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Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Place to be Tonight

by Fran Jurga | 31 December 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog



Here's a peek inside the Smiddy in Dundonnell, Scotland, which is almost as far north as you can go. It's past Inverness, and looks west toward the Outer Hebrides. It's a smiddy no more, but a mountaineering hut where up to ten hikers can rest for the night. But the forge fire blazes and the tools are still there and here's a fellow to serenade us on the accordion.

The red dot on the map at left locates Dundonnell on a map of Scotland. The islands to the left are the Outer Hebrides.

Auld Lang Syne is, after all, a Scottish tune penned by the great poet Robert Burns. But you knew that.

Here's the Dundonnell smiddy from the outside.

I can't think of anyone I'd rather spend an evening by the fire with than the readers of this blog. Of course I'm not really in Scotland, except maybe in a flight of imagination.

Thanks to Dundee, Scotland photographer Robbie Graham for the loan of this photo. Robbie asked for a "wee credit", but I'd give him a lot of credit. His photographs are extraordinary; take a "wee" tour of Scotland with Robbie with this set of images of the country he obviously knows and loves so well.

Happy new year from the Hoof Blog as I turn off the Big Mac for the year! May Auld Lang Syne's cup of kindness find you all often in 2010.

2009: A Blog Year in Images

31 December 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog at Hoofcare.com



With any luck, this little slide show will work on your browser. It's a harvest/mashup of all the low-resolution still images from the blog in 2009. I hope you will enjoy this look back at the year's stories. Do any events or news items stand out in your mind as particularly important or noteworthy? Ten years from now, what will we remember about 2009?

Thank you for reading and watching and listening to this blog, and for sharing it with others, and for your support of all the projects, products and events associated with Hoofcare & Lameness.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. Please, no use without permission. You only need to ask.

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

Saved the Best for Last: Paul Williams and Pearl and the Rest of the Story

by Fran Jurga | 31 December 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog at Hoofcare.com

This is the story that stopped me in my tracks and I wonder what it will mean to you. Please watch these videos but understand that they are only the beginning of this very special end-of-the-year story.






The television crews showed up when the deed was done, and the film footage showed only the wreckage of a burned-out horse barn. You heard only the testimony of onlookers. Yet something about this little story from a small town outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania piqued my curiosity. There had to be more to it.

And there is. The fireman who rushed into the burning barn at Greenmoor Commons Equestrian Center in Cecil Township, Pennsylvania was not just a local volunteer fireman. He was a farrier. And he was rushing in to save a horse he knew very well.

Paul Williams knew exactly where Pearl's stall was, and though he said that she didn't seem to recognize him, we can only wonder about that. Others had tried to get her out but failed. Water from the fire hoses was filling her stall. She was standing in a foot of water.

"It was her blanket that saved this mare's life," Paul told me. "She was completely soaked. The blanket was saturated." That saturated blanket and the deep pool in the stall meant that the sparks and embers falling from above were doused as they entered the stall. Pearl was safe, for the most part, though. "And the wind direction was in her favor, too, " Paul recalled. "But it was that thick blanket that saved her."

The story doesn't stop there. "I was at the station when the call came in, and I heard a horse was trapped," Paul told me. Paul has been through special large animal rescue training and he is dedicated to educating horse owners and firemen about fire safety and horse rescue, along with a fellow firefighter who is a horse owner, Ed Childers.

And Paul does it all as a volunteer fireman, in addition to his farrier work, and the training of his horses. His fire department has only expertise, not equipment; they use an old bedliner out of a pickup truck as a glide for an injured horse. They have no slings or straps or pulleys. They rely on just their common sense, and (most of all), their horse sense.

Just ten days before Pearl's heroic rescue, Paul had been personally touched by fire. He trains Standardbreds, and had been looking into buying back one of his former trainees, a mare named Dancing Cassidy. She was stabled in southern Ohio at Lebanon Raceway.

On the morning of December 5th, two men and 43 horses died in a barn fire at Lebanon Raceway. One of those who died was Paul's mare, Dancing Cassidy. "She won the night before," Paul said, still proud of her. "I wanted to get her out of there and bring her home but I never got the chance."

You may have noticed in the video that Paul has an accent. "People ask me if I'm from Boston," he laughed. He moved to the USA 15 years ago from Brecon in South Wales, but the musical Welsh accent has stuck.

Paul rode National Hunt races back home in the winter; when he came to America, he set up his farrier business and started training Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds; he lives three miles from The Meadows racetrack. He estimates there are close to 3500 active riding and race horses in his county, and that he's picked a good place to shoe and live the life that suits him.


The horse rescue work is unfunded but Paul said that the day after the fire, an anonymous check for $500 arrived at the firehouse, and he was delighted. If you'd like to help Paul help more horses, I'd recommend that you learn what you can about fire prevention and emergency care of horses. And if you have a few dollars left at the end of year (or anytime), I know a donation would be put to good use if it was sent to the North Strabane Fire Department Large Animal Rescue Unit, 2550 Washington Rd., Canonsburg, PA 15317-5224 USA. I'm sure Paul would also travel to give talks on rescue and safety.

The fundraising t-shirt for the North Strabane Large Animal Rescue team.

When I asked Paul about being a farrier and rescuing horses and how the two jobs fit together, he quickly said, "Well, who better than us?"

And that's, as they say, the rest of this great story.

If you live near Pittsburgh and would like to learn more about large animal rescue and fire safety, Paul and Ed will give their next seminar on January 9th. There's lots more info at the North Strabane Volunteer Fire Department web site.

I'd like to thank Jim Durkin and everyone at WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh for making a special effort to release the video of Paul and Pearl, and uploading it so we could show it on this post. It is not that station's policy to allow their news footage to be used by outside web sites, and I know they made a special exception in this case for this special story, knowing that Hoof Blog readers would like to see the footage. Thanks too to CNN, who have had quite a few horse-related video clips open for use on the blog lately.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. Please, 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, December 29, 2009

Best of 2009: Mini-Documentary Records a Farrier's Reflection on His Career Choice

29 December 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog at Hoofcare.com




Note: get ready for a "Best of 2009" blog-a-thon over the next few days! Some special stories and media will be posted to celebrate the end of a great year and a landmark for The Hoof Blog and Hoofcare & Lameness!

It's the end of the year, and the end of a decade. The urge to put an end on things, and to wrap them up in tidy packages, is irresistible. To reflect, to rebuild, to re-evaluate.

Today I'd like to share a video that I've been saving for the end of the year, because it does all those things. You might want to watch it more than once. The first time I watched it, I was distracted by the horses, the tools, the hoof, the truck, and especially the dogs. I missed a lot of what Joel said, and that's the important part of this video.

Joel Sheiman is a farrier, and glad of it. You can tell he's thought it over, and in this short documentary-style film, the California farrier thinks it over again, out loud.

Many, many videos about farriers pass through this office. Almost all are third-person accounts, presenting the contemporary farrier as an interesting anomaly, a blast from the past, a man (or woman) of steel, or a whisperer to horses. We get to see videos of the oldest, the youngest, the shoers of famous horses or the farriers at famous farms. Rarely do the farriers in those videos get to say more than a few disjointed sentences edited from a longer interview. The videos pump up the audio of hammers hitting steel, sizzling shoes, neighing horses. You are there! but you never really got to know the star of the show.

How different, then, is this video, where the farrier does all the talking. If he seems relaxed in front of the camera, it may be because the videographer was his son, Danny, who made this little documentary during his classwork as a film major at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

What are you reflecting on during these last days of 2009? Was the year all you expected? What (or whom) did you lose and what (or whom) did you gain? What choices did you make, and would you make them again?

You have a chance to start fresh on Saturday; what are your plans and dreams for 2010? What would you say if someone switched on the microphone in front of you now, the way Danny did to Joel?

Joel Sheiman lives in Orinda, (outside Berkeley) California, and shoes everyday with his assistant of eight years, Alvaro Pelayo. Since this video was made, Joel's dog Nora was injured; sadly, the dogs aren't traveling with him to shoe horses while she recovers. If you click on the "YouTube" logo on the video screen, you can watch this video in "high quality" mode, and in a larger format. (Thanks, Danny and Joel!)

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. Please, 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, December 28, 2009

The Three Smiths of Helsinki

27 December 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog


Three blacksmiths, originally uploaded by digikuva.

What a well-traveled group of readers checked the Hoof Blog today!

Our "Where in the world?" question asked for the location of the Three Smiths sculpture by Felix Nylund. I thought it would be a stumper, but a flurry of correct answers quickly came in from around the world!

The winner was farrier Jonathan Oehm of Queensland, Australia who, like so many Aussies, has been around the world and back again.

Close behind was farrier/doctor Mike Miller of Alabama and veterinarian Hank Greenwald of Washington. Then a three-way tie almost to the minute between "CJ" and Cynthia Dekker (locations unknown) and Sandy Johnson of Florida, who remembered the statue from her time in Helsinki shoeing at the FEI World Cup Finals in 1998.

The most recent winner is Frederick Marmander, a farrier from Sweden.

I had never seen the sculpture before and I was really excited to find these photos. Something unique about this statue is that it was damaged by bombing during World War II, and the anvil has a hole in it where shrapnel hit it.

As with so many artistic representations of smiths and farriers or anvils and hammers, the statue is said to be a celebration of the laborer, but the coordinated forging between the three men symbolizes the need to cooperate peacefully to get jobs done, according to the art museum in Helsinki.

Smiths are often depicted unclothed in classical art, but it seems a bit cruel of the artist for a city with the climate of Helsinki!

Thanks to everyone who answered or at least thought about where in the world this statue might be! What a worldly readership this blog has!

Where in the world?


IMG_1898, originally uploaded by venlalaland.

Who knows where this photo was taken? The name of the sculpture is The Three Smiths, and the name is also given to the square in the famous city where they stand, 365 days of the year.

Be the first person to correctly identify the location and you'll win a copy of the New Dictionary of Farrier Terms (2010 edition) by David Millwater.

Send an email to threesmiths@hoofcare.com if you think you know where this sculpture is.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Around Here...

25 December 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog at Hoofcare.com

What's Christmas like in your part of the world? Here's a glimpse at our town, the famous fishing port of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Most people visit in the summer months when the harbor is full of sailboats and whale-watching cruises. As soon as summer fades, the harbor seems much bigger. The tourists may leave but the seals come.

Christmas is a very special time in this community and a foot of snow the week before only enhanced the spirit this year.



In this video of still images by local photographer Jay Albert, you can see the Christmas tree up the hill from the Hoofcare & Lameness office. It is believed to the largest construction of lobster traps into the form of a Christmas tree in the world, and uses 400 traps! The buoys were painted by local schoolchildren. The effect is magical, although I can't decide whether I like it better at night, when it is lit, or during the day, when I can see the construction.



The U.S. Coast Guard stations are very important anchors in the seaside communities up and down the coast. In this video, you can see the lighthouse crew from Brant Station on Nantucket working on one of their annual Christmas traditions, a wreath for a lighthouse at the harbor entrance. I think the cross pieces on the wreath may be representing harpoons; Nantucket was the world's foremost whaling port. Remember Moby Dick?

This year was the 80th anniversary of "Flying Santa". I've been around a few times over the years when a helicopter would land next door at the Coast Guard station and Santa Claus could hop out! A non-profit group flies Santa up and down the coast to visit the children of lighthouse keepers and Coast Guardsmen every year.

Merry Christmas...from Hoofcare's little corner of the world!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Friends (Still) at Work: Noni Harland

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


Life Data Labs in Cherokee, Alabama is such a nice place to work that no one wants to retire. That's the gist of an article in an Alabama newspaper today, which cited the supplement manufacturer for its high percentage of workers who are working beyond retirement age...because they want to.

But Noni Harland wins the prize. She is 91, and still comes to work every day.

The day I visited, Noni was keeping an eagle eye on the vaccum-sealed bags of supplements as they were packed for shipping. Hard work runs in her family; Noni's daughter Linda is president of Life Data Labs.

I remember visiting the plant a while ago, and there she was, just as bright and friendly as can be, although that could be said of all the employees. I think it is hard for some people to reconcile the "big company" status of Life Data: they dominate the hoof supplement race, do their own research with a PhD/DVM on hand every day, and run a research farm that would be the envy of any big feed company. And the horses that run in the fields there would be the envy of many Thoroughbred breeders.

So you think their corporate headquarters is in a skyscraper somewhere, don't you? Or in a glass and steel temple in an upscale corporate office park? Think again. Corporate offices are a few steps from the entrance to the spotless mill where the supplements are made. And the massive warehouse is just beyond that.

Dr. Frank Gravlee took some time off to show me around the warehouse. I think he might be researching anti-aging supplements for humans on the side.

From my experience, I'd say that Noni and Dr. Frank and others at Life Data Labs keep working into their senior years because there's no place they'd rather be but keeping that company at the forefront. Their hard work put Farriers Formula on top, and my guess is that they plan to keep it that way.

To read more about the unique age group of employees at Life Data Labs, read the article in the Muscles Shoals Times Daily. The Life Data Labs web site is always worth a visit too, as is their new YouTube channel. You can subscribe to their channel and you'll receive email notifications when new videos are posted by Life Data Labs on youtube.com.

And the next time you open a bucket of Farriers Formula, and you see that little brochure in there on top of the pellets, you can stop and smile. Noni's been hard at work to get it ready for you.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. Please, 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, December 18, 2009

Introduction to Hoof Anatomy: Dermal and Epidermal Structures

18 December 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog at Hoofcare.com



Time for an anatomy review? The exterior of the horse's hoof is pretty familiar territory to anyone reading this blog, but sometimes the anatomical reference terms used in this article are all new to someone from outside the hands-on world of horses, or maybe some blog readers get confused about the terms in the English language, since, according to the statistics I've been checking, this blog is read by people from just about every country on the planet!

This simple video reviews the structures of the hoof capsule with an emphasis on dermal vs epidermal (inner vs outer, in plain language; sometimes referred to as sensitive vs insensitive in older terminology that described the laminae and sole).

If an anatomist was comparing the hooves of several mammals, he or she would use the terminology you will hear in this video. Everything has a noun to identify and an adjective to modify or locate it. The most common ones you'll hear are directional--medial or lateral, dorsal or palmar, but listen for things described as epidermis and corium, and for the characteristics of the layers of tissue in the coronary band. It's nice that the narrator speaks so slowly.

I apologize if this is too basic for you, but maybe you'll watch it anyway, and pass it on to someone who would like to study anatomy.

Lately it seems like some people don't study anatomy as much as they interpret it, according to their theories of the function of the hoof, but that seems backwards to me. I think my own theory on this is based on years of marveling at the hoof and hearing the most learned scholars marvel too at the complexity of the hoof's design and yet the efficiency of its functions.

I don't think we've cracked the case yet, but when we do, I believe it really will be like finishing a jigsaw puzzle: you just can't have any leftover unexplained anatomy pieces lying off to the side when you're done with your explanation of the foot. Everything that is there, is there for a reason and is doing something. All the parts work together. All the parts are important. That's the beauty of it...and the mystery of it, as well.

Thanks to mido851114 , an Egyptian vet who obviously found this video helpful, and posted it on YouTube so I could embed it here for you. The video was originally made for a set of comparative species dissection narrations at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1995 with credits to Drs. Nongnuch Inpanbutr and Maureen Caito. Dr. Inpanbutr is from Thailand. And so the world gets smaller and smaller...

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. Please, 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, December 17, 2009

Video: Watch Another World Record in Dressage Freestyle for the Dutch Black Stallion Totilas

by Fran Jurga | 16 December 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog at Hoofcare.com


Everyone in the horse world will be talking about this little video...and if they aren't, show it to them! At the FEI Dressage World Cup Qualifier tonight at London's Olympia Horse Show, European champion Moorlands Totilas broke his own world record for highest score ever given. He racked up 92.30%. Ridden by Edward Gal of The Netherlands, Totilas has a specific goal: to come to America next fall and win the gold medal at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky. That's still 282 days away but this horse is the one everyone will come to see, assuming he can stay sound and healthy. And until that day, he will be the one everyone analyzes. Watch the way he downshifts from a canter to a tight pirouette around the middle of the test and comes out of it. This horse knows where his feet are. And where to put them next. He's the one to watch.


© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. Please, 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, December 16, 2009

Danny Ward Teaches Horseshoeing as a Sound Survival Skill for a Lame Economy

16 December 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog at Hoofcare.com

Danny Ward's Horseshoeing School is featured on Blue Ridge Public Television this month.

Virginia's Blue Ridge Public Television made a field trip recently to a place many of us know very well: Danny Ward's Horseshoeing School in Martinsville, Virginia. But this time the reason wasn't the huge gathering of the farrier clan held there every November, or the visit of a horseshoeing guru from abroad, but an economic sidebar on the value of becoming a farrier as a second career in the stressed economy that is making finding a job difficult for many people who want to work.

Danny's school has been there since 1964, when his father, Smoky Ward, began teaching his skills, and it has weathered all sorts of economic boom and lean times in those 45 years. Danny just keeps on doing what he does. The world keeps beating a path to his iconic forge's door. It's kind of comforting to know he's there.

It's amazing to hear the optimism in his students' voices. I hope there is plenty of work for them out there. And I hope they are listening to every word Danny says, and staying up late practicing because they will need that sort of dedication to make it in the real world, no matter what shape the economy is in.

Thanks to Blue Ridge Public Television, JobQuest, and Carol Jennings for sharing this video.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. Please, 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: Colten Preston, Australian Farrier Apprentice of the Year

16 December 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog at Hoofcare.com

Queensland's Colten Preston has been named Farrier Apprentice of the Year in Australia. Colten is 19, and works for racehorse farrier Mark O'Leary on the Gold Coast. He won a competition for apprentices in Victoria recently, but competition is nothing new to him; he is a serious polocrosse rider and has represented Australia internationally in that sport. Colten is just completing the Australian three-year TAFE training program, which includes college courses, and will work for Mark for one more year. Click here to read the nice article about Colten in today's Courier-Mail from Brisbane; photo courtesy of the Courier-Mail.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. Please, 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, December 15, 2009

The Farrier's Portrait: No Chestnut Trees in Sight

15 December 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog at Hoofcare.com


A friend asked me yesterday who my favorite photographer of farrier subjects was, and I couldn't answer. I've been thinking about it ever since. My friend is an aspiring photographer who wants to capture the world of farriery right down to its most intimate gestures of tongs or rasp or nipper.

I guess my answer is that I'm just incredibly curious how people take pictures of the horse's hoof and, secondarily, its attendant humans and environment. I've looked at probably millions of photos and I am just amazed when I keep seeing a point of view or a subject that I hadn't seen covered before. The possibilities are endless.

Take, for instance, this self-portrait of British farrier Gary Huston. He put the camera on the ground at the base of his hoofstand and got an ant's eye view of the horseshoer at work. His face is distorted, but that's gravity and focal length at work.

Sometimes a portrait doesn't even show the person's face. It might be straight-on shot of something you see of that person every day; it can be magic if the colors are right and the shutter speed cooperates. Daniele Voltattorni from Italy captured every move farrier Giordano Gidiucci made while shoeing his show jumper Nelson. He did a great job with this one, and some lovely metal-on-metal portraits of his Delta nails and tools as well. I thought maybe he was their ad agency in Italy! But he just likes the color and texture and light characteristics of metal. There's no one element in this photo that competes with the sparks, they all compliment the flying colors and the light on the farrier's hands. You don't need to see his face.

It's really pretty hard getting a good portrait image of a farrier. They either have caps on, or the light is bad, or you can't see their faces. The talented New York photographer Sarah Jean Condon solved that problem for farrier Kaytlin Bell by using the horse's comfy topline as a prop. All you see of her is her face, and one gloved hand. The Hoof Blog won the American Horse Publications first place award for this photo back in June. Remember this one the next time a photographer comes around (and you have a gray horse handy).

These are just a couple of shots that come to mind for me; it's all about how you look at things, and how/when/if that little crack of light sneaks in and lights things up. I think a good photographer always knows that there is a crack where some light will get in, in every good shot. That's where they start, and build the photo around the light, which might be just a speck...or the whole side of a horse.

I don't think that there could be a more interesting subject to photograph than horses' feet, farriers, veterinarians and all the barns and driveways and dark smithies and brightly lit clinics each present special challenges. When you get a really good image, you know you've earned it.

Many thanks to Gary, Daniele and Sarah for allowing their images to be shown on this blog.



PS: Farriers might be curious about the weird inner rim on Gary's shoe in the first image. I certainly was. It's not part of the shoe, it's the base of his hoofstand. He uses this plate (above) which he says is cut out to fit the size frog of most of the horses he shoes, and when the horse puts his foot on the plate, it locks in for Gary to rasp away on or clinch. Here's the plate all by itself; Gary took this photo just to explain it to me because I was a little slow to catch on to the concept.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. Please, 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.

FEI Veterinarians Form International Association for Sport Horse Competition Work

15 December 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog at Hoofcare.com

The specialized responsibilities of veterinary care and management of international competition sport horses should see some improvements in the future; a group of international treating, consulting and regulatory veterinarians have formed a new association.

According to its founders, the goal of the fledgling International Sport Horse Veterinarians Association will be to create educational opportunities for treating veterinarians associated with international-level horses and events and to improve communication among these veterinarians in matters relevant to their management of these horses within international regulations.

Sport-horse veterinary specialists from all over the world gathered informally one evening during the convention of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, held in Las Vegas, Nevada, last week; their agenda: to establish this new association.

I had a chance to speak with the USA's Timothy R. Ober DVM (right), who was credited with running the meeting, when he stopped by my booth in the trade show. He was enthusiastic about the number of US and international veterinarians who had gathered and was optimistic that better communication could improve some of the logistics and questions that treating veterinarians had in the past when preparing horses for international travel and competition. Dr. Ober also said that the organization will work to develop an exchange of information and cooperation with the Veterinary Department of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI).

Some of the international veterinarians who specifically mentioned their attendance at the meeting included show-jumping and eventing specialist Julian Willmore of Australia, and Jan-Hein Swagemakers, head veterinarian for the German showjumping team. Both foreign vets were enthusiastic about the new association and its goals.

A complete list of members of the new association is not yet available.

I was struck throughout the week by how many sport-horse specialist veterinarians from so many countries were in attendance at the convention, where a concurrent specialty program was offered by the United States Equestrian Federation. USEF's FEI Veterinarian Course was open to FEI-licensed veterinarians for continuing education credit and to licensed veterinarians interested in becoming FEI vets.

The course was directed by Great Britain's John McEwen MRCVS and the USA's Kent Allen DVM, Chair and Vice-Chair, respectively, of the FEI Veterinary Committee. Special seminars in rules, medications and infectious diseases were dovetailed with specific offerings from the main AAEP program to offer a complete curriculum for veterinarians whose work includes attending to international-level horses or officiating at FEI events. USEF also offered a second course for aspiring horse show veterinarians for USEF events.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. Please, 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, December 13, 2009

Sunday Humor: "Full Nelson Shoeing"

by Fran Jurga  | 13 December 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog at Hoofcare.com

video

It's Sunday morning, which means that I'm allowed to lighten up a bit and hopefully make you smile. A new friend of this blog is farrier Andy Nelson, from the Nelson family of farriers in Wyoming. But Andy's been working on a second career, and he's made quite a name for himself and his experiences as a farrier by documenting his life in the rhymes of cowboy poetry.

Since Christmas is coming, I thought I would post a couple of Andy's poems over the next few weeks and perhaps you'll head to his web site and order a cd, hire him as a entertainer or at least have some more laughs.

Farriers are often the subject of poems. Shakespeare waxed poetic about the smithy, Longfellow immortalized the chestnut tree shaded forge, and the Irish poet Seamus Heaney won the Nobel Prize for Poetry, in part, I always like to think, by inverting Longfellow's romantic hero in "Door into the Dark (The Forge)". The first book ever published by Hoofcare Publishing was The Smith Writes Back, an anthology of farrier and blacksmith poetry for a staged poetry reading by farriers at Cornell University.

Andy Nelson will sure to be included in volume two of that book! Visit www.cowpokepoet.com to learn lots more about him and buy his cds.

Note: I normally bristle when people make jokes about farriers, but when a farrier pokes jokes at himself, I think it's ok. The meaning of the title is based on a play on words on a wrestling move, but refers to the Nelson family business. As you can probably tell, I made the media file and Google seems to have cut off some of the artwork. I am sorry...and if anyone can coach me through a way to fix it, I'll be glad to.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. Please, 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, December 11, 2009

Stem Cell Video: Lava Man Will Be An 8-Year-Old Gelding Racing on a 3-Year-Old's Ankles

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



On Saturday, American horseracing has a chance to welcome back one of its great heroes of recent years, the rags-to-riches California claimer Lava Man. The gelding is coming out of retirement to run in a stakes race and he's probably getting more press for his comeback than he did for winning more than $3 million in purses during his first career. You remember, the one he ran on his original legs.

That's right, Lava Man has been true to his California roots and he's been having some "work done". But it's not his nose or his chin or his thighs that were worked on, but his ankles. The gelding had his own bone marrow stem cells extracted and then injected into his lower limbs to help with some chronic wear-and-tear injuries.

The procedure was done at the lovely Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center in Los Olivos, California. The clinic is in the Santa Ynez Valley north of Santa Barbara and is the sort of place most horses can only dream of seeing out their their windows when the vans brake to a stop.

Apparently some people are concerned that Lava Man is too old to race, or that the repaired ankles will backfire on him somehow. My guess is that if something backfires, it won't be the ankles. Racing is a young horse's game, but advances in veterinary medicine and sportsmedicine have allowed some senior campaigners to do very well in the sport lately--Commentator and Better Talk Now come to mind, not to mention Pepper's Pride.

Outside of racing, stem cell treatments are pretty standard for horses as old or older than Lava Man. Although every horse and every injury is different, stem cells are routinely injected into the injured legs of mature jumping horses who make comebacks. Consider the British National Hunt campaigner Knowhere, featured on this blog last year. At ten, he came back to jump racing after stem cell treatments on his bowed tendon and his first race was three miles, with 21 fences.

The British stem-cell technology firm VetCell studied 168 national hunt horses and identified that the re-injury rate, following stem cell therapy for superficial digital flexor tendon injury and return to full work, in the three years following treatment is 24 percent compared to 56 percent reported for horses that have undergone more traditional tendon treatment.

Horse racing stories doesn't usually make the New York Times in December, but Lava Man is in there today. The big races are over, the Breeders Cup is fading into a dreamy memory, but on a slow weekend on the slowest month of the racing year, here comes this great old gelding, back to the track to try again. His owners say they are doing it for racing, for his fans, and for him.

Maybe they should add that, if Lava Man succeeds, they are doing it for lots of other older horses that can be managed carefully and correctly into extended careers.

Video courtesy of www.alamopintado.com


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

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

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

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

Friday, December 04, 2009

Ohio State Vets Have a 20/20 Vision: Cure Laminitis by the Year 2020

4 December 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog at Hoofcare.com

Here's a news story from the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, about the university's participation in the recent 5th International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot. This article is published without editing except for the addition of links to extended information. It can also be read online at the Ohio State University news section. I hope Dr. Moore's vision comes true.

Columbus, OH - Equine experts and laminitis researchers from The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine participated in two laminitis research meetings/workshops, where participants shared current research rand treatments, and envisioned finding a cure by 2020.

The Fifth International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot (IECLDF), held in conjunction with the Second Annual AAEP Foundation Equine Laminitis Research Workshop (ELRW), brought together specialists from around the world. Dr. Rustin Moore, chair of the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, and acting director, Ohio State Veterinary Hospital, also served as a co-organizer for the IECLDF and the chair of organizing committee and moderator for the ELR titled.

The proceedings from the IECLDF includes an article he authored titled "Laminitis Vision: 20/20 by 2020" and the ELRW proceedings has a similar paper he authored titled "Vision 20/20 - Conquer Laminitis by 2020 - A Clarified Vision for the Equine Community to Work Collaboratively and Cooperatively to Understand, Embrace, and Achieve!"

The economic and emotional toll exacted by our incomplete understanding of the disease results in frustration felt by veterinarians, owners, trainers, caregivers and the general public - many of whom came to know the disease through Barbaro.

Fighting a complex, systemic disease like laminitis can only be accomplished through shared efforts. Threats to finding a cure rest in two areas: difficulties with funding the necessary research, as well as competition between research groups for that limited funding. Losing valuable researchers who move to other areas of study due to lack of resources would be disastrous.

Private supporters such as Mr. and Mrs. John K. Castle provide both financial and emotional support to keep the research going. Their horse, "Spot," suffered from laminitis and their efforts to fight the disease in his name continued at the meeting, where they award the "Spot Courage Award" to Molly the Pony. Rescued following Hurricane Katrina, Molly was attacked and badly injured by a dog. Her rescuers and new owners knew of a few instances in which a pony could survive an amputation and learn to wear a prosthetic. Veterinarians at Louisiana State University, including Dr. Moore who was there at that time, agreed to perform the surgery. Molly now travels and inspires all those who meet her.

Dr. Moore and Fran Jurga, editor, Hoofcare and Lameness Journal as well as the blog, The Jurga Report nominated Molly's care giving team, and Dr. Moore presented the award to Kaye Harris on behalf of everyone on this team. Molly accompanied Kaye to West Palm Beach, and was a huge hit during the conference.

Other award winners at the conference include Dr. Moore, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his on-going work and support of laminitis research. The Lifetime Achievement Award is given to a veterinarian or farrier who has dedicated his/her career to treating horses with laminitis. The nominee's commitment goes beyond the day-to-day care and strives to include evidenced based medical and surgical treatments.

"We really believed that [Dr. Moore] deserved this award because of what he as accomplished in what is really just the first half of his career," said Dr. James Orsini, Associate Professor of Surgery, New Bolton Center and Director, Laminitis Institute, New Bolton Center, at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. "His work advancing medical and surgical treatments as well as evidence based research was accomplished in just under 20 years. Now, he has moved into administration, where he is still a leader. His work with this conference has caused it to be called the very best in the country - probably the world."

Dr. James Belknap, professor in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Ohio State, spoke at both meetings about his research involving the role of inflammatory cells and other mediators in the initiation and propagation of laminitis.

Equine clinical instructors Dr. Teresa Burns and Dr. Britta Leise also participated in the programs, each winning scholarships to attend and present a poster about their research at the IECLDF. Dr. Burns presented "Pro-Inflammatory Cytokine and Chemokine Expression Profiles of Various Adipose Tissue Depots of Insulin Resistant and Insulin-Sensitive Light Breed Horses." and Dr. Leise presented, "Laminar Inflammatory Gene Expression in the Carbohydrate Overload Model of Equine Laminitis." The also both gave podium presentations during the ELRW and Dr. Leise presented two research posters.

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, December 03, 2009

The Farrier's Holiday: Patron Saint of Farriers, Saint Eloi, Honored Today

Today is a feast day in many Catholic countries in Europe, especially France and Belgium. It is the day of St. Eloi, the patron saint of farriers. According to tradition, no farriers shoe horses today. They gather together and have a festive time.

I will try to share some of the information I have learned about St Eloi and the holiday, as best as I have been able to get from translations and helpful French-speaking farrier friends.

I first learned of St Eloi when visiting the forge at the Garde Republicaine stables in Paris. There was a little shrine inside the forge and I was told that Eloi was the patron saint of farriers and one day a year, farriers do not work. In the past, it was a tradition for horsemen to give farriers tips on this day. It's a very special tradition and still taken seriously in some areas. I would love to be in France some year for this day.






According to tradition, there is a procession of farriers through towns. Take a look at what these fellows are carrying. Note the anvil on the processional banner. But the other parade prop is adorned with bits of harness and the tail of a horse. Farriers walk in a processional to wherever they are headed to eat and drink for the rest of the day.

Here's the legend of this interesting saint:

Eloi was born in France in 588.

Eloi prided himself on his special skill of being able to shoe any horse, and of his prowess at the forge. He loved to boast about his skill and challenge others to match him.
According to Church legend, Christ, in the person of a traveler, came to the forge where Eloi was working and asked if he could use the anvil to fix a loose shoe.

Eloi gave permission to the stranger, and was shocked to see the man twist a fore leg of the beast out of the shoulder joint, bring it into the forge, and nail on the shoe. This being done, he replaced the leg, patted the horse on the shoulder, and asked the farrier if he knew anyone who could do such a neat piece of work as that.

"Yes, I do," said the boastful Eloi. "I will do it myself."

Not to be outdone by this stranger, Eloi started to wrench the leg off a horse waiting to be shod. A terrible mess ensued, but the leg was removed. Eloi then made a very beautiful shoe and nailed it to the severed leg. The traveler applauded him for the beauty of his forgework.

But when Eloi returned to the three-legged horse, it was lying near death. How would he explain that to his customer? And why had the traveler been able to remove a leg without hurting the horse and not Eloi?

Eloi pleaded with the traveler to fix the leg he had ripped off the dying horse.

"Are you sure you are cured of pride and vanity by this mischance?" said the stranger.

"Oh, I am, I am!" cried Eloi. "I will never again, with God's help, indulge a proud thought. But why did you induce me to do this wicked thing by setting me the example?"

"My object was to root a strong vice out of your heart. Give me the leg," said the stranger. So saying, he applied the broad end of the limb to its place, tapped the animal on the shoulder, and the next moment the horse was standing up strong and uninjured.

But Eloi was alone in his forge. There was no sign of the mysterious stranger or his steed. He had witnessed a miracle, right there in the forge.

He spent the rest of his life devoted to the Church and was made a saint of all humble, hardworking people, especially workers in the metal crafts and most significantly, the farriers of the world.

St. Eloi is probably the only saint who brandishes a hammer.



Farriers in France traditionally identified their forges with unique signs called "bouquets of Saint Eloi." They are usually in a horseshoe shape. They are designed to showcase the special forging skills of each farrier. Some are arcs of horseshoes and some are much more ornate, like this one, which was recently on display in the Museum of Civilization in Europe. If I translated correctly, the forge was run by two farriers as partners so this bouquet is for both, one on each side.

The exhibit catalog tells us: At the very top, you will see the figure of Saint Eloi, flanked by two dogs, which symbolize the companionship of the partners. All around the edge are tools and scenes from the forge. At the bottom right, you will see a horse in the stocks! Just above it is a big forge bellows. The center is to showcase the farriers' skill at ornamental work.

There is also a code across the bottom that is supposed to be readable only by other professional farriers. Maybe it's a message to St Eloi in case he happens to come down the street.


Farriers and other metal workers also used to send cards for St Eloi. I have been collecting these for years. I wish I knew more about what they symbolized. They look something like Valentines, but with lots of heavy metal and horse hooves. Maybe St Eloi was a matchmaker, too.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. All images and text protected to full extent of law. Permissions for use in other media or elsewhere on the web can be easily arranged.

Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online or received via a daily email through an automated delivery service.

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.

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

Comments to individual posts are welcome; please click on the comment icon at the bottom of the post.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Equine Hoof Vascular Supply Plastination Cast for Equine Education is a 3-D Venogram

2 December 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog at Hoofcare.com

A plastinated "corrosion cast" of the blood supply in a horse's foot is created from the foot of a cadaver. Plastic is injected into the veins and, after removing the hoof capsule and processing away any non-vascular tissue, what is left is virtually a three-dimensional venogram. Hoofcare and Lameness began offering these for sale on a special order basis on December 1, 2009.

This over-exposed and light-enhanced image of a corrosion casting shows the delicate structure of the blood supply inside the hoof capsule.

Hoofcare and Lameness is now officially taking orders for full-hoof vascular casts, preserved by the plastination process of Dr. Christoph von Horst in Germany. Dr. von Horst has agreed to ship these fragile wonders to the USA on a special-order basis.

Some of you may have seen the half-hoof cast that has been on display in the Hoofcare and Lameness booth for the past year. Everyone wanted it, but I couldn't sell it.

The cost for a whole hoof corrosion casting to the USA is $280 plus air shipping from Germany, which is probably about $20 since the cast does not weigh much, but does require a lot of protective packaging.

These models are fragile and little bits have been falling off mine for the past year but it still looks wonderful. Dr. Von Horst warns that this "shedding" of plastic particles is inevitable and unavoidable. It probably doesn't help that my sample travels from trade show to trade show and is handled a lot.

The plastic is quite resilient, but these models should be handled with care. It's hard to imagine a better tool to explain why a venogram is needed, or as an asset to an anatomy class.

If you would like to order a vascular cast or any type of plastination model, please contact Hoofcare and Lameness by calling 978 281 3222 or emailing fran@hoofcare.com. Advanced payment by Visa or Mastercard is required.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. Please, 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.

Advanced Radiography for Heavy Horse Breeds Leads to Anatomical Disovery

2 December 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog at Hoofcare.com

Horse, originally uploaded by Cuff. (Thanks!)

I was saving this for April Fool's Day but every time I see it, I just start smiling, so why not spread the fun around?

I hope you can see this image clearly. You may need to double-click on it.

Now you know what's really inside those big guys.

If your monitor isn't high resolution or you are reading the blog on your cell phone, watch this YouTube video, it might help explain the heavy horse anatomy. It's a take-off on Wheatabix cereal commercials (I guess).

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Would Horses Prone to Grass Laminitis Suffer Less If Exercised More? A New Study Will Focus on At-Risk Horses

1 December 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog at Hoofcare.com

The following announcement was received by press release:

Great Britain's Royal Veterinary College (RVC) in collaboration with the Laminitis Consortium, the United Kingdom’s leading laminitis research body, has been awarded a grant of £134,425 (ed.:approximately $223,297US) by the Laminitis Trust, to investigate the effects of exercise on horses and ponies that are predisposed to pasture-associated laminitis.

The WALTHAM–initiated International Laminitis Research Consortium comprises world-leading equine veterinary, nutrition and research experts interested in collaborating on the important topic of laminitis. It includes Dr Nicola Menzies-Gow and Professor Jonathan Elliott of the RVC, Dr Pat Harris of the WALTHAM® Equine Studies Group, and Clare Barfoot of Mars Horsecare UK Ltd.

Perhaps the most important issues in laminitis clinical research, especially for those who own or look after affected animals, is why some individuals seem to be predisposed to recurrent bouts of this potentially devastating condition and how can their susceptibility to future episodes be reduced. This project aims to evaluate both aspects with the aim of identifying potentially beneficial management procedures.

Dr Menzies-Gow, lead investigator for the recently awarded grant explains: “This project will in part investigate whether exercise can reduce the level of chronic inflammation in laminitis-prone animals, which may then prove to be a simple and practical way of reducing the risk of future bouts of disease in susceptible animals.”

The grant commences in January 2010 and will run over two years. The Laminitis Consortium will be providing regular updates on progress.

Robert Eustace, founder of the Laminitis Trust said: “We are very grateful to all who have made legacies and donations to the Laminitis Trust. Additionally we recognise the efforts of the feed companies. Their responsible attitude to horse nutrition has enabled the Laminitis Trust Feed Approval Mark to become the 'gold standard'. Lastly, without the support of their customers who buy Approved Feeds for their animals, the Trust would not have been able to provide this substantial research grant to the RVC.”


© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. Please, 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.