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Friday, December 31, 2010

What Might a Horseshoer's Front Page Funeral and Your New Year's Resolution Have in Common?

If you've never been to a horseshoer's funeral, now you can say you have been.

On this last day of the year, it's time to reflect on the events that shaped this year. We'll get to that; the year's not over yet.

While it's easy to point out the things and the people new to the world of the hoof in the past year, it's a little more painful to recognize that we are moving on without some key figures.

Hence, this video. I think this is the first video ever made of a horseshoer's funeral. I never thought I'd be posting a video of a funeral here. It is, of course, voices from people who attended the funeral of Joe Kriz Sr. on September 4, 2010, but if you listen to the voices, they can speak volumes about others who are also gone.

In 2010, we lost Bob Skradzio and Jack Miller as well; these two men were great pillars of support and friendship for me from the day I met them. More than that, just like Joe, they were two people who loved what they did, and did what they loved.

I hope that you can say that about what you do; I know I can.

If you can't, why don't you make a new year's resolution to find--or re-kindle--the passion in your life? May it be half as strong as the passion that Joe and Bob and Jack felt for what they did, and the lives they lived. If enough people dedicated or re-dedicated themselves to their work with and for horses, our world will be a better place and slowly but surely the hole left by the loss of these men will be filled.

I know they'd all three add a PS to that: "And be sure to pass it on." Just like they did.

By the way, toward the end of Joe's funeral video, when they arrive at the cemetery, Joe's casket, emblazoned as it was with Scotch-bottom draft horse shoes, was buried next to his brother and lifetime horseshoeing partner, Johnny, just as you'd expect. It's a beautiful place.

I notice that on Johnny's headstone are written the immortal closing words from Will Ogilvie's famous poem, The Hooves of the Horses:
When you lay me to slumber no spot can you choose
But will ring to the rhythm of galloping shoes,
And under the daisies no grave be so deep
But the hooves of the horses shall sound in my sleep.

{ A note about the video }

The video is posted here with the kind permission of Joe Kriz Jr., producer Peter Hvizdak and the New Haven Register newspaper, where you can also still re-live U.J.'s funeral whenever you feel like it. I don't think we'll make a habit of showing videos of funerals, since they are very private events, but this video was produced more as a tribute to Joe, and I hope it's seen that way.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. Please, no use without permission. You only need to ask. 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.
 
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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Montana Marathon: Farriers and Veterinarians Trim 31 Donkeys' Hooves After Years Of Neglect


The struggling Montana Large Animal Sanctuary and Rescue gave up. It gave up trying to go on taking care of more than 1000 hooved animals it had taken in. There are camels and llamas and horses and donkeys and cows by the dozens.

According to news reports, they ran out of money, then they ran out of hay and now the animals have been rescued from the rescue. They are in temporary shelters while organizations in the state try to figure out what they will do to re-home them.

What these animals do have, in excess, however, is hoof. It's been years since the donkeys, at least, have been trimmed.

That changed this week when the donkeys were moved and a group of vets and farriers joined forces to get their hooves back to some semblance of normal. That, of course, wasn't easy. Some may be suffering from laminitis. All may be sore after trimming, whether from the trimming itself or the redistribution of load on tendons and ligaments. Donkeys are also prone to white line disease, which would require medication if they are affected.

But the farriers just kept on trimming.

According to the television news report, each hoof was radiographed before it was trimmed, and a farrier spent an average of 15 minutes sawing and then trimming each hoof.

The Montana Animal Care Association, Montana Horse Sanctuary, Montana Office of the Humane Society of the United States and Western Montana Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation all organized the effort to help the donkeys.

It's interesting that about 75 inquiries have already been received to adopt the donkeys, which will be going to new homes in pairs to lessen the stress of having been in a herd for so long. Their plight--and their pain--touched a lot of people.

Donations for the animals can be sent to: Western Montana Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation, P.O. Box 1168, Corvallis, MT 59828 (indicate "for donkeys" on check).

To help the horses, please contact Jane Heath, Montana Horse Sanctuary executive director, via email: ht@mt.net. They'll also fix you up with a camel. Or a llama. Or...

Thanks to KAJ18.com, the website for Channel 18 in Missoula, Montana, all the volunteer organizations, and all the veterinarians and farriers who worked on this rescue and the hoof trimming marathon. Special thanks to anyone who takes in one of these animals and gives it a home, at last.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. Please, no use without permission. You only need to ask. 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.
 
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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Seasons Greetings from Hoofcare and Lameness!

 I feel like I know these guys and would give anything to know who they are (or were). They certainly were having a merry time and I have a feeling that the horse was just there for the photographer's benefit. I hope your holiday will be just as merry and warm as this scene!

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. Please, no use without permission. You only need to ask. 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.
 
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Friday, December 24, 2010

Experts Hail Discovery of Rare Reindeer Shoe as Key to Mystery of Christmas Eve Flight

Mystery solved: It's all in the hooves, after all. A winged reindeer shoe found in a British garden has finally solved the dilemma of how reindeer can fly.
Historians, aerodynamics engineers and mammalian biomechanics experts are hailing the discovery of a tiny reindeer shoe in a British garden as the key to unlocking centuries of mystery and downright skepticism over the idea that a team of reindeer could fly around the world on Christmas Eve.

The unusual shoe, which sports wings on its heels, is believed to provide the power of flight needed by the reindeer team each Christmas.

"We knew these reindeer aren't winged, like Pegasus the winged horse from Greek mythology," said one historian. "For years, we were looking at how the antlers might empower them to fly. But it was a dead end."

Scientists expressed remorse that a group of genetics researchers studying the reindeer genome would almost certainly be in danger of losing funding since the discovery of the reindeer shoe. "The pressure was on them," said one university insider who wished to remain anonymous. "They had to find the genetic mutation that allowed only a small number of reindeer to fly. Since they had no DNA from a flying reindeer, the task was monumental. What gene could give the power of flight? The discovery that it was a nail-on shoe that gave these reindeer their flight--and that some  farrier somewhere designed this magical shoe--well, it looks bad for the future of reindeer research, that's all I can say. Several PhD theses are down the drain."

Flight engineers still believe the antlers may assist in navigation, but insisted that they always held out for a novel form of  power for thrust and elevation. "The winged hoof is a brilliant adaptation," they agreed. "And the use of a removable shoe means that the rest of the year, Donner and Blitzen and the rest of the team can live normal lives. No one would suspect a thing."

The historians noted that rumors of the existence of reindeer shoes have cropped up over the years and around the world. "Apparently, like horses, reindeer can lose their shoes. This must make Santa quite cross when it happens, but it is easy to see how a lead deer's heel wings are endangered by the front hooves of the deer behind.

"We have noticed, however," continued one historian, "that wherever a reindeer shoe has been reported to be found, skeptical children and even adults who doubted the existence of Santa or the ability of reindeer to fly soon become believers again."

Credit for the current shoe's discovery goes to James Morris of Yorkshire, England. Since Morris is conveniently skilled as a metal sculptor and artist, his Sculpsteel studio has forged fac simile reindeer shoes which he sells to anyone needing to convince others how flying reindeer get around on Christmas Eve...and why all but one of them go back to being normal reindeer the next day.

All but one? True: Morris says he doesn't have an explanation or a design for Rudolph's nose...but he's working on it.

Morris noted that the actual reindeer shoe he found would be left for Santa, known as Father Christmas in England, this year on Christmas Eve with the annual plate of cookies and glass of milk. "Just in case he needs a spare," Morris nodded. "It might come in handy, and it's done its job here. The entire village believes in Father Christmas again!"

James Morris's reindeer shoes come ready to hang as Christmas decorations and conversation-starters. The toe clips are also ideal for hanging Christmas stockings, so a set could be ordered for a family. Available in black wax or rust finish, the cost per shoe is 15 pounds (about $US 23). Visit Sculpsteel to see James' work, then email him: enquiries@sculpsteel.co.uk. But never doubt him...or Santa!

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. Please, no use without permission. You only need to ask. 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.
 
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Thursday, December 23, 2010

British Farrier Brendan Murray Receives Medal for Service

British farrier Brendan Murray received the ultimate compliment of his country at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky when he was asked to carry his nation's flag into the arena at the head of their delegation. I just happened to be there to take this picture as they were lining up at the gate.
On December 16, 2010, in front of a packed crowd at the International Horse Show, Olympia, the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) presented a medal of honor to farrier Brendan Murray of Cambridgeshire, England. Brendan was one of five individuals who was recognized by the BEF for outstanding achievement and contribution to the international equestrian world.


Brendan has been British senior eventing team farrier since 1992, and served his country at five Olympic and World Equestrian Games and nine European Championships. He was also show farrier for Olympia.

British World Class Performance Director Will Connell commented on Brendan's award: "Brendan is the mainstay of the stable area, carrying out any job that needs doing and ensures all aspects of the groom's welfare is attended to. He is completely committed to the success of Team GBR."  

I'm looking forward to Brendan's memoirs and hope he'll think of me when he's looking for an editor. In addition to all he must know about the British equestrians and their exploits around the world, he has had an interesting side life working as a stunt rider in films.

His biggest role in front of the camera, though, was when he was seen by an estimated two and a half billion people around the world when he served with the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery in 1997 as an escort for the casket of Princess Diana to Westminster Abbey in London during her funeral procession. Hoofcare & Lameness's Hoofcare Online newsletter reported on Brendan's role in that sad event back in 1997.

Most recently, Brendan starred at the World Equestrian Games as the anti-gravity test driver for a media video about the Land Rover extreme driving test range. I've yet to witness him shoeing a horse but he certainly has a fascinating life, as expounded in this video interview with him before the World Equestrian Games began.

I went looking for a photo of him shoeing a horse on the web and found only one. It was taken in 2000 in Sydney, Australia at the Olympics and published on a sports web site in Iran. Somehow that didn't surprise me.

British equestrians dressage rider Laura Bechtolsheimer, vaulter Joanne Eccles, eventer Nicola Wilson and para-equestrian dressage rider Sophie Wells were also awarded medals for outstanding achievements in their respective disciplines last week at the Olympia show. Each of those equestrians returned to Britain from the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in October with medals.

Special thanks to event rider and broadcaster @SamanthaLClark for the heads-up for this post and for producing the videos featuring Brendan Murray.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. Please, no use without permission. You only need to ask. 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.
 
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Monday, December 20, 2010

Mobile-Friendly Hoof Blog Version Launched for Cell Phones and Mobile Devices

A mobile phone friendly version of Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog was launched on September 18, 2010. You can now access the Hoof Blog on your mobile phone in an easy-to-read, single column format.

The single column makes it easy to scroll through the blog. It shows a miniature version of visuals in each blog article and the first few sentences of text. By clicking on an image or headline, full images, videos and/or articles will appear.

The text in the mobile version is quite large and easy to read. Don't worry, you can still watch videos and leave comments, if you have a cell phone that is video-enabled and has a keyboard function.

To access the mobile version, just use your regular cell phone browser to reach the blog. Once you reach it, it will change from the normal format to the single column. Depending on what type of phone you have, you can either bookmark the blog (if you haven't already) or create a desktop icon for it to be able to access it directly. This method works with the iPhone.

Another development to make the blog easier to find and use was a shortening of the URL to reach the blog. The new url of www.hoofblog.com now re-directs to the blog and requires less typing, which is especially helpful on a cellphone or mobile device.

Watch for more developments and changes on the blog in the coming weeks. The blog will also begin accepting advertising on a trial basis. Advertising will be available as small ads in the right-hand sidebar or as banner ads between ads in the body of the blog. This will just be a trial; we'll see how it goes.
 
Email Fran Jurga at Hoofcare Publishing or call 978 281 3222 for information about all of Hoofcare Publishing's projects and advertising and sponsorship opportunities for 2011. It's going to be a great year!

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. Please, no use without permission. You only need to ask. 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.
 
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Good Luck Reading My Shoe: The Rest of the Story about Secretariat's Raceplate Auction on eBay to Benefit Charity!

One of the original shoes worn by Secretariat in his Futurity Stakes win at New York's Belmont Park on September 16, 1972, has been put up for auction on eBay by Secretariat.com, the official website of Secretariat. The shoe was mounted on a wooden plaque by the late Jim Gaffney, Secretariat's exercise rider for Meadow Stable from April 1972 through May 1973.

That day--September 16, 1972--was Penny Chenery's father's 86th birthday. She called him at a hospital in New Rochelle, New York where he was a patient to give him the news that their horse had won--again! The nurse informed her that he already knew that, according to the account in Bill Nack's book.

That day was also the day of Bull Hancock's funeral. He was the owner of Claiborne Farm, the great character in the film Secretariat who stares Penny Chenery down with the coin toss to see who gets the colt. Again, according to Bill Nack, he was buried at Paris (Kentucky) Cemetery, at about the time that Lucien Lauren was saddling Secretariat for the Belmont Futurity.

Working in concert with groom Eddie Sweat and regular Meadow Stable farrier George Collins, Gaffney collected many of Secretariat's racing plates, meticulously cataloging each one as the colt was routinely shod. The Futurity shoe was obtained on October 8, 1972, when Secretariat was re-shod after winning the Futurity Stakes and prior to his following race, a winning effort in the Champagne Stakes. The Futurity was Secretariat's third stakes victory and his first start at Belmont Park.

The Futurity shoe, from Secretariat’s left front hoof, is mounted on a wooden plaque with blue metal backing, and it contains a plate engraved by Gaffney that identifies the race. On the reverse side of the plaque, the frame has the handwritten inscription documenting the mounting by Gaffney along with the individual identification numbers. The plaque is signed by the Meadow Racing Stable team of Gaffney, owner Penny Chenery, and Secretariat's Hall of Fame winning jockey, Ron Turcotte. The shoe is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity and the official winner's circle photo from the race.

The nails from Secretariat's shoes were saved too, and you can buy them. Note that this is a Japanese Izumi nail. Now there's a bit of Secretariat trivia for you!
I shared the eBay photo of the shoe with Ed Kinney, president of Thoro'Bred Racing Plate Company, Inc. of Anaheim, California, which manufactured the shoe. Ed confirmed that, as far as he knew, Secretariat wore Thoro'Bred plates throughout his racing career. This shoe is what is called in racing circles a "low toe", referring to the height of the toe grab, and Ed estimated the size to be a 5 or 6. Neither of us could read the size on the shoe in the photo.

Here's what Ed said in an email, "It is a Thoro'bred Low Toe Front shoe.  The size is hard to see, it is either a 5 or 6.  The two marks under the number indicate Low Toe. I would say that it is authentic.  He raced in our shoes his entire career to my knowledge. (My) Dad knew George Collins, and the name is familiar to me too, but I don't remember, sorry."

The most interesting thing we noticed about the shoe are the little bumps back by the heels. These would be what's left of copper rivets that held either a felt or leather pad. Why did a two-year-old colt need a pad? Nowhere in Bill Nack's Big Red of Meadow Stable is there a mention that the horse had a definite problem, although he does mention rumors that Secretariat was not sound at that time. Did his soles sting? Did he have some kind of an infection? And what did Jim Gaffney do with the pad? We know he kept the nail heads--wouldn't he have kept the pad, too?

Here's a front Thoro'bred raceplate, also attributed to Secretariat, that was auctioned off by Claiborne Farm. It's a different shape from the two-year-old shoe, and perhaps a different size. Presumably this would be one pulled off Secretariat when he arrived in Kentucky from New York to stand at stud. He would have still had his raceplates on, so it would make sense that Claiborne Farm would have them.

If anyone reading this knows anything about George Collins, I would surely like to know more about him.

Proceeds from the sale of this shoe will benefit the Secretariat Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization created by Secretariat's owner Penny Chenery to assist the Thoroughbred industry in the areas of research, rehabilitation, retirement and recognition.

The auction will end December 19th at 9:00 p.m. (ET). As I write this, 60 bids have been placed on the shoe, which is now up to $5,950 and expected to go much higher. Bidding ends on Sunday, December 19, 2010 at 3:22 p.m. EST.

I noticed that there is another shoe up for auction on eBay that says it is off Secretariat; it is priced at $3500 (not an auction) and is for sale loose. That's not the one for the fundraiser!

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. Please, no use without permission. You only need to ask. 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.
 
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