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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Secretariat Was Never For Sale, But His Photo Is (and with a discount, too!)

Yes, yesterday's mystery foal photo was a trick, to get you into the spirit of the April 1 Holiday! Thanks to all the clever people out there who recognized The Great One in his youth. As Denise said, "The three white sox gave it away!"

Hats off Lynne Myers of Vettec, who was the first to email in the correct answer.

Tom thought he looked wormy and ribby. I actually liked the ribby part. In recent years, I think foals and yearlings are groomed (and fed) to lose their youthfulness as quickly as possible and develop a filled-out horse body, for their presentation to buyers. Of course now that steroids would presumably not be allowed in the yearlings sales, we won't have people saying, "I bought a yearling at the sale and he didn't turn out to be as big as he looked."

Secretariat was the real thing. Big, but balanced.

To celebrate his birthday, The Hoof Blog has a special offer for you from Secretariat.com, where this image lives. Leonard has graciously offered to give a discount to any Hoof Blog reader who would like to purchase a high-quality print of this foal image over the next two weeks; the photo has never been for sale before.

You can even have it signed by Mrs. Chenery. (She was Secretariat's owner--but you knew that!).

The image is 10x8 and would love very nice in a frame. Just go to secretariat.com and find this page:
http://secretariatcom.stores.yahoo.net/base.html
which shows both a plain photo (nice!) of this image or an enhanced poster-type image.

On the order form there should be space for a code. Enter the word OATS in the code box and Secretariat.com will know that you came from the Hoof Blog; you'll get a $5 discount on either item. The offer is good until April 15. The print would make a lovely gift or award.

While you're at Secretariat.com, take a look around. They have some lovely memorabilia--even castings of the nails from Secretariat's shoes worn in the Belmont!

So...since we have so many smart people reading this blog...what was the name of Secretariat's horseshoer? Like Man o' War's Mr. McDermott, this gentleman was sort of overlooked in all the books about Secretariat. He's another Lost Legend! Did you know that every shoe ever nailed onto Secretariat was saved, from his earliest shoes? And even the nails were kept.

One of Secretariat's shoes was given to then-President Richard Nixon.

And don't forget that The Meadow, Secretariat's home farm in Virginia, is being turned into a horse park, and there will be a vet-farrier center built in honor of Dr. Britt (Secretariat's vet) and our friend, the late Edgar Watson. Donations are being sought to build the center and you can help! Click here to read more about The Meadow and the building 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.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Thoroughbred Conformation Can Be Subjective: Would You Buy This Weanling?

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

Saturday was Man o' War's birthday; scroll down to Saturday's blog post to read the story about finding his farrier after all these years or click here to open that page.

But today is this colt's birthday and I wondered what you all thought of this one. I wish I had a good photo of Man o' War as a foal for comparison.

Click on the comments link below (it's ok to be "anonymous" if you wish) to share your opinion or send an email from fran@hoofcare.com and I will post it for you.

I'll publish the rest of the story that goes with this photo on Tuesday night. Be sure to check back!

© 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, March 28, 2009

Lost Legend Found: Meet Man o' War's Horseshoer (Finally)

by Fran Jurga | 28 March 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog

Today is Man o' War's birthday. An announcement that 1987 Kentucky Derby winner Alysheba died last night made me think again about Man o' War and how little anyone seems to know about who shod him, or how he was shod.

One of my projects for this spring was to try to find out the names of horseshoers with Kentucky Derby winners to their credit. It turned out to be a tough assignment; anyone who has names, please contact me!

Man o' War, of course, did not run in the Kentucky Derby because (or so it is written) his owner, Mr. Riddle, wanted to spare him after his two-year-old races. He caught up with the other three-year-olds at the Preakness, which he won, of course.

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Recently, I found this photograph of Andrew McDermott, who wrote a letter to the journal of the Journeyman Horseshoers Union when Man o' War retired. He also sent the magazine two of the great horse's shoes, from which the magazine claims to have made these drawings. According to his letter, he was working on one of Man o' War's shoes when the photo was taken.

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These shoes are quite a different shape from the shoe below, which is a collectible and believed to be one of Man o' War's. Double-click on either image for a larger view. I wonder where those two shoes are now; it was a very generous gift for McDermott to make, but also indicative of how dedicated horseshoers were to their beloved union.

McDermott wrote to the magazine late in 1920, when Man o' War retired. He wrote the letter from Glen Riddle Farm in Berlin, Maryland, and described himself as "private horseshoer for Mr. Riddle".

Many of you will remember Mr. Riddle and the unflattering way he was portrayed in the movie Seabiscuit. Riddle not only owned Man o' War; he owned and raced his fastest and most famous son, War Admiral.

McDermott studiously wrote the weight of each plate on the steel--yes, steel. Man o' War conquered the world wearing steel plates, not aluminum. He also recorded the important information that Man o' War was shod for all the races of his career by this one man.

But who was Andrew McDermott? A clue is that he signs his letter as "farrier and shoeing smith for Man o' War" and not as a horseshoer or blacksmith, so it is possible that he was from Great Britain or Ireland. McDermott is usually an Irish name and British (and possibly Irish, considering the point in history) were called shoeing smiths and farriers.

Another interesting tidbit is that he addresses the Journeyman Horseshoers Union in ultra-polite, politically-correct terms for union members, calling the editor his "brother" and identifying himself as former member of the JHU Local Number 7, which was the chapter in Brooklyn, New York.

Brooklyn? Longtime readers of this blog will recall my revelation back in June 2008 when, during the trophy presentation at the Belmont Stakes, Brooklyn-born New York governor David Patterson told the world that his great-grandfather, Mr. Gibbs, had been the blacksmith who shod Upset for the Whitney Stables. Upset was the only horse to beat Man o' War. (Click here to read that story about how the horseshoer profited from one of Saratoga's most legendary races.)

Word origin books love to quote the story of Upset and Man o' War and claim that the word "upset" came to mean an unexpected victory because of that horse on that day. In other words, before the horse shod by Mr. Gibbs met the horse shod by Mr. McDermott.

As a reward for that one victory, Patterson's great-grandfather was given the deed to a house in Brooklyn from the owner, which was quite a move up for an African-American horseshoer. (I wonder if he was allowed to join the union?) Patterson has said that that house was the start of his family's upward mobility that led to his Ivy League education and eventual political career.

Usually, the Upset-Patterson-Whitney story stops there. Am I the only one who is ready to ask the next big question about Whitney's horse? Was it a blacksmith who named the all-time dark horse of Saratoga? All Hoofcare and Lameness readers know that, up until then, upset was in the dictionary as a legitimate word: it's a blacksmithing verb--and still is. 

To upset a steel bar means holding it on end on the anvil's face and hammering straight down to thicken the steel at the base. McDermott may have upset the steel to form that little outside heel on Man o' War's hind shoe. It's the opposite of to "draw", which would make the steel longer. But you knew that, and surely McDermott, Gibbs, Whitney, Riddle and everyone else in America did, too!


This newsreel clip shows Man 'o War at Faraway Farm in Lexington, Kentucky in 1941, several years before his death. The late great Alysheba, of course, is descended from Man o' War through both his dam and sire. Alysheba enjoyed a fierce rivalry with fellow Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand and thrilled racing fans from 1986 to 1988. He had returned from standing at stud in Saudi Arabia and had taken the late John Henry's stall at the Kentucky Horse Park last fall.

Click here to read an excellent and concise biography of Man o' War from ESPN.

Click here to read more about Alysheba's death.

© 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, March 27, 2009

Grass Laminitis: Something Else to Blame on Global Warming?

by Fran Jurga | 26 March 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog

This pony is demonstrating the typical stance of a horse that is in pain from laminitis. It is stretching its legs out in front to get weight off painful hoof tissue in the toe area. (Photo courtesy of World Horse Welfare)

Spillers, the British feed manufacturer, thinks the answer to that question in the title might be “yes!”

I checked today, and the store on the corner still has rock salt, windshield fluid and ice scrapers on display when you walk in the door. But I'm sure it is getting to be spring somewhere. And I'm anticipating that the flower seeds, suntan lotion and seasickness remedies will be on the shelves here any day now--evidence that winter has finally passed. The only more sure sign of spring will be the first case of laminitis. But I can wait on that one.

In an interesting press release, Spillers warned British horse and pony owners of the impact that climate change could have on horses and ponies prone to laminitis, and their theory is as valid on this side of the still-icy Atlantic as it is in Britain.

"Winter" grass laminitis is a new way of looking at things, but it does make some sense...except around here, of course, the grass was very safely buried under many feet of snow most of the last four months!

Here’s the idea, as put forth by Spillers:

As if it's not bad enough already, in the coming years, laminitis really could be the single biggest risk to a horse’s health. The climate is changing and the seasons are beginning to merge into each other. Milder, wetter winters are countered by unpredictable summers that bring about flooding or droughts--and all this can have a severely detrimental effect on the way that grass grows and the "sugar" it contains.

Horses and ponies are designed to eat a variety of grasses, plants and shrubs that are typically of low nutrient value and in particular are lower in soluble carbohydrate ("sugar"). But the pasture that we keep horses on today tends to be much richer. With our milder winters too, grass may be growing all year round now. Recent research worryingly suggests that the nutrient value of winter grass in Britain is now very similar to spring/summer grass in years past.

Laminitis is now a real risk throughout the whole year.

Clare Lockyer, nutritionist and research and development manager at Spillers says: “Don’t ignore the predisposing signs in your horse or pony, such as a cresty neck, sore feet or a change in hoof shape, as these are all warning signs. It is at this time that you have the chance to take preventative action because waiting until it happens could prove disastrous for your horse.”

If you think a horse or pony could be prone to laminitis, it is sensible to provide or recommend a high-fiber, low-starch, low-sugar, low-calorie diet...and more exercise.

Thanks to Spillers for sharing that cheerful news.

Want to know (a lot) more about laminitis? Click here for a free download of the Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit and Dr. Chris Pollitt's 34-page discourse What Causes Equine Laminitis? The role of impaired glucose uptake as provided by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation of the Australia government.

© 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, March 22, 2009

Learning to Love LEX: Is Lexington Ready for Its (Really) Big Blue Horse Icon?

by Fran Jurga | 22 March 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog

New York has the Statue of Liberty. New Orleans has the fleur de lis. Baltimore has the crab. Boston has the beanpot. And St Louis has The Arch. Now Lexington, Kentucky has LEX the Horse, but he’s not the same stallion we have known and loved for the past 150 or so years.

The new symbol of Lexington, Kentucky is a variation of the famous old painting of the Thoroughbred stallion named Lexington by Edward Troye. (VisitLex.com image)

The famous New York/London design firm called Pentagram, hired by the city to re-define its identity and culture, has an easy explanation for the blue beast: apparently eating all that Kentucky Bluegrass turned the stallion the same color as the University of Kentucky's basketball team jerseys. (How timely, during NCAA March Madness!)

Who is this horse? Once upon a time there was a very famous Thoroughbred stallion named Lexington. I can spot his portrait from a mile away because for as long as I can remember, his portrait has adorned the front cover of the Blood-Horse Annual Stallion Directory, a book that resides permanently on my desk until the next year's arrives.

Open any book on the history of the horse in art, and there’s that classic portrait of Lexington.

Lexington will start seeing blue horses everywhere; the rest of us will start seeing them in tourism campaigns for the 2010 World Equestrian Games, to be held in Lexington, which I guess we are supposed to start calling "Lex", as on our luggage tags. (Pentagram photo)

The real Thoroughbred named Lexington was the leading sire in the Bluegrass region for 16 years in the mid-1800s and established an unequaled record for dominance in the breed. His offspring won everything from Kentucky to Saratoga and would have won more if the Civil War hadn't inconvenienced racing and disrupted the lives of Kentucky gentlemen (to say nothing of their horses' lives). For several years, his colts went to war, not to the races; one was even the chosen charger of General Ulysses S. Grant.

Recently, someone in Lexington decided that the good old horse should make a comeback; a new generation of townspeople and college students should embrace the iconic stallion, who was painted many times by Troye, although the favored portrait is the one also used annually by The Blood-Horse. The brand's rationale is that by re-embracing Lexington, the city is reaffirming its heritage of horses.

So, Lexington (the town) is on a Lexington (the horse) kick. The Kentucky Historical Society dedicated a highway marker in Lexington last week--on the stallion's 159th birthday--in his honor. The Kentucky Horse Park wants to display his skeleton in their museum, if the Smithsonian in Washington will loan it.

All this is good news to those of us in the horse business, considering that Lexington's chosen icon might just as easily have been a blue Lexmark printer, a blue Amazon.com warehouse or just a Big Blue Hoop.

The timing for this embrace of the traditional Lexington horse image seems a bit odd, since next year Lexington will become the sport horse capital of the world, at least temporarily, as the World Equestrian Games come to town. The mega-event will surely eclipse Thoroughbreds for a few months. Besides, the mood in Lexington's Thoroughbred sector--as in the rest of the racing world--is a bit down in the dumps lately. The big blue horse may be unintentionally symbolic of the mood in the sales ring and breeding shed.

Coincidence? Big Lex's appearance in Kentucky coincides with the recent unveiling of a huge blue mustang at the Denver Airport in Colorado. I am sure there are some conspiracy theories out there. They even seem to be the same color. (Rocky Mountain News photo)

Is the bluing of Troye's classic Lexington like seeing Mona Lisa with a mustache or Whistler's Mother in a Barcalounger? They have tampered with something that seems quite sacred. Denver's mustang is anonymous. For many people, Lexington is as well-known for basketball as it is for horses, but should the two be mixed? And will the public get the connection? Did that commercial of Shaq in jockey silks inspire this icon?

Comparisons to the nonsense rhyme about the purple cow by Gelett Burgess are inevitable when the Big Lex campaign gets even bigger during the World Equestrian Games next year. (Pentagram photo)

The design firm's rollout of the LEX concept includes plans for the installation of really big blue horses in downtown Lexington. But, wait: When Troye painted Lexington, the stud wasn't exactly racing fit. Much worse for observant Hoofcare and Lameness readers: his right front seems to have gotten increasingly clubby in the process of silhouetting.

"Angel of the South" sculpture to be constructed in England, designed by Mark Wallinger. (University of Glasgow image)

But great design minds do think alike. In England, plans call for a 150-feet-high gray Thoroughbred sculpture to be built along the highway leading from the Chunnel and ferry docks of the south coast, so that visitors arriving for the 2012 Olympics in London will be welcomed to England by a big horse. The English icon looks quite a big younger, and infinitely more fit, than poor Lex.



Technically, visitors to Britain will be welcomed by a closeup view of the horse’s hindquarters, which face the highway. The horse seems to be looking longingly toward Ireland, as this simulated video shows. Is he distracted? Or perhaps, since horses are herd animals, he may be gazing even further, trying to catch a glimpse of LEX, who should be hard to miss.

To learn more:

Click here to read the Pentagram story about the design of the Big Lex icon, and see more images of proposed uses for the big guy

Click here for the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau web site for Big Lex.

Click here to read a recent article about Lexington's skeleton and efforts to return it to Kentucky.

© 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, March 19, 2009

Event Announcement: AAEP's "Focus on the Equine Foot" July 19-20, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio

by Fran Jurga | 19 March 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP)
Would like to invite veterinarians and farriers to attend:
FOCUS ON THE EQUINE FOOT
To be held July 19-20, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio

Schedule highlights include these topics and speakers:

Sunday, July 19
Sunday Morning (Moderator: Harry W. Werner)

8-8:50 a.m. Overview of Imaging the Equine Foot – Which Modality, When and Why – A. Kent Allen
8:50-9:40 a.m. Imaging for the Equine Practitioner – Radiology and Ultrasonography – Randy Eggleston
10-10:50 a.m. Imaging of the Foot – You Have to Know Your Anatomy – Rich Redding
10:50-11:40 a.m. Biomechanics of the Equine Foot - Jeff Thomason

Sunday Afternoon (Moderator: Steve O’Grady)

1-1:50 p.m. Examination of the Foot – Let’s Go Back to the Basics – William A. Moyer
1:50-2:40 p.m. Diagnostic Anesthesia of the Foot – What Do We Really Know? - John Schumacher
3-3:50 p.m. Medical Treatment of Equine Foot Disorders – Kent Carter
3:50-4:40 p.m. Surgical Treatment of Equine Foot Disorders – Daniel Burba


Monday, July 20
Morning (Moderator: Bill Moyer)

8-10 a.m. Acute and Chronic Laminitis – An Overview – Andrew Parks
10:20-11:10 a.m. Proper Physiologic Horseshoeing – What Is It and How Do We Apply It – Stephen E. O’Grady
11:10 a.m.-Noon Therapeutic Shoeing – A Veterinarian’s Perspective – Scott Morrison

Monday Afternoon (Moderator: To Be Determined)

1:30-2:20 p.m. Therapeutic Shoeing – A Farrier’s Perspective – James Gilchrist
2:20-3:10 p.m. Farriery for the Performance Horse – Hoof Wall Defects and Separations – Ian McKinlay
3:30-4:20 p.m. Etiology, Treatment and a New Approach to Club Feet – William Stone and Keith Merritt
4:20-5:10 p.m. Orthopedic Approaches and Farriery for the Young Horse – Robert J. Hunt

For further details or to register, call 859-233-0147 or www.aaep.org

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, March 18, 2009

Like a Foal with Extra Long (And Crooked) Legs: Equine-Specialist Vet Helps Louisville Zoo's Giraffe

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

A month-old giraffe born in February at the Louisville Zoo is responding after surgery to correct a hind limb deformity. Scott Bennett DVM, a well-known surgeon with Equine Services in Simpsonville, Kentucky performed the surgery at his clinic.

For the first time since his birth, Bakari is currently eating well and is now standing for hours at a time instead of minutes.

Through digital X-rays of Bakari’s legs, Bennett said he determined that Bakari had an angular limb deformity in both hind legs, which the Zoo described as "one side of his bones growing faster than the other", forcing Bakari to wobble and walk sideways.

“Dr. Bennett said the deformity probably started in utero, and that he sees many horse foals with the same problem,” Zoo vet Roy Burns DVM said.

The Zoo said that Bennett performed periosteal stripping, a brief surgical procedure that speeds bone growth on the short side of the leg. As far as Bennett and Burns know, this is the first periosteal stripping ever performed on a giraffe.

Periosteal stripping, also called periosteal elevation, is routinely performed on the front limbs of valuable Thoroughbred foals who show signs of angular limb deformities that might hamper their running ability or detract from their saleability in the auction ring.

Horses helped Bakari both with the technique of his limb surgery and in his immune system. Since he couldn’t stand to nurse, the Zoo’s veterinary team conducted a plasma transfer where horse immunoglobulins (or antibodies) were transfused into the giraffe through an intravenous line. Two plasma transfers were necessary to establish a protective immune system.

Bakari is a Masai giraffe; his name means "Hopeful" in English.

Thanks to the Louisville Zoo for the great photo of Bakari and their help with this article.

© 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, March 17, 2009

One of the (Many) Reasons I Love Ireland: Racing on the Beach

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



Happy St. Patrick's Day! 

This video is like a quick trip to Ireland, although I have never actually been there when the beach races were on. The festival you see here is at Glenbeigh on Dingle Bay in County Kerry and is held every August. No, I don't know how long the races are, but I'm sure it is a good distance. 

Glenbeigh is near the place where, in Irish mythology, Oisin and Niamh rode the white horse shod with silver shoes into the sea to journey to that land of eternal youth known as Tir na nOg.



To learn more: Two favorite movies set in this part of Ireland are the heart-wrenching film about Irish rebellion, Ryan's Daughter, from the 1970s and Into the West from the 1980s. The latter is about two Traveler ("gypsy") children who run away from the slums of Dublin with their gallant horse named Tir na nOg, who unbeknownst to them just happens to be a famous show jumper missing from the Dublin Horse Show. They are convinced that they will find cowboys and Indians, or at least the land of Tir na nOg from the Irish legend, if they ride off into the west. 



Click here to read the legend of Tir na nOg...and why it pays to take care of your horse. There are many versions of this legend, but most include references to hooves. In one version, the white mare gets a stone caught in her silver shoe and the hero dismounts to relieve her pain...and instantly ages.

Here's to Ireland--the people and her horses!

Friends at Work: Ernie Gauoette Shod His Way from the Racetrack to the Show Barn

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

South-of-Boston farrier Ernie Gauoette is featured in today's Patriot-Ledger newspaper.

Somehow it didn't surprise me to see Ernie Gauoette's picture in the newspaper today. Our friend Ernie has been shoeing show hunters and jumpers at the well-known Briggs Stable in Hanover, Massachusetts for a while now and he's a good model, as well as a nice guy, so Ernie gets his picture taken a lot.

What did surprise me was when I went to the Patriot-Ledger newspaper's web site and Ernie's voice came out of my computer speakers as if he was right in the room with me; the paper made a video of Ernie explaining a few aspects of shoeing. Thanks to the magic of YouTube.com I was able to embed the video and share it with you.





Enjoy the video and please know that what you are seeing Ernie do is pretty normal shoeing in the Boston area from Thanksgiving to Easter. The shoe was four tiny tungsten drive-in studs for traction on ice or slippery pavement and a big black "pop-out" pad that prevents snow from building up on the bottom of the horse's foot.

Pop-out pads are a poor rider's gait analysis system. They make an audible pop-pop-pop-pop with each stride set as you ride and if the rhythm is off, you know you have a problem.

A sure sign of spring around here is when horses go back to clopping instead of popping.

The shape identification system for hooves that Ernie alludes to on the video is the "Eagle Eye" system developed by farrier instructor Scott Simpson in the 1980s. He taught farriers to look for Norman, Stubby, Ralph and Tag...and guess what? It's pretty accurate!

By the way, Ernie's excellent accent comes through nicely. Every region of New England has a distinct accent so we can tell each other apart.

Thanks to the Patriot-Ledger newspaper and web site. Click here to go to Ernie's page and leave a comment, or leave one here by clicking on the word "comment" below.

© 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, March 16, 2009

AVMA Considers Specialty in Sports Medicine for Veterinarians

by Fran Jurga | 16 March 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog


The American Board of Veterinary Specialties (ABVS) of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is the authority charged with recognizing the sub-categories of veterinary medicine which a practitioner can pursue. Often recognized by the term "diplomate" or "board-certified", veterinarians can and do pursue advanced credentials in surgery, internal medicine, and reproduction, for example; there are currently 20 specialties within veterinary medicine.

For years, many in the hoofcare camp have grumbled that there was no specialty in podiatry, or even lameness, for that matter.

Recognizing the void in specialities for equine practitioners and those interested in lameness--and sensing the dedication of those who are hard at work in this field--French professor Jean-Marie Denoix has been offering a specialized and quite advanced course in imaging and diagnosis of lameness under his ISELP--International Society for Equine Equine Locomotor Pathology--which offers eight modules of advanced education in lameness problems; completion of all eight conferences then qualifies candidates to undergo a competency examination for Society certification.

While Denoix's program carries with it the tremendous respect attached to anything bearing his name and the top American veterinarians who are working with him in the program, ISELP is not part of the larger AVMA system of "colleges" or specialties in veterinary medicine. It is however, very specific to equine medicine and biomechanics.

This week the AVMA announced that it is considering a recognition of sports medicine and rehabilitation as a new "recognized veterinary specialty organization." This speciality would not be specific to horses, and would cover other species. Things don't happen overnight in the AVMA; the organizing committee of the proposed American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation submitted a letter of intent to the ABVS in 2003 and a formal petition for recognition of the specialty organization to the ABVS Committee on the Development of New Specialties in November 2008.

The ABVS will be collecting comments from the veterinary community and the public regarding the proposed new specialty organization. The comment period closes on November 1, 2009.

Photo/radiograph by Tim Flach, from the book Equus, available from Hoofcare and Lameness.

© 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, March 13, 2009

Hoofcare's Family Album: Herman Kretzschmar's Blacksmith Shop in Henry, South Dakota

by Fran Jurga | 13 March 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog
Our friend Julie Grohs, who knows this blog loves old photos of farriers and smithies, writes:

"Here is a blacksmith shop in Henry, South Dakota, in the late 1920’s. The man on the left is my uncle, Herman Kretzschmar. He emigrated from Germany as a young boy. Most of the children from his family made it to South Dakota at that time, including his brother, my grandfather. They farmed in eastern South Dakota, using horses and mules, and worked on plow parts in this amazing blacksmith shop."

Julie and her husband Joe are both veterinarians and own Alaska Equine & Small Animal Hospital in Chugiak. Julie has a deep interest in foot problems and always has fascinating cases to share, as you would expect from a place like Alaska! When she wrote, she and Joe were about to leave for a long weekend at their remote wilderness cabin, 12 miles by snowmobile from the nearest road over six feet of snow, near Mount McKinley.

Herman would probably fit right in there, and be proud that his niece still has the family's pioneer spirit.

By the way, Julie mentioned in an email, "See you in November!" She is already planning to attend the 5th International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Disease of the Foot in West Palm Beach, Florida, to be held November 5-7. I hope you will be there, too.

© 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, March 12, 2009

Event Announcement: Hufbeschlagkongress Will Be Held at Equitana in Germany

by Fran Jurga | 12 March 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog

Here's the EDHV "booth" at a recent event. Take a good look at the construction of the portal: My compliments to the architect! Double-click on the image for a larger view.

EDHV, the national farrier association of Germany, will host an international congress of farriers at Equitana, the "world's fair of horses", which opens tomorrow in Essen, Germany. EDHV will also have a booth and ongoing demonstrations in Hall 1, the "Hufdorf".

The Congress is scheduled for Saturday, March 15 at 10.30 a.m. in the "Deutschland" Room of the Congress Center South.

Program highlights:

Prof. Dr. H. Geyer - University of Zurich: "The influence of
environmental factors on the hufhorn of the horse "

Veterinarian and biomechanics expert Gerd Heuschmann :
"The biomechanics of the horse"

Farrier insturctor Melanie Scherer and Dr med vet. Wolff - University of Giessen:
"Farriery, using before and after X-ray imaging"

Farrier Josef Ganser of Austria: "What pad for what purpose? How soft or
hard should a cushion be? "

Farrier Jörg Ohl - Underrun heels: "How many degrees of lift or none at all? What is the effect of wedges on the hoof? "

Note: Dr Heuschmann's new anatomy/biomechanics dvd, "Stimmen der Pferd" ("If Horses Could Speak") will be shown in a special event at Equitana, with a separate admission charged. The Hoof Blog will have a review of the English translation of the dvd later this week, and we will also be offering it for sale. It is the media-rich follow-up to his bestselling book "Tug of War: Modern vs Classical Dressage" and is expected to open up his biomechanics ideas to an entire new audience. Watch for details or reserve your copy now!

For more information about the Farrier Congress, visit www.edhv.de.

Equitana is possibly my favorite horse event in the world; it is a heady 10-day cocktail of horses mixed with adrenaline and international glamour, with world-class shopping, champagne, new faces, old friends and entertainment as a chaser, all squashed into eight huge coliseums of exhibits and arenas with 100,000 people celebrating their work with or love for horses. Oh, how I wish I was there.

(speakers and topics translated very loosely by Fran Jurga, sorry for any errors!)

© 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.

Mid-Week Hoof Humor: Going Heavy on the Forehand

posted by Fran Jurga | 12 March 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog

Is this what the trainers are talking about when they say a horse is "too heavy on the forehand"? Here's another Photoshop masterpiece from worth1000.com and equinest.com's "Photoshopped Horses" gallery. I thought the jumping boots on the hinds were an especially nice touch. Thanks!



Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Favorite Photo: This Horse Was In Good Hands

by Fran Jurga | 11 March 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog

"You're in Good Hands" by Dwight Usry

This photo just showed up in my email a while ago. I thought it was quite beautiful...and even moreso when I realized what I was looking at.

This horse's toe crack has been patched with PMMA adhesive, which will harden into a shell-like covering that closely mimics the hoof wall. Plastic wrap is placed over the material while it sets and the farrier is smoothing the big patch as it goes through its processes from a pastey liquid to a solid when it is exposed to the air after mixing the two parts together.

The same procedure is used to build up heels, fill in gaps in the wall or sometimes cover a quarter crack patch. A similar process was used in the 2008 Triple Crown by hoof repair specialist Ian McKinlay in his work on Big Brown's separations and crack. The material also can be used to glue shoes onto hooves.

By feeling the texture and heat through the plastic, the farrier will know when it is safe to put the foot down. Once hardened, the patch can be rasped and shaped and may be indistinguishable from the "real" wall at the quarters if the job is done with skill.

You can be pretty sure that was the case here; those long fingers that look like they should belong to an artist or musician were Mr. Edgar Watson's, an expert farrier from Keswick, Virginia. Eddie died this fall, and the farrier world hasn't been the same since.

I'd like to thank Dwight Usry of Peak's Forge in Hanover, Virginia for sharing this photo.

Architect's drawing of the Britt-Watson Veterinarian/Farrier Facility to be built in Virginia in memory of farrier Eddie Watson. The location is The Meadow Event Center; The Meadow is the farm where Secretariat was foaled. The farm was recently taken over as a horse show park and will be the new site of the Virginia State Fair.

Be sure to watch for news of Dwight's fundraiser for the Britt-Watson Veterinarian/Farrier Facility to be built in Mr. Watson's memory at The Meadow Event Park, a new horse park and home for the state fair, built on the farm in Doswell, Virginia where Secretariat was born. Farrier Product Distribution (FPD) has already kicked off the fundraising with a $1000 donation. If you'd like to chip in, I can fax the donation form to you or click here to send Dwight an email.

© 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.

Hoofcare 101 Part Three: Functional Aspects of Sole Loading and Heel Expansion

by Fran Jurga | 10 March 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog



Welcome to Part 3 of this week's featured video series on hoof function and anatomy from the Extension Service. The segments feature farrier instructor Nate Allen from Central Community Technical College in Hastings, Nebraska.

"Wait a minute, where's Part 2?" you may ask. There's a technical glitch with that video, and I hope to have it ready for you as soon as possible. In the meantime, pat yourself on the back: you can graduate to Part 3!

The majority of this segment is footage from the excellent video/dvd "Horse Foot Studies" by Dr. Chris Pollitt of the Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit and Wild Horse Research Unit at the University of Queensland, Australia. The complete video is available from Hoofcare and Lameness Journal; click here to place an order.

Click here to view part one of the video series, which is made possible by the University of Nebraska and Purina Mills. Please note that this is a very general introduction to foot anatomy and functions; much more in-depth material is available for study for those who seek it, but this is a good introduction.

© 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, March 09, 2009

Hoofcare 101 Part One: Anatomy Basics Refresher Course Video with Nate Allen



This blog is read by hoofcare professionals of all levels and stripes and ranks and religions. It is also read by hundreds of people each day who are just "passing through" and are interested in a specific aspect of the hoof, or maybe manufacture a product or are horseowners looking for a clue that will help a lame horse.

Farrier instructor Nate Allen of Allen Farrier Service in Juanita, Nebraska and Central Community Technical College in Hastings, Nebraska, narrates this and other videos in the series that I will be posting in short segments so as not to overwhelm you all. This project is made possible by support from the University of Nebraska and Purina Mills through the Cooperative Extension Service network of educational agriculture resource providers and eXtension.org, an educational partnership of 74 universities in the United States.

Note: if you think this video is too basic for you, be patient. The series has to walk before it can run, and I think it is a good idea both to review basic anatomy and learn the terms and principles that Nate Allen will prefer to use in later videos. Anatomy doesn't change and is not a creative subject, but people do approach it in different ways and educators tend to vary in the way that they stress the roles of different structures.

I should probably add that throughout these videos, Nate is sharing his own point of view on subjects like sole pressure, hoof expansion, the role of structures in hoof mechanism, etc. and I realize that many people do not share the tried-and-true farrier science approach. Again, these videos are what a mainstream, middle-of-the-road well-educated farrier instructor thinks people should know about hoofcare. He has put a lot of work into this project and deserves a lot credit and respect, whether you agree with him or not.

You could also download these videos and use them for educating horse owners, or run them on a loop at a trade show booth. You can't go wrong by starting with the basics...and no matter what people tell you, most of them can't find their way around the most basic anatomy diagram and have forgotten everything they learned decades ago in Pony Club or 4-H. Letting them watch this refresher-course video may save them a lot of embarrassment, and you'll be even more of a hero than you already are.

© 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, March 06, 2009

Australian Wild Horses at Risk for Laminitis After Floods Turn Scrubland to Pasture

by Fran Jurga | 6 March 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog


The Australian Equine Brumby Research Unit, led by Dr. Chris Pollitt, is hard at work in western Queensland, where the natural habitat of many wild horses is underwater, thanks to once-every-ten-years floods. Yes, as fires destroyed Victoria in the south of Australia, floods were inundating the North!

While laminitis is not believed to be common in wild horses, it apparently is quite a risk during situations like this and might even be thought of as a form of very painful population control. As the floodwaters are absorbed into the desert-like soil or drain into nearby dried-up lake beds, the desert will bloom and even sprout grass.

The foot of a wild horse with laminitis

The wild horses are accustomed to living on scrub weeds, and the researchers assume that the flush of grass causes laminitis. But they have to prove that it is the grass, and that they horses do have grass laminitis. Laminitis might also be caused by a poisonous plant or some other side effect of the environmental change.

The wild horse research group is the brilliant step-child of the Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit, which studies laminitis in domestic horses and seeks both a way to prevent the disease and to understand the mechanism by which it attacks the inner hooves of horses.

Assisting Dr. Pollitt are several student researchers and, temporarily at least, the able-bodied American, Dr. Don Walsh of the Animal Health Foundation who is on sabbatical to perform laminitis research with the Australians.

The core mission of the brumby (that's Australian for "wild horse") research is to understand how environment affects the wild horse and how its feet change as the environment changes. To that end, the group is tranferring horses between herds and observing and recording the adaptation stages...and whether the horses can even survive the drastic extremes of Australian climates and terrains.

Dr. Pollitt and his group have plenty of wild horses to study: Australia has more wild horses than any other place on earth.

The group has a lively web site with down-to-earth research reports and monthly newsletters, and is a most worthy cause for anyone wishing to support equine research that will benefit horses everywhere, as we finally learn how our management of horses may need to change to maintain the healthiest hooves and the soundest horses.

Hoof Blog Recommends This Link: http://www.wildhorseresearch.com

To read the February Newsletter from the researchers, click here.

To purchase freeze-dried specimen feet of Australian wild horses, click here.

To donate to the research efforts, click here.

© 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.

Friends at Work: Hot Fitting on a Cold Day in Idaho


Spencer and Jim, originally uploaded by Mountain Mike.

Our friend Mountain Mike Edminster has done it again. Here to share is one of my favorite hot-fitting photos to date. Not one farrier saturating his thick layers of winter clothes with eau-de-burnt-hoof but two!

Spencer and Ed are hard at work but they have an appreciative audience in Mike the Photographer...and all the readers of the Hoof Blog.

I hope it is spring wherever you are today...but I know that here in New England the ground is still white with snow...and it surely still is in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Thanks, Mike, Spencer and Jim!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Churchill Downs Announces Enhanced Horse Safety and Welfare Policies

by Fran Jurga | 2 March 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog

Kentucky's Churchill Downs Incorporated ("CDI") announced new safety and welfare rules today. These measures will be in place at the Louisville racetrack in advance of the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on Saturday, May 2, and will include unprecedented standardized third-party testing of track surfaces and comprehensive tests on all winning horses for more than 100 prohibited drugs.

The safety initiatives will be implemented at Churchill Downs when its 2009 Spring Meet opens on April 25, and will be phased in at all other racetracks owned by the Churchill Downs group (Arlington Park in Illinois; Calder Race Course in Florida; and Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in Louisiana) by the start of their respective 2010 race meets.

In development for nearly a year, the “Safety from Start to Finish” initiative is designed to incorporate new health and wellness measures, as well as long-standing safety policies and standards, under a single formalized initiative to serve as a blueprint for all CDI facilities.

The key safety initiatives that will be in place at Churchill Downs prior to Kentucky Derby 135 are as follows; the wording is as presented by Churchill Downs' official announcement:

1. Independent, standardized third-party testing and monitoring of track surfaces;
2. “Supertesting” of all winning horses for more than 100 performance-enhancing drugs;
3. Age restrictions requiring Thoroughbreds to be at least 24 calendar months of age before becoming eligible to race;
4. The freezing and storage of equine blood and urine samples to allow for retrospective testing;
5. The banning of steroids;
6. Limits on the number of horses allowed to compete in certain races;
7. The prohibition of “milkshaking”, which results in excessive levels of total carbon dioxide in Thoroughbred racehorses;
8. Prohibiting the transport of horses from CDI facilities for slaughter;
9. The banning of unsafe horseshoes, including front shoe toe grabs longer than two millimeters;
10. The use of low-impact riding whips with limited usage rules;
11. The presence of on-site medical personnel, equipment, and state-of-the-art equine ambulances;
12. Immediate online access to jockey medical histories for emergency medical personnel;
13. $1 million in catastrophic injury insurance coverage for jockeys;
14. Mandatory and uniform reporting of equine injuries to the Equine Injury Database System, thereby assisting in the compilation of statistics and trends to improve safety conditions around the country;
15. A professionally designed and installed safety rail on the inside of the dirt course;
16. Mandatory usage by all jockeys, exercise riders and other on-track personnel of safety vests and safety helmets that meet internationally acknowledged quality standards;
17. 3/8-inch foam padding on all parts of the starting gates;
18. Significant financial support for equine retirement programs;
19. Inspection of all horses by regulatory veterinarians prior to and following all races;
20. Review of security procedures around barns and other racetrack backstretch areas;
21. Continued maintenance of protocols for the treatment of horses that have been injured during racing or training, to ensure the most humane treatment possible; and
22. Mandatory, independent, and complete necropsies of any horse that dies as a result of an injury sustained while racing or training at Churchill Downs.

© 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, March 01, 2009

AFA Convention: FIA Trade Show Faces

by Fran Jurga | 1 March 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog

Here's a quick tour of most of the booths at last week's AFA/FIA trade show in Chattanooga, Tennessee. These are the faces behind the products that farriers and veterinarians and horse owners use every day--products that help keep horses on their feet and performing their best. These faces also represent many of the companies that support continuing education events around the country and also make Hoofcare and Lameness publishing projects possible through their advertising and sponsorships.

Two things I know for sure: 1) These people don't get thanked often enough and 2) There is no nicer group of people assembled at any trade show, anywhere.