sports Medicine Clinic, who also uses video analysis technology, will examine the potential causes of on-track injuries. Hickman was a farrier before becoming a veterinarian and is certified by the American Farrier's Association. He is a proponent of Dartfish motion analysis software. Below are some examples of Dartfish "Stromotion" images from the Dublin Horse Show and a short example of a clip of Dr. Preston's high-speed video.

This might be the most important meeting of the year. There is no charge to attend for audience members; there will be two public sessions, one of Monday morning and one on Tuesday afternoon (see schedule).

Please contact the Jockey Club for more information: (859) 224-2850.






All HoofBlog text and images © Hoofcare Publishing 2006-2008 unless otherwise noted. Please request permission to reproduce or capture images or content. This blog is available for delivery via RSS feed or as a daily email of new content.

To learn more about new research, products, and treatments for the horse's hooves and legs as reported to veterinarians and farriers in the award-winning "Hoofcare & Lameness Journal", go to http://www.hoofcare.com

Direct “subscribe now” link to Hoofcare & Lameness Journal: http://www.hoofcare.com/subscribe.html

Contact Hoofcare Publishing anytime:
tel 978 281 3222; fax 978 283 8775; email bloginquiry@hoofcare.com

Resource for Your Files: "Managing Equine Joint Inflammation" Free Download

LinkOur friends at Idexx have a free download of a roundtable discussion featuring leading university lameness veterinarians at Colorado State University and Texas A&M University on the topic of joint inflammation. If you click on this link the download should start.

The document is a 2.4MB Adobe Acrobat (PDF) file created by Veterinary Learning Systems. You should end up with a 16-page document that you can print or read on your screen.

Idexx is the manufacturer of Surpass, a topical anti-inflammatory medication, and many other medications and products for equine veterinary care. The special report covers all aspects of new developments for equine joint problems.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Back Then: Horseshoer Killed in Pancho Villa Raid into New Mexico

General Francisco "Pancho" Villa was the people's hero during the Mexican Civil War in the early 1900s; depending on which book you read, he was Braveheart with a great mustache...or Osama bin Laden in a sombrero.

Here's some history you won't find in any textbook.

Montana farrier Scott Simpson and I share a fascination with the history of a raid by Mexican General Francisco "Pancho" Villa, who slipped across the border and raided the town of Columbus, New Mexico at dawn on March 9, 1916.

I've always been interested in the raid because it inspired my uncle to enlist in the Cavalry to go after Villa, which he did...and his adventures in Mexico became the fodder for great storytelling sessions. General Patton, then a young officer, was there too. And they were all on horseback.

Pancho Villa's raid on Columbus was the last time a foreign government invaded the United States.

Here's what happened: Villa and 500 of his troops raided the border town of Columbus, New Mexico (due west of El Paso, Texas and south of Deming, NM). History is sympathetic to the rebels and tells us that they were raiding, not attacking; in the raid, the Mexicans killed eight solders and 10 civilians.

President Woodrow Wilson thought otherwise. He called it an invasion and sent General "Black Jack" Pershing into Chihuahua in pursuit of Pancho Villa, but it turned into a failed campaign. Villa hid in the countryside, aided by the Mexican people. (You know the songs.)

Pershing pulled out all the stops; this was probably the US military's first real confrontation with guerilla tactics. It was also the first time that cars, motorcycles and airplanes joined horses and mules for combat transport, although they often had to build roads for the cars.

A troop of crack Apache scouts was sent to Columbus from Arizona. In their documents is a specific military decree stating "The appointment or mustering of farriers or horseshoers on the rolls of Indian scouts is illegal." The Apaches had to supply their own horses, saddles, and take care of them themselves.

The whole story of the Mexican Civil War and the border conflict is a fascinating part of US history. Of course, it is ironic that today the border is again patrolled on horseback, as the Border Patrol looks for illegal immigrants.

But what you probably don't know about the Pancho Villa raid is that one of the soldiers killed by Villa was the troop horseshoer, Frank Kingvall, age 26. According to an old clipping from the New York Times, they draped his horse with black crepe and left it standing at the depot as the train bearing his body pulled out.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Friends at Work: Let's Clone Nicole Roberts!


You hear a lot these days about cloning horses. Top showjumpers, endurance horses, and especially those down-in-the-dirt cutting horses can now have their DNA recycled into a genetic match.

From where I sit, we need to not clone the horses but the horsemen, those people of either gender who are superb at understanding how to care for horses and, in particular, how to nurse them back to health after illness or injury.

We've always had layup farms, some of which include physical therapy, but most of which are benign holding facilities where racehorses can get some fresh air and a few hours in a paddock each day before they return to the track or maybe put on a few pounds and some dapples before they head to the sales ring.

But what if you had a dressage horse with a suspensory problem, a steeplechaser with a bad bow, a racehorse recovering from EPM and you couldn't provide the nursing care? Where would you send your horse? Who would you trust to bandage and medicate and just plain care for that horse? We live in a day of revolving barn helpers; if Miguel can't make it today, he sends his cousin, but his cousin isn't quite the poultice artist Miguel is. And if you're working on layups, poultice needs to be your art form.

My vote for cloning would be the people who are so good at care of lame horses. Whether it's a barefoot rehab farm or a high-tech racehorse recovery center, the care and results will only be as good as the skills and experience of the people who have their hands on the horse, day in and day out. The best intentions and Internet consultations won't take the place of "been there, done that, can do" and that takes years of experience and hundreds of horses to gain.

So we come to the story of Nicole Roberts. I'd like to say I know her, but I don't. I do know Dr. Midge Leitch, the vet who recommends that owners turn their recovering horses over to Nicole for care.

Today's Philadelphia Inquirer has an article about Nicole and her "halfway house" for recovering horses outside Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. The point of asking you to read this article is not that you will learn something about lameness, but that you will remember that there are people out there like Nicole.

I hope she takes on apprentices. It would be easy to say that she should write a book or make a dvd, but there is no substitute for hands-on experience with horses. Combine that experience with a genuine "feel" for horses and you have a valuable, if oft unsung, hero of the horse world who can often bring a horse back without sharing credit with high tech treatment tools or holistic cure-alls.

That's what they are talking about when they talk about horse sense. I hope you will take time to read the article and reflect on the role that people like Nicole play in our industry.

Favorite Video Clips: Underwater Treadmill at University of Minnesota



Thanks to twincities.com for this video clip of underwater treadmill at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine's new Leatherdale Equine Center in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. You're watching a Hanoverian recovering from arthroscopic fetlock surgery enjoying some physical therapy, with some nice closeup photography of the hooves underwater and a brief glimpse of Dr. Stephanie Valberg, the center's director.

Clinical Farriery: New Book from German Farrier Leader

It's foaling season all over the Northern Hemisphere: these post-mortem photos are a reminder of the amazing process that creates the hoof from very soft tissue. Photos provided by Uwe Lukas.

It is a pleasure to announce the publication of a new book on farriery. Gesunde Hufe--kein Zufal! by Uwe Lukas was published recently by FN Verlag in Germany and my copy finally floated over to these shores.

The title translates to: "Hoof Recovery: No Accident" (sort of), meaning that hoof rehabilitation, the author's specialty, requires skill, experience, and a plan. I am sure someone will leave a comment with a better translation.

Uwe is the chairman of the Erster Hufbeschlagsschmiede Verband (EDHV), a.k.a. the German farriers association. His client list reads like a "who's who" of international dressage and show jumping, but his heart seems to be back at the vet clinic; he is the farrier at Tierärztliche Klinik Telgte (Telgte Equine Hospital and surgical center) and is based in Warendorf, the site of the state stud of the Westphalian breed. He also "rehabs" horses by offering long-term residential care at his forge, especially for laminitis cases.

While most Americans will be scared away by the German text, the photos in the book are compelling. The foal correction and sport horse shoeing images are among the most instructive without translation, but it is fascinating to see that the bulk of the book is therapeutic cases that are treated with the most high-tech support materials (Vettec and Luwex hoof support materials earn a big thumbs-up from Uwe) but also the most basic German-type Werkman and Kerckhaert shoes and big e-head nails.

As in the Hoof Problems book by Rob Van Nassau from Holland, this book has many detailed cases of canker, various types of "loose wall" conditions, coronitis and nasty quarter cracks. It's hard to say if those problems are more prevalent in Europe or if both authors had access to unusually severe cases.

I know this blog is read around the world, and some readers can surely read German (or live there), so please consider purchasing this book. I have a shelf of German farrier and hufpflege (hoof nurse) books, but this one seems by far the most contemporary, and breaks some of the stereotypes about traditional German farriery. Surely we are evolving to an international playing field where it will become harder and harder to discern the nationality of the farrier by looking at the shoe, just as the warmblood horses themselves are now so hard to identify by nationality.

Aluminum shoes may be the last frontier between American and European farriers. The only aluminum shoe in Uwe's book is a lovely ultra-toe specimen attributed to Dr. Jean-Marie Denoix of France.

A unique part of the book explains how to clean feet; the text goes on for quite a while about tidiness in the stable. As Uwe cleans a foot, there's an explanation of how to use bucket underneath to catch the water and keep the floor clean. All the settings for the photos are very tidy.

Uwe's book is published by FN Verlag, the national equestrian association in Germany, and may be purchased through their web site's bookshop.

Thanks to Uwe and the EHDV for all the help they give to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal.



Monday, March 10, 2008

Cheltenham Runner is No Relation to Blogger


Thanks to everyone who has suggested placing a Transatlantic wager on the Scottish horse Big Eared Fran, who is entered in the Cheltenham Festival's Championship Bumper this week. The Festival is the biggest jump racing event in the year's calendar in the UK and creates quite a frenzy.

Big Eared Fran is by the famous flat racing sire Danehill and originally was destined for flat racing with the Coolmore Stud but has changed hands (and racing genres). Trained by the legendary Martin Pipe, the horse is named for his current part owner, former England and Rangers football player Francis Jeffers.

A win by a Scottish-owned horse at "the biggest show on turf" would be a Seriously Big Deal, since the festival is normally dominated by Irish horses and trainers.

The horses to watch are the super star Kauto Star and his stablemate Denman, both entered in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Kauto Star is recovering from a foot abscess but is expected to start.

Cheltenham is in the scenic Cotswolds district of England, west of London. To make the festival more challenging, southern England is bracing for the arrival of the storm that swept across the USA this weekend. Gale-force winds and torrential rains are predicted, which will make the "going" soft and deep, which is tough on jumping horses attempting Cheltenham's long, long course of what we Americans would call brush jumps.

Animal rights advocates are highly critical of the number of horses injured and killed at Cheltenham each year. During the 2006 Festival, 11 horses perished in just four days. In protest, a woman dressed in black gothic robes representing a mourning costume will be present at the Festival. She will be wearing a wide-brimmed hat that features a model racehorse tumbling over a hurdle.

Cheltenham is also noteworthy for its popular amateurs-to-ride races.

Favorite Video Clip: The Show-Off Jumper



Thanks to June Evers of Horse Hollow Press in New York for forwarding this clip of a young Belgian jump prospect. Assuming that this horse didn't break or rupture anything when he landed is testimony to the miraculous design of the equine limb.

The horse, whose name is Gesalme, is said to by Espom Gesmeray (you may remember him from the Athens Olympics in 2004) and is promoted by Béligneux-le-Haras.

Another Country Heard From: Hoof Project Research Center Grows in Texas

Dr. David Hood, director of The Hoof Project, at a recent seminar.


News from Texas is that the new Hoof Project Clinic and research center in Bryan, near College Station, is humming with activity. The clinic is open for the treatment of laminitic horses, and David Hood DVM, PhD is actively directing a team of researchers involved in 14 different studies related to laminitis.

Dr. Hood reports that 35 horses are in residence at the center, either in treatment or for use in studies, which include biomechanics, circulation, metabolism/nutrition, and laminitis pathology. Studies are particularly interested in the pain experienced by horses suffering from laminitis; Hood hopes to not just find ways to relieve the pain but also to determine the nature and source of the pain in order to prevent it.

His previous studies documented that horses with lamintiis suffer from secondary sources of pain. Changes in stance, posture, and gait affect tendons and ligaments in the legs, and joint angles may be altered, leading to arthritis. Even back and neck pain can develop in horses that are standing in abnormal positions for long periods of time. The fact that a horse has chronic laminitis may predispose it other co-existing lamenesses, such as ringbone, collateral ligament injuries, sheared heels, or navicular damage caused by long-term hoof capsule deformation and abnormally high heels.

Watch for announcements from The Hoof Project for the first series of seminars on hoof science to be held at the new facility.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

UPenn Laminitis Research Project Hopes to Clarify the Mechanism of Developmental Laminitis

Dr. Hannah Galantino-Homer, senior research investigator of the newly created laminitis research initiative at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, is beginning her research in 2008 with a grant from Grayson Jockey Club Foundation.

“Molecular and Cellular Level Studies of Laminitis” is the title of the project.

Currently, laminitis still is so baffling to scientists that researchers tend to be split into two camps (theories) as to cause of the problem — vascular and enzymatic.

“The lack of agreement about the basic pathophysiology of laminitis explains why standard guidelines for therapy are not yet available,” noted Dr. Galantino-Homer in her research statement.

If this project can identify which specific genes and proteins are up-regulated or down-regulated during the first phase of the disease — when identifiable symptoms are not yet manifested — it “will determine the pathways of the disease and allow institution of preventive or interventional treatments sooner,” according to Galantino-Homer.

The first phase of laminitis, the developmental phase, is followed, of course, by the acute phase. One of the frustrations of dealing with the disease is that often by the time it is diagnosed, the horse may be gravely threatened.

Galantino-Homer believes the study “will provide information that we and other investigators can use to verify or elaborate on existing theories about laminitis, explore previously unrecognized cellular and molecular events during laminitis, and validate in vitro models of laminitis.” The latter will facilitate research projects that do not require laminitic horses.

Click here for information about Galantino-Homer's appointment at PennVet.

Friday, March 07, 2008

"Lucky" Horseshoes in India Are Not So Lucky for the Horse

In India, shoes from black horses are considered lucky, meaning many horses are continually and carelessly re-shod by poor owners simply to feed the "lucky horseshoe" trade. Yes, it has to be a shoe from a black horse.

Vets from the international equine charity "The Brooke" (Brooke Hospital) in Delhi witnessed this in a black horse called Kalu, who was brought to them in pitiable condition. Kalu had overgrown, cracked and severely damaged hooves caused by years of re-shoeing (but not necessarily re-trimming) and was suffering chronic foot pain.

Brooke vets helped the horse and taught his owner, Bhoora, better shoeing skills, although he looks like he is pointing a very sharp object at Kalu's sole in this photo.

"Now Kalu is happy to be with me," says a grateful Bhoora.

Here's a link to a spiritual web site in India that will send you a horseshoe from a black horse in India for $6.95. They explain the legend, which is similar to the Western superstition about horseshoes. But they also claim that a horseshoe is good Feng Shui. A lot of Freisian and Percheron owners are doing the math...

The Brooke’s mobile vet teams and community animal health workers, and partner organizations worldwide provide free treatment to animals and train animal owners, local healers, farriers, saddlers, feed sellers, harness and cart makers. They currently operate across nine countries in Asia, Africa, Central America and the Middle East with over 750 highly-skilled staff working directly in the field.

The Brooke Hospital was organized in Cairo, Egypt in the 1930s to assist in the care of thousands of surviving American, Australian and British military horses that had been abandoned there at the end of World War I. Their reward for gallant service in war was a lifetime of hard labor on the streets of Cairo and as they aged, their health suffered terribly. However, the horses were so valuable to their owners' survival that the only humanitarian recourse was a campaign to improve their health. A first equine hospital was built...and the rest is history.

Please support the efforts of charitable organizations who put teams of professionals in the field and at disaster sites to help horses. Some day they might show up to help you.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Evolution of the Horseshoe: Nail Holes of Antiquity


Would anyone care to comment on these 12th century horseshoes from the Museum of London? Yes, that's right: 12th century. That means these shoes were hammered out not long after the Battle of Hastings (1066) when the Normans beat the local Brits.

I have a terrific little booklet call "Old Horseshoes" by Ivan G. Sparkes, and it creates a timeline of horseshoe shapes and details, but it certainly doesn't have any nail holes like these shoes have, although he does reference wavy-rimmed shoes to the Saxon period of British history. (Horseshoes are mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.)

According to Sparkes, there is evidence that horseshoes were not deviced to protect horses' hooves, as is so often put forward. He claims that the nails were like keys, and were only nailed halfway into the hoof, in order to provide traction; the heel calks were built up to the same height as the protruding nail heads.

What you see in these nail holes is, of course, a spent hole that looks like it was made by a t-shaped punch, but an argument could be made for a t-shaped nail head wearing down into the soft iron of the shoe. If Sparkes' theory holds, the shoe would last much longer than the nails and go through a sequence of nails as they wore down.

If a modern design nail sat in that hole, you'd end up with a semi-fullered (creased) shoe. Various historical references quoted by Sparkes place the introduction of fullering in the mid-16th or 17th century.

Photo courtesy Museum of London.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Circus Farrier

Check out this detail from an old photo for sale on eBay this week. It's from a collection of photos of the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus in the late 1930s or early 1940s. The credit is given to a photographer in Chicago.

The entire image includes a performer perched on the horse's back while he's being trimmed!

The starting price puts this photo out of the reach of blog writers but if someone wants a nice piece of history, click here to place a bid. The auction ends on March 12. Hoofcare and Lameness would love to publish this image!

Leading Hoof Researcher Doug Leach Has Died

Dr. Leach leading a discussion group at the 1987 Bluegrass Laminitis Symposium

The leading contributing researcher and author on the equine hoof of the 20th century died on February 10th in Lexington, Kentucky.

Douglas H. Leach PhD authored major studies on the basic mechanics and anatomy of the hoof in the 1980s, and went on to write about racetrack surfaces, exercise physiology, equine locomotion and a dozen aspects of the hoof's physiology. His name is probably the most often seen in reference lists and research citations.

Leach believed that basic studies of the normal hoof were tantamount to studying laminitis or the function of certain shoes, so his papers created a very valuable base on which more specific studies could be built.

A native of Canada, Leach received his Bachelor and Masters of Science degrees at the University of Guelph and Ontario Veterinary College, then proceeded to the University of Saskatchewan to complete his PhD on the equine hoof, which he earned in 1980.

While at Saskatoon, he co-authored papers with Dr. Hilary Clayton, who was conducting research at the Equine Locomotion Laboratory there and also spent a sabbatical year at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket, England, where he pursued studies of the function of the navicular bone with collaborating researchers Chris Colles and Sue Dyson there.

Leach was so intent on studying the hoof that he learned to read German so he could reference old shoeing and anatomy texts. He collaborated with researchers at Utrecht, Vienna and Uppsala and cheerfully corresponded with veterinarians and farriers from all over the world.

Dr. Leach played a major role in the First International Seminar on Navicular Disease in 1984 and authored a monograph summary of the papers presented there for Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. He was a key contributor to Hoofcare and Lameness in its early years.

In 1990, Leach was appointed to the John S. and Elizabeth A. Knight Professorship in Equine Veterinary Science at the University of Kentucky. The professorship was expressly created to study causes and prevention of equine lameness.

Soon after moving to Kentucky with his wife, Jane, and their three sons, Dr. Leach became ill and was ultimately diagnosed with Pick's disease, a rare and incurable degenerative brain condition.

Reading Dr. Leach's papers today, it is hard to believe that most are 20 years old. The best collection of his papers is in the University of Sydney's 1990 proceedings book Equine Lameness and Foot Conditions; it contains six of Leach's last papers, and a seventh on racetrack surfaces co-authored with Dr. Bill Moyer.

Dr. Leach was 56 years old when he died. There is no way to estimate how different veterinary medicine and farriery might be if he had been able to continue his study of the foot. What he accomplished in ten short years is an impressive mass of work that will be studied and referenced for years and years to come, but which was only the beginning of a brilliant career cut tragically short.