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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Polydactyl People and Ponies: A Gallery of Extra Digits (and Hooves)

This polydactyl was found in British Columbia by one of the farrier students at Kwantlen College. Gerard Laverty, the instructor at Kwantlen, sent these images to me, which started my collection. Image © Hoofcare Publishing and Gerard Laverty.
If you visit farms and horse barns in New England, you'll sooner or later find one with a clan of double-pawed cats. Their owners are usually quite proud of them and love to show off their big mitts. The condition is so common around here that most people don't give it a second thought. A lot of people actually prefer them, especially if they are Maine Coon Cats.

But when the equivalent of a "double paw" shows up on a giant Shire draft horse, people notice.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Shackleford's Preakness is First Triple Crown Win for Synthetic Horseshoes; Dewey-Walters Shoeing Team Claims Two-Thirds of Crown, Going for Triple

Jockey Jesus Lopez Castanon had so many reasons to smile as Shackleford lunged across the finish line of the Preakness Stakes on Saturday. Were you watching? Were you one of the millions of people who didn't notice anything unusual about this horse? UPI/Kevin Dietsch/Fotoglif image

"Oh well, another year without a Triple Crown winner," everyone said, as they turned off their televisions after Saturday's Preakness Stakes. Early speedster Shackleford had surprised everyone and held on as the late-charging Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom came from way behind and reached the chestnut's flank at the wire. But that's as close as he would come; the wire was over their heads too soon for Animal Kingdom to save his Triple Crown bid. It came just in time for Shackleford.

Click. So, what's for dinner? Do you want to go out or stay home?

But wait just a minute. Turn the television back on. Back up the DVR. Play it again, Sam.

There's another story left to tell here, and maybe this little story will help make the Belmont Stakes more interesting.

We saw Shackleford in the Fountain of Youth, the Florida Derby, the Kentucky Derby. It's hard to miss him because he has a wide white blaze with an arrow's point at the top, like a wide white racing stripe on a Cobra. You could definitely find this horse in a field in the dark.

Maybe his big white face is so distracting that no one ever looks at his feet. And maybe they should. If they did, they'd do a double-take.

Exercise rider Faustino Ramos and Shackleford cast a long shadow during a workout just before the Kentucky Derby. Shades of things to come? Shackeford finished fourth in the Derby after leading most of the race. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes/Fotoglif
What no one picked up on Saturday is that Shackleford was wearing clear polyurethane "Polyflex" glue-on shoes, and he has been wearing them for the past three months. They were attached without nails, so his hoof walls were smooth as glass, without any telltale nail clinches.

Shackleford's victory in the Preakness marks the first Triple Crown race won by a horse in synthetic shoes.

Of course, Big Brown won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in glue-on shoes, and they are pretty standard equipment these days, but no one we know of has done it since, and no one has done it in synthetic shoes. Ever.

Click on this link to go to the licensing survey for racetrack horseshoers.




Racetrack horseshoers have several glue-specialty manufacturers' shoeing products to choose from, or they can glue normal race plates on with what is called the "direct glue" method. Using adhesive-impregnated tape, they can also put a virtual cast on the foot and nail or glue a shoe onto that, as well.

But the material that usually hits the dirt or turf or synthetic track surface in those cases is aluminum.

Shackleford wasn't the only one in the Preakness with high-tech synthetic sport shoes: third-place finisher Astrology wore them as well. And in the Derby, Nehro wore them. Perhaps others in both races did, too.

Shackleford wore clear nailless polyurethane Polyflex shoes like this one on his front feet
Shackleford's Shoer on Synthetic Shoes

"It's about time someone noticed!" laughed horseshoer Brad Dewey on the  phone today. "I could see them, even on television, in the post parade." The horse has been wearing the special glue-on shoes since before the Fountain of Youth Stakes this spring. That was three months ago." No one has brought it up.

Dewey said that he originally put a pair of the Polyflex shoes on the colt's front feet because he had an abscess that was going to blow out. "These shoes allow movement," he said, "it's sort of hard to explain but thanks to the shoes, the horse never had to take a day off. One day we noticed that the abscess had blown out, and he moved on but he was going well so we kept the shoes on."

Dewey mentioned that Shackleford's hind feet are shod with "regular" hind Thoro'Bred plates, nailed on.

I asked trainer Dale Romans today if the Polyflex shoes were a regular alternative for him to try on his horses. He sounded surprised, "No, no, this is a first," he said quickly, "and we're really thrilled."

Shackleford trained for the Kentucky Derby on a wet Churchill Downs surface in his glue-on shoes. In this photo you can clearly see the PMMA adhesive on the heels of his front hooves. Apparently no one noticed. Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Fotoglif photo.

Triple Crown of Horseshoes?

Last year, we noted Winstar Farm's Double Stetson; they won two of three Triple Crown races by book-ending Super Saver in the Kentucky Derby and Drosselmeyer in the Belmont. Bill Casner's Stetson in the winner's circle was a crown itself, Texas style.

But this year we might have a Triple Crown of a different sort. The New York and Florida-based horseshoeing partnership of Mark Dewey and Bernie Walter has scored a Derby win with Animal Kingdom, shod by Bernie. Now Mark's son, who works with the team, has shod Shackleford to win the Preakness.

Mark Dewey shoes Mucho Macho Man, so you have to like his chances in the Belmont. Mucho Macho Man also has glue-on front shoes, but they are applied by the "direct glue" method and, according to Brad Dewey, are No Vibe plates.

If they could pull off shoeing the winners of all three races within their own team, it would be a clever accomplishment.

About the shoe

The Burns Polyflex shoe (left) was developed by a horseshoer named Curtis Burns who, like so many others, lives and works in Florida and New York, according to the season. He and his wife Diane manufacture the shoes in a molding process that encases a metal wire that holds some shaping capability.

The shoe is typically applied by a horseshoer who has been trained to both use the shoe and to mix and apply the polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) adhesive. The company has an instructional video on their web site, www.noanvil.com.

The Polyflex got its big break when it was adopted as the shoe of choice for all-time top money earner Curlin in his four-year-old campaign; in fact, a separate square-toe design of the shoe was developed just for Curlin. Since then the shoe has been worn by numerous stakes winners, record setters, a Breeders Cup winner, and show horses. It's also used in podiatry applications for yearlings and adults horses with special shoeing needs.

To learn more:


Heel Bulb Injuries 101: Big Brown's Latest Hoof Malady

Greetings from the Gluegrass: Will Big Brown and Pyro Choices of Designer Footwear Turn It Into the Ken-STUCK-y Derby?

"Glue-y Ville" Hosts Breeders Cup: Shoes Stay On

Curlin Goes for Glue: Breeders Cup Favorite Sports High-Tech Urethane Glue Shoe



© 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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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any direct compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned, other than Hoofcare Publishing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Royal Thoroughbred Tour: Irish Farriers Greet Britain's Queen Elizabeth at National Stud



When Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth set her royal foot on Irish soil last week, it was the first of her family's to do so since the Republic of Ireland gained complete independence from British rule.

But she didn't waste much time getting to the bits of Ireland that she'd probably been dying to see, like the Irish National Stud, the Aga Khan's Gilltown Stud, and the legendary Coolmore Stud. All are leading Thoroughbred breeding establishments where forebears of the Queen's horses may have begun their lives or where she may have sent her mares to be bred, or where the horses originated who beat her own at Epsom or Newmarket or Ascot.

And at her first stop, the legendary Irish National Stud in County Kildare on the edge of the sweeping Curragh plains gallops, the Queen was appropriately greeted by a group of farriers.

Stud director Chryss O'Reilly escorted the Queen around the National Stud. I'm sorry I don't know who the gentleman in black is. Notice the shoe boards and signage about Irish farriery in the background. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/Fotoglif
When I saw this press photo with the shoe specimen boards in the background, I was soon on Skype to Martin Leahy, farrier at the Stud. It's hard to imagine, but even Martin seemed a little excited by what had transpired that afternoon. "She's actually a very nice lady," Martin reported, "and I'd say she'd be quite spry for her age, now." (The Queen is 85 years old.)
  
In other words, yes, he had met her and Prince Philip and he was quite pleased about it.

Also meeting the Queen were Irish Farrier Authority directors John Brennan, John O'Connell, and Jeremy Stanley, and Irish Farrier School coordinator Sue Lilley, who was widely interviewed in the press, as well as a crew of apprentices who were set up and working to impress the Queen. You can hear their anvils in the background of the video when the Queen is watching the jockey student on the simulator horse.

I think the Queen enjoyed herself at the Irish National Stud. Pool/Reuters/John Stillwell photo
This looks like the smile of someone who is really enjoying herself. I imagine it was snapped when she saw the farriers up ahead and she knew she could relax a bit. Somehow I think relaxing was probably the farthest thing from their minds but I'm sure she left with a good impression of Irish farriery and farriers, and with an anvil ringing in her royal ears.

Congratulations to Martin and all our friends in the Irish Master Farriers Association and at the Irish Farrier School and the Stud for what Sue Lilley described as "the biggest day of our lives."

© 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 Hoofcare + Lameness on Twitter: @HoofcareJournal
 
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any direct compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned, other than Hoofcare Publishing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

An Unusually Silent Anvil: Ron Dyer ("The Horseshoer")

 I learned tonight, completely by accident while researching something on the web, that Ron Dyer the Horseshoer (as he called himself) died on April 23, just shy of his 84th birthday. I don't have much information, perhaps other people have already announced his passing, but I had no idea.

When I knocked on the door of the farrier profession, I immediately noticed that people tended to cluster around certain individuals. Were they hoping to pick up some sage advice? Not really, they were more likely souvenir story collectors. These people stood close enough to listen, memorize and then go home and re-tell the best stories, again and again, until the stories became legends. And the people who originated those stories along with them

Ron Dyer The Horseshoer 1927-2011
Ron Dyer, a.k.a. Ron Dyer The Horseshoer was one of those people whose stories were and still are re-told.  Here was someone who'd been there, done that and definitely had an opinion about it that he didn't mind sharing. People were a little timid around him; some might use the word "gruff" to describe him, but I also saw him be generous and kind and help people.

Ron was a horseshoer, all right. According to his obituary, he worked for the Budweiser Clydesdales, he worked on the midwestern harness racetracks of the Grand Circuit, he traveled with the circus, he was part of The Great Milwaukee Circus Parade...he did it all.

To hear him talk, he might have been around to shoe Dan Patch or Man 'o War. He pulled history out of the past and made it sound like he'd been there. I never could tell if he was giving me a history lesson or telling me about something he'd seen with his own eyes.

Case in point: The Galesburg, Illinois horse sale barns were one of the biggest horse yards in America in the early 20th century. It was right there in Ron Dyer's hometown that the French military, and then the British, came to buy artillery horses and mules for the First World War. Thousands of them. Reading the history of the sale barn tonight in Ron's honor, I realized it closed seven years before Ron was born. But he told stories about it as if he'd be there.
"By 1910, (the Galesburg Horse Sale) was receiving 25 carloads of horses a week and the same number of 25 cars would be shipped out—making a total carload business for the two railroads of 50 cars per week.  The sale employed 25 regular men. and always had 40 to 50 extra men for Friday and Saturday. Five hundred horses per week consumed about all the hay and straw raised in the adjacent counties. Five hundred horses per week  had to have 500 new halters. Each horse had to have two shoes on his front feet, which made a total of 1,000 horse shoes per week. From 7 to 10 blacksmiths were busy the week around making the shoes." (From Galesburg's Mighty Horse Market by Cornelia Thompson and Fred Dunbar)

I found a story about Ron Dyer in the archives of the Chicago Tribune. It included this gem: Once--possibly many more times than just  this once--Ron Dyer was judging a horseshoeing competition. The anxious competitors awaited their precise instructions of what the esteemed judge would be looking for in their work. Ron told them simply, "I want to see a commercial job; something you can charge for." End of subject. 

Farrier Henry Heymering, the visionary founder of the American Farriers Journal and my colleague in our early years of publishing that magazine, offered a few memories of Ron, who was also an author of articles in that magazine in its early days. Thanks, Henry:
  • Ron left quite an impression on me. Florida formed a farrier's association and started a certification test before the AFA. When Ron took the Florida test he made four shoes and shod the horse with them in about 40 minutes, and did a damn nice job!
  • Ron said the Illinois association was started after a shoer had a heart attack. Two farriers worked in the same barn, but they (as was the custom then) worked at opposite ends of the barn and wouldn't talk to each other. One day one of the farriers collapsed under a horse. The other farrier went up to the owner to tell him there was a problem.
  • When Florida started having contests, Ron was so good he won most everything. Other farriers before signing up would ask if Ron was going to be there and if he was, they would't compete. Ron got wind of this and stopped competing. He would only judge and/or demonstrate, and help the others improve.
  • Ron was too young for the French remounts, but I bet his father and grandfather worked on them. I believe Ron was a 4th generation farrier.
Probably Ron Dyer never wrote down any of his stories, and probably no one ever tape-recorded them for him, either. Like so much of the history of the horseshoeing profession, it's just going away with him. Horseshoers wear their stories well. Maybe if he'd written his life down, no one would have believed it anyway.

Except those of us who knew Ron Dyer The Horseshoer.

and

If you have a favorite memory of Ron Dyer, click the comments button below and share it with the rest of us or email it to blog@hoofcare.com and I will post it for you.

 © 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 Hoofcare + Lameness on Twitter: @HoofcareJournal
 
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any direct compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned, other than Hoofcare Publishing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Videos: EHV Outbreak in West Means America's Pleasure and Show Horses Stay Home and Horse Professionals Get Re-Scheduled

Surely you're heard by now that a strange outbreak of Equine Herpes Virus Type 1 has sent horses in the western United States and Canada into near-lockdown situations. Horse shows, trail rides and rodeos are cancelled, even though the only horses truly at risk are a group of cutting and western performance horses who were on the grounds of a show in Utah in the first week in May. But how many horses did they come in contact with before the word reached them of the outbreak?

One unfortunate side effect of this outbreak is that many trainers and owners are cancelling appointments with veterinarians, farriers, massage therapists, horse haulers, tooth floaters--anyone and everyone who might touch their horses. The horse professionals may have time to mow their lawns, or they may head to the racetracks looking for a week or two of work until this blows over.

If you're one of the people affected by this, take heart. This has happened before. It will happen again. And it has happened on a much larger scale than this (probably) will ever be. Just ask the horse professionals in Great Britain who survived the foot and mouth disease shutdown of the entire countryside, or the Australians who lost months of work during the Equine Influenza quarantines there.

What did people share during those times, when and if they were allowed into a stable to do some work? People wore latex gloves while working, and changed them between horses. Some wore baseball caps, changed them often, and washed them every night. They definitely washed their hair daily and kept it short. Farriers figured out that their "sweet spot" was the middle of the back and shoulders, and that a horse's muzzle would touch there, or the back of the head, especially when pulling the foreleg forward on a hoofstand.

People learned that an experienced horse holder was worth his or her weight in gold and could keep a horse's muzzle and mouth off the farrier. The holder should wear latex gloves and change them between horses.

As far as equipment is concerned, there are arguments raging whether sterilizing farrier tools is futile or not--is it even possible to sterilize a rasp? The most important thing would probably be to never use the same chain lead on two horses as a lip or nose chain; each horse should have its own. Some farriers like to carry their own, but this might not be the time to pull one out from behind the seat of your truck.

A sterile farrier's apron would be quite a trick. A farrier might impress clients right now by showing up with a shiny clean new apron, even if you go back to your old one later on.

As always, we'd love to hear about your experiences and see your pictures. Let's make the best of this and learn something!

Here are a couple of videos that I thought were interesting and helpful. Dr Hooten mentions biosecurity for farriers and veterinarians in the first video.

Linda Parelli and Veterinarian Dwight Hooten Discuss EHV



I'm including this video because Dr. Hooten is a long-time friend of Hoofcare and Lameness and because he doesn't seem concerned about farriers being a big biosecurity risk during a virus outbreak.

Arizona: Al Dunning's Experience



Arizona trainer Al Dunning had his life turned upside down when he returned from the cutting show in Utah last week. This news interview on an Arizona television station gives some insight into what the virus can cost.


© 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 Hoofcare + Lameness on Twitter: @HoofcareJournal
 
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any direct compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned, other than Hoofcare Publishing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Kentucky Derby: Horseshoes (and a Horseshoer's Daughter) Ready to Run for the Roses

Here's the Kentucky Derby news you won't ready anywhere else. And the photos no one else would think to take. But by the time you've read this, you'll have to admit that it makes a good case for ESPN adding a hoof analyst for the Triple Crown. It's not just the shoes and hooves, either, as you'll read. It's the people.

Hoofcare and Lameness will be watching the Kentucky Derby from the comfort of home (darn it) this year but that didn't stop us from deputizing Dan Burke of Farrier Product Distribution in Shelbyville, Kentucky to snap a few backstretch photos for the blog this week.

Dan was at Churchill Downs to peek over the shoulders of the horseshoers and see if his Kerckhaert race plates were being nailed (or glued) on the stakes horses. It sounds like his trip to Louisville was not in vain; Plum Pretty (shod by Tom Doolan) and St Johns River (shod by Sonny Broaddus) finished 1-2 in the Kentucky Oaks today, wearing the European plates imported by FPD. By Dan's count, at least 9 of the 20 starters in the Derby will be wearing his shoes.

Mark Dewey was working on the hind end of Mucho Macho Man. You may remember that this horse, who is one of the people's favorites, pulled a shoe leaving the starting gate in his last race at The Fair Grounds in New Orleans. He ran the race on three shoes, swapped leads an awful lot, and still finished third. The gate crew returned the lost shoe, but trainer Kathy Ritvo opted for the glue-ons for Kentucky. (Dan Burke/FPD photo/ © Hoofcare Publishing)
Mark Dewey checks the fit of a Kerckhaert shoe on Mucho Macho Man's right hind. The New York Times says this horse is THE story of the Derby. Did you know he was born technically dead? I have never seen a medical explanation of what his problem was, but all his biographical materials remind us that his life is missing its first ten minutes. He only needs about two minutes to win the Kentucky Derby. Secretariat still holds the record for the fastest Derby at 1:59 2/5.  (Dan Burke/FPD photo/ © Hoofcare Publishing)
Last year's big winner in the Kentucky Derby was New York's Ray Amato.  Does this sound familiar? Trainer Todd Pletcher seemed headed for a Kentucky Derby win with the speedy Eskendereya. Pletcher had tried and failed to win the Derby with dozens of top colts. His horseshoer Ray Amato had been trying for half a century. He thought he had a winner when he shod Sham in 1973. In spite of scratching Eskendereya when he was injured right before last year's race, Todd and Ray ended up with their first Derby winner when Super Saver captured the win. Don't count them out of this year's race, either: Uncle Mo may be out, but Stay Thirsty is still in the race to keep hope alive for a Pletcher-Amato repeat. (Dan Burke/FPD photo/ © Hoofcare Publishing)
An intimate look at the horse with the name most fun to say: Arkansas Derby winner Archarcharch. These hands should belong to Teddy Fires, brother of the horse's trainer, Jinks Fires. This will be Jinks' first starter in the Derby, although he has been training horses at Churchill Downs since 1961. According to the Blood-Horse, there are three shoers in the Fires extended family, including Justin Court, who is the son of the horse's jockey, John Court, who is riding Archarcharch. And it's his first-ever Derby mount. And Jinks is his father-in-law. (Got that?) (Dan Burke/FPD photo/ © Hoofcare Publishing)

No go. Isabel Escobar holds Uncle Mo while he gets a bath on the mats during the week. The two-year-old champion was scratched Friday morning after a week of speculation. He kept galloping but was reported to be ill with a GI tract problem. I'll keep drinking Vitamin Water; the company was started by the colt's owner, Mike Repole.  (Jessica Chapel of Kentucky Confidential and Raceday360 photo / © Hoofcare Publishing)

Uncle Mo's reinforced right hind foot didn't even enter into the conversation of his scratch from the Derby; hoof repair is pretty commonplace these days. An artificial hoof wall has been constructed from the quarters to the heels on this hind foot and the shoe is nailed into the PMMA adhesive, which is structurally similar to hoof wall and will hold nails. (Jessica Chapel of Kentucky Confidential and Raceday360 photo / © Hoofcare Publishing)


Jockey Rosie Napravnik is the daughter of New Jersey horseshoer Charles Napravnik. She'll ride Pants on Fire, who is not trained by the Fires family. Rosie thrilled the world today when she rode St Johns River to a roaring second-place finish to almost catch Plum Pretty at the wire of the $1 Millions Kentucky Oaks. Maybe that was just a warmup for Saturday. Watch for Rosie on the television broadcast of the Derby. (Read all about her career, including being this year's leading rider at The Fair Grounds, on kentucky.com) (Kentucky.com photo)

Although we don't have any photos of him, partly because he just got here, I wouldn't mind if Ireland's Master of Hounds won, either; his hooves are under the watchful eye of Dr. Scott Morrison of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital's Podiatry Clinic and were probably most recently under the hammer of Rood and Riddle farrier Rodney King. Dr. Morrison also worked on three of the Derby starters as foals and yearlings. That gives him 20 percent of the race. 

There are people who think that the world of Hoofcare and Lameness is on the fringe of the horse world, that's it a niche. A specialty. A quirky aspect of the game. If ever there was a group of people more at the heart of the Kentucky Derby than the hands-on-the-horses people you've just met in this article, I'd be surprised.

Just try racing without them. The horses wouldn't get far and the backstretch would be a much less interesting place.

So we'd like Stay Thirsty to win for Ray and Mucho Macho Man to win for Kathy and Mark and to show off his glue-on shoes and ArchArchArch to win for everyone in the Fires family and Pants on Fire to win for Rosie Napravnik and her horseshoeing dad. And Master of Hounds for everyone in all of Ireland and the great people at Rood and Riddle. And those are just the horses I've heard about so far; there are plenty more horses in the race, and each one of them has someone (or more than one) watching out for its feet.

Look for Uncle Mo in the Preakness, maybe, or check him out this summer in Saratoga.

We'll have a whole new web of connections by the time we get there. The Derby is only one race; these people are out there making things happen every day.

Thanks to Dan Burke and Jessica Chapel for their great photos from Churchill Downs. Please respect their loan of these photos.

© 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 Hoofcare + Lameness on Twitter: @HoofcareJournal
Read this blog's headlines and read special Facebook-only news and links when you "like" the Hoofcare + Lameness Facebook Page
 
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any direct compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned, other than Hoofcare Publishing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.