Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Gait Analysis: Check out this frame...no this one...did you see that?

There is no question that British-based software from Equinalysis has opened people's eyes to looking at horse's loading patterns for clues to lameness or performance problems.

"Landing vs. loading" is the new "static vs dynamic" debate among farriers. And the new software is being used by both camps to pile up the evidence.

Now high speed video is entering the arena...literally, in some cases. Hunter stride kinetics, Thoroughbred stride length, and out of the gate collection can now be looked at under a (very expensive) microscope.

Watch Hoofcare & Lameness and hoofcare.com for new developments in this area, along with important new research from Europe on the inconsistency of stride characteristics in high level performance horses.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

UK Fox Hunting Ban Will Cripple Livelihood of Farriers; Association Seeks Compensation from Government

save foxhunting British politics poster

Britain’s landed gentry may be inconvenienced and incensed by the recent Parliamentary ban on foxhunting, but the spotlight for fighting the ban shifted recently from lords and ladies and even from hounds and the fox.

The true victims of the hunting ban, according to recent studies published in England, are rural farriers who depend on income from shoeing hunters to make it through the winter. And their national trade association intends to do something about it.

A crisis meeting of the National Association of Farriers, Blacksmiths and Agricultural Engineers (NAFBAE) in December launched a course for the association to pursue in defense of its members and their livelihood.

“I have written to the Prime Minister…my letter served formal notice of NAFBAE’s intention to lodge a formal claim on behalf of its members once accurate quantifiable losses have been ascertained,” wrote NAFBAE President Les Armstrong to his members in February.

Armstrong noted that precedent for his action was government compensation to gun shop owners and dealers following a national ban on hand guns in the past.

“I suspect the government may be liable for constructive dismissive claims by farriers who are forcibly made redundant (unemployed),” he continued.

Armstrong attended the 2005 American Farrier’s Association Convention in Chattanooga, Tennessee in February, and beseeched farriers there to unite and work for and with their horse-related economic and professional partners. “Don’t let what has happened to us happen here,” he pleaded.

The ever-efficient Britons report that there are 65,000 horses used exclusively for foxhunting in the UK, with another 65,000 used for hunting and other sports, plus 100,000 horses that occasionally follow hounds. The nation’s 2200 registered farriers shoe hunters every four weeks at an average cost of $80.

For the average farrier, a ban on traditional foxhunting means a loss of 25 to 35 per cent of annual income. While some hunts might convert to drag or follow bloodhounds, those sports put less demand on horses and require less frequent and less tactical methods of shoeing.

According to NAFBAE’s projections, lowered demand for shoeing will mean that 17 fewer apprentices per year will be needed to enter the slackened trade, and that the hardest effects will fall on young farriers leaving apprenticeships to start their own businesses; NAFBAE projects that 17 farriers working as employees for larger firms.will lose their jobs.

Also addressing the NAFBAE membership in December was Miles Williamson-Noble, Registrar of the Farriers Registration Council (UK), who discussed the possible legal “aiding and abetting” ramifications of farriers shoeing horses as if for traditional pursuit of the fox with hounds.

An added irony of the government ban on hunting is that the government also funds the training of farrier apprentices.

The FRC’s report on hunting suggests that many farriers will need to re-locate away from rural areas dependent on hunting as a base for the local horse economy.

The poster child of the overthrow-the-ban campaign is not the upper class British horseman, but an outspoken farrier’s wife, Mair Hughes, who was one of three plaintiffs in a high-profile lawsuit against the government; they complained that the foxhunting ban’s pressured passage by Labor party members violated the Parliamentary Act.

When the lawsuit failed, the loss of income to farriers took center stage, along with a challenge to the European Union’s Court of Human Rights, where the decimation of the British rural way of life will be charged as a means to force Parliament to reverse the ban.

Added to the lost income to farriers is the trickle down effects on horseshoe retailers and manufacturers and other horse-related professional service providers such as saddlers, grooms, feed and hay dealers, and veterinarians.

--Fran Jurga

Thursday, May 26, 2005

American Farrier's Association Dissolves Education/Regulation Task Force and Begins Assembling a New Task Force

This message is from Bryan Quinsey, executive director of the American Farrier's Association and was received at our office on 26 May 2005:

Earlier this week AFA President Craig Trnka made a decision to thank the Farrier Education/Registration Task Force for their work. He and the Executive Committee feel that they have accomplished their mission. They have researched the issue, filed a report with the Board of Directors, and made recommendations for the adoption of resolutions. The Board has accepted their report and approved three of their resolutions. Letters of appreciation will be sent to Walt Taylor, CF (Chairman); Gene Armstrong, CJF; Mike Miller, MD, CJF, AWCF; Mitch Taylor, CJF; and Tom Wolfe, CJF.

Again, in accordance with the AFA bylaws, Craig has elected to name a new Task Force to follow through on the decision of the Board to create and implement the survey of the farrier schools. We are currently seeking out members AND non-members to serve on this new Task Force. A number of farriers have already indicated their willingness to serve, but we want to be as inclusive as possible. Here’s your chance to serve your association and the farrier industry. The Chairman of this new Task Force has not yet been named. If you or someone you know would like to serve on the Task Force please contact me directly.

We are extending this invitation to serve to the BWFA, Guild of Professional Farriers, and others.

For more information, please visit www.americanfarriers.org

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

American Farriers Association Posts Update on Regulatory Campaign and Farrier Education

The American Farrier's Association published a blast of documents today on its members' web site, www.americanfarriers.org, and AFA Executive Director Bryan Quinsey "went public" in a forum on the web site www.horseshoes.com, where he candidly discussed the recent controversy between the AFA and a vocal group of offended members.

At the same time, the AFA published the first edition of a new members-only newsletter, No Foot No Horse, which will be published from the AFA's Kentucky office. According to the newsletter, the AFA's once-secret task force on farrier regulation and education has been disbanded, and a new group is being formed with the sole function of studying farrier education in the United States.

The news came as a great relief to many AFA members who were confused about the AFA's new direction and political agenda and felt that they had not been informed of major policy initiatives by the executive board.

Unfortunately, rumors are flying through the farrier world and even in the horse industry that farrier licensing is an imminent threat to the profession in the United States and that the AFA has betrayed its members, many of whom joined the AFA because they felt it offered an alternative to external governance of the trade and would act as an advocate. Other members would like to see licensing become a reality.

All farriers say that they want full disclosure from the AFA on this important matter that affects their livelihoods. Today's steps by the AFA are hopefully the first of many in that direction.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Doug Butler Speaks Out on Farrier Regulation and Education "Crisis"

Dr. Doug Butler, farrier

18 May 2005

Doug Butler, author of the leading textbook on farrier science in the world, has spoken out on the subject of a perceived "crisis" in the way that farriers are educated in the United States.

Working with Hoofcare & Lameness editor Fran Jurga, Dr Butler has written a short statement on farrier regulation, which was the hot button item on the agenda of the American Farrier's Association at their recent convention in Tennessee in February.

Dr Butler has also written a longer statement on overall farrier education, which he has been intimately involved in for decades. His book is used in the classroom or recommended as an external reference at most US farrier schools.

In addition, Dr Butler has traveled to and been tested under both free enterprise and government-regulated farrier systems.

Dr. Butler's statement on farrier regulation:

"American farriers have been the envy of the world because of their freedom to practice the craft without political interference and their ability to obtain a high standard of living.

"Granted, our standard of practice should be higher. This will be changed only when we attract and convert more dedicated craftsmen with the desire and integrity to adhere to high standards – not by legislating curriculums.

"The call for regulation is the obsession of a few manipulators who favor bureaucratic control as a solution for all of life’s injustices. Those of us who have practiced and taught the trade for several decades have seen that politically-administered control in the hands of a few is not wise."

--Doug Butler (AFA) CJF PhD FWCF

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Jumper Circuit Farriers Endorse Sore No More's "Sauce"

International Farrier Service farriers Joe and Sandy Johnson of Wellington, Florida went on record recently, providing a testimonial to Equilite about their experience with what farriers call "herbal sugardine", also known as "The Sauce", made with Sore No More liniment as a base. The Johnsons were in good company; at the same time, Sore No More was endorsed by Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo. "The Sauce" was developed by racetrack farriers at Belmont Park in New York who asked Equilite to start bottling it for them.

Giacomo Gets a Sore No More Rub-Down for the Roses

Congratulations to Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo and all his connections. Happily, this year's Derby champion counted one of our advertisers among his connections...it seems his trainers use Sore No More, the arnica-based herbal liniment that seems to pop up everywhere we go on the racing and show circuits. Great news for our pal, Stacey Small, who developed Sore No More and owns Equilite, the parent company.

What about his feet? We hear that he was wearing Thoro'Bred race plates--can anyone out there confirm this?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Alternative Farrier Schools Ready to Open in USA

So, you want to be a farrier! Great, but could you summarize your philosophical view of hoofcare for me before I recommend a school?

Matching potential farriers to farrier schools became a lot harder--or maybe easier--recently when two new schools announcedp plans to open this summer.

The Academy of Hoof Technology in Lexington, Kentucky will be a branch of a successful school already operating in Germany. Run by Alexander Wurthmann, the school teaches "alternative" farriery, and advocates barefoot trimming, plastic shoes, and hoof boots.

Meanwhile, in Plymouth, New Hampshire, the Bridge Gap Farrier School will be launched at a facility that will include a "founder farm" recovery center for laminitic horses. The school also will run seminars for horse owners. Robert Bowker, VMD, PhD and foam-support enthusiast Tommy Lee Osha will be part of the instruction team.

We hope to have more information about both schools' actual offerings soon.