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Friday, January 30, 2009

Ontario Farriers Association 2009 Convention to Feature Ian McKinlay and Dr. Jeff Thomason

by Fran Jurga | 30 January 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog

Ian McKinlay spoke at a Hoofcare@Saratoga event at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York in August 2008, sponsored by Life Data Labs.

You have two months to find your passport.

Today the Ontario Farrier's Association announced the program for its 29th Annual Convention, to be held Friday March 27th and Saturday March 28th at Woodbine Racetrack, near Toronto, Ontario.

“Understanding Equine Lameness” brings together two unique experts on the horse's foot--two professionals whose paths would normally not cross.

Ontario native Ian McKinlay of Tenderhoof Solutions and Jeff Thomason PhD, anatomy researcher in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Guelph will be guest speakers.

McKinlay has over 30 years in the equine industry and is known for his innovative techniques and products to successfully treat and prevent hoof lameness. Ian is one of the foremost specialists on hoof care in North American racing and is the man who cares for the valuable feet of racing superstars such as Big Brown, the 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner.

Interestingly, Thomason was co-author of the research paper "Modelling horse hoof cracking with artificial neural networks", published in Canadian Biosystems Engineering/Le génie des biosystèmes au Canada (43: 7.15-7.22). In the study, the relationships between data on horse hoof crack damage and a number of other variables were modeled with artificial neural networks (ANNs), and a system for categorizing cracks on real horses was developed.

Dr. Thomason is a leader in the study of equine biomechanics and equine locomotion. "For us to fully understand lameness issues it is important to understand the science of the equine hoof and Dr. Jeff Thomason is our guide," says the OFA in its announcement.

To learn more about these seminars and other important farrier-related information from Ontario, please visit the Ontario Farrier's Association website at www.ontariofarriers.com

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. You only need to ask.

Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page).

To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site, www.hoofcare.com, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found.

Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to blog@hoofcare.com.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Favorite Video: Nicanor, Brother of Barbaro, Will Race for the First Time on Saturday, Two Years After Barbaro's Death

by Fran Jurga | 29 January 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog


Nicanor video courtesy of CBS Evening News with Katie Couric

Two years ago today, veterinarians at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center euthanized 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro when they were unable to help him overcome complications of laminitis that resulted from his hind leg injury in the Preakness Stakes.

Fast forward to Saturday afternoon, and do a double-take: a 3-year-old full brother to Barbaro named Nicanor will make his racing debut in Saturday’s eighth race at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida.

As was the case with Barbaro, Nicanor is owned by Roy and Gretchen Jackson in the name of Lael Stables, and he is trained by Michael Matz and ridden by Edgar Prado, just as his brother was.

Saturday’s eighth race is a maiden event at one mile on the dirt. Nicanor is by Dynaformer, out of the mare La Ville Rouge. Nicanor is named based on a painting of foxhounds that the Jacksons own. One of the foxhounds depicted in the portrait is named Barbaro. Another is named Nicanor.

Nicanor's debut race will be run on Saturday’s momentous Gulfstream card between the Grade I, $500,000 Donn Handicap for older horses and the Grade III, $150,000 Holy Bull Stakes for 3-year-olds.

Barbaro is gone, but not forgotten. His legacy has included the donation of what probably totals millions of dollars for laminitis and veterinary research. Following his up and down battle at New Bolton Center captured the attention and affection of thousands of people who might never give a thought to horses or racing. His Fans of Barbaro (FOB) internet group continues to raise funds and awareness about the plight of discarded racehorses.

This blog's readership soared far beyond the subscribership of Hoofcare and Lameness Journal during the eight months of Barbaro's struggle. Many new people became aware of the community trying to help horses with laminitis and hoof problems through our coverage of Barbaro.

The whole world watched that horse struggle. On Saturday, curiosity will get the best of most of us and we'll check the race results from Gulfstream. You never know.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. You only need to ask. Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site, www.hoofcare.com, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found. Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to blog@hoofcare.com.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rockin' Gooseneck Shoe: Dr Ric Redden Helps a Foundered Belgian Mare in Florida




(edited from a longer article received as a press release)

On May 23, 2008, a Belgian mare named Princess was saved from going to slaughter. She went home from the kill auction with Victoria McCullough of the Triumph Project, a horse rescue program in Loxahatchee, Florida. The Triumph Project rehabilitates and rehomes slaughter-bound horses purchased at auctions, particularly the one in Sugarcreek, Ohio.

It did not take long for Victoria to find the problem with Princess, who had a severe rotation in her front hooves as a result of the disease of laminitis.

Months later, Victoria asked the question "Have we done all we can?" She put out calls for experts who might be able to help Princess. She told Dr. Mike Gerard, "I need an answer, I can deal with whatever it is, but I need to know an answer." Dr. Gerard's answer was three words: "Dr. Ric Redden".

Dr. Redden owns the International Equine Podiatry Center (IEPC) in Versailles, Kentucky, and is a leading laminitis consulting veterinarian and pathmaker in new treatments for laminitis in horses.

That was last Wednesday. Within eight hours of her telephone call, Dr. Redden arrived at Victoria's farm to help Princess.

Quotes about the procedure from the Triumph Project's press release:

"Dr. Redden evaluated Princess and her x-rays, then went to work designing a set of shoes called Aluminum Rock and Road Rail Shoes with a Gooseneck. These shoes will allow the pressure to be taken off of the tendon with the mechanical movement of the shoe.

"The shoe was fabricated by cutting a rail shoe in half, fabricating the gooseneck out of plate aluminum, then riveting and welding the three parts together. When the shoe was applied to the hoof it touched the foot at the heels and the hoof wall, alleviating the pressure on the toe and quarters.

"The shoe was attached to the foot using e-head nails in a sole nailing procedure. The gooseneck was attached using Phillips head screws. Adhere (urethane-based adhesive) and hoof putty were applied to the gap in the quarters. This shoeing application allows the navicular bone free from pressure so that the lamina can heal. This should have a positive effect on the now negative angle of the navicular bone. When the procedure was complete radiographs were taken of the hoof. Princess will be re-shod in approximately six weeks.

"Kelly McGee, a local (farrier) was called and immediately arrived at Victoria's farm to assist Dr. Redden; some of the local equine-specialist veterinarians also attended. According to Brad Gaver of Pure Thoughts Inc., who is also a farrier, "It was a a privilege to be able to observe and learn from such an out-of-the-box and free-thinking individual who wants to share his knowledge for the benefit of all horses."

What's next for Princess? Jennifer Swan, director of the non-profit, says that Princess is doing well, a week after the initial shoeing. "She is a little more comfortable every day," she said on January 28th . "Dr Redden had digital xrays done on Saturday and sent up to him so he can make a mold and design the next shoe. His plan is to design a shoe that does not need to be nailed in."

Note to readers: This video shows only highlights of the procedure and hints at the shoe design and application. Heel nailing and screwing goosenecks into backed-up toes is a procedure only for the most skilled laminitis experts to attempt. Precise radiographs are required. The video does not go into details about diagnostic tests such as venograms that may have been performed before the filming began. This video is posted here only to show how Dr. Redden helped this horse; he might treat another horse very differently. The hope is that checking in with Dr. Redden on a case like this will be valuable to people who need to know about new options for laminitis. This is not a "how-to" video!

Thanks to Dr Redden, Kelly McGhee and the Triumph Project for cooperating in the work on Princess and for sharing this video. Special thanks to Jennifer Swanson of Pure Thoughts Horse & Foal Rescue.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. You only need to ask. Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site, www.hoofcare.com, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found. Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to blog@hoofcare.com.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

EBay Fundraiser: How Much Is a Horseshoe Off the Injured Inaugural Parade Horse Worth?

What will people pay for a dirty horseshoe? We'll find out soon. (Amy Manning photo)

Last week was a tough one for horses and horseshoes. When an Appaloosa named Mouse held up the Inaugural Parade for an hour while he was being extricated from a bumper-mounted winch that he somehow stuck his leg into, people were calling for horses to be banned from future parades. (The incident happened even before the parade began.)

The next thing that I heard was that the incident happened because he was shod with steel shoes. Had he been barefoot, I was told, he would not have slipped and fallen.

Photos showed the horse down on the ground with his hind legs up in the air, but these pictures were taken only after he was sedated, so that the SUV's bumper could be dismantled.

In earlier photos, the horse is standing stock still, with his hind leg caught between the winch and the bumper. This smart Appaloosa did not struggle or panic.

Brooke Vrany of Days End Farm Horse Rescue was on hand with the farm's ambulance and the horse was vanned off with a police and veterinary escort.

I thought this story was over, but it's not.

Enter the horse's owner, who was not, in this case, the rider. Amy Manning gave lots of background about her horse and the incident; her story matches Brooke's: Mouse backed up, encountered the winch on the bumper of the SUV and kicked back at it. When his leg was trapped, he waited for the vets, in this case, two US Army Veterinary Corps practitioners.

It turns out Mouse is a veteran of many parades and had stayed calm during a helicopter landing earlier in the day.

One reason Mouse stayed on his feet may have been that his shoes were liberally sprinkled with Borium. Without it, they would have been slippery on the pavement, it's true.

And tonight, Mouse's shoes have been pulled by his regular farrier, John Haven of Henderson, Maryland, and they are not hanging on a fence. Not laying on a tack trunk. Not bouncing around in the back of John's truck.

They're on eBay.

Amy Manning is very grateful to Brooke Vrany and Days End Farm Horse Rescue for the expertise that Brooke brought to the scene, and for their professionalism in spiriting the horse off through a crowd estimated at two million.

Days End Farm's ambulance and crew were at the parade site as volunteers, and received no compensation for their time or services, as is often the case when they attend to horses at the bottom of a ditch or crashed through the ice into a pond.

So the shoes that helped keep Mouse on his feet while he kept the new President of the United States waiting can be yours, and the money will go to Days End Farm Horse Rescue.

The shoes, by the way, are St Croix Xtras, and both the owner and the farrier reported that all the horsemen in the parade were given a manual for preparation, which included the requirement that every horse must be shod on all four feet with steel shoes and Borium or a similar hard-facing for traction. As you can see in the photo, Mouse's shoe has puddles on the toe and big nuggets on his heels.

Amy added another point of order from the rule book: she had to sign a release saying that she gave permission for her horse to be euthanized without warning in the event of a mishap during the parade.

One of the shoes has already had 12 bids and the auction only began today. A third shoe will be added tonight, and Amy will keep the fourth for her own memento.

I think one of them would look great hanging in the White House. Or your house!

Click here to view the first shoe and its eBay auction.

Click here to view the second shoe and its eBay auction.

Click here to view a news video showing Mouse recovering at the Days End Farm Equine Rescue Center in Maryland.

Click here to view the Days End Farm account of the mishap and learn more about their rescue operations. Days End works only with law enforcement cases and takes in only horses taken from owners, not those voluntarily surrendered. Its equine ambulance and emergency rescue service is active in teaching equine rescue and handling, as well as being out there on the front lines.

If you are not the eBay type and would like to send a donation, mail your check to Days End Farm Horse Rescue, Attn: Inaugural Parade Thank You, P.O. Box 309, Lisbon, Maryland 21765 USA.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. You only need to ask. Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site, www.hoofcare.com, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found. Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to blog@hoofcare.com.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friends at Work: Farrier Jamie Peterson and the Hottest Thing in Idaho

This photo was kindly loaned by photographer Mountain Mike, aka Michael Edminster of Edminster Photography in Bellevue, Idaho. He likes to take photos of farriers while they work, and does a great job of it. I like to check out the weather conditions in Idaho this winter; it seems like they brew weather out there and it just slides across the USA and hits us in New England. The Idaho winter obviously doesn't stop Jamie Peterson from bundling up and going to work.


© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. You only need to ask. Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site, www.hoofcare.com, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found. Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to blog@hoofcare.com.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What a Day for the USA...and a Rough Day for One Appaloosa

Thanks to Florida artist Debbie Sampson for the loan of this patriotic image. Debbie has a clever twist to her paintings: that's a real horseshoe attached to the (painted) hoof. Please note that they do sell stars-and-stripes leg wraps for horses; this painting does not represent real flags wrapped around horses legs!

This image seems sadly appropriate: As you may have heard, a horse in the inaugural parade somehow managed to get his leg stuck in or under a parked truck. The Appaloosa was extriciated and ambulanced through the masses in downtown Washington. You can read the Humane Society of the United States's story about it at this link. It was a joint effort between the HSUS and other animal welfare agencies.

I know: my first thought was to question whether the horse was properly shod for the parade. I tried to find out in advance what advice had gone out to horsemen for preparing their horses' hooves for safety on the street. No one had any answers for me.

I know that ambulances and evacuation trailers were on hand, supplied by the HEART ambulance seen at so many east coast horse shows and three-day events, and the Days End Farm Equine Rescue Farm in Maryland. I am not sure who transported the horse, but I am so glad they were there.

A note to all the farriers and farrier organizations out there who read this blog: your skills with handling horses could be put to great use in the field of equine rescue and disaster relief. The HSUS and other agencies offer rescue training courses, and there are more formal programs and even certifications available, if you would like to be on call for stand-by at events or for disaster situations.

Helping staff and outfit a horse ambulance in your area is a great fundraiser goal for horse groups of all types, as well.

But if my horse was trapped upside down in a trailer or stranded on a hummock in the middle of a flood, I know that I would relax a tiny bit if I knew the person trying to help was a farrier who would have some sense of the horse's reflexes, and be able to assess a situation.

Many vets are already lined up in some sort of a network to help. I don't know who the state police calls when there's a wreck, or a horse falls down a hole, but the vets are already there. And could use a hand.

Another area where farriers can help is teaching local fire departments how to bandle horses in barn fire situations. And reminding owners to set up their barns so horses can be evacuated by firemen who don't know where halters and leadlines are kept (they should be hanging by each stall). Do you think the firemen in your town can put halters on horses in the dark?

President Obama called us all to action yesterday, and to serve. Perhaps with budget cuts to state and national programs, animal rescue training and fundraising is something we could all do to help.

That Appaloosa in Washington is certainly glad those trained personnel were on hand.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. You only need to ask.

Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page).

To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site, www.hoofcare.com, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found.

Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to blog@hoofcare.com.



Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Death Under the Palm Trees: Breakdowns at Santa Anita

The Los Angeles Times and Paulick Report blog startled me this morning with updates on the number of horses euthanized at California's Santa Anita racetrack since it opened the day after Christmas.

In less than three weeks, seven horses have been euthanized. No word on how many others have been injured.

People are accustomed to the shock and horror of horses breaking down during races, but the reality is that more horses break down during early morning training sessions, as was the case on Sunday when two horses had to be euthanized.

No mention of the deaths is made in the news section or horsemen's notes on Santa Anita's web site.

The beautiful racetrack outside Los Angleles switched from a dirt surface to synthetic last year and experienced maintenance nightmares that caused the entire surface to be replaced with an Australian surface called Pro-Ride. The 2008 Breeders Cup was run on the Pro-Ride strip when it had been tested for only a month during the track's Oak Tree meet but the championship races went off without any fatalities. The major California tracks have all switched to artificial racing surfaces.

Santa Anita re-opened for its traditional winter meet over Christmas.

California led the nation in legislating lower toe grabs for race horses, along with the switch to synthetic surfaces that normally don't require traction devices anyway. Both moves were part of a concerted effort to reduce breakdowns and improve the safety of racehorses.

Oddly enough, the documentary/reality television show Jockeys was filmed at Santa Anita during the first weeks of the Oak Tree meet. It tracks the working and private lives of seven Santa Anita jockeys as they work toward the Breeders Cup. Presumably, the show, which premieres February 6 on Animal Planet, will give some interesting insights into the surface and the safety issues that were on the minds of jockeys and exercise riders as they rode over an untested surface.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. You only need to ask.

Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page).

To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site, www.hoofcare.com, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found.

Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to blog@hoofcare.com.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Entertainment: Why Did Donald Duck Have the Blacksmith Blues?

by Fran Jurga | 18 January 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog



In keeping with what seems to be a new tradition for snowed-in Sundays here in Massachusetts, I'm sharing with blog readers another lost classic of farrier humor as presented by our friends in Hollywood.

If you scroll through the blog, you will see that Popeye and Spike Jones have been featured on previous Sundays.

Popeye has made the Top Ten of all-time viewed stories on this blog. I'm not quite sure what that says about you readers! I am sure it is because of the important history I shared about Popeye's role in World War II. That must be it.

While the last two clips were from within the years of World War II, let's move ahead to the post-war era and see how Hollywood was using horseshoeing as a way to get people to laugh.

This Sunday, it's Walt Disney, Himself. This is an odd clip, since it is a very old Donald Duck cartoon, to be sure, but it has been overdubbed with a great rendition of The Blacksmith Blues by Ella Mae Morse, a vocalist who was discovered in Texas in 1939 when she was a 14 years old when she ran away and joined Jimmy Dorsey's band and later, joined Nelson Riddle's.

The Blacksmith's Blues was probably Ella Mae's biggest hit and most important recording. She's hailed in the annals of rock 'n roll as being a trailblazer for Elvis Presley and other 1950s rockers because she was one of the first white performers to record what would have been exclusively African-American music. And she did it on a major recording label, Capitol Records.

The fact that The Blacksmith's Blues was such a hit gave many more people the courage to bring jazz and blues to a much wider audience and to open the door for more African-American artists (think: Billie Holiday, and Nat King Cole) to be able to sell records to white audiences. (I know that is a vast over-simplification of the phenomenon of rhythm and blues music and the birth of rock 'n roll in post-World War II America.)

Ella Mae was enough of a celebrity for her somewhat-controversial bluesy singing style that she was given a star on Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard.

As for Donald Duck and how Disney came to make a music video using an r&b standard as a dub for an old, old cartoon...I have no idea, but I am so glad they did.

Hear are the lyrics:

Down in old Kentucky
Where horseshoes are lucky

There's a village smithy standin' under a chestnut tree
Hear the hammer knockin'

See the hammer rockin'

He sings the boogie blues while he's hammerin' on the shoes

See the hot sparks a-flyin'

Like Fourth of July-in'
He's even got the horses cloppin', pop! down the avenue

Folks love the rhythm

The clang-bangin' rhythm

You'll get a lot o' kicks out of the Blacksmith Blues
...

Danny Ward, owner of Danny Ward's Horseshoeing School in Martinsville, Virginia, has the original sheet music to "The Blackmith's Blues". He let me borrow it once, thinking that I'd be able to belt it out on the piano for him the next day, but it was a little tough for me. I'm still plunking it out but now that I have heard Ella Mae, I understand the syncopation a little better. I should have known this song would have a special rhythm and, now that I have done my homework, a special meaning!

Thanks, Ella Mae.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. You only need to ask.

Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page).

To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site, www.hoofcare.com, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found.
Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to blog@hoofcare.com.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

New York Court Rules That Racetrack Horse Dentists Need Not Be Veterinarians

by Fran Jurga | 17 January 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog

UPDATE: Click here for a new link to new information on this story, thanks to a more in-depth article in Sunday's Saratogian newspaper by Paul Post.

The Daily Racing Form reported this morning that an appellate court in New York has upheld a 2007 ruling by the Nassau County Supreme Court that horse dentists should be considered providers of routine care of horses similar to blacksmith and groom duties and that a veterinary license should not be required.

Click here to read the brief announcement in the Daily Racing Form, as provided by the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.

The lawsuit lists the state wagering board as the plaintiff; the Board had appealed the earlier Supreme Court decision, which stemmed from the banning of a dentist from a racetrack.

Presumably, this decision applies to the the state board's jurisdiction at racetracks. It's not clear if this decision affects how the state's veterinary medicine practice act might be interpreted off the premises of the state's racetracks.


© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. You only need to ask.

Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page).

To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site, www.hoofcare.com, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found.

Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to blog@hoofcare.com.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Great Wooden Smithy Doorway Opens into the 17th Century Claverdon Forge in Warwickshire, England



Claverdon Forge is yet another British smithy with a horseshoe shaped door, although this one is the most rustic and broad-toed one I've seen. It's wooden rather than stonework, but it's still there. This type of construction is called "half timber". And it looks cozy in there!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Special Media Eclipse Award to AAEP "On Call" Racing Injury/Safety Program

by Fran Jurga | 15 January 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog

AAEP On Call team member Dr. Larry Bramlage (right) interviewed on NBC during a Triple Crown race (AAEP photo)

(from an NTRA press release)

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers Association today announced that the veterinary On Call media-assistance program of the American Association of Equine Practitioners has been honored with the 2008 Special Eclipse Award. The Special Eclipse Award honors outstanding individual achievements in, or contributions to, the sport of Thoroughbred racing.

Representatives of the On Call program of the AAEP will be presented the Special Eclipse at the 38th Annual Eclipse Awards on Monday, January 26 in Miami Beach, Florida.

“It is an incredible honor for the On Call program to be recognized for its contributions to racing and its role in increasing the public’s knowledge of horse health issues,” said AAEP Executive Director David L. Foley. “We dedicate this award to the many AAEP members who have volunteered their time and expertise to serve the industry, the media and, most importantly, the horse.”

The On Call group was formed in the wake of the accidents and injuries which occurred in the 1990 Breeders’ Cup, and the lack of equine medical information available to the viewing public. Since its creation in 1991, On Call has developed into an innovative media-assistance program of equine professionals, who provide accurate veterinary information to the broadcast and print media during live, network races. More than 20 media-trained equine veterinarians are available to respond to crisis situations at 100 televised races throughout the year, or whenever there’s a need to address a media inquiry about matters that affect horses’ health and safety, such as the national inquiries that followed Barbaro’s Preakness injury in 2006.

“Members of the National Turf Writers Association, other media members who cover racing’s major races, and the entire racing industry owe a great deal to the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ On Call Program,” said Tom Law, president of the National Turf Writers Association and managing editor of Thoroughbred Times. “Since the program’s inception in 1991, the On Call Program has educated and informed members of the media as well as the general public about any injuries or tragedies that unfortunately occur on the racetrack, and its team members do so in a very calm and collected manner that is good for the short- and long-term health of the game.”

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. You only need to ask. Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site, www.hoofcare.com, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found. Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to blog@hoofcare.com.

The World Is Flat? The Hoof Is Round? Horseshoe Designs Cover Both Extremes


I call this the "banana moon" shoe. Another great photo by Loic Entwistle from Germany.

Or is it that the world is round and the hoof is flat? Sometimes it is hard to tell.

Here in America, we have banana shoes and Dr. Ric Redden's rock-and-roll shoes, but here's a really rocking, all-belly laminitis shoe borrowed from the archive of German farrier Loic Entwistle, whose collection of photos never fails to fascinate me.

I don't know anything about this case and there is no photo of the bottom of the foot. But it started me thinking.

In my part of the world, we have special shoes called "bog shoes", or "marsh shoes". Not so long ago, horses had to be able to travel over the salt marshes, because that's where the hay was. In the early colonial times around here, the only open fields were the marshes. So the horses were fitted with big flat platform shoes so they wouldn't sink.

This old illustration is actually from Holland, where they probably perfected the bog shoe centuries before the Pilgrims made it to Plymouth. This image bothers me because I am so distracted by the horses' shoes that I don't question the rest of the scene. Can someone tell me why the wheels of the wagon wouldn't just sink up to the hubs?

These days, great minds in farriery tinker with the bottom of a horse's foot like it's meant to be a radius; Loic's shoe doesn't have a belly point like a Danny Dunson banana shoe--it's all belly.

Some days you want the world to be flat, some days you want it to be round.

An antique store near the Hoofcare & Lameness office has a collection of bog shoes; no two are alike and there must be 100 of them hanging from the rafters. It is appropriately called Salt Marsh Antiques. And they're not for sale, although I did borrow the collection once for an exhibit. The proprietor even has a salesman's catalog for readymade bog shoes like this very heavy steel plate. Most are wooden and look like thrifty yankee farmers made them out of barn boards. They resemble the Dutch shoes in this old print. I think this one is from Michael Wildenstein's collection. Most people who go to see the antique store's shoe collection leave with a new table or some old tools. Note: the toe is at the bottom of this photo, I think.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. You only need to ask.

Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page).

To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site, www.hoofcare.com, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found.

Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to blog@hoofcare.com.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Safe but Not Sound: World Horse Welfare Tries to Help Large, Lame Young Clydesdale



The World Horse Welfare's Belwade Farm in Aberdeenshire, Scotland recently took in its largest charity case ever. Digger is only four years old, and is already 19 hands. Such a large horse might be a novelty that would appear to someone to adopt, but he also needs a lot to eat.

And first, vets at the University of Edinburgh have to decide if his hind limb osteochondrosis ( a floating "bone chip"), coupled with the gait abnormality known as "stringhalt" on the opposite limb, can be treated so the horse has a viable future.

Of course, it is possible that Digger may not even know he's lame. He's so young, he may never have moved correctly so the hitch in his gait is all he knows.

I'd like to share more hind limb lameness videos here so people can get used to what a shiverer and a stringhalt case, for instance, look like.

An interesting footnote to Digger's story is that he was orphaned as a foal and always fed by hand.

Digger would a great "pet" project for someone. I certainly wish him the best and, as always, congratulate WHW for trying to do the right thing.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. You only need to ask. Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site, www.hoofcare.com, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found. Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to blog@hoofcare.com.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Looking Ahead: 2009 Hoof Conferences and Meetings

You probably have a shiny new calendar in front of you, with lots of blank pages. Here are some suggestions of events to plan to attend in 2009. There are probably many more in the planning stages, but these are on my calendar. What's on yours?

February 3-6 International Hoof-Care Summit, Cincinnati, Ohio (Visit Hoofcare & Lameness in Booth 100)

February 26-28 American Farrier's Association Convention, Chattanooga, Tennessee (Visit Hoofcare & Lameness in Booth 420)

July 19-21 American Association of Equine Practitioners "Focus on the Foot" meeting in Columbus, Ohio

July 28 Hoofcare@Saratoga Racing Season Kickoff Event and Exhibit Expansion Celebration at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, Saratoga Springs, New York

August 4, 11, and 18 5th Annual Hoofcare@ Saratoga Weekly Event Series and Speakers in Saratoga Springs, New York (Evening events at The Parting Glass, all are welcome)

September 23-25 Northeast Association of Equine Practitioners Farriers Symposium at Foxwoods Casino, Connecticut

October (tentative, based on signup) Hoofcare & Lameness Group Trip to Luwex's Hufsymposium in Krueth, Germany.

November 5-7 5th International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot in West Palm Beach, Florida

November 14-15 Cornell Farrier Conference at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, New York

December 6-10 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada

Watch for more details about additional events!

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. You only need to ask. Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site, www.hoofcare.com, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found. Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to blog@hoofcare.com.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Entertainment: Spike Jones Song Explains the Horseshoer's Comeback During World War II


Here's another bit of horseshoeing history disguised as entertainment. The catchy Blacksmith's Song video posted today is a short film from 1942 created by Spike Jones, who plays the role of the bare-chested horseshoer. You have to love the desktop anvil!

You might have to watch this film a couple of times to get the socio-political messages that are carefully placed around the set and in the lyrics. First of all, the date is 1942 and here's an able-bodied young man not serving in the military in the Pacific or Europe. How can that be?

Farriers and blacksmiths were considered vital to the war effort, whether on duty overseas or working at home. Many people have heard about gas rationing during World War II, but the reason for that was mainly to discourage driving, which required rubber tires. And rubber for tires came from Asia, mainly from countries occupied by or influenced by Japan. Any shipments of rubber to the USA from Asia would have had to cross the war-torn Pacific Ocean.

The lyrics to the song say, "The smith is getting persnickity...since rubber went on priority." In the United States during World War II, as much research and development money was put into developing synthetic rubber as was dedicated to the atomic bomb.

Notice that the sign over the smithy door says, "Grand Re-Opening"; this refers to the comeback of horses during the war, and a renewed demand for farriers.

In the cities, horses made a temporary comeback for delivery vehicles. And while the new age of leisure horse sports wouldn't really blossom until the 1950s, the farriers not off fighting the war were happily busy keeping whatever horses were around going, which helped keep cars and trucks off the road. Of course, many horseshoers did head overseas with different branches of the military, and most fought as soldiers, instead of working with the veterinary corps as horseshoers.

Another place horses were need at home was on the beaches. Horse owners volunteered to patrol beaches for the Coast Guard, and watch for German U-boats off the coast. The Coast Guard itself purchased thousands of horses and trained servicemen to ride.

In the April 1942 edition of Western Horseman magazine, horse owners were told that if they owned a mare, it was their patriotic duty to breed it. In Chicago, 3000 women on horseback trained to be part of the Military Order of Guards, a home-defense group that learned Jiu Jitsu and cavalry-style riding.

Local horse groups were encouraged to host shows and rodeos "to keep up morale" on the home front. You'll notice in the Spike Jones film that the horse's appearance prompts the band to play a military or patriotic tune. When the horse is offered a second lump of sugar at the end of the film, he patriotically refuses, since sugar was rationed during the war.

While the US military decision-makers were moving toward mechanization and abandoning the mounted cavalry paradigm, the army kept breeding horses at the remount stations (12,000 foals in 1943 alone!) and ran a farrier school at Fort Riley, Kansas until 1949. Many post-war farriers credited their careers to an army that thought it still needed horseshoers.

One place that the army did need horseshoers was in China, Burma (now Myanmar), Tunisia, and Sicily, where over 10,000 mules were used in the mountains. In China, the US military set up farrier schools and built horse (mule) shoe factories because horseshoes could not be flown over the Himalayas. They could fly in lightweight nails, though, and ordered 10,000 pounds of horseshoe nails a month in 1945. The US military is credited with "upgrading" hoofcare of Chinese horses and mules; only 10 percent were shod when the Americans arrived.


While horseshoers may have had some leeway about staying out of the service, they worked hard for the war effort at home. In London, England, exempt farriers worked at night as firemen to help with fires started by bombs.

When James P. Byrne, War Mobilization Director, finally banned horse racing in the United States in January 1945, his manpower division made special compensation for the horseshoers, and pledged in the New York Times to help the shoers find work at home, since even at Belmont Park, the horseshoers had been classified as "essential personnel" to the war effort. By comparison, Byrne suggested that jockeys could be helpful working in the tight nose spaces aboard heavy bombers in Europe.

It looks like the Coast Guard bought some pretty nice horses for its shore patrols. These could easily be Thoroughbreds.

If you'd like to learn more about horses and mules in World War II, information is not that easy to find. Information for this article was helped by the archives of Western Horseman magazine, the US Coast Guard, and a wonderful book you can read online, United States Army Veterinary Service in World War II, published by the Surgeon General's Office. One of the best books on horse history published in recent years is Horses of the German Army in World War II, available from Hoofcare Books.

Information on farriers and horseshoeing in US military history--or any history--is dismally scarce. Popeye and Spike Jones gave some great clues.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. You only need to ask.

Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page).

To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site, www.hoofcare.com, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found.

Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to blog@hoofcare.com.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Hagyard Equine Medical Institute Donates $10,000 for Racehorse Injury Research

(based on a press release)

The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation announced today that the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, an equine veterinary practice and hospital in Lexington, Kentucky has made a $10,000 donation to the foundation to further research on racehorse lameness issues.

"We realize many people associate Hagyard with broodmare, foal management and reproductive issues," said Stuart E. Brown II, DVM, a partner in the firm. "But we also want to help the finished product, the racehorse."

Hagyard, formerly known as "Hagyard, Davidson and McGee" has founded in 1876 by Scottish immigrant veterinarian Edward Hagyard. The practice has grown to enjoy a worldwide reputation and now has separate sub-practices, including sport horse medicine, a fertility center, and a pharmacy. The sprawling campus on Iron Works Pike across the road from the Kentucky Horse Park employs 60 veterinarians plus a large support staff.

Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation annually funds projects covering a range of health and soundness matters affecting various breeds. Since 1983, the foundation has provided more than $15.5 million to some three dozen universities to fund 239 specific projects.

"The Hagyard veterinary team has long been one of the leaders in providing top-quality and state-of-the-art care for their clients' horses," foundation president Edward L. Bowen said of the firm, which was founded in 1876. "Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation is proud that Hagyard views our efforts as worthy of its generous support."

The foundation's new slate of projects for 2009 will be established by mid-winter, and Hagyard Equine Medical Institute will be invited to select which project its grant will help fund.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. You only need to ask. Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site, www.hoofcare.com, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found. Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to blog@hoofcare.com.

Inset photo is a Thoroughbred racehorse on a treadmill at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket, England; from the new book EQUUS by Tim Flach, sold by Hoofcare Books.

Horseshoes + Racing Injuries + Video = Eclipse Award for the Louisville Courier Journal

The friendly smile of Churchill Downs horseshoer Sonny Broaddus brightened the Louisville Courier-Journal's otherwise sobering media-rich mini-site on injuries in Thoroughbred racing. The video-enhanced feature hit the web in mid-August and this week was announced as the winner of the prestigious Eclipse Award for multimedia.

Roll out the red carpet, here come the horseshoers.

When the Eclipse Awards for journalism and media coverage were announced this week, the Louisvillle Courier-Journal was in luck. Lots of luck, as it turned out: the winning feature section "Tragedy at the Track" on racing injuries was heavily laced with text, photography and especially video of horseshoes and the people who nail and glue them on the Thoroughbreds in Kentucky.


Graphic from the newspaper articles shows the effects of a toe grab when a racehorse stands on a hard surface, such as a concrete wash rack slab, or a paved road.

Written and compiled by Jenny Rees, Andrew Wolfson, and Gregory A. Hall, the series looks at racing injuries as a combination of the medical, mechanical and surface strains put on Thoroughbreds. It's an exciting combination of short and longer clips, including a short feature of Churchill Downs horseshoer Steve Norman and his entourage of helpers and apprentices on a hot August day.

Two special videos make a real impact on the newspaper's web site with the original stories. These are farrier Mitch Taylor's high-speed clips of horses running over different surfaces, wearing different shoes, with a simple measuring interface to show the difference in slippage and "snowplow effect" of changes in the foot's equipment and surface. I believe the high speed videos were shot by Scott Lampert and interpreted with his OnTrack analysis system.


Click here for high speed (slo-mo) video of a horse running on different surfaces, fetlock action in Polytrack, laminitis, Barbaro and other video clips associated with this series.


© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. You only need to ask. Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site, www.hoofcare.com, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found. Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to blog@hoofcare.com.

Turfway Park Brings Back Toe Grabs on Hind Shoes After Eight Horses Break Down in December

You know those hind shoes you just threw away? Most of the shoes in this pile are old draft horse shoes with holes where removable calks could be applied for icy streets.

Just when you think you have things figured out...

Turfway Park in Florence, Kentucky runs Thoroughbreds over a Polytrack (artificial) surface that has been in place since 2005. After a new policy went into place in September that banned all but the flattest horseshoes on front and hind feet, the track was a model for reform and safety. Then the calendar turned to December: Turfway reported breakdowns that caused the death of eight horses, most of whom injured the left front leg.

Are the breakdowns related to the shoe changes? It's impossible to tell but one theory is that a slipping hind foot puts more stress on the opposite front. This is still a brainteaser, though, since the foot slips less in Polytrack than on dirt, such as you'd find at Churchill Downs.

Whether as a result of the breakdown or in deference to trainers wishes, Turfway has announced a policy change on shoes. While flat shoes are still required on front feet, toe grabs no higher than 1/4" are allowed on racing and training horses as of the first of January.

Here's the new rule:

Shoe Policy for Turfway Park

Effective January 1, 2009, the following shoe policy will govern racing and training at Turfway Park

Prohibited – Front and Hind
The following devices are prohibited both front and hind for racing and training at Turfway Park: turn-downs, bends, jar calks, stickers and any other traction device worn on the shoes of Thoroughbred horses.

Acceptable – Front
The following front shoes are acceptable for racing and training at Turfway Park: Queen's Plate, Queen's Plate XT, King's Plate, King's Plate XT, Fast Break, Speed Toe, and Outer Rim.

Acceptable – Hind
Hind shoes with a toe grab not exceeding one-quarter inch (1/4") shall be permitted for racing and training at Turfway Park.

Could the same shoe modification believed to cause injury and strain to the front legs actually be of benefit to the hind legs? Time for more research...and keep those new shoe designs coming.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. You only need to ask. Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site, www.hoofcare.com, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found. Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to blog@hoofcare.com.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Best of 2008: World Champion Farrier Clock Is in a Class of Its Own


Please double-click on the image to enlarge it and see details of the shoes. The image is extra-large for this reason. For those unfamiliar with elite farrier pursuits: these shoes were made from cold bars of steel, heated in coal or gas forges, and crafted using only hand tools such as hammers, rasps, pritchels and fullering blades. No power tools were used...although I can't vouch for the making of the clock! Photo courtesy of Carl Bettison.

World Champion's shoes and year of championship:
Left top to bottom: Fullered hunter shoe by Richard Ellis (1997)
Heart bar shoe by Jim Blurton (2005)
Hind heeled cob shoe with toe calk by Paul Robinson (2008)
Center: front fullered Clydesdale shoe with toe clip by David Wilson (1985)
Right top to bottom: French hind shoe by Grant Moon (1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994)
Front fullered wide-web straight bar shoe by Darren Bazin (2000, 2002, 2004)
Hind calk-and-wedge roadster shoe by Billy Crothers (1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2006)
(Note: shoes identified by Fran Jurga, corrections are welcome!)

Looking back on 2008, there are some stories for the blog that have been in the pipeline for a while, dangling for details. This one definitely falls into the category of "Best of..." on several levels. I was challenged by labeling the shoes in the photo, but today I feel brave and am taking a stab at it.

The story begins with our friend Carl Bettison. Carl is a farrier and supply company executive for Stromsholm in England; he is also the new owner of Gibbins, the farrier apron and work clothing manufacturer.

But Carl's life this year is defined by being an executive of a different sort. He is the master of the Worshipful Company of Farriers, which is a livery company of London. What started 600 years ago as a craft guild to protect the practice of farriery in the city of London has evolved into a high-powered members-only "club" of influential professionals from all walks of life. The twist is that the club is still charged with the protecting the best interests of farriery and in fact, is the benefactor and advocate for the farrier educational system throughout Great Britain.

Since I have been involved in farriery, there have been four "masters" of the company who were farriers: Howard Cooper, Mac Head, Simon Curtis and now, Carl Bettison. It is an incredible honor and also an incredible duty to hold this office. I can also remember that Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth, was the master one year. Normally, however, the master is a "normal" non-farrier member of the company. That would usually be a successful businessperson in London executive circles.

Some farriers are members of the company and participate in the events and programs, but all farriers are technically products of the WCF through the examination process that qualifies farriers in the UK. When a young farrier successfully completes college and the rigorous three-year apprenticeship, s/he earns the title of DipWCF, for the "Diploma of the WCF".

Among Carl's innovative activities since taking office was the commissioning of a centerpiece for a fundraising auction, the shoe-plaque/clock you see in the photo with this article. It's quite spectacular but even more so when you realize the sources of the shoes:

"I asked all the Calgary (Stampede) World Champions from UK plus Ireland to make a shoe each. Then Richard Ellis, helped by his father, made this clock. It was sold at a Worshipful Company of Farriers Auction last Friday for £5000 (approximately US$8000). The winning bid was placed by Grant Moon on behalf of Sarac Hotels Limited," Carl writes.

The clock wasn't the only interesting item in the auction. Carl mentioned that other items included a signed photo of European champion eventer Zara Phillips (grand-daughter of the Queen, daughter of Princess Anne) and her top horse Toytown, including a horseshoe from Toytown, authenticated and signed by her faithful farrier, our friend Bernie Tidmarsh from Wiltshire. (Toytown was injured just before the Olympics and Zara missed Hong Kong.)

Also on the list included the lucrative promise of a day's fly fishing in Scotland with Ayrshire farrier Jim Ferrie, and a day's golf at Woburn for three people with Billy Crothers.

This was no backyard auction. Carl reported, "We were lucky to have Hugh Edmeads, the chairman of Christie's (art auction house) in South Kensington (London) as our auctioneer. The total raised was £8240."

Thanks to Carl for this news, and thanks to the individual champions for pulling together for this project. If it looks like the British Isles dominates the world championship, it is quite true, although several Americans have won, as well. It is interesting to note that until David Wilson won in 1985, the champions were British born and trained: Bob Marshall, now of Canada, and Dave Duckett, now of the USA.

Another bit of interesting trivia here is that of the seven British Isles champions, four of them are originally from the tiny nation of Wales.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. You only need to ask. Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site, www.hoofcare.com, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found. Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to blog@hoofcare.com.