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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Zenyatta: Champion Mare Shows Her Toes at Bath Time

Zenyatta, originally uploaded by Rock and Racehorses.

Photographer Sarah K. Andrew coaxed champion mare Zenyatta to show off one of her shiny shoes while she enjoyed her bath at Churchill Downs recently, before returning to California to win her first start of 2009. Thanks, Sarah, for sharing this photo!

Friends at Rest: Farrier Linda Best


Linda Best was very proud of the national champion miniature driving horses that she exhibited and drove herself. (Ribbons for Linda photo)

New Hampshire farrier Linda Best died Sunday morning. The entire New England farrier community and miniature horse world has been thinking of Linda and her farrier husband, Paul, and we all wanted to believe there was hope she'd recover. That wasn't to be and we've lost a friend.

Click here to read a story about a day that will be how we'll all try to remember Linda. A second annual benefit "Ribbons for Linda" horse show had been planned for next Sunday. More info is available at this link.

I hope there will be more details available when the world comes back from the long weekend.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day and the Medal of Honor, Farrier Style

by Fran Jurga | 25 May 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog

The Medal of Honor of the United States

Everything was in place. The cemetery was a sea of green grass, gray granite markers, tiny flags, and red geraniums. All we needed was a marching band, the Little League, the Girl Scouts, and the Color Guard and we'd be all set.

And here they come, right on cue.

No one comes from a more scenic hometown than I do and there is no day of the year when Shirley Center, Massachusetts looks more idyllic than on Memorial Day.

This weekend, my eye lingered on all the mossy Civil War soldiers' graves (there are quite a few) and I thought about the marker in the center of the Common that honors the ones who didn't come back.

On Memorial Day, anyone who died fighting in any war should be in our thoughts, so I have some interesting names that I'd like to share. These men are listed with the US Congress as recipients of the Medal of Honor (sometimes called the Congresssional Medal of Honor), given, usually, for gallantry in action. But they weren't gun-toting combat soldiers; they were hammer-hoisting horseshoers.

Not airmen or artillerymen or scouts or Marines. They were sent with the cavalry to shoe the horses and they somehow ended up performing acts of courage and distinction. They perhaps performed these acts unarmed, except for their tools. George Meach actually captured the flag for the Union forces at the battle at Winchester; I wonder if he still had his apron on.

For many years, the Medal of Honor was the only medal given. It began after the Civil War; up until then, the Americans didn't want to give medals because it seemed too affected, too European.

Farrier Recipients of the Medal of Honor

Except for George, these men were part of an army mounted on horseback that was sent to clear the western frontier and make it safe for the migration of thousands of settlers.

The Army depended on horses and had to have farriers. Lots of them. Many immigrant farriers used their skill to get through Ellis Island's red tape and enlisted right there in the army as a way to gain citizenship with guaranteed pay; others were quickly trained at Fort Riley, Kansas to fill the need for farriers. Many, like Ernst Veuve, shod horses in the Army without learning to speak English.

I'm sure that, in later wars, there were farriers who were awarded many medals, while serving in combat.

Some other farriers to remember today: Vincent Charley, John Bringes, James Moore, Benjamin Brandon, Benjamin Wells, and William Heath. Those six farriers set out for what was supposed to be a simple week-long maneuver under their general, one George Armstrong Custer. It ended in the valley of Montana's Little Big Horn river on June 25, 1876. I think you know the rest of that story.

Memorial Day began in 1868, when it was called simply "remembrance day". Take a minute today and remember what and who this holiday is really about.

© 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, May 23, 2009

"What Price the Horse?" A Farrier Wondered

by Fran Jurga | 23 May 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog

A friend shared with me this photo of a farrier sergeant mounted on what looks like a mighty English hunter who must have been drafted to fight in France in World War I.

The farrier, my friend thinks, is Ted Adams. But there is much more to this story, if only we knew what it was.

First, it's a bit unusual to see a farrier mounted on a horse. This fellow didn't just hop on, he's equipped right down to his spurs.

Next, why did he want his photograph taken on this horse? And not just taken, but made into a post card?

And finally, why did he write this cryptic message on the back of the photo, and have it made into a post card that was never mailed: What price the horse? He died after.

My friend has a theory of why the horse died but before I share her theory, I thought I would ask blog readers to fill in the details of what might have been going on here.

Can you write the rest of the story? What was this horse to this farrier? Was it his own horse that he was giving to his country? How might the horse have died? Remember, this farrier, or his family, kept this post card. It is in beautiful condition after almost 100 years; my friend bought it on eBay with other photos and papers belonging to Ted Adams but this is a mystery. Or perhaps the farrier gave this photo to Ted Adams for some reason.

By the way, the upper patch on his sleeve is a horseshoe, the farrier insignia.

Send your plausible explanations of this mysterious postcard to fran@hoofcare.com. Check back for more Memorial Day stories of people and horses. Please do NOT use the comment form because then others will see what you wrote.

And thank you, Sunnybrook100!

© 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, May 22, 2009

Army Farriers Help Retiring Military Horses Hang Up Their Horseshoes in Colorado

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


Fort Carson, Colorado hosted a ceremony this week that you don't often hear about. Sgt. 1st Class Possum and Master Sgt. Houdini officially retired from service in the US Army. And they went out in style. Horses are not considered just inventory in the Army, they even have rank and can be promoted (or demoted). But they needed the help of Sgt. Jon Husby and Cpl. John Slatton before they could head out to greener pastures.

The official retirement ceremony for two long-serving and hard-working ceremonial color guard horses meant that a single shoe was tacked onto the foot of each horse and it was saddled up for (according to these photos) what looks like an expedition to go after Pancho Villa.

The horses were then led into the arena and ceremoniously unsaddled. The two farriers then pulled the nails and removed the ceremonial shoes. (Note the shoe pullers in Sgt. Husby's hind pocket.)

Tracking down this story meant interviewing sources at Fort Carson who obviously had never been interrogated about their horseshoeing services before, and there is probably a red terrorism alert in the area this weekend because of unprecedented questions asked about military horse hoofcare. You can blame this blog.

Suffice to say, the military press service was very generous to allow the use of these photos but did not want the farriers to be interviewed. They did say that the farriers get to wear blue jeans instead of government-issue uniform pants, and that Sgt. Husby attended farrier school last year in Oklahoma so he could take care of the fort's color guard's horses' hooves.

Sgts. Possum and Houdini, meanwhile, are headed to Florida, where they will live out their days at Mill Creek Farm in Alachua, which is home to many retired military and police horses.

Both horses have been champions or placed over the years in the National Cavalry Competition on behalf of Fort Carson's honor and glory. Fort Carson is named for the legendary frontier scout, Kit Carson.

The farriers will still have six horses at Fort Carson to shoe, and I hope that keeps them busy.


Along the same lines, here's a brief video supplied by the US Army about the hoof preparation of the horses from the Fort Riley, Kansas color guard who participated in the Inaugural Parade in Washington, DC back in January of this year.

Fort Riley was the longtime western capital of horseshoeing in America, as it was the home of the US Army's cavalry school of horseshoeing. I have often wondered if the reason there are so many horseshoeing schools in Oklahoma is because of the psychic presence of that huge and powerful school in the Midwest for so many years. I hope there is a big plaque somewhere on that military base to remember all those farriers, and I hope to get there one of these days to find out!

Photos for this article provided by the United States Army.

© 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, May 20, 2009

New DVD Announcement: "From the Ground Up" Hosted by Ian McKinlay, with Trainers from All Sports, Is Big Brown's Legacy

by Fran Jurga | 20 May 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog

video

This brief trailer is a promotion for the two-disc 3.5 hour "From the Ground Up" video library compiled by hoof repair specialist Ian McKinlay and many leading horsemen (see list below). The set is sold for $50 plus $6 post in the USA; $12 elsewhere (USA format DVD only). To order call 01 978 281 3222. fax 01978 283 8775 or email
GroundUpDVD@hoofcare.com.


"Quarter Crack" might be Ian McKinlay's middle name. A year ago, you couldn't turn on the television or open a newspaper without seeing his face, as all eyes turned to the hoof repair specialist for insight into Big Brown's chances to win the Triple Crown: would the colt be sound? Could he win with two healing wall separations and a quarter crack?

A year later, McKinlay is still working quietly on the backside of Belmont Park in the morning but he's just finished a bigger idea, and we're rolling it out this month for you.

"From the Ground Up" is a 3.5 hour 2-disc DVD library that explores what can and does go wrong on the track and in the show ring, and how it affects the people in charge. Ian spent months interviewing his clients and his colleagues--top trainers, farriers and veterinarians--and asking them what their experiences with hoof problems at the highest level could teach to all horsemen.

Ian interspersed their words of wisdom and recollections with cases of nasty hoof imbalance, white line disease, wall separations and quarter cracks. His famous Dremel tool is busy in this series and there is some promotion for his glue-on Yasha shoe toward the end, but for the most part this is an educational production at a very low price.

The six segments of the two discs are: 1. Foundation; 2. Pre-Purchase; 3. Diagnosis; 4. Causes and Solutions; 5. Balancing the Hoof; 6. Prevention.

There are a lot of extremes in this DVD. Some of the trainers speak in vague generalities, and the feet that Ian shows and works on are wrecks from the racetrack that are collapsed beyond what most viewers might ever see; these horses obviously started with a weak foot and nothing was done to help the horse until it was deemed a crisis.

This is not an instructional DVD, per se; I would hope that no one would watch it and then pick up a Dremel drill and start removing parts of a horse's foot. But from nicely-dressed Olympic and Triple Crown trainers sitting in the sun to horses with big chunks of hoof missing, this DVD at least starts to connect some of the dots.

When some of our most valuable horses have some of the most miserable lameness problems, the irony has to be that Ian McKinlay never says the obvious: the best trainers should have the best horses and the best horses should be sound and not need a hoof repair specialist on speed-dial. But it never seems to work this way.

This DVD is a little bit of Entertainment Tonight meets Food Network, or maybe This Old House. Ian is an excellent host. Celebrity talking heads "tell all" about their hoof problems; notable vets and farriers lean on hammers philosophically and sharp knives trim off dead tissue while sheared heels and collapsed frogs make you wonder if gravity will ever show mercy.

Starring from Thoroughbred racing: Bob Baffert, Richard Mandella, D. Wayne Lukas.

Trainers featured: John Campbell (harness racing), Bruce Davidson (eventing), Anne Kursinski (jumpers), Ian Millar (jumpers), Bryant Pace (reining), Havens Schott (hunters), Betsy Steiner (dressage), Ted Turner (Quarter horses)

Farriers featured: Jim Bayes, Doyle Blagg, Tom Curl, Hank Joseph, and Dwight Sanders

Veterinarians featured: Drs John Steele and Alan Donnell.

Note: The DVD would be really long if viewed at once but it is divided into chapters to make it easier to both find points for reference and to view it in parts.

This is a very ambitious project and should stimulate interest in making more DVDs that step back and take a wider look at the "why" of hoof problems rather than just the "problem:solution" approach. Is it a horseowner DVD? Is it a farrier/vet DVD? You can make up your own mind but I know you'll enjoy watching it while you decide.

© 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, May 18, 2009

Photos In: Best Shod Horse at Britain's Badminton Horse Trials

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

We've been halfway around the world and back again this week to catch up with New Zealand team farrier Andrew Nickalls, who in turn has been celebrating his victory in one of the world's most understated and underrated competitions for farriers, the "best shod horse" trophy at the 60th running of the four-star Badminton Horse Trials on May 7-10 in Gloucestershire, England.

Andrew (photo at left) is the sort of fellow you'd want in your life boat when the ocean liner is sinking. He simply shot pictures of the horse's feet with his cellphone and emailed them. Mission accomplished. Of course, you can't see much, but he got the job done.



The shoe, first: Vortex is a 15-year-old New Zealand Thoroughbred that is at the four-star ("Olympic") level. He finished 20th at Badminton, and the only things on his feet are shoes, nails and studs. That's quite something in itself. The shoes are handmade 3/4 x 3/8" concave, with side clips. I asked about the double stud holes, sure that it was some Kiwi trick but Andrew said: "I put two studs in the outside branch due to the fact that it's such a major competition where they are being taken in and out so often and therefore the extra is a spare one in case the thread goes!"



Side view shows the fit and the positioning and relative size and height of the clips. While the shoe is set back under the toe a bit, it's fit with some fullness at the heel and quarter, perhaps more than you'd expect for a horse that is going to be scrambling through a cross-country course. Andrew obviously knows this horse and knew what he could and couldn't do there. Some horses are more careful jumpers than others.


This is part 2 of this article; for more about Badminton's Farrier Prize, Andrew Nickalls, please read part 1 of this article, showing the horse's front end conformation and the rider's action. Click here to go there. The competition was judged by James Blurton, who has himself won the award three times with three different horses for three different riders. Jim evaluated the horses both before the competition and on the final day, to see how the shoes and feet had held up...and which horses were still sound.

© 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.

LAMINITIS: Proceedings Book and Disk Full of Valuable Research, Therapy, and Medicine for Reference

A montage of thermography images graces the cover of the laminitis proceedings book. The images represent 48 hours of the onset of laminitis; the colors register the relative heat of the foot. If you double-click on this image, you should be able to see it at a much larger size. Image © Dr. Chris Pollitt and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission.

Hoofcare and Lameness
is happy to announce that a few more extra copies of the proceedings book and cd-rom from the 4th International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot, held in West Palm Beach, Florida in 2007, have been added to our listings of books and new media for your library. These are probably the last copies that will ever be sold.

The Proceedings were published by Hoofcare and Lameness summarized in a 7 x 10", 122-page full-color illustrated book describing presentations and lectures with special essays written for the book by Drs James Orsini, Rustin Moore, and Chris Pollitt.

The book is sold alone, or as part of a two part book and cd-rom package.

The cd-rom contains 76 papers, plus many images and a few PowerPoint excerpts, as provided by the faculty and edited and formated by Hoofcare and Lameness. The accompanying book contains a summary of each speaker's presentation, and color photographs.

Included are the special treats of Dr. Pollitt's "48 Hours in Acute Laminitis", as shown on the cover, as well as his previously unpublished sequential CT scans of the blood supply to the foot.

Dr. Moore's essay addresses the significance of laminitis research and education in the aftermath of the Barbaro tragedy and publicity earlier in 2007.

A few other presenters and authors included Steve Adair, James Belknap, Robert Boswell, Thomas Divers, Berndt Driessen, Lisa Fortier, Bryan Fraley, Ray Geor, Aaron Gygax, Amanda House, John Hubbell, Philip Johnson, Fran Jurga, Bruce Lyle, Joseph Mankowski, Catherine McGowan, Scott Morrison, John Peroni, Patrick Reilly, Ron Renirie, Rob Sigafoos, Mark Silverman, Nathan Slovis, Ashley Stokes, Mitch Taylor, Andrew Van Eps, Don Walsh, Kathryn Watts, Mary Beth Whitcomb, Michael Wildenstein and Laura Zarucco.

The cd-rom represents the single largest collection of papers on laminitis and diseases of the foot ever published in one place.

A table of contents for the cd-rom is available on request. Please send an email to Fran Jurga if you would like the contents to be sent to you as an email attachment.

Ordering information: Order book only or book+cd-rom package. Summary book is 7x10, 122 pages, full color. CD-ROM is Mac or Windows compatible and contains all papers in PDF or PowerPoint formats. Papers vary in length and format. All orders must be pre-paid in US dollars, Visa or MasterCard accepted. Book only is $59; Book + cd-rom package is $125 per set. Add $8 postage per book or per set for USA orders; add US$15 per book or per set to other countries.

Click here for faxable order form. Fax to 978 283 8775 or mail with check drawn on USA bank to Hoofcare, 19 Harbor Loop, Gloucester MA 01930. Email orders to Conferencebooks@hoofcare.com. Prices subject to change without notice; supplies are limited.

Conference books and cd-roms were sent to all attendees of the 2007 conference. These extra copies are being offered to libraries and interested individuals who did not attend.

The Proceedings book and cd-rom were sponsored by Intervet and created by Dr. Chris Pollitt and Fran Jurga.

The 5th International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot is being planned for November 2009 and will again be held in West Palm Beach, Florida.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness, please visit our main site, www.hoofcare.com, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found. This post originally appeared on September 17, 2008 at http://www.hoofcare.blogspot.com.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Here's Your Silly but Spectacular Preakness Winner!

Two storybook endings. Take your pick. The New Mexico longshot Kentucky Derby winner was chasing the should-she-be-there champion filly to the finish line in this afternoon's second leg of the Triple Crown for three-year-old US Thoroughbreds. Would he catch her? Should he catch her?

There was no catching Rachel Alexandra today, even though her jockey, Calvin Borel, said she had trouble "getting hold of the racetrack" because it was dry and loose and that she preferred a hard, fast track.

If she runs in the Belmont, what will that mean for her feet? She seemed to have a different gait style today, much flatter than when she ran in the Kentucky Oaks. In the Oaks, where she won by 20 lengths, she seemed to run uphill, with her withers high, like a deer, with her front end passing hardly beneath here; today she ran with her back flat. Like every other racehorse.

She wasn't planning to run again in two weeks, let alone against the colts (and one game late-running gelding from New Mexico) but her new owner had a new plan in mind. This is an amazing filly.

Thanks to Wendy Uzelac for this great shot of Rachel mugging while she enjoyed her bath this morning. Let's see what happens next.

What Do Kentucky Derby Winner Mine That Bird and Actor Walter Matthau Have in Common? A Grumpy Old Man Would Be Gambling Today

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

They have Leonard Blach in common. The New Mexico veterinarian plays the role of owner in the real life of Mine That Bird; he acted in the role of the veterinarian in the film Casey's Shadow with Matthau. The rest of the time, he actually is a veterinarian.

When you look him up, he checks out. He's a Colorado State graduate, from a ranching family, owns a New Mexico clinic.

But the softspoken co-owner of Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird is actually a veterinarian and race horse owner with Hollywood ties and a movie set past that make the Mine That Bird's story one level more surreal and storybook than they may already appear. This veterinarian has his union card and is ready for his close-up.

And he is fully versed in the world of storybook endings, so bring on the Preakness.

Before I interviewed Dr. Blach, I thought I should do my homework, so I sat down to watch the 1978 horse-racing family classic, Casey's Shadow. And as I watched, I wondered about the fairy tale story that was unfolding before me.

If you can believe this: Walter Matthau plays a washed up Cajun running horse trainer and grumpy (of course) single dad who ruins every chance he has to prove to his sons how much he loves them. For some reason, they stick together. Salvation comes along in the form of a lightning-fast colt, so the family heads to Ruidoso, New Mexico to run against the best in the country for the big bucks and maybe a pickup truck that starts.

Except the colt is iffy in the soundness department. And there's drama. Drama that reaches its zenith late one night when the vet's truck pulls up to the barn and Leonard Blach--yes! Mine That Bird's Dr. Leonard Blach!--gets out and feels the heat in the colt's foreleg.

Blach's warning to Matthau not to risk the colt's life in the American International falls on deaf ears. Matthau has waited all his life for a colt that fast. And he's doing it for his kids. They need the money. It's a gamble. Get out the ice. He's gonna run.

It's interesting to note that this movie must have been written right after the Ruffian tragedy and I wonder how much that influenced the storyline. You know what's going to happen, and yet this is a family movie so there's a twist at the end, even if there isn't a new pickup.

The original title of the movie was Coon-Ass Colt, and there's even a song in the movie by that name, by Dr. John. The soundtrack has some great music. The film was made by Norman Ritt, famed more for social-issues films like Norma Rae.

The Cajun parts of the movie reminded me of the Calvin Borel interview on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno the other night; Leno showed a photo of Borel's childhood home and asked if they had electricity. That may be a good parallel for how much many people in mainstream racing understand about what goes on outside the spotlight of national-broadcast racing.

Blach was happy to reminisce with me about the fun days of filming Casey's Shadow, when Hollywood came to Ruidoso and Santa Fe. Apparently, there's work for veterinarians on movie sets, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. We were both surprised that the press hasn't drawn more parallels between the film and the real life story that unfolded right before us on May 2, 2009.

Horse racing is Dr. Blach's world, and racing in New Mexico is unique. The purses seem huge for a sprint, the atmosphere seems casual and the technology amassed to reproduce and refine the Quarter horse running machine in utero would amaze anyone who has been parked in the Thoroughbred world's breeding sheds for a while.

Case in point: Consider the recent application of technology to extend Storm Cat's career by retiring him from Thoroughbreds to reinventing him for artificial breeding for Quarter horses; a droplet of Storm Cat's sperm can be bioengineered or "extended" to insure his fertility in the Quarter horse world for a long time to come.

And if you live in that world where talk is not so much of foals but of embryos, you would know the name of Dr. Leonard Blach and his Buena Suerte Clinic. The equine hospital in Roswell has stood some of the leading money-winners in Quarter horse racing, including the greats Go Man Go and Easy Jet.

Dr. Blach thought that if there was something that could come of his group's colorful trek to Louisville and Mine That Bird's inspired romp under Calvin Borel's guidance, it would be to introduce America to The Other Racing. There is another way to race horses. There is another way to breed and raise horses. There is another way to dress and talk and look at the world.

If you rent Casey's Shadow, it looks dated and hokey but there is still something authentic about it, no matter how bad Matthau's attempt at a Cajun accent. It's a good horse racing movie, filmed on location. They didn't try to make Santa Anita look like Ruidoso Downs: they went there, instead, and actors and cameramen alike ate the dust of those horses.

Right now, Dr. Blach and his group from New Mexico have our attention and have put New Mexico on the racing map for many people. But guess what? It was there all along. And thriving.

This afternoon, Americans will gather in front of television sets to watch the Preakness. My guess is more than a few will be wearing cowboy hats in support of the boys from New Mexico and their little horse.

I'll be hoping for another Hollywood ending.

This post originally appeared in a slightly different version on www.equisearch.com. Thanks to repro specialist Gregg Veneklasen DVM of Timber Creek Veterinary Hospital in Canyon, Texas for linking Dr. Blach to the film.

© 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.

It was his first (Derby) rodeo...Chuck Woolley's waistline decor

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the belt buckle, originally uploaded by wendyu.

The classic Kentucky horseman's belt is a tasteful strip of saddle leather adorned with a halter name plate bearing the person's name.

But not this year. Wendy caught up with Mine That Bird's trainer Chuck Woolley on the backside at Pimlico this morning, where the Kentucky Derby winner will run in the second leg of the Triple Crown this afternoon.

Woolley, like all of Mine That Bird's connections, is from New Mexico, and won the Kentucky Derby the first time he entered...with a horse he drove there in a trailer pulled by his own pickup. A big belt buckle is how you celebrate, back home in New Mexico. Looks good to me!

Drop whatever you are doing at 5 p.m. eastern time today and find a television that receives the NBC network. Mine That Bird lost his hot jockey, Calvin Borel, to an even hotter filly, Rachel Alexandra, and plenty of good Derby horses like Friesan Fire, Musket Man, Papa Clem and Pioneerof The Nile are back for the tight turns and shorter distance that will test them all.

Kiwis Trot Off with Badminton's Best Shod Horse Award for 2009

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

New Zealand rider Tim Price with Vortex, shod by Andrew Nickalls, was judged Best Shod at the 60th Badminton Horse Trials in England last weekend. (Nico Morgan Photography)

By now, Hoof Blog readers know how it works. A shoeing judge observes all the horses entered in the venerable four-star Badminton Horse Trials on Wednesday of the event, as they "trot up" for the first presentation to the ground jury, where they are judged on soundness. The hoof judge is also looking at soundness and can look at their shoes.

The foot judge can have a second look on Sunday morning, when the field has narrowed down to the survivors of Saturday's cross-country, and those survivors are presented to the ground jury again, to be judged fit to continue in the show jumping. So the foot judge sees what the feet look like after dressage and cross-country, sees which shoes stayed on, and sees which horses are still in the competition and, most importantly, which are still sound.

In 2009, the judge awarded the prize to a New Zealand Thoroughbred, Vortex, ridden to Tim Price and shod by Andrew Nickalls, the team farrier for New Zealand's eventing team.

More about Vortex: A 15-year-old Thoroughbred, Vortex had a lot working against him in the competition. By that age, an eventer has a lot of wear and tear on his legs and hooves. This horse is a veteran. Andrew said, "Vortex has good feet, and is lovely to shoe. Janelle (Richards), his co-owner and groom, simply put some oil on his hooves, nothing special."

Other horses had their hooves highly polished and buffed with coatings so that the nail heads and clips, if they were there, were barely visible. Nickalls and Price chose the opposite tack for Vortex and let his true hooves show.

Compare Vortex's hooves with these highly polished hoof capsules.

It is interesting to note that Tim Price owned this horse in New Zealand, sold him to Sweden, then bought him back after he moved to England. Reunited, they finished 20th at Badminton, where it is a great accomplishment just to finish at all.

More about Andrew Nickalls: Andrew has been in the UK for ten years. He apprenticed at home in New Zealand, and is originally from Tutaruru on the North Island; he took his Diploma of the Worshipful Company of Farriers (DipWCF) exam after some additional training in England.

Andrew has traveled with the New Zealand team to two Olympics now, and has competed himself at the international level of farriery at the Calgary Stampede World Championships four times since 2004, and was in the Top Ten there three years in a row. He married last year and bought a house in Dorset, on the west coast of England.

More about the shoes: We are waiting for more photos so you can see at least one of the shoes, and these will be posted as soon as they get here. Vortex wears handmade shoes made from 3/4 x 3/8" concave, with side clips, and with quarter clips behind, and is done every five weeks.

About the judge: Judge for the competition was Welsh farrier James Blurton, who himself has won the best-shod award three times.


Thanks to the Badminton event office for looking up all the previous winners. If you have trouble reading the list, double-click on the image and you should be able to see it at a much larger view size. James Blurton and Bernie Tidmarsh are tied for the most wins, with three each. Notice that all three of Bernie's wins were with New Zealand horses! I think it is interesting that no horse and only one rider (Andrew Bennie of New Zealand) has ever won twice.

Andrew said he made the trip to Badminton on Saturday to be on hand for cross-country, but Vortex had no problems after the long test. "So we just hung out and had a beer and I drove home," he said in his matter-of-fact Kiwi way. Tim called him on Sunday when the announcement of the trophy was made.

Congratulations, all the way around the world.

(Note: cover at left features Bernie Tidmarsh, resident farrier at Badminton; if you ever have a chance to meet him, don't miss it!)

© 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, May 15, 2009

What's Wrong with This Foot?

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

Foot infections are curious things. A reader sent this in and I thought I'd share it because it seemed unusual to me. Perhaps different parts of the world have different types of foot infections; this horse lives in a very wet climate.

I know that we have only just begun to learn about immune system disorders in horses and how they may affect the feet. There's new information coming...but there is also much to be gleaned by going back and reading the old books.

It is always said of infections like canker that it affects one horse in 100 and then there is always the story that makes you scratch your head.

The city of Cleveland is said to have had an outbreak of canker in the winter of 1894 that practically shut down public transportation because so many streetcar horses were lame; they blamed it on the salt mixture that was used to melt the snow and ice off the tracks. The city switched to sand the next year and never had a mass lameness problem again.

Hoofcare & Lameness #77 had a special section on foot infections--deep sulcus thrush, canker, pemphigus, insect bites, pastern dermatitis, vasculitis, lymphedema and fungal-type infections of the hoof wall. We're now working with Dr. Knottenbelt at the University of Liverpool on an update of his work on some immune disorders that affect the foot and pastern and hope to have some of his brilliant work to share with you soon.

But in the meantime, please tell me--and other blog readers--more about this foot.

© 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, May 14, 2009

Warning: Lawn Clippings Are Not Good for Horses!

by Fran Jurga | 14 May 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog


Golden Light, originally uploaded by Dan65

Vet and farrier readers: This post is your clients--please share!

There’s no mistaking that sound: the mowers have started. Is there a more sure sign of summer?

If the sound of mowers is the first sound of summer, the second should be the sound of horse owners explaining to landscapers, lawn crews and neighbors that, while the thought is kind, it is NOT okay to dump mulch mower bags or raked-up grass clippings into horse paddocks or feeders.

Some people will think they are doing some clever recycling and being kind of animals, but the opposite is true.

Wet green lawn clippings are often left in mower bags or in piles, where they start to ferment quickly. A hungry horse will nibble at the clippings, and the fermentation (and the gastric gases it creates) in the gut can be deadly. We won’t even talk about the chemicals from herbicides and fertilizers!

Horses can also choke on clumps of grass clippings.

Laminitis might be a real risk too, particularly for horses with other considerations like insulin resistance, and for ponies.

Here are some suggestions, especially if you have horses that are at risk for colic or laminitis problems:


If your turnout borders an area served by a landscape crew, talk to the crew foreman. If you are off at work and leave your horses turned out, consider posting a sign on your fence.

If possible, make sure that town and county road maintenance crews that mow roadsides and median strips know not to dump trimmings into horse pastures.

When you arrive home in the evening, check your pastures, paddocks and arenas, especially along any sections facing neighbors or the road to make sure nothing has been dumped.

Consider writing a letter to the editor of your local paper, and post this article in your feed store and any stores that sell lawn mowers or at nurseries and farmstands that sell plants.

Chances are, your neighbors and community members are completely unaware of the dangers of grass clippings to horses, ponies, donkeys and mules. Remember, they probably mean well.

Do you have experiences with horses suffering the ill effects of grass clippings? Or neighborhood relations suffering? I know this is sort of a suburban issue, but that is where so many of our horses live these days...or the suburbs have come to them!

I was at a party once when a gentleman came up to me and smugly introduced himself as a neighbor to the boarding farm where my horse was living. He informed me that he was kind to animals and dumped the clippings of his vast chemical green carpet into my mare's paddock. I was speechless, and had to be, as the farm's relationship in the neighborhood was at stake. You might need that neighbor at a zoning or board of health meeting sometime.

© 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, May 11, 2009

Mine That Bird Started His Career With Victor In His Camp

by Fran Jurga | 12 May 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog
In the race to explain Mine That Bird's Derby zeitgeist, no one has offered the Roswell alien connection...yet. If that horse runs that way again in the Preakness, we might want to go back and look some more at the history of the town that sent him to the Derby and what happened there on July 7, 1947.

Mine That Bird's dazzling victory in the 2009 Kentucky Derby has been explained away by the longest list of reasons that any great moment in sports has ever enjoyed. Or suffered, depending on your point of view.

The most popular, of course: a brilliant, hair-raising, let's-see-that-again ride by jockey Calvin Borel. Agreed!

A regular reader of this blog (or so he tells me, to my delight), Dr. Sid Gustafson, offers some equine sports science reasons this week in the blog of The New York Times, The Rail: the change in altitude meant that Mine That Bird was running with New Mexico oxygen capacity at a Louisville elevation. Gustafson also saw some ethereal quality in Mine That Bird's hooves that he described as "mudders". Oh, and the colt has big nostrils. The better to breathe that oxygen-depleted high desert air, I guess.

Others point to his sire, or his career on artificial surfaces creating a zeitgeist effect when he switched to good old (if muddy) Churchill Downs dirt. And there there was that two-mile gallop before the Derby (see elevation switch, above). And the trailer ride, all that way from New Mexico, that must have had something to do with it. And the reasons go on.

No one has mentioned that he hails from Roswell, New Mexico, as does his new jockey, Mike Smith. And we all know what made that place famous on July 7, 1947. I'm surprised that no one has suggested an alien connection aided the horse in his zip along the rail on the first Saturday in May--Yet, that is!

I wasn't particularly looking for a reason, I was just enjoying the moment, until the other day that I found out that this little horse's past includes plenty of time spent with a familiar face around the Hoofcare and Lameness scene.

It seems that Needham/Betz Thoroughbreds in Kentucky, where Mine That Bird was born and raised, employs a very special farrier to take care of their young stock. I don't know how much you know about how foals are cared for on Kentucky Thoroughbred farms, but it is not unusual for a farrier and his or her crew to go through dozens of foals and yearlings in a day.

Except for one. There's one truck that stays in the driveway longer than the others, and one farrier who may only get through a few of the foals on the list on any given day. And when you ask him, three years later, about a particular foal, he'll not only remember the foal's dam, he'll remember the feet. And he'll be happy to tell you about them. In detail.

That farrier would be Victor Camp, of course. A transplanted New Yorker who looks like he'd be more at home in Greenwich Village than rural Kentucky, Victor has chosen the Lexington area for his mid-career farrier practice base and recently bought a home in Winchester, Kentucky. His practice is split between Thoroughbred farms and sport horses and his caveat with all his clients is that he be allowed time to work on each horse, consider what its most appropriate care should be, and take the time to do it properly.

Victor learned about horses and horseshoeing in a different world, in and out of the rarefied estates of Westchester County, New York where he apprenticed to older smiths in the 1970s when the fine horses he worked on required a level of craftsmanship that could be recognized but was rarely taught. He developed an analytical hoof theorist's angst that has made him the Woody Allen character of the farrier world today--all in a world where the answers to many of his questions are prefaced with, "Well, no one ever asked me that before." And also in a world where many don't ask questions at all.

When I tracked Victor down to ask him about Mine That Bird, he had no idea that anyone outside Lexington knew of his involvement with the gelding, but he was quick to launch into a recollection of what it was like to work at Needham/Betz two years ago when Mine That Bird was being prepared for the yearling sales. Victor continues to provide services at the farm.

"He was small," Victor recalled, "and I was concerned about him." Mine That Bird is not Victor's first Derby winner; Victor also prepped the feet of Monarchos, another somewhat surprise winner of the Derby, for his career ahead.

Victor advised, "I like to say that every foot I handle is handled like that colt is the next Derby winner. Every care must be taken to ensure it has the best foot possible underneath it!"

Victor had high praise for farm owner and breeder Judy Needham, whom he said was a "hands-on" owner who would often be in the barn and even hold the foals and yearlings for him, and discuss their development and sales plans as he worked. He particularly praised Needham for not pushing him to over-correct Mine That Bird's toe-out conformation, on the right front. "She said to give him time, and that's what that horse needed," Victor recalled. "That's the sign of a good owner, one who is willing to give a young horse a chance to come around rather than pressure the farrier to crank on these babies to look better by a sale date. I surely did not want to force him."

By now, everyone knows that Mine That Bird did not break $10,000 at the yearling sale.

Victor admitted that he was mowing his lawn when the Derby was on, and forgot all about watching it.

Victor remarked that Mine That Bird was a late foal, and that he could still be developing, particularly in his chest, a point on which co-owner Dr. Leonard Blach concurred in an interview with Hoofcare and Lameness earlier this week. Victor said that there are many reasons why a horse toes out--whether from a rotational deviation, an angular (joint angulation) deviation, or a combination of the two, in the pastern, fetlock and/or knee joints.

"By the time the horse is three, his pectorals should be filling in," Victor said, "and lots of these toed-out horses have figured out very well how to compensate. Then the muscles fill in. He might be ok. I'd like to see him."

Might be ok? Someone should show Victor the replay of this race.

The record books are full of horses who ran for years in spite of their imperfections--Sir Barton, Swaps, Assault and Buckpasser are four of the all-time great champion racehorses profiled in this blog recently--horses who ran on their hearts instead of their hooves.

Perhaps sometimes the blemished ones ultimately outrun their stablemates, the ones who had all the splints and braces and surgery and special shoes to make their toes point straight ahead on the day it counted.

For so many colts, the most important day of their lives, the day that counts, is the day of that yearling sale. But Mine That Bird was looking at a different calendar. For him, it was all about May 2, 2009.

Too bad Victor had to mow his lawn.

Photo: © Hoofcare and Lameness archive; Victor Camp lectured on onion-heel shoes at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine's farrier conference a few years ago.

© 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, May 09, 2009

Badminton 60th Anniversary Horse Trials: The View from Below

by Fran Jurga | 9 May 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog

In England this weekend, the 60th galloping of the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials is well underway in Gloucestershire. The photos are a little slower than the news is getting to me, but when they get here, they're wonderful.

Badminton is the world's most prestigious three-day event, rate four-stars, and this year is even having decent weather, except for high winds during the dressage that ruined some people's well-laid plans.

These photos are from Wednesday, at the first vet inspection. In this photo, you see a horse's hooves being oiled to insure that the vet will not pick them up. But they'll look nice. Other horses looked to have a hard, high-sheen coating applied, rather than the classic oil. Whoever is at work here is a confident woman who doesn't fear getting hoof oil on her expensive bracelet. So it's true what they say about event riders being fearless.

The hooves of experience shown here are those of the famous Toytown, who has had such bad luck lately. The cowboy boots belong to Zara Phillips, granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth. The former World and European champion event horse under Phillips, Toytown's 16-year-old hooves look like they have been around the block, and he's had more than his share of lameness problems, including being knocked out of the Olympics last year. Sadly, he was retired on cross-country today after bobbling some fences and getting hung up. Zara did the right thing. Her second horse, Ardfield Magic Star, went lame on cross-country and was also retired. Zara's father, US eventing coach Captain Mark Phillips, won Badminton four times.

Here's Emily Llewellyn with Society Spice, who made it through cross-country. I went through all the preliminary horse inspection photos and it looks like a much smaller percentage of horses is shod with toe clips this year, although it seemed that most of the horses in the top 20 after cross-country were predominantly shod with toe clips, which is interesting in itself. There looked like some glue-ons, too and lots of very highly manicured hooves for the inspection--I wonder what they look like now. Last year's best-shod horse, Valdemar, did not pass the first inspection.

The fashions that some of the riders don for the horse inspection are pretty wild (but fun). Both of these riders chose clothing that, when you look closely at their horses' legs, which is what the ground jury will do, their clothing does not distract from the horses' action or coloring. Smart move.

Check back on Sunday (or maybe Monday, depending on when they supply the news) for announcements about the Best Shod Award and the ultimate winner.

Note: These three photos are provided by ©Kit Houghton/Mitsubishi Motors. Thanks to Kit for not cropping the feet out of the photos.

© 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, May 08, 2009

Pioneer Equine Hospital: Bigger and Better Things in Store for Lameness Referral Practice in Calfornia

by Fran Jurga | 9 May 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog


One of the leading veterinary referral hospitals in the United States is stretching its legs in its new building. Pioneer Equine Hospital in Oakdale, California has moved to a new building that gives them plenty of space for their lameness specialty practice and the surgery procedures that are their specialty.

Dr. Brad Jackman is now the owner of Pioneer Equine Hospital; former owner Dr. Jerry Black also still practices from the clinic. Behind Dr. Jackman you can see his pride and joy: the new hospital's high field MRI, Pioneer will be only the second hospital in the United States to offer MRI with a 1-tesla super conducting electromagnet from Oni Medical Systems.

The practice was featured in a newspaper article in yesterday's Modesto Bee, which you can read by clicking here. The Bee made a special video format for The Hoof Blog to be able to host the little video clip of a horse's plantar digital neurectomy (roughly translated: transection of the nerve to the back part of one hind foot) that I thought you all might find interesting, as well as the familiar face of Dr. Brad Jackman.

The neurectomy was performed by Dr. David MacDonald on a 20-year-old Warmblood-Thoroughbred cross with a history of chronic foot pain.

As to who's manning (or womanning) the farrier shop that has been built at the new facility? The hospital's web site lists longtime Pioneer consulting farrier Rocky Armitage and Rob Dugo. The one at the old hospital was built for and by our friend the late Emil Carre, who provided farrier services for the hospital in its early days. I still miss him, and I'll always wish Dr. Jackman and the hospital well.

All photos and the video accompanying this article are the work of Brian Ramsay at the Modesto Bee and are mirrored from that site. Thanks very much to Brian and the Bee for working with The Hoof Blog to bring you inside the new Pioneer Equine Hospital. 



© 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, May 07, 2009

Hoof Research Road Show Premieres This Weekend: Pollitt-Hampson Laminitis and Wild Horse Hooves Headline in Australia

by Fran Jurga | 7 May 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog

Dr. Pollitt is known for his hoof-related research but part of his ability to get people to listen is his dazzling imagery. These images are from a series of CT scans of a foot. (©Chris Pollitt/AELRU image)

A couple of weeks ago, there was a street scene here in Boston that was wilder than anything since the Red Sox won the World Series. U2 was in the town. That's not so unusual in itself--the band might play Fenway Park or some other huge venue and sell it out for three or four nights of legendary concerts.

But this was different. They secretly booked a tiny concert hall in the suburb of Somerville.

I can remember, vaguely, that the Rolling Stones did something similar years ago. They wanted to play a small, intimate little theater where they could see the audience and judge how the music was received.

The same thing is going on this weekend in the southern end of Australia, where Dr. Chris Pollitt and his PhD candidate assistant Brian Hampson are quietly opening a new series of lectures on laminitis and hoof research. They'll be at the University of Melbourne Friday, and in Tasmania Sunday.

Dr. Pollitt's been lecturing about laminitis for years, but his work now has the added synergy of the brumby (wild horse) research component, which in turn has been energized by some out-of-the-box thinking about domestic vs wild horses that will have all of us scratching our heads when we finally hear these lectures.

Dr. Pollitt's model foot begins with a MIMICS image, created in collaboration with Dr Simon Collins, Animal Health Trust, Newmarket, UK

There were gasps of apprehension when Dr. Pollitt stepped down as professor at the University of Queensland vet school, but the research world was pleased. Freedom from teaching would surely allow him to dedicate full time to his directorship of the Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit, the world's leading center for laminitis research at the University of Queensland.

To everyone's surprise, something else happened. In addition to charging forward on the laminitis front with a collaboration with the Laminitis Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, he started a second research center, the brumby unit, designed to study the hooves of Australian wild horses so that he could finally come to understand how a normal foot is supposed to function.

For years, Dr Pollitt has said that his hands have been tied in laminitis research because he is trying to understand a disease mechanism in the foot without being able to compare it to the normal functioning foot because we simply don't have a good model of the normal foot.

So Pollitt and his research associate, Brian Hampson, and most recently with sidekick American veterinarian Dr. Donald Walsh of Missouri, have been trekking through the outback of Australia studying wild horses in wet, dry, rocky, sandy and even flooded terrain. They watch, they film, they tag, they camp, they bring volunteer research assistants, and they've collect data--volumes of it, none of which has been shared except in tantalizing tidbits until now.

Donald Walsh DVM of Missouri, president of the Animal Health Foundation in Pacific, Missouri, has been conducting laminitis research in Australia but rode out on brumby research expeditions with Pollitt and Hampson. Walsh has been studying wild horse feet in the USA; the Animal Health Foundation helps fund Pollitt's laminitis research. (Brumby Research Unit Photo)

Marg Richardson, a research team member of the Australian Brumby Research Unit, is one of the hosts for the lecturers this weekend and has organized the warmup tour.

She is particularly excited to be introducing Brian Hampson in his first official speaking tour. At the Australian Brumby Research Unit, Hampson is undertaking world-leading research by capturing and sedating brumbies, attaching GPS collars, tracking their movement and then recording the relevant data for herd groups. This includes what they are eating, the condition of their hooves and how much they are moving.

One of the marketing projects launched by the Australian Brumby Research Unit is making freeze-dried brumby feet available to other researchers.

Maybe, it turns out, to understand a lot about hooves we need to learn to a little bit about behavior. “Never has the saying of ‘No Foot No Horse’ been more obvious, when you see how much these horses move,” Hampson says. “We have tracked the movement of domestic horses in a variety of settings from the racing environment (to) five-acre paddocks (and) up to 10,000 acre paddocks to see the variation of movement and it has been quite staggering. Old brood mares turned out in paddocks are moving more over a 24-hour period than our elite race horses."

Dr. Pollitt's presentations will center on using computed tomography imagery to share the inside view of what happens to the hoof in laminitis and other hoof diseases, compared to normal hooves. Digital images from the CT scans, arranged in 3-D will also allow manipulation of the model to observe whatever tissue is of interest. Models will be shown for laminitis, side bone and normal feet.

A world tour is planned, of course; Dr Pollitt plans to speak at the 5th International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot in West Palm Beach, Florida, to be held November 6-8. See you there.

It sounds like Brian Hampson is ready for a world tour of his own.

I am not positive that places are still open in the lectures, but you can inquire. Please email Marg Richardson or phone (in Australia) 64 272255 or 0419 572255. Click here for a press release and links to flyers from the Equine Veterinarians Australia web site.

To learn more, visit both The Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit and the Australian Brumby Research Unit.

© 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.