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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Weekend Humor: A Desperate Polo Widow and High Hoofcare Fashion News

31 January 2010 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog at Hoofcare.com

It's Sunday, time to relax and have some hoofcare- or lameness-related humor. This week our humor comes from South America: what happens when the worlds of polo and fashion collide below the hock in Argentina?



I have to thank my friend Molly Knott of DappledGrey.com out in Oregon for that video. If you are interested in equestrian fashion or know anyone who is, Molly's web site is the place to find out about the newest and most stylish English gear and clothing for horses and humans.

The polo wrap boots from the video are an actual item--they really are for sale! What's more, they are a fundraiser for Ethiopian children with the foot disease Podoconiosis, an infection caused by a fungus in the soil there.

And from the runways of European fashion boots come hoof boots for humans, all part of the hot new equestrian look. Christian Dior last week showed models in veiled hats and side-saddle attire, and here we have boots that make women's feet and legs look like hooves, with just little black bases sticking out at the bottom.

Wait, there's more! I made a new friend this fall, San Francisco fashion designer Trace Cohen of Bind. Trace was interested in farrier aprons.

He added both a farrier apron and a tanner's apron to his line of super-hip men's clothing, so if you're walking around New York or LA or Milan and see someone walking down the sidewalk wearing a farrier apron...it might just be an expression of high fashion, not a horseshoer. The high-fashion farrier aprons come in black for winter.

Do you think that New England deep-winter barn clothes will ever have a high-fashion value? Two fashion shoots I've often thought someone should do were women from Maine in their favorite barn clothes and (more seriously) Saratoga's early-a.m. exercise rider colony, who have quite a style all their own.

That wraps up the fashion report, I hope it made you smile! It's all true!


© 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.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Jumper Recovers from Laminitis to Win First "Pfizer HITS Million" Qualifier

30 January 2010 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog at Hoofcare.com


The HITS Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix
is the talk of the East Coast show circuit this year, but when the first qualifier was held last weekend in Ocala, Florida, the prize money may have been upstaged a bit by the comeback story of the winner. Allison, an 18-year-old Rhinelander mare from New Jersey ridden by Callan Solem, has returned to the show circuit after recovering from severe illness that included laminitis and no prediction that she could ever even be ridden again, much less jumped at the highest level. Allison lived at Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center in Ringoes, New Jersey for two months while recovering from laminitis in all four feet. You'll want to be reading more in
Nancy Jaffer's coverage of Allison's unbelievable story while I try to find out more about the laminitis. (NJ.com/Nancy Jaffer photo)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Not Even Martha Stewart Has A Recipe to Fix Chronic Lameness

by Fran Jurga | 26 January 2010 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog


Once again, celebrity horse owner Martha Stewart invited her readers into her barn in New York recently, through her blog. The photos were published over a period of a couple of weeks.

Martyn is a 17-year-old Dutch Friesian. Martha has been documenting his lameness problems for a while now on her blog, but her holiday message about the horse sounded quite discouraging. Martyn can no longer safely be turned out with the other horses during the winter, Martha wrote. The barn doors were kept closed and his stall door open, giving him the freedom of the huge stone barn.

Martha describes his problems as multiple, but chose to photograph the pasterns and fetlocks of his hind legs. Readers will probably "diagnose" this part of Martyn's problem. I don't know what else may have been diagnosed for the horse.

Soon after these photos were taken, the horse was euthanized. I can't remember another time when a celebrity figure detailed the health problems of a horse and its death on such a personal level.

A few months earlier, actress Glenn Close sent a video message to the
Fifth International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot
in West Palm Beach, Florida. She had been given an award for her role in a documentary about laminitis. In the video message, she mentioned her personal war with laminitis as she struggled to save her Morgan mare, Rosie, who was euthanized.

Lameness and laminitis can happen to any horse, but for these two women to speak out and show emotion over the loss of their horses is something new in the horse world. It can't change how a horse is doing, but perhaps it can help some owners stick with the program, or decide to get some tests done. Maybe it's the Internet, or maybe it's the age of accepting animals as family members, but it's a different world out there and owner emotions--positive and negative--are part of the equation of every horse's care and health.




© 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, January 21, 2010

Virginia Tech Hires Full-Time Farrier for Veterinary College Post

20 January 2010 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog at Hoofcare.com

Travis Burns will leave his employment with the multi-farrier practice Forging Ahead in Round Hill, Virginia to become the full-time farrier at the veterinary college at Virginia Tech. He's shown here with one of his favorite horses, a big-footed barefoot fellow named Gumpy. (Hoofcare & Lameness photo)

This announcement was received this week from the
Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia; thanks to Drs. R. Scott Pleasant (far left) and David Hodgson (near left) for their assistance. (University announcement text in red)

We are very pleased to announce that Travis Burns, of Marshall, Virginia, has joined the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech as a full-time farrier.

Burns’ arrival in February will allow the College to provide complete equine podiatry services through the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. In his position, Travis will assist the equine faculty in building on the service, education, and community engagement strengths of the College. We believe that Travis’s special skills, knowledge, and experience will be a great resource for our students and regional horse owners, farriers, and veterinarians.

Proper management and care of a horse’s hooves is essential to the overall health of the animal, according to Dr. David Hodgson, head of the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences. “Properly trimmed and balanced hooves and correctly fitting shoes are essential to preventing lameness and other maladies in horses,” said Hodgson. “The addition of Travis to our department and hospital further enhances the overall preventive healthcare package we are able to offer our patients, clients and referring veterinarians. We are very pleased to welcome him and plan for him to enhance our ties to the local community of farriers. Travis will be working closely with Dr. Scott Pleasant and other members of our veterinary team. Dr. Pleasant is one of the leading veterinary exponents for the advancement of hoof care in horses. ”

Travis’s interest in horseshoeing began at an early age while working with horses at his uncle’s riding stable in North Carolina. He attended farrier school in the winter of 2002 and then continued to shoe horses while attending college. He graduated from North Carolina State University in 2006 with a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science. In 2007, Travis was accepted into a one-year internship program at Forging Ahead, an elite multi-farrier practice in Northern Virginia. Upon completion of the internship program, based on his outstanding ability, Travis was retained at Forging Ahead as an associate farrier.

Travis recently achieved Certified Journeyman Farrier certification by the American Farrier's Association, the highest level of certification granted by the organization.

(end of Virginia Tech document)

Hoofcare and Lameness would like to congratulate both Travis Burns and Virginia Tech for the new directions each of them is taking (and taking together). While Travis is heading into a new area, there is no doubt he gives a lot of credit to the formal internship program that he completed at Forging Ahead; he was later hired on as an associate farrier there. The fact that he would be an AFA Journeyman and be considered for this position at the vet school so early in his career is testimony to the program that Paul Goodness has designed at Forging Ahead for farriers who want to seriously accelerate their careers working on top sport horses or specializing in lameness. While not everyone can be an intern at Forging Ahead, the program can be emulated by others, and hopefully more internships for working professional farriers will be offered in the future.

How does Paul Goodness feel about losing his protege? "I think it's so great," he said in a phone interview this morning, "that Virginia Tech would choose a young, talented farrier like Travis. He'll go far in this industry. They are starting with a clean slate, by hiring someone who wants to help horses and make a positive difference on many fronts. This is a step forward for the farrier-vet world. I will be able to stay in touch with Travis and send him cases from Leesburg. (Note: Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Virginia, which is affiliated with Virginia Tech and where Paul is the farrier).

"It's not a crisis here at Forging Ahead. It's true, 2009 wasn't the best year for us, and I'm sure not the best year for most farrier businesses," he continued thoughtfully. "But we've already picked up new clients this month and I don't feel like I need to be running back and forth to Florida. Scott and I have full books, all day, just here at the shop with haul-ins. We're predicting a big year and an influx of foreign riders to the area to train and compete before heading to Kentucky for WEG in the fall. The farrier business should be just fine, as should be the lameness referrals."

Here's a re-post of the NBC News segment taped at Forging Ahead about the internship program during the run-up to the Kentucky Derby last April:


, ,Please allow time for NBC's "Thank Goodness" video to load. Click the play icon to begin.


Links to more articles about Forging Ahead:
Link to Internship Program Announcement in 2007
Link to "Friends at Work" About Forging Ahead in 2009
Link to Forging Ahead web site

In 2009, Travis attended the Fifth International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot in West Palm Beach, Florida and the North East Association of Equine Practitioners Conference in Ledyard, Connecticut. He also was a guest presenter at one of our Hoofcare@Saratoga evenings last August in Saratoga Springs, New York, where he presented Forging Ahead's clever reverse Mustad glue-on shoe for laminitis therapy.

While I was working on this announcement, several people forwarded to me links to a story that was published around the country today, via Associated Press, and most notably on the ABC News and National Public Radio web sites. The article features Jason Wilson-Maki, farrier at Texas A&M University, along with a brief mention of Michael Wildenstein, farrier at Cornell.

There are many hardworking farriers at vet schools around North America, including Jason and Michael, whether full-time employees or contract service providers. I'm sorry to say that I don't know who they all are, so if you work for or with a vet school, please contact The Hoof Blog so we can keep a list.

And today we can add Travis Burns to that list of farriers...and Virginia to the list of vet schools that has one.

© 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.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

USEF Reduces Medications Levels: Only One NSAID Allowed in Competition Horses After This Year

16 January 2010 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog at Hoofcare.com

Horses showing in USEF-sanctioned horse shows will be subject to new drugs and medications policies beginning at the end of 2010 as more than 30 years of permissive use of pain medication is being restricted under a more conservative rule. Even with half the medication formerly allowed, US horse shows still have a very liberal policy compared to most countries.

Big news from Louisville, Kentucky tonight: At the annual convention of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), the governing body of most equestrian sports in the United States, a significant rule change is being agreed upon which will reduce the number of medications that a horse can have in its system when competing.

Various committees within USEF have been working toward a compromise on this issue throughout the convention, which began on Wednesday. Current USEF rules allow two non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to be used simultaneously; that policy has been in place for more than 30 years.

The change was not without its opponents; the US Hunter Jumper Association's Open Hunter Task Force had filed for a rule change (GR410.1) that would have allowed two medications if written notification was given, but then withdrew its proposal on December 9.

Some breed and sport representatives felt that limiting medication is a penalty to older horses or to lower-level shows that do not have the best footing. Perhaps some horses will now show in fewer shows, or be entered in fewer classes. Some arguments were made that the current low value of horses makes it a hardship to sideline horses that could be competing if medicated. It remains to be seen if the new rule will affect horse show revenue; it is not expected to take effect until December 2010.

In most European countries, no medications are allowed; no medications are allowed in competitions sanctioned by the Federation Equestre International (FEI), the world governing body of horse sports. A recent vote to change the FEI medication policy caused an international uproar.

There is a lot to this story, and more will emerge in the days and weeks to come as the official final wording of the rule and dates are made public. One thing is known, and that is that the push to make the change came from veterinarians, who are often accused of promoting drug use in show horses.

Dr. Kent Allen, longtime chair of the Drugs and Medications Committee for USEF, commented on the obvious rise in joint injection that may be the result of a limit on medication. In a document available on the USEF website he offered this insight: "First, it is important to understand that a joint injection properly performed in experienced veterinary hands is the single most effective anti-inflammatory treatment we have for (an) equine joint.

"Secondly, there are numerous medications to inject into joints. Often it is hyaluronic acid in combination with a variety of cortisones, or bioregenerative therapies such as IRAP. Some of these medications are extremely safe and all of them will significantly reduce joint inflammation.

"On the question of 'are joint injections going to be overused', the answer is that is already happening today! In some cases joint injections are being used as treatments in 4, 6 or 8 joints without a diagnosis of joint inflammation ever being established. This is dangerous not only from the standpoint of increasing the number of joint injections in the horse and potential side effects but you may or may not be treating the real problem. Accurate diagnosis, including lameness examination, nerve blocks, joint blocks and diagnostic imaging is the most effective method of determining what the problem is and if the horse needs joint injections. This also has the benefit of reducing the cost to owners as well as the risk to the horse."

USEF approved the use of Surpass, a topical anti-inflammatory recently; there's no prediction so far if there will be a trend to more specific treatments rather than generalized medication for pain, stiffness or soreness.

While rumors of a compromise were circulating today, equestrian journalist Nancy Jaffer broke the news tonight in her column for the Star-Ledger in New Jersey that the new medication policy would be adopted. More insight into the process of the rule change can be found in Nancy's article.

The new rule will affect most breed shows, including Arabians, Saddlebreds and Morgans, plus USEF-sanctioned hunter-jumper, dressage, driving, endurance and eventing competitions and individual breeds and sports who are under USEF's umbrella. It will not affect Quarter horse, Paint, Tennessee Walking horse or Appaloosa shows, as well as many other breeds, or the sports of reining, cutting and barrel racing, unless they are held at a USEF event or as part of a USEF-member breed show.

The medication policy change is endorsed by the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the American Veterinary Medical Association and by the Humane Society of the United States.

USEF assembled an impressive bank of articles and information on medications in sport and performance horses for the delegates to the convention. Since medication policy is sure to be a topic of conversation throughout the coming months, you might want to save some of those documents for reference.

© 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, January 06, 2010

Winter Is Here! So Are Studded Hoof Boots

6 January 2010 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog at Hoofcare.com
This art is from an ad for ice calks that was in the Horseshoers Journal 100 years ago; courtesy of Cornell University's Flower Sprecher Veterinary Library.

Ten years ago I wrote an article on winter hoofcare. It began:

"Does the sound of sleigh bells set your nerves on edge, because you are anticipating a wreck on the next icy patch down the road? Do you dream of the day next spring when you will be able to see your horse below his knees? Do you lie awake at night designing heating wires that can be implanted in horseshoe pads to melt the ice balls?"

Funny how things don't change much around here. Winter still makes me nervous. The fresh snow is beautiful for a week at the most. Then it either melts or solidifies into an ice field, especially any place the ground is level.

Right about the time that happens for the first time each winter, horse owners start to panic, especially if they haven't had their horses shoes adapted for winter or pulled. Flat shoes on ice induce unanticipated equine acrobatics and an immediate call to the farrier. Sometimes, unfortunately, the call is to the vet clinic.

Today I found out that Cavallo is now offering studs for their hoof boots. Studded hoof boots are becoming a more universally-available traction option for winter riding or driving on horses that are barefoot or seasonally shoeless.

These photos, courtesy of Cavallo, show how simple it is to drill the hole for the stud and then use the drill to insert it. I'm assuming that the same drill is reversible and will remove the stud as well. You'd have to be very careful not to drill through the sole of the boot and you will notice in these photos that they are drilling into a brand new boot. If you are drilling into an older boot that has a lot of wear on the "tread", the placement of the studs would be critical, and the whole process might require more thought and accuracy. As always, check with the manufacturer of the boots for their experiences. Most horse owners would want to leave this drilling task to their farriers. If you make a mistake, you've ruined an expensive piece of equipment.

This is a pretty big difference from the insertion and removal of studs in a horseshoe that is attached to the horse, where a stud wrench is required. I think there would be a danger that horse owners would be tempted to leave the studs in the boots all winter and never take them out, or ride in them when they aren't needed. They'd also need to remember to plug the holes when the studs are removed. Just as with shoe calks, owners or grooms would need to keep the stud holes clean, check the studs for cracks and wear, and make sure the holes aren't fatigued. Horseshoes are replaced periodically, but a hoof boot is built to last for quite a while, so the stud hole will need to be checked to make sure it has a good grip on the neck of the stud.

There must be 101 ways to winter-shoe a horse, with a variety of rim and full pads, hard surfacing puddles, nuggets, pin studs, screw-in studs, ice/frost nails, etc. This draft horse is an extreme example; he is shod to work in the woods and pull a sleigh. Notice how much the special ice nails protrude from the shoe. (Michael Wildenstein photo)

Now, won't someone design a simple velcro strap-on device with pre-installed permanent studs? (One that stays put and doesn't shift under the horse as it walks, please.) Ice-studded strap-ons could be handy for very temporary use, and you would want to be able to put them on one horse, take them off, and put them on the next, so they should be adjustable in size. Another idea: Some sort of super-gritty (on the ground side), anti-slip sole packing material might be a godsend, just the thing for boarding barns that won't allow horses to wear winter shoes or hind shoes if they are turned out.

It's always important to remember that horses can massacre their pasterns and coronets with studs and that horses that interfere when tired can and will cut their legs or bandages. And that you should obviously be consistent in the placement of studs in boots. Logic says don't use the horse with just one studded boot on and be very careful about turning horses out with boots on. And remember that if they step on you with a studded boot on, it will hurt!

The biggest caveat of all in using studded boots would have to be that the boots fit well and the horse moves well in them. An icy day is not the time to try boots on a horse for the first time. Studded boots are not a replacement for shoes but rather safety and traction equipment for an unshod horse. Nothing is more upsetting than seeing a horse slip and slide across a paddock; it's even more upsetting to be on top of a sliding horse.

Even with studded hoof boots, a horse won't turn into one of those tolting Icelandics who race on the ice. They wear special shoes to be able to do that.

It's not too late to get a horse set up for this winter. It's never too late to take the best care you can to prevent injuries and stress. How great it is that horses have so many options these days. It means that people care and that clever-minded companies are recognizing a need and serving up new ideas to try.

Note: Horse owners should check with hoof boot manufacturers for individual recommendations not only of how to install studs, but what studs to install. Some hoof boot manufacturers include Stride Equus (Marquis), Delta-Mustad, Easy Care, Theo, Swiss Horse Boot, and Renegade, in addition to Cavallo, who just started selling their new boot-specific studs today. A little homework goes a long way.

© 2010 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, January 05, 2010

Friends at Work (Long Ago) in Suffolk, England


Smith, originally uploaded by KindredSpiritUK.

Here's a snappy little pony getting some tuning up done at an unrecorded location in Suffolk, England in the 1920s or 1930s. I thought there were several interesting things about this photograph and hope you agree.

First, I wondered about a farrier working on a slope so perhaps these two fellows were making a call to a stableyard to replace a lost or twisted shoe on this nice pony.

I also wondered about the strap around the pony's neck; it looks like the leadline is attached to it, rather than putting a halter over the bridle, or removing the bridle. Or maybe it is someone's belt!

Notice the tail. Great Britain passed legislation banning tail docking of military horses in the late 1800s, and a national law in 1949 called the Docking and Nicking of Horses Act; Germany banned docking in 1933. Sharon Cregier from the University of Prince Edward Island in Canada has written extensively about tail docking in horses.

What do you see in this photo?

Thanks to the Kindred Spirits UK Archive of David Kindred's old photos for making this image available.