Sunday, July 30, 2006

It's Saratoga Time!

My fingers are itching to flip the calendar over to August, because that will mean it is time to head to Saratoga, where Hoofcare & Lameness will have a satellite office this summer.

Be sure to let me know if you will be in Saratoga, and let's get together.

Plans are for a series of Tuesday night gatherings in the out-back function room at The Parting, a favorite traditional Irish restaurant and pub on Lake Avenue, just a block off Broadway.

Here's the schedule:
8 August--"New Product Night"--lots of samples and information on new products from our advertisers, or just come and say hello! We'll have plenty to talk about!

15 August--Come by after the dedication of the farriers memorial at the Oklahoma track; later in the evening, a wonderful presentation on new laminitis research for prevention, causes and treatment by Dr Don Walsh of Pacific Equine Hospital and the Animal Health Foundation. He raises the funds for Dr Chris Pollitt, Katy Watts, Phil Johnson and other leading researchers.

22 August--"Make history, not horseshoes". This is a marathon event; daytime events a few miles away at the Burden Iron Works in Troy, site of the world's largest horseshoe factory back at the turn of the century. I will post more about that event. In the evening, come by the office at the Parting Glass and meet Ada Gates, the first woman to be licensed as a farrier on a USA racetrack. She now owns Harry Patton Horseshoeing Supplies in Los Angeles and guess what! Her great grandfather was Henry Burden, of Burden Iron Works fame. This evening fun is sponsored by Life Data Labs, who helped us launch the Tuesday evening sessions last year.

What to expect: This is one Saratoga night out where you won't need a black tie, a designer dress, or big wads of cash. You can help me post to this blog, maybe, or show me photos of your boat or your horse or your latest work project. Meet some other people, see some new things, maybe have a laugh. I travel a lot in the winter and see people at trade shows and events, but these Tuesday nights are a chance to slow down and just enjoy your company!

The phone number for the satellite office in Saratoga is . Look for me in the morning on the backside or check our ad in The Saratoga Special. I'll be the one taking photos of feet. I will also post updates on this blog.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Slaughter Prohibition Update: Veterinarian Patty Hogan Testifies to Congress

Things are wrapping up in the US House of Representatives today, as the final testimonies have finished in the controversial equine slaughter prohibition legislation, a.k.a. HR Bill 503, which seeks to prohibit the commercial slaughter of horses in the United States. In spite of a huge groundswell of public support, donations, and even heartfelt efforts from individuals in the horse breeding community, this legislation seems doomed. The House Agriculture Committee failed to recommend it, and now it looks like two different versions of the bill are circulating.
Can this bill make it with the opposition of the AVMA, AAEP, and AQHA? Don't bet on it. 

One of the few bright spots in it all was the eloquent testimony of Dr Patty Hogan of New Jersey Equine, at Tuesday's House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing. She pointed out many of the ambiguities surrounding this issue.

Those speaking out this week against the bill, which is expected to come up for a vote in the full House in September, were Dr. Bonnie Beaver (president of the AVMA), Dr. Doug Corey (president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners) and Dick Koehler (vice president of Beltex, one of three U.S. equine slaughter plants).

Koehler cited issues of private property rights as they pertain to horse owners, "It is a matter of choice," he said. "If you wish to do that with your horse, I believe you should have the right to do that." (It's not clear if he is a horse owner himself or not.)

Two of the veterinarians differed in their perspective on the humaneness or lack thereof in the slaughter process or whether it would curtail the prevalence of horses being slaughtered for meat. "By banning slaughter in the U.S., it will not stop slaughter," said Dr. Doug Corey. "It won't stop a Ferdinand [a former Thoroughbred champion believed slaughtered for meat in Japan after being there as a stud]. I would prefer to have these horses processed in the United States where there are regulations."

Dr. Hogan cited, "confusion regarding humane euthanasia and horse slaughter. We must remember these are two distinctly different processes. Horse slaughter is not euthanasia by anyone's definition. ... Horse slaughter uses a method called the captive bolt which involves aiming a bolt gun at the forehead of a partially-restrained horse in what is commonly termed the ‘kill-pen.’ ...There is a great deal of room for human and technical error with the captive bolt method and the recommendation for 'adequate restraint' is loosely defined and open for interpretation.”

Material for this post was aided by input from Harness Racing Communications, a division of the United States Trotting Association.

To learn more about Dr. Patty Hogan and her work as an equine surgeon, visit the New Jersey Equine Center home page at; some of you may remember her as the surgeon who worked on Smarty Jones and Afleet Alex, two leading US Thoroughbreds.

Hoof Blog is a news service provided by Hoofcare & Lameness, Journal of Equine Foot Science.

Note: this blog is an interactive web page. By clicking on the envelope icon at the bottom of an article, you can instantly email that article to a friend. By clicking on the word “comment” after a post, you can leave a message, which may be viewed by future blog readers who click on the same “comment”. Commenting may require registering with You may also comment by emailing the author, Fran Jurga, at and your comment will be posted for you, technology willing.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Barbaro Update: Cast changes and sling-dom

Here's the latest from New Bolton Center: "Monday afternoon we changed his right hind leg cast to take new radiographs and to examine the incision,” said Dr. Richardson. “The radiographs looked good; the plates we placed on July 8 to fuse the pastern are intact and the fetlock fusion is unchanged. The leg and the incision looked as good as we could have hoped.”

The right hind leg cast supports the repair of the injury suffered at the Preakness on May 20, and it extends from the colt’s foot to just below his hock.

The modified foot cast, which acts like a bandage on Barbaro’s left hind foot, was also changed yesterday. The foot cast is rigid and provides stability and support, but will be changed often so that the hoof can be treated. Both cast changes were performed with Barbaro lightly sedated in a sling. He has adapted very well to being managed as needed in the sling. “He is a very intelligent horse,” said Dr. Richardson.

“He spends several hours a day in a sling, which he has adapted to very well,” said Dr. Richardson.

Slings, which were originally designed for rescuing horses, are now common in the treatment of horses with conditions that include neurological problems or musculo-skeletal injuries. They have been in use for many years for long-term management of a horse’s movement. “We have a lot of experience in using slings for equine support,” said Dr. Richardson. “In Barbaro’s case, it is a part-time aid that we use to increase his comfort level.”

News provided by University of Pennsylvania Large Animal Hospital at New Bolton Center. Hoofblog is a news service provided by Hoofcare & Lameness, Journal of Equine Foot Science. Visit for lots more in-depth articles and information about the care/prevention of lameness in horses. Reference books, videos, and dvds are sold at that site. Please subscribe to our award-winning journal at our "summer special" price: 4 issues $59, 8 issues $99. For more information, write to Hoofcare, PO Box 6600, Gloucester MA 01930; tel 978 281 3222; email
All posts and photos protected by copyright 2006 Hoofcare Publishing--Fran Jurga, Publisher

Monday, July 17, 2006

Barbaro Update, Comment on Foot Cast

KENNETT SQUARE, PA —­ Chief of Surgery Dean Richardson reports today that Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro’s vital signs are good and that he had another quiet, restful night. “He remains in stable condition, and he is eating well,” said Dr. Richardson. “We continue to manage his pain successfully, and he is alert.”

Barbaro is tolerating his right hind leg cast well; this cast supports the repair of the injury suffered at the Preakness on May 20. To treat a severe case of laminitis in the colt’s left rear hoof, last week Dr. Richardson and his surgical team performed a hoof wall resection that removed 80 percent of the hoof. Doctors then applied a modified fiberglass foot cast to protect the hoof; this foot cast will be changed as needed so that the hoof can be treated and watched for signs of infection. The foot cast is rigid and provides greater stability and support than a bandage.

“It is important for people to understand that this is not a ‘routine’ laminitis. The care involved in treating a hoof with this degree of compromise is complex,” said Dr. Richardson.

(17 July update from New Bolton Center)

News provided by University of Pennsylvania Large Animal Hospital at New Bolton Center. 

All posts and photos protected by copyright 2006 Hoofcare Publishing--Fran Jurga, Publisher

Another Strasser Trimmer Charged with Cruelty in the UK

Portions of this text appeared in the British horse magazine, Horse & Hound:

An English woman has appeared in British court accused of causing unnecessary suffering to a pony by using the Strasser barefoot method of hoofcare.

In her trial, the trimmer denied two charges of causing suffering to "Brambles" between 3 June and 20 July 2004.

Brambles came into the trimmer's care in January 2004 after the previous owner could do nothing more to treat her laminitis. The pony was seized by the RSPCA on 20 July 2004 when she was found with "mutilated" hooves, walking with crossed legs and barely able to move.

The court heard how the trimmer had undergone training in the Strasser technique and had kept horses for about 35 years.

The prosecutor told the court the soles of Brambles' hooves had been trimmed away too thinly.

"The bone had rotated within the foot to an abnormal angle, so it protruded into the sole," he said, adding that there were abscesses present in the hoof and that a farrier had described it as the worst case of lameness he had ever seen.

Brambles was taken into the care of the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH), but despite five months of intensive care, was put down after failing to respond.

Counsel for the defendant said the defendant "wanted to give the pony a chance using the Strasser technique because it was clear conventional treatment had not worked."

Mr Vass admitted a vet was not called to treat Brambles, but stressed that the pony was well-fed, well-housed and given the freedom to roam.

He added: "With the benefit of hindsight, (she) may have taken on slightly more than she could handle."

The prosecutor said: "We are not suggesting (she) was deliberately trying to hurt this pony, but her treatment was the incorrect treatment for the pony and caused her to suffer additional pain."

He said the Strasser method was the "inappropriate method of treatment", and had "resulted in mutilation and caused extreme pain".

The verdict will be given on 26 July.

Editor's note: Horse and Hound is the weekly newsmagazine of the horse world in Great Britain and often works together with Hoofcare & Lameness.

This is the second prosecution of a Strasser trimmer involved in a laminitis case to be tried in recent months. Previously, a trimmer was found guilty of cruelty and Dr. Strasser testified at the trial. In that case, charges directly related to the trimming were not found but the trimmer was found guilty for not seeking veterinary care for the horse.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Barbaro: the other point of view

I feel obliged to post about Barbaro; after all, he is the poster child for what we all do to help horses. It's also pretty darn interesting if you scroll down this page and watch the disaster story unfurl.

Not everyone agrees. Check out this scathing editorial on over-Barbarozation:

I apologize for the sheer number of posts, but this blog will stand as a record for anyone who wants to be able to document anything about Barbaro in the future, which is also why I post what New Bolton Center provides me, unless stated otherwise, such as direct communication with Rob Sigafoos, the chief of farrier services at New Bolton.

Unlike most of you, and certainly unlike the SportsFan guy, I don't have an opinion about this case, just a lot of hope that everything reflects positively on the vet and farrier and equine health professions and that we all learn something from this horse and his high-profile struggle.

I'm not there and neither are you. All I can do is believe that they can and will do everything they can and I am sure that they are in consult with experts around the world.

Many people have asked why Chris Pollitt's cryotherapy was not used. Well, we don't know that it wasn't! Pollitt has published a paper in which he induced laminitis; one leg was placed in a deep ice boot and the other left in ambient temperature. The cold leg did not contract laminitis.

However, that was "traditional" laminitis, i.e. carbohydrate-induced, not support limb overload laminitis.

And here's a special detail for all you nay-sayers and doubting Thomases out there: Pollitt's co-author on the cryotherapy paper and former student is now a resident at New Bolton. So, they have cryotherapy expertise right on staff, had it been pertinent to the case.

I also hope that somehow more money will go to laminitis research. Please visit these web sites to learn more about how you can help with laminitis research:


Friday, July 14, 2006

How's Barbaro Today?

July 14, 2006 , 4:00 p.m., Eastern Time

KENNETT SQUARE, PA — Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro remains in stable condition according to his veterinarians at the George D. Widener Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania. “His vital signs, including heart rate and pulse, remain good,” said Dr. Dean Richardson, Chief of Surgery. “We are treating his laminitis aggressively and he continues to respond well and is acceptably comfortable.”

“As I said at the press conference on Thursday, we monitor his condition very closely because signs can change quickly,” said Dr. Richardson. “However, it’s important to remember that Barbaro’s treatment could easily continue for several weeks, and if all goes well, even months. Our goal is to keep him as comfortable as possible, and clearly that comfort level will be a major indicator for our treatment decisions.” Dr. Richardson also emphasized that Barbaro, as evident in the footage and still photos, has a very positive attitude.

Editor's Note: This is an extract from an official statement from New Bolton Center.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

It's Official: Barbaro Has Laminitis

It seemed like such a fairy tale that the Kentucky Derby winner could waltz through recovery from his broken leg without complications. A press conference was held this morning; you can view a video of it at

He is now face to face with severe laminitis and has had 80 percent of his hoof wall removed, according to the surgeon. No news on whether he "sank" or "rotated" but I am sure those details will be forthcoming.

Cross all your fingers and toes, and wish upon a star. This horse will need all the help he can get.

I'll try to keep everyone posted, but this is distressing. It's easy to second guess what is going on and what has been tried, but no one really knows. I am sure they are doing all they can and have the horse's best interests at heart. I'm also sure that ethical guidelines for pain and suffering will be observed, although it doesn't sound like the horse is suffering much at present.

Let's give him--and them--a chance!

Billy Crothers World Champion (Again) at Calgary Stampede

This just in from the Calgary Stampede web site: Billy Crothers of Wales is world champion again for the fourth or fifth time, I am not sure which. Stephen Beane of England was second and Jim Quick of the USA was third.
Scroll down to read an article about Billy's wife, Lucy Diamond, successfully competing at Badminton Horse Trials back in May. They're on a roll! Billy and Stephen were also 1-2 in the shoeing competition.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

12 July Barbaro Update

KENNETT SQUARE, PA —­ Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro is continuing to rest comfortably today according to Dr. Dean Richardson, Chief of Surgery. “As we said yesterday, Barbaro’s condition is potentially serious, and we are aggressively seeking all treatment options,” he said. “Today we will focus on further diagnostics and keeping our patient comfortable.” Barbaro is being treated for fractures received at the Preakness on May 20 as well as discomfort in his left hind foot.

“He’s facing tough odds and his condition is guarded,” said Dr. Richardson. “Our entire staff is determined to do all they can for this magnificent horse.” All decisions are being made in constant consultation with the owners, who continue to be only interested in his comfort.

Barbaro remains in the Intensive Care Unit of the George D. Widener Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Barbaro Report for 11 July: Resting comfortably after sixth cast applied

Direct from New Bolton Center, this report:

Dr. Dean Richardson, Chief of Surgery, reports today that Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro is resting comfortably after receiving his sixth cast yesterday since his accident at the Preakness on May 20. “Barbaro is eating well and resting in his stall,” said Dr. Richardson, who also treated the colt for an abscess in his left hind foot.

“He’s tolerating the new cast well,” said Dr. Richardson. “We have changed his left hind foot bandage and that looks improved. His vital signs remain stable and his attitude and appetite remain excellent.”

Calgary Update: Sketchy Details

File this under unofficial results from the Calgary Stampede World Championship Blacksmiths competition which moved into its final day Sunday. It sounds like Billy Crothers, representing Wales, won the "live shoeing" event on Saturday (or was it Sunday? it is hard to tell from the information provided) with Steven Beane, representing England, second. They then moved on to the finals. Stay tuned for more sketchy news from Calgary!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Cast #6 for Barbaro on Monday

July 10, 2006

News report verbatim for New Bolton Center: After evaluating Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro this morning, Dr. Dean Richardson, Chief of Surgery, replaced the cast on the colt’s injured hind leg for a sixth time. “The long leg cast was replaced with a short leg cast this morning. This was done with Barbaro in a sling and only under mild sedation,” said Dr. Richardson. “The long cast was used as extra support during the anesthetic recovery phase. It is much easier for him to move around his stall and get up and down with a short cast. We also found and treated an abscess in his left hind foot that was bothering him.”

Barbaro spent a comfortable night and is eating well after surgery to stabilize the pastern joint this weekend. “We’re continuing his pain medication, antibiotics and other supportive care,” said Dr. Richardson. “He appears more comfortable today and has had a normal temperature, heart rate and overall attitude.”

Barbaro continues to be monitored closely in the Intensive Care Unit of the George D. Widener Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center.

Hoofblog note: Several readers said they have had trouble finding New Bolton Center on the map. That's because it is in the town of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, about an hour outside Philadelphia. NBC is the name given to the large-animal complex of hospitals and research centers, which act as a sort of field station for the University of Pennsylvania's vet school, which is located in downtown Philadelphia.

Barbaro: Pastern Joint Infection, more surgery this weekend

The latest from New Bolton Center, direct transcript provided by the hospital:

Veterinarians treat Barbaro for infection, replace plate and screws in injured leg

July 9, 2006

KENNETT SQUARE, PA – Late Saturday, July 8, Dr. Dean Richardson, Chief of Surgery, replaced the plate and many of the screws that had been inserted into Barbaro’s injured hind leg on May 21. “Barbaro had developed some discomfort and a consistently elevated temperature so we believed it was in his best interest to remove the hardware and thoroughly clean the site of the infection,” said Dr. Richardson. “We also applied a longer cast on that leg for additional support.”

While the main fracture is healing well, the pastern joint that doctors are attempting to fuse continues to be the area of concern. This joint was stabilized with new implants and a fresh bone graft.

“The recovery process from anesthesia took longer with this surgery, but Barbaro is now back in his stall in the Intensive Care Unit,” said Dr. Richardson. “He is receiving pain medication, antibiotics and other supportive care.”

Barbaro continues to be monitored closely in the Intensive Care Unit of the George D. Widener Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center. Dr. Richardson emphasized that the complications are potentially serious. Both Barbaro’s owners and trainer continue to visit him at least twice daily.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Barbaro's Good-Foot Abscess is No Big Deal, Says Farrier Rob Sigafoos

Ok, everyone calm down. All the gloom-and-doom types out there are predicting that Barbaro is crashing with laminitis in his good foot. We went straight to the source.

New Bolton Center Chief of Farrier Services Rob Sigafoos reports that the horse does have a minor abscess near the tip of the frog which, to quote Rob, "Could (and does) happen to any horse." Accordingly, Rob "just put the same type of shoe back on and treated the abscess." He did not mention that he put a drain in, and I think he would have commented on that if he had done it.

Stay tuned...

Another Conference on the Equine Spine...

I don't know about you, but I think the surge of interest (and research) on the horse's spine is fascinating. I want to soak it all up. The conference in Newmarket, England in October is featured in this blog if you scroll further down the page, and now I find out about another to be held in The Netherlands in September.

This one is an eight-day course and includes speakers like Willem Back, Kevin Haussler, Jean-Marie Denoix, and some new Dutch and Belgian names that I would like to get to know. Learn more here:

Nothing to do with lameness, but...

Here's a nice story from the World Paint Championships, about a halter horse that was missing for three months after Hurricane Katrina but was finally reunited with his owner, just as vets were about to put him down because of his injuries. His owner was an emergency room nurse in New Orleans who did not leave her post when the storm hit. She never gave up looking for him; the vets ID'd the gelding by microchip. From today's Fort Worth Telegram.

(Those of you who know me, know I am not usually so sentimental but some of the Katrina stories really get to me.) Click on the colored-type link in the opening sentence to read the story.

More info from AAEP on foot-related presentations

Scroll down in this blog for lecture topics on the foot at the upcoming AAEP 2006 Convention in San Antonio, Texas in December, which will feature a farriers-only seminar.

Meanwhile, Dr. Steve O'Grady has updated the speaker/topic list with info on the "table topics"; these are 90-minute lunchtime discussions.

Barefoot vs. shod, Dan Marks and Steve O'Grady
Foot lameness, Kent Carter and Tracy Turner
Hoof wall cracks and defect repair techniques, Bill Moyer and Rob Sigafoos
Therapeutic shoeing, Scott Morrison and Steve O'Grady
Managing acute and chronic laminitis, Rustin Moore and Andy Parks

Save me a seat! (That's sort of a joke, since the table topics are usually "Standing Room Only", and I am sure that will be the case this year.) I am intrigued by the choice of USET jumper vet (and former jumper rider) Dr. Danny Marks for the barefoot topic. He is an astute observerer of the horse and functional biomechanics and should have something interesting to say. He's never let me down...

For more about the convention, please visit for foot-related news, or go directly to the AAEP site, where registration information should be available soon.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Barbaro 7/7/06 Update: Another New Cast, Abscess in Good Foot

I am posting information as it was provided last night by New Bolton Center.
Fran Jurga, HoofBlog editor

July 6, 2006

KENNETT SQUARE, PA – On Wednesday, July 5, Dr. Dean Richardson, Chief of Surgery, replaced the cast on Barbaro that he had received on Monday, July 3. “Barbaro was not comfortable with the second cast, so we decided it would be best to replace it sooner rather than later,” said Dr. Richardson. “His appetite is healthy, and we are continuing to monitor him closely for an elevated temperature or other signs of discomfort.”

New Bolton Center continues to receive requests for additional information on Barbaro’s condition. Below are some of the most recent questions asked with responses from his medical team.

Q. Why was Barbaro’s cast changed again?
A. For several days before the second cast change, Barbaro showed a slight elevation in body temperature and his hind legs appeared uncomfortable, which led to Dr. Dean Richardson’s decision to reassess the leg and then change the cast. He was still not as comfortable as he had been so a new cast was applied on Wednesday.

Q. Why were two screws replaced and three new ones added?
A. Two previously implanted screws that cross the pastern joint were bent, so Dr. Richardson, who had predicted that bent screws in that area were likely, replaced them and added three new screws for additional support. Barbaro has been very active on his cast, and the repairs were needed as a result of force and motion in the affected area. The screws are bridging the pastern joint. They are not part of the repair of the primary fractures. The pastern joint needed to be fused because the proximal phalanx (long pastern bone) was so badly broken that the middle phalanx (short pastern bone) was needed to anchor the distal (lowest) part of the plate.

Q. What do the radiographs show about how well Barbaro is healing?
A. Barbaro's new radiographs show excellent progressive bone healing, a very positive sign.

Q. Were the repairs considered major surgery?
A. Barbaro was put under general anesthesia for the procedure. The repairs themselves were made under fluoroscopic control, which gives surgeons a live-X-ray view of the patient. This means that small one-centimeter incisions were made rather than any large incision.

Q. Did Barbaro have an abscess on his foot?
A. During the examination, doctors found a small infection on the sole of Barbaro’s uninjured left hind hoof near the frog, a V-shaped cushiony growth that helps absorb shock. Dr. Richardson is treating the infection topically; in addition, Barbaro is on systemic antibiotics, which is common post-surgical practice. He also has a new protective shoe.

Q. What is laminitis and what are you doing to prevent it in Barbaro?
A. Laminitis is a painful condition in horses that can be the result of a number of causes, including excessive weight bearing in one limb. It occurs when laminae, the strong connecting tissues that attach the pedal bone and the inner hoof wall, are inflamed. Laminitis is very serious and can result in severe consequences. To reduce this risk, we applied a supportive shoe to Barbaro's left hind foot immediately following the surgery for the fracture of his right hind leg.

Q. How long will Barbaro have to stay in a cast?
A. Barbaro will remain in a cast until we believe that the fracture and joint fusions have developed adequate strength.

Q. How long will Barbaro remain in Intensive Care?
A. Barbaro will remain in the Intensive Care Unit at the George D. Widener Hospital as long as necessary. Even though he is progressing well and has not had major complications, he is not out of danger. Even if things progressed perfectly from this point forward, it is likely that he would be here two more months.

Photos by Sabina Louise Pierce/University of Pennsylvania (except where noted). All rights reserved.