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Monday, January 31, 2011

Buck Brannaman Documentary: Real Life Horse Whispering at Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival



Congratulations to Cindy Meehl and Cedar Creek Productions. Their documentary "Buck" was not only selected to be shown at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival this week in Park City, Utah--it has won the Audience Award!

Buck chronicles the horse training phenomenon Buck Brannaman. Or should I say non-training. Or anti-training. Or alt-training.

Whatever you call what Buck Brannaman does, you can be sure that this film will spread Buck's non-violent horse handling word.

It will spread it around the world, as a matter of fact. The documentary was acquired by Sundance Selects for distribution in North America; it was also picked up for theaters in Australia and New Zealand by Madmen Entertainment.

I'm sure a lot of blog readers who've been around the horse world for a while will see the irony in this story. Buck Brannaman was the inspiration for the 1998 Nicholas Evans novel, The Horse Whisperer. When that novel was made into a film, it starred and was directed by Robert Redford. Technically, I guess you could say, Robert Redford played Buck Brannaman.

And Robert Redford is the man behind the Sundance Film Festival.

And so it goes.

Buck Brannaman and Robert Redford at the Sundance Film Festival last week. Buck's the star of the film this time. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images North America, mirrored from Zimbio.com)
The trailer gives a hint at how the film approaches who Buck Brannaman is and what he does. Once it gets to the theaters (unless you happen to be in Utah this week), take people to see it. Horse people, non-horse people, just people. They might learn a lot, so might those of us who think we know it all already.

© 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, January 29, 2011

Vet-Span: Watch an Arkansas Legislative Committee Consider a Bill to Clarify the State's Vet Practice Act


Legislative committee hearings are the first step in the life or death of a bill introduced at the state level. In the most basic process, it happens like this: a state representative or senator files a bill, it is referred to a committee, the committee approves or disproves it, and the bill either goes forward to another committee or goes to the vote of the House or Senate. If turned down, the legislation may be abandoned or it may be modified and brought before the committee again.

Each state has a veterinary practice act. Most are modeled after a draft document provided by the American Veterinary Medical Association, but there is variation among the 50 states. One of the most contentious parts of the newer practice acts has been the definition of veterinary medicine to include all acts of prevention and treatment of disease in animals.

At various times, the veterinary practice acts have been challenged with requests for changes or interpretation in different states and it is quite often the horsecare field that is the battleground. Equine massage and equine dentistry are two professions that the veterinary profession seems to have identified as trying to cross over into the practice of veterinary medicine. Horseshoeing, farriery, equine podiatry and the practice of providing hoofcare by any number of other names are often lumped in with other gray-area professions from dog grooming to acupuncture. Horse trainers in some aspects of their work may even cross over the line.

Some states have attempted to clarify or modify veterinary practice acts, but of course it is much harder to change something after it has already been signed into law. Arkansas is one of the states that tried to change, or clarify, its practice act to allow professionals besides veterinarians to legally provide their services to animals.

The Arkansas proposed change was introduced with the new 2011 legislature and had its first committee hearing on January 19. Quite unrelated, the state of Arkansas at the same time introduced live video streaming of its committee hearings. As a result, the entire meeting of the House of Representatives' Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development Committee could be downloaded and preserved on the Hoof Blog.

At the end of the video, you will see that the bill failed its first hearing. Jim House, a horseshoer from Fayetteville, Arkansas and former state legislator who introduced the bill, hopes and believes that it will be modified and reintroduced.

I've been in touch with Jim House extensively about his attempt to clarify and/or change the Arkansas Veterinary Practice Act. The presentation of this video is not to embarrass Jim or to publicize the bill's defeat or to criticize the way the bill or the Veterinary Practice Act in Arkansas or any other state.

The purpose of posting this video is to give you a clear view of the legislative process and how the care of horses and careers of professionals (whether veterinarians or not) can be affected by men in suits sitting around tables who may or may not know what the care of a horse entails. This is democracy in action, because these men were elected by the people of Arkansas. Think about that the next time an election rolls around.

If you are planning to begin or continue a career in the horse industry, spending the time to watch this video would be a good investment. It could be any state. It could be yours.

I've known Jim House (left) for many, many years. He is a horseshoer who has always been passionate, thoughtful and enthusiastic about his work. A former state representative in Arkansas, he said that he actually didn't undertake this project to benefit himself, or even his fellow horseshoers in Arkansas, but to benefit all who work with horses, and those who own them.

The Pandora's Box that Jim opened in his state is wide open, cracked, or at least being talked about in almost every state. No one but lawyers and opportunists will benefit from much of this until the vets and the professionals get together on their own, with the men's suits left hanging safely in their closets and with women, who predominate in both the horse industry and in the veterinary profession, joining in the conversation.

Finding and agreeing on common ground is the most important first step forward, if any of the three groups (owners, veterinarians and horsecare professionals) really wants, as Jim House says, to help the horses and not just themselves.

Meanwhile, the American Veterinary Medical Association is in the process of collecting comments for a new, revised Model Veterinary Practice Act (MVPA), as announced here on The Hoof Blog in November 2010. Once completed, the new MVPA will be presented to states and the AVMA will hope that state veterinary boards will adopt some or all of its tenets and present them to their state legislatures for approval, thus replacing the existing VPA in each state that adopts it.

So, any changes made to language in the MVPA would stand a good chance of being widely adopted across the United States. And those changes are being solicited right now.

TO LEARN MORE:


Download Arkansas House Bill 1055; click on "full text" to read the entire bill proposed to clarify the Veterinary Practice Act in Arkansas.

Jim House's passion for clarifying the Arkansas Veterinary Practice Act is presented in this article for Arkansas animal owners.


Hoofcare Publishing provides these resources as information for our readers and does not have an interest in the outcome of the legislation in Arkansas or any other state. Our goal is to pique the interest and involvement by our readers in all matters affecting the betterment of individual and collective groups who care for horses. Be informed. Get involved. But work proactively and collaboratively; remember the words of John F. Kennedy: "A rising tide will lift all boats."


© 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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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Video: Equine Biomechanics Integrated with an Icelandic Horse's Disco-Rhythm Hoofbeats by Swiss Researchers



Are you awake now?

This video is your wake-up call. It's a fast-cut peek inside the high-tech equine performance testing laboratory at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, where kinematic- and kinetic-research are undergoing an exciting fusion under the direction of biomechanics research professor Michael Weishaupt PhD DMV. Where the disco beat came from is anyone's guess!

Are the researchers trying to turn this Icelandic into an Olympian or a racehorse? No, there are no Frankenhorses in biomechanics labs. "The application of knowledge pertaining to sports medicine does not aim to increase the speed of the horse or allow it to jump higher, but to keep the athlete sound, prepare it optimally for a specific event, and to recognize detrimental influences early in order to avoid an untimely end to an athletic career," wrote Dr Weishaupt along with Zurich's esteemed professor of equine surgery, Dr Jorg Auer, in an explanation of the research at Zurich.

To do that, Weishaupt and his colleagues are combining kinetic and kinematic research in the same evaluation system. Two formerly exclusive branches of biomechanics research are now under the hood of the same laboratory testing matrix.

Kinematics is nothing new to Hoofcare + Lameness readers. Kinematics is simply the study of motion. A student of dressage could be said to be an equine kinematics scholar, on some level.  But in the world of clinical evaluation of horses, we have typically talked about kinematics as the two-dimensional recording of a horse's movement in order to gain insight into a horse's stride's length or velocity or frequency, or to determine lameness. It works very nicely to prove or enhance what we think we see with our naked eyes or what the rider thinks he or she feels from the saddle.

For the past five years or so, kinematics in the laboratory has been moving ahead. Three-dimensional gait analysis has been used in research to delve deeper into the horse's movement so that joints can be analyzed for the complex structures that many of them are. A hinge joint like the fetlock might be analyzed in two dimensions, but what about the hock or the spine? And what about the coffin joint, a complex structure with three types of motion patterns--flexion-extension, abduction-adduction and axial rotation?

And what if a specific location in the limb could be isolated, such as the distal end of the cannon bone, where so many racing injuries occur? If the forces there can be measured over different track surfaces, aren't we light years ahead in preventing breakdowns?

When studying the motion of the horse, it's not just about the legs. The neck and head and back are critical components so gait analysis has expanded to putting markers all over the horse. The angular motion patterns (flexion-extension, lateral bending and lateral excursion) of six vertebrae (T10, T13, T17, L1, L3 and L5) and the axial rotation of the pelvis are calculated by the software used in the research--in the case of our friends in Zurich, that would be the Qualisys system.

In this video, provided by Qualisys, researchers used a similar system at the University of Agricultural Science in Uppsala, Sweden; 12 cameras recorded the horse in three dimensions on a sensitized treadmill so that the movement of the head and neck could be studied with each footfall and with the movement of the rider. Notice that the horse's center of gravity is always clearly marked on the screen.

So now the leading research labs may use three or many more cameras and create almost realistic moving horses on computer screens. Wireless technology has also improved the operations in the equine research laboratory.

If kinematics is the study of motion, kinetics is its alter ego, the study of force. Kinematics might not care if you were a ballerina or a gorilla crossing a Broadway stage--you'd just be a pattern of dots for it to interpret. And kinetics wouldn't care how synchronous or straight your limbs worked as you crossed; kinetics would worry instead about what happened when your feet hit the stage. Did you slide? Did you hit with enough force to break through a board? How long did each foot stay on the floor?

Researchers explore kinetics with force plates and, more recently, the alternative of pressure-sensitive materials such as mats and walkways embedded with sensors. In Zurich's case, it is an instrumented (sensor-embedded) treadmill (photo, above), or "TiF": a "Treadmill-integrated Force" measuring system able to record the vertical ground reaction forces of all four limbs simultaneously and report it instantly.

The buzzwords of kinetics are ground reaction force and center of gravity. A foot in water finds little resistance, but a foot usually lands on somewhat solid ground, depending on the nature of the footing. If the surface was rigid and foot was a wine glass, it would shatter, but it's designed to deform and store energy when it meets the ground. How to measure what happens during that meeting is the goal of kinetic research.

So the scientists at the University of Zurich wanted to analyze how the Icelandic horse on the treadmill in the video is moving (kinematics) while intermittently impacting the ground (kinetics) with his hooves. One of the new advantages of hoof-related research is the integration of the kinetic and kinematic tools. As the video screen draws the dotted horse that the cameras see, the pressure sensors simultaneously are recording the data of the impact of each footfall. The integration of these systems is relatively recent.

But there is a third entity going on here. The addition of a saddle and rider will affect the kinematics of the horse and no doubt the kinetics as well. So the researchers are measuring the pressure and movement of the saddle. Last year the same lab studied dressage horses at the collected walk--a deceptively simple gait that is a challenge to many upper level horses--and measured how much and in what direction at what phase of the stride the saddle moved.

Believe it or not, little research on the walk had been done before, and in particular, no one had tested how the rider and saddle might affect the horse's score at the walk. Since racehorses tend to trot, pace or gallop for a living, you will find a deep history of studies on those gaits over the course of equine biomechanics history. Sport horse kinetics and kinematics is a far less investigated field of study.

In the Zurich tests, all the dressage horses' saddles moved in the same directions at the same phases of the strides, and the rider's movement was the same as well.

And what about the hooves? Labs like Zurich have conducted comparative studies of how a horse moves while unshod, shod normally, and shod with rolled toe or "four point" shoes to study the effects of shoeing changes on kinematics and kinetics--in particular, the timing of the phases of the stride. Does a particular shoe cause a horse to keep its foot on the ground longer than another, and might this be associated with an increased potential for injury? 

So now the dressage horses have gone home and the Icelandic horses are being tested. A research project in progress is Kinetics, kinematics and energetics of the tölt: Effects of rider interaction and shoeing manipulations. The tölt is the amazing fast gait of the Icelandic horse; it is their signature show gait, and possibly unique to the breed. Will changing the shoes on an Icelandic horse change its ability to perform the tölt?

Since no one has studied an Icelandic horse with the resources that are available today, no one really knows.

But someone will. And, by extension, the world will know soon after that.

Thanks to BartMedia Designs for this video.


Here's a little video about using similar but more simplified equipment for testing humans. I hope this helps you understand biomechanics research a little better! The concepts mentioned in this blog post are vastly over-simplified but once you understand the basic concepts, it will all start to make sense.


To learn more: BYSTRÖM, A., RHODIN, M., Von PEINEN, K., WEISHAUPT, M. A. and ROEPSTORFF, L. (2010), Kinematics of saddle and rider in high-level dressage horses performing collected walk on a treadmill. Equine Veterinary Journal, 42: 340–345. doi: 10.1111/j.2042-3306.2010.00063.x

Anyone interested in learning more about equine biomechanics would be well-served by attending the Equinology biomechanics course with Dr. Hilary Clayton at the McPhail Equine Performance Center at Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in the fall of 2012. A combined course in biomechanics and lameness evaluation with Dr. Clayton will be offered in England in March 2011 at Writtle College.

 © 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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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Share the Hoof Blog's Success with a Banner Ad or Sponsored Post!



Your Ad Here, originally uploaded by EJP Photo.
It's time to open up the Hoof Blog and share the fun and wealth of more than 1000 articles and news items about hoof health, farrier science, research and the art, culture, and history of those who care for horses' feet.

In celebration of our 1000th article, you're invited to advertise your product, service, business, or event on the blog. Choose from banner ads in the sidebar (area to the right of articles) or sponsor an article with a banner ad or place a block ad right in the body of the blog!

Blog visitors from all over the web will see your ad! On the blog, the ads will be "clickable" and go right to the web or email address that you specify. On most RSS feeds at various sites around the web and in our daily email headlines, block ads (approximately 480 pixels x 480 pixels) will carry a bonus headline separate from articles and result in extra search engine or keyword exposure for advertiser.

Contact Hoofcare Publishing today for more information! Email Blogads@hoofcare.com or call 978 281 3222 to reserve a premium spot.

You'll start seeing ads appear this week. Our ads will be high quality and all ads are subject to review and approval. We can create an ad for you or probably use or convert an existing ad you may already have.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Equine Physiotherapist Pioneer Mary Bromiley Receives British Queen's Recognition for Service to Equine Sports

This story is © 2011 Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This is not a press release. No use without permission.

Congratulations to human and equine physiotherapist Mary Bromiley, who was recently listed by the British Monarchy as a recipient of the Queen's Honors for 2011. Mary will be awarded the prestigious title of MBE: Member of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth for her services to equine sports.

Mary Bromiley is a Fellow of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (a licensed human physical therapist in Great Britain), who applied her skills to horses. She and American athletic-trainer-turned-horse-therapist Jack Meagher were early pioneers who began using their knowledge of human sports training principles and muscle rehabilitation therapy on sport and race horses--in particular, on international event horses in the Olympics, with excellent results.

Mary worked for the New Zealand Olympic Teams at several Olympic Games and has been a frequent guest lecturer at equine sports medicine conferences. She is credited with the formation of The Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Animal Therapy (ACPAT), a sub-group of CSP.

Now 79 years young, Mary Bromiley may be found in rural Somerset, England, where she and her two daughters run Downs House, a rehabilitation center for horses and education center for equine therapy, at Combeleigh Farm, Exmoor. She also offers courses there.

Mary was quoted on her local equestrian web site Riders for the Bristol area: "It’s really an award that covers the work of an enormous amount of people. I could not have done it without my daughters, the veterinary profession and trainers such as Martin Pipe and Nicky Henderson who have allowed me to make suggestions and do things with their horses. It’s been a big effort all round."

If you know Mary Bromiley or have heard her lecture, you know she is never short of a good story. In one interview with the British website Southwest Business after receiving notification of her royal honors, Mary recalled this case about a filly that had slipped on the road and come down on her knees.

"I was told by a doctor friend about the benefits of the fabled bloodsucking leech and how its anti-coagulant saliva is routinely used to reinstate blood flow in wound areas. I drew (my) breath and rang a leech farm in South Wales. They duly arrived with 'handle with care' on the box but none of us wanted to put our hands in!"

Mary added: "The end result was that it made an amazing difference to the wound!"

British National Hunt trainer David Pipe dedicated a page on his web site to congratulating the woman who has helped so many of his horses, as well as his father's, the legendary Martin Pipe:

"I would like to start off by offering my heartfelt congratulations to Mary Bromiley for being awarded an MBE in the New Year's Honors List for services to equine sport. Mary pioneered the transference of human physiotherapy methods to horses many years ago and set up the country's only specialist horse and human rehabilitation center at Down's House, as well as founding the 'Flying Physios' who tend to injured jockeys at the race.

"Mary has tended to the horses at Pond House for many years and I have been privileged to see the amazing work that she has done first hand. Not only does she care for the equine inmates, but such is her kind and caring nature, she has also helped numerous employees. I am sure that everyone in racing will join me in congratulating Mary on this award, it is a thoroughly deserved recognition of her talents.

David included a quote from his father, Martin Pipe, who recalled years of working with Mary: "It was Mary who helped me to rebuild Carvill's Hill after all the bone scans and vets said that he would never be able to race again. He would certainly be one of her earlier success stories--we defied them by winning the Rehearsal Chase, Welsh National and Irish Hennessy. None of it would have been possible without Mary's regular contribution and expertise.

"It wasn't just the horses that she was so good with either, she helped to fix numerous members of staff and I was also a patient of hers as she helped considerably with the rebuilding of my new knee. She certainly put me through my paces, both before and after my operation! I couldn't be more pleased for Mary, it is great that she has been recognized for all that she has contributed to both equine and human health."

Mary is author of Massage Techniques for Horse and Rider, Natural Methods for Equine Health, Equine Injury and Therapy and co-author of Blackwell's Dictionary of Nursing. She has also made several videotapes to share her knowledge. Mary is sited as the inspiration behind the Equine Sports Massage Association in Great Britain and has been commercially associated with Respond Systems, as an advocate of their Bio-Pulse Magnetic Field Therapy Systems and laser systems for wound healing. She is also credited with the inspiration or collaboration in development of numerous other products and procedures for helping horses.

I thought you might find this video interesting; Mary uses a Respond laser to help treat a horse with the goal of increasing circulation to the foot in order to stimulate healing for tendon damage. Disclaimer: This is not an ad, it is a good video that shows Mary at work.


If you have a chance to learn from Mary, I highly recommend the experience, even if you have to travel to England to do it. She's been a great inspiration and resource for me and countless others and I think that her honor by the Queen is very much deserved.

Mary Bromiley's books are usually available from Hoofcare and Lameness. Some are out of print but can usually be sourced. They are excellent for reference. I hope she writes her memoirs some day!

Others from the horse world honored by the Queen were former racehorse trainer Tony Balding and accomplished horse photographer Bob Langrish.

Photo mirrored from Respond Systems web site. David and Martin Pipe quotes used with permission.

© 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, January 22, 2011

Beth Garner: Farrier Industry Legend Goes on Ahead



I took this picture in Australia. The Hunter Valley was flooded when Beth and I were visiting, but our host, farrier Billy Neville, still needed to get into a big stud farm. Life had to go on in the Hunter Valley, so the farm had strung a suspension foot bridge over the raging river so that employees could get to work.

I knew better than to look down. I've seen all the Indiana Jones movies. I know what can happen.

So I did what I had always done: I followed Beth's lead. She just strode right onto that rickety, swaying bridge. I took a deep breath and put one foot on the boards, then the next. The apprentices behind us lugged all the farrier tools and equipment and we must have looked for all the world like a horseshoeing safari. As we neared the end of the bridge, I got up the nerve to let go of one of the ropes and take this picture.

Two things proved to be true of so many years, when it came to following Beth: 1) it never failed to lead me into an adventure; 2) it was always a good idea. I'd be sure to learn something. I didn't really follow anyone else.

Beth has now gone on ahead. Way ahead. She died this week in her beloved home town on the California coast. She leaves GE Tools in the capable hands of her son. She leaves me wondering what it will be like with no one to follow, or whether it's time to take the lead she always thought I should take.

"You want to go first?" she'd say in Chantilly or Newmarket or Christchurch or Scone, whether it was crossing a bridge strung from trees or walking into Francois Boutin's racing stable or climbing up a castle's stairs on one of Edward Martin's tours of Scotland.

I always let her go first, or made her go first, or hoped against hope that she'd volunteer to go first. That way I could follow behind so that at times like this I could remember what she might do or how she'd act or where she would have lead us next.


Beth Garner, aged 93, was the long-time public face of her family-owned GE Forge and Tool Company, makers of fine farrier tools. She took the company global in the 1980s, before global was the accepted way to go, and was the first American that many people in the farrier world in other countries ever met because she simply went where they were, wherever that was. She didn't wait for them to come to the USA.

Few people know that Beth Garner was also the impetus behind the founding of Hoofcare Publishing, the initial investor in the company, and the most trusted adviser. In her retirement, she transitioned easily out of business traveler mode and drove the length and breadth of the USA in a motorhome and went on expeditions to places like Antarctica. 


Among Beth's non-business accomplishments were donations of her time and resources to the farrier world. She organized annual meetings of farrier school educators who had never even spoken to each other before, and put up the seed money to form the American Farrier's Association's equine research fund, and served on the first board. She also helped form the Farrier Industry Association and supported virtually every farrier education event in North America and many in other countries.

Beth always claimed to not know anything about horses, though her travels took her to the finest farms and stables and races and shows in the world. She was just as impressed with the horses at a county fair as she was with the jumpers at Hickstead. 


What Beth knew about was people, and how to go around the world and always be invited back. She found doors in solid walls, made grumpy men who couldn't understand a word of English smile in spite of themselves and crafted distribution deals for GE Tools on restaurant napkins that are probably still honored. Her business card could have read: Trailblazer, ambassador, innovator...and trusted friend to all. Especially me.
 
© 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, January 20, 2011

Todd Pletcher Wins Eclipse Award for Best Trainer, Gives Kudos to His Horseshoer, Ray Amato

I didn't see it live, but thanks to the wonders of YouTube and the NTRA's channel, I can share with you a magic moment at Monday night's 2010 Eclipse Awards. As Todd Pletcher accepted the Eclipse for Trainer of the Year, he made a little speech about the team behind  him. In particular he pointed out our friend, horseshoer Ray Amato, who was sitting at the table with him, and looking great in his tuxedo. I won't spoil it and tell you what Todd said; watch if for yourself. Suffice to say, it's the highest praise I've ever heard in a speech about a living horseshoer, let alone on national television. How about that!

Here's Ray at one of our Hoofcare@Saratoga events last summer. He's getting a hug from Ada Gates as he recalled how she came to him looking for an apprenticeship early in her career. Ada said he was the only horseshoer who'd even talk to her. She had to go to California to break into track shoeing; no woman had ever done it before, and few have since. Ada and Ray could have a comic speaker act. Like Todd Pletcher, Ray Amato won his first Kentucky Derby this year when he shod Super Saver for Pletcher. That night at Saratoga, he recalled how he had thought he had his first winner in 1973, when he shod Sham. But Secretariat had other ideas. The stories that these two can tell are amazing, as are their skills as storytellers!

 © 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.
 
Follow the Hoof Blog on Twitter: @HoofcareJournal
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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

IRAP Equine Lameness Therapy: Two Veterinarians, Two Videos to Show and Tell the Treatment's Story

Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein therapy (IRAP™) for equine lameness came on the scene a few years ago and seemed to be the province of university and referral hospitals. It was first discussed on this blog back in May of 2007, in New Lameness Treatments: IRAP™ Therapy.


Fast forward to 2011 and IRAP has become a word you'll overhear trainers using at the racetrack, and dressage riders quipping about as they compare notes on their horses' injuries. IRAP may not be an overnight sensation, but it would be close to the equivalent and if you haven't had first-hand experience with a case yet, just hang on--you will. Or, you may even be around horses that have undergone IRAP therapy and you didn't even know it: there are no scars, no bandages, no clipped hair.

But horse owners still call here and ask for advice: what is it? what can go wrong? who's had it done? It's true; some owners can't quite catch the name or the concept, and think of IRAP as just a very expensive joint injection. But they are usually pretty happy with the results.

IRAP isn't a treatment with a lot of drama or big equipment or flashing lights. It is simply a treatment of a sample of the horse's own blood, creating an enriched serum which contains anti-inflammatory proteins. These proteins are very specifically targeted to block the harmful effects of interleukin-1, an inflammatory mediator that accelerates the destruction of cartilage.

Will IRAP help every horse? Will it reverse the degenerative effects of years of arthritis? As the numbers of treatments increase, veterinarians are becoming more specific about ideal cases and potential benefits.

For the horse, the treatment consists of just two injections: first the drawing of a vial of blood, then the enriched serum is injected back into the horse at the site of the injury. Because the serum is autologous, or derived from the horse’s own blood, there is only a minimal risk of an adverse reaction.

When I went looking for a video about IRAP, I thought I would share two instead of one, because together they tell a good deal about IRAP. The two videos are similar, but show a lot of details about the process. Dr. McKee of McKee Pownall Equine Services has a Standardbred racehorse on hand as a patient, while Dr. Charlene Cook of Central Georgia Equine Services has a pleasure horse on the cross ties.

This may seem like too much information...until the day comes when you need to know about IRAP. 


Melissa McKee DVM of McKee Pownall Equine Services in Ontario, Canada leads the horse world through the demystification of many horse diseases and problems through her practice's YouTube channel. In this video, Dr McKee's straightforward explanation of IRAP should put horseowners at ease when their vets recommend the treatment. Thanks to McKee Pownall for their ongoing excellence in client education. Via YouTube and Facebook, they are educating many more of us than just their clients!


Charlene Cook DVM of Central Georgia Equine Services prepared an ideal client education video to explain exactly what will be done to prepare a horse for IRAP treatment, to actually process the blood sample drawn from the horse, and the re-injection of the processed blood. This video goes a long way to put a horse owner's mind at ease about what sorts of risks their horse might be taking, or where, exactly, the high cost of IRAP comes in.

If you or one of your clients would like to read more about IRAP on paper, we have a link to an excellent document download, IRAP Therapy for Equine Osteoarthritis, created by Amanda House DVM of the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine's Extension Service.

© 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, January 17, 2011

University of Queensland's Equine Hospital Keeps Its Head Up Above the Flood


The photos of the devastation on the campus of the University of Queensland are pretty discouraging. As you've probably heard by now, the Brisbane River rose far above its banks and spread through and, in some cases, over the beautiful city of Brisbane in Queensland province in the northeastern corner of Australia.

A core group of veterinarians has created a virtual Noah's Ark for the animals that have been able to reach them...but the tragedy of a true flood is that so many animals are stranded where they are.

A dedicated veterinary team fed, washed, provided medical treatment and comfort to the animals that had been able to make it to their new equine hospital in Gatton. Gatton is the site of the University's new vet school, which only opened on August 6th.

University officials described "horses that had worn down their hooves swimming for up to 30 hours to stay afloat. "

Laminitis researcher and equine specialist Andrew Van Eps BVSc, PhD, MACVSc, DACVIM said that seven horses were brought in for medical treatment for injuries sustained in the floods and his staff members were heading out to farms to treat more horses.

“We have horses in various states of health. Quite a few horses have contracted pneumonia after breathing in flood water while swimming to stay alive,” Dr Van Eps said.

“There is a horse here that was housed in a stable when the flood arrived and had to tread water for about a day to survive.

“We are also are caring for a miniature horse foal that is only a few days old and was orphaned by the floods.”

Besides Van Eps, the equine hospital team includes Dr Susan Keane, Dr Philippe Manchon, Dr Steve Zedler, Dr Claire Underwood, Rebecca Johnson, Kylie Semple, Kate Hertrick,Trent Dawson, David Manchon and Natasha Curlew.

Photos and flood details courtesy of the University of Queensland.

 © 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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Friends at Work: John Edwards Is a Young Farrier Who Sees the Big Picture


When I first found out that John Edwards was only 22 years old, I thought that was pretty young. But when I listened to what he had to say about his chosen career as a farrier, I changed my mind, and I think you will, too.

John Edwards has the necessary sense of humility to understand that working with horses is a process, not a top-down delivery. And in almost any career you choose, when you work with horses your feelings for your career will go through changes. John Edwards may be keen on shoemaking now, but a few years from now he might get sidelined by working on some foundered horses or get fascinated with natural horsemanship or equine behavior.

All work with horses has many facets and phases, and he's absolutely right when he says that your learning is never done...and that anyone who claims to know it all or have all the answers must be very new to the scene.

John Edwards is a farrier in Navan, Ontario whose bio at the end of the slideshow gives the intriguing information that he plays the fiddle and curls. (Curling is that amazing ice sport played in the Olympics by players armed with brooms chasing what looks like giant spinning hockey pucks.)

This story originally was published in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper in Ottawa, Ontario. It was written by Bruce Deachman, who called John "One in a Million".

I know from personal experience that there are a lot more than "one in a million"...but we could still use a whole lot more young farriers like John Edwards.

Thanks to Bruce Deachman for making this multimedia file available for The Hoof Blog.

© 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, January 16, 2011

Historic Hoofcare: The Ice Harvest


What you are seeing in this video is a pond in the Pocono Mountains region of Pennsylvania. This particular project is to cut ice for one residence. The video follows the workers from the measurement of the thickness to the cutting of the ice to the removal of the blocks, loading the wagons, a visit from the man who had hired them, and then the transport and unloading of the ice.

It's hard to say how much ice a residence like the one in this film would require for a year, or even if the house is a year-round residence or not. But it was important to get the ice in, and if there's a saying for the summer months about making hay while the sun shines, there must have been a similar saying in the old days about cutting ice when the mercury's down in its bulb and the roads were clear of snow drifts.

I've been thinking a lot about ice lately. The heater isn't working in my car, which means that the defroster isn't, either. It's been below zero (Fahrenheit) and ice forms on the inside of the car while I'm driving. I'm not sure why, unless it is the condensation from my breath. But all the scraping (while holding my breath) gives me plenty of time to think about ice.

My conclusion: ice is great when it's where you want it (in a hockey rink, on an event horse's pastern, in your gin and tonic). But on the inside of your car, on your house steps, and especially in the form of black ice on a curvy road at night: not so great.

To say that we take ice for granted is an understatement.

But it wasn't always that way. Ice was an industry, and that industry used a lot of horses. And ice wasn't all created equal. Different climates, different water, and all sorts of different conditions affected the quality of the ice harvest. Some years have gone done in history for either the quantity of ice that was harvested or the quality--crystal clear blocks of ice were what they wanted to pull out of a pond. A warm winter sabotaged the preservation of perishable meat and foods the next summer.

So even though horses grow winter coats, they don't grow winter hooves. Crafty yankee horsemen had to figure out how to make their horses useful 12 months of the year. And so, it came to pass, that what we call "winter shoeing" was born.

Here's the ultimate in winter shoeing: four drive-in studs, a rim of borium, anti-snowball pads and frost nails on the hind foot of a Hanoverian driving horse who is in a serious training program in Vermont this winter. He's kept fit with regular sleighing work, but changing conditions mean that he can be on hard pavement, soft or hard-packed snow, ice, mud, or state-of-the-art indoor arena footing--or any combination of those. It's ok, he's ready for anything.
Winter shoeing these days is all about special anti-snowball pads, frost nails, studs or borium (or sometimes all of these!) to prevent slipping on multiple surfaces, or in some cases, studded removable hoof boots. Where we used to un-shoe horses for the winter months, many horseowners now opt add to their horses' shoeing complexity in the hope of making their lives safer. Many stables don't allow winter calks on hind feet for obvious reasons if horses are turned out in groups or blanketed.

In the old days, the concern was less about slipping in the paddock and more about helping the working horse stay on his feet and dig into the soft snow or hard ice to be able to pull a load, which was usually on some sort of a work sled in the winter months. Horsemen became connoisseurs of calks--just the right calk for that horse, that day, that road, that load.

An exception was the unusual contraption shown in the photo at left. This strap-on ice shoe was on display at the Monetta Farrier Specialties booth at the American Farrier's Association Convention in 2009. You might scratch your head over that one, as I did, since that company is located in South Carolina, where they were importing ice, not making it! But...collectors are collectors.

This shoe is similar to the strap-on and bolt-on shoes worn around here for salt marsh haying so the horses didn't sink into the boggy ground. Except where those shoes have a platform bottom, these have a steel shoe on the bottom, with welded projectile calks protruding around perimeter. This device would have been easy to remove so the calks wouldn't be worn down on a paved road but could be used when a horse need to grip in the snow or get up a hill. I wonder why we don't see more of these, and why Never-Slip calks were used so extensively instead?

The ice industry relied on very cold weather (like today) but without a lot of snow. The conditions had to be right, and when it was, it was a community effort to harvest the ice. The horses had to be shod so they could walk out onto the ice, and that part of the history of ice shoes was made universally possible by the invention of Never-Slip interchangeable calks. Otherwise, a change in weather meant a trip to the forge to add or remove or sharpen calks. And an expense.

Harness racing on Saranac Lake in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. From an article by Caperton Tissot in the Adirondack Almanac about ice racing. In Minnesota, the horses raced on the Mississippi River.
Here in New England and in Maritime Canada, it wasn't just the draft horses who needed ice shoes. The speedy trotters  and their sleighs set out on the lakes and ponds and often raced across the ice. In Maine, I believe they still have Standardbred racing on the ice. I've always wanted to see that (from inside a cozy warm ice-fishing shack.)

This is what an ice-racing horse would probably wear on its feet; they are still worn today, if you can find the legendary races. It is a lightweight steel shoe with a very thin roll on the edge, into which tungsten tips are embedded, using copper solder. I've seen these shoes made in farrier competitions--they are not easy! I believe that this antique shoe is from Michael Wildenstein's collection.

One of the most interesting things I've learned about ice racing was that trainers used the snow season to spell the good horses, since there was no Florida racing until the 1930s, and only the trainers with the wealthiest clients could afford to go south. What the local trainers learned is that their good horses benefited from a rest over the winter, but that sore-footed horses that couldn't race in the summer and fall when the tracks were hard often excelled on the ice and some even went back to racing the following summer. I don't know how they conditioned horses for ice racing, but it's a cinch that the ice-cold footing, the low impact and the return to use (and its resulting stimulating effects on the circulation to the foot) were a formula for salvation for a lot of horses. Or maybe they were just going faster to stay warm.

The next time you walk over to your refrigerator with the automatic icemaker and fill a glass with cubes, think of these fellows out cutting the ice on a very cold winter's day, and think of the horses diving into their feed bags because they knew they were going to have to haul the heavy ice straight up a steep hill. Maybe those calks did a little double duty.

This is one of my favorite Hoof Blog photos, from back in 2008 when a terrible ice storm paralyzed New England.
Thanks to Adirondack Almanac, Minnesota Historical Society, Cape Pond Ice, Prelinger Archives, Farm Collector Magazine, Birch Hill Farm, Emily and Sarah Schwartz and all the people who've told me all the stories about the legendary ice races in Maine. I believe they exist. Somewhere.

To learn more: Right on cue, an article on the history of harvesting ice from the Hudson River was published in Friday's Troy Record in Troy, New York.

© 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, January 14, 2011

Trim Toes for Zenyatta

The New York Times has a slide show today that allows readers to see Zenyatta in her new life at Kentucky's Lane's End Farm, including a visit from horseshoer John Collins, who took care of her feet when she was a yearling.
The New York Times has given us something to brighten up this January day: a great Zenyatta-at-home slide show. The most talked-about new resident of Kentucky, Zenyatta has been going through a makeover that will ultimately, with luck, see her turn into an equine domestic diva.  

The Times peeks in at Zenyatta like she's a celebrity hanging out at a spa ranch. Watch the highlights of Zenyatta's day...none less important, of course, than having her hooves trimmed by John Collins. Love the tongue, Zenyatta.

Check it out: At Home with Zenyatta, in the January 14, 2011 online edition of the New York Times.

What the Times didn't tell us is that Johnny Collins and Zenyatta go way back.  The Georgetown breeding farm specialist took care of Zenyatta's hooves when she was a baby. Zenyatta "wrote" in her diary about life at Lane's End:

"My blacksmith here at Lane’s End is the same person who took care of my feet years ago when I lived in Kentucky! His name is Johnny Collins. He is the same man who put on my shoes when I went to the Keeneland Sale in September, 2005! He took care of my feet when I was a little girl!

"Now, here he is taking off my shoes at the farm several years later. This is absolutely adorable! Johnny told me he’d been keeping track of me and all of my progress since then! It was so great to touch base with him, my first blacksmith, after all of these years!"

Zenyatta stays in touch with her fans through daily diary entries on her popular Zenyatta Blog; she probably has more followers than anyone in the horse business!

She wrote a blog post about her hooves' history in and out of horseshoes, including a nice tribute to her longtime California shoer, Tom Halpenny, who has been so generous with information to the Hoof Blog throughout her career.

She wrote? I know, I know. But if you read Zenyatta's blog every day, you really will start to believe that the mare is talking to you. If someone is ghostwriting for Lady Z, or channeling her thoughts, he or she is doing a great job!

Still not announced: which of Kentucky's eligible stallions will be selected to sire Zenyatta's first foal? Which one would you choose? I'd go with Medaglia d'Oro, I think.

Thanks to the New York Times for the great slide show!

 © 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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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention Farrier Reception Slide Show

This slide show may take a minute or two to download, depending on your connection speed. Once it loads, it will begin to advance automatically to the end. At the end, you will see two symbols. One allows you to email the slide show to whomever you wish. The other ("share") provides code for you to either link to the slide show or you may embed it in your own web site or blog, providing no changes or extractions are made. The individual photos are the property of Hoofcare Publishing and are protected by international copyright law.

Following the Third Farrier Conference at the 2010 American Association of Equine Practitioners' Convention in Baltimore, Maryland, last month, the AAEP hosted a reception for farriers and veterinarians and guests. Here you will see a few quick snapshots of the attendees.

The conference and the reception were sponsored by Merial. Amanda McAvoy represented Merial at the event, along with Kelly Goss of Sullivan, Higdon and Sink. Farrier conference chairman Dr. Steve O'Grady worked with several corporate donors to arrange an impressive array of door prizes for the farriers. Guests from as far away as the United Arab Emirates and France were on hand.

Thanks to the AAEP and Dr O'Grady for a great day! I especially enjoyed meeting Mr Ed Warrington from Delaware, who reflected on his first 50 years of shoeing horses. It was a great presentation and very telling: at one point he showed sheared heels from 50 years ago and sheared heels from today side by side on the screen. Some things never change, but a thoughtful, well-planned presentation has the power to change the way you look at the problem. And that's how progress begins.

I felt a little bit like the paparazzi taking these photos, and I hope no one minded having their photos taken. 

© 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). The headlines are also on Facebook, on the Hoofcare & Lameness 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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