Sunday, February 25, 2007

Kentucky Farrier Errol Bradford Has Died

Longtime Kentucky farrier Errol Bradford died Tuesday after a six-month battle with cancer. He was 69.

Bradford was born in Ohio, but as a young man, he traveled west to work as a cowboy for the TS Ranch in Battle Mountain, Nevada. He was 19 when he joined the International Professional Rodeo Association and for six years competed in bull riding and saddle bronc events. At the end of those six years, Bradford had completed his apprenticeship as a farrier and began a 45-year-long career that would take him to some of the top barns in both Thoroughbred racing and the world of equestrian events.

In the racing industry, Bradford's clientele included Belmont S. (G1) victor Sarava, Grade 1 queen Gorella (Fr), Grape Tree Road [GB]) and multiple Grade 1 hero Harlan's Holiday. He also worked on such United States Equestrian Federation stars as the world-ranked Grand Prix jumper Charmed as well as Enchanted and Renaissance, both Horse of the Year in equestrian disciplines, for the Dillard family.

Bradford is survived by his wife, Sissy; their nine-year-daughter, Cora; and a son and two daughters from a previous marriage. A memorial fund has been established to provide educational assistance to Cora and the family asks in lieu of flowers that donations be made to the fund.

Family and friends will gather for a memorial service at The Barn in Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, next Tuesday from 4-7 p.m. (EST). As per his wishes, Bradford's ashes will be scattered at Turfway Park, Keeneland and River Downs. The Turfway ceremony will be held March 1 before the 1st race.

Editor's note: Open the "comments" section of this post to read a message from well-know Thoroughbred trainer Kenny McPeek's thoughts on Errol. Any other friends of Errol's are welcome to post here as well; just click on the word "comments" at the bottom of this post and you can type in the box to leave your thoughts.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Michael Wildenstein: "I am leaving Cornell"

Here's a post I never thought I would write.

Michael Wildenstein FWCF (Hons), resident farrier at Cornell University's Large Animal Hospital, confirmed to me yesterday that he has submitted his resignation to the prestigious university's administration.

Wildenstein has been with Cornell for more than 15 years, during which time he has built the farrier course into a world-famous center for both new farriers and experienced vets and farriers who come to Cornell for week or month long residencies in farriery.

In addition to teaching farriery, Wildenstein serves at the resident farrier for lameness cases, surgery cases, and referral shoeing patients from all over the Northeast. He also teaches veterinary students about farriery and the hoof and represents Cornell by lecturing and demonstrating at conferences around the world.

"The phone is ringing, the word got out very quickly," said Wildenstein, who has reportedly received more than one job offer already this week. He plans to leave Cornell at the end of the current semester, and said that his current class of farrier students is a great group.

He did not rule out returning to Cornell in the future, although perhaps with some amendment of his current three-jobs-in-one position.

One of only a handful of farriers worldwide holding the distinction of Fellow of the Worshipful Company of Farriers with Honors, Wildenstein formerly lived in Europe and shod horses there.

Photo of Mike and Petey courtesy of Lexy Roberts.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Worshipful Company of Farriers Announces Hoof Trimming Conference

Crest of the Worshipful Company of Farriers"Trimming For Soundness" will be the title of a conference launched today by the Worshipful Company of Farriers in Great Britain. The conference will be held on April 26, 2007 at The Royal Showground, in Stoneleigh, near Coventry, Warwickshire and will presumably be open to all professionals involved in servicing the equine foot.

The preliminary program includes these speakers and topics:

"Introduction" Carl Bettison AWCF (Hons), Chairman, WCF Craft Committee

"Understanding Hoof Horn" John Reilly BSc(Hons) BVSc PhD MRCVS

"Anatomy & Function of the Hoof Relative to Trimming" Chris Colles BvetMed PhD HonFWCF MRCVS

"The Role of the Digital Cushion & Lateral Cartilages" Matthew Jackson Dip WCF UKNHCP AP FI

"Achieving Performance without Shoes" Sarah Braithwaite AANHCP CP FI UKNHCP FI

"Training the Thoroughbred Barefoot" Simon Earle Racehorse Trainer

"Trimming The Donkey Colin" Goldsworthy RSS The Donkey Sanctuary

"Paddock Paradise" Nicola Barker AANHCP FI UKNHCP CP FI

"Trimming For Performance" David Nichols AWCF SNBF

Please Register by Friday, April 20, 2007.

If you live in the UK, you can send a check for £60 (British pounds) (fee includes lunch) made out to The Worshipful Company of Farriers.

Mail to: Craft Secretary WCF, Sheridan House, Keinton Mandeville, Somerton, Somerset, TA11 6DX, United Kingdom.

If you have questions, please e-mail:

All HoofBlog text and images © Hoofcare Publishing 2007 unless otherwise noted.

To learn more about new research, products, and treatments for the horse's hooves and legs as reported to veterinarians and farriers in the award-winning "Hoofcare & Lameness Journal".

Contact Hoofcare Publishing anytime:
tel USA 978 281 3222

Monday, February 19, 2007

World Champion Cutting Horse Gets "Low Maintenance" Care to Stay Sound

A visit to cutting horse expert Sally Harrison's blog this morning revealed the winner of this weekend's National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) World Championship.

According to Sally, "Dual Rey Me, ridden by his owner Jeremy Barwick, held his ground as leading weekend money earner to claim the title of 2006 NCHA Open World Champion on Saturday, February 17, at the NCHA World Finals in Amarillo, TX."

“I never work him,” noted Barwick when commenting to Sally on the longevity of the eight-year-old gelding. “We lope him at home and when we have a couple of weeks off, he goes to the swimming pool to swim and then gets turned out. He stays pretty sound. We inject (his hocks) maybe twice a year as pretty much regular maintenance.”

It would be interesting to know how many times a year a high maintenance horse would be injected.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Farrier Classes Doubled in Wyoming

According to a news article in today's Billings Gazette, farrier instructor Rik Mettes at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming is teaching two farrier courses at once this semester to meet the demand of want-to-be farriers.

Rik is a long-time subscriber to Hoofcare & Lameness Journal and a veteran farrier instructor.

The school has published an appeal to local horse owners to bring their horses in for trimming (at $7 a head) or shoeing (at $20 a head), saying that they need twice as many horses now for the students to shoe.

Let's hope there are plenty of horses for the new farriers to shoe once they are out of school, too!

I'd love to know what the application/admission rates are at other farrier schools around the country.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Barbaro's Owners Endow Chair in Equine Medicine to Honor Dean Richardson; Foresee a "World Without Laminitis"

(excerpted from a press release from the University of Pennsylvania)

(Feb. 13, 2007--PHILADELPHIA) A $3-million gift from Roy and Gretchen Jackson, owners of Barbaro, will endow a chair in the name of Dean W. Richardson at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

In acknowledging the gift, Penn President Amy Gutmann said, “Gretchen and Roy Jackson have already done so much for veterinary medicine through their commitment to giving Barbaro every possible opportunity to recover from his catastrophic injuries. People throughout the world now understand that veterinary medicine –- and Penn veterinary medicine in particular –- shares in the advances that define today’s biomedical science. Now, with this generous gift, Gretchen and Roy Jackson not only promote continued progress, but they pay tribute to the doctor who, like them, gave his heart to a magnificent horse.”

Joan C. Hendricks, the Gilbert S. Kahn Dean of Veterinary Medicine, said “With a new faculty position dedicated to the study of equine disease, we will be better positioned to fight deadly conditions like laminitis.”

The endowed chair is the cornerstone of a major new Penn Vet initiative to fight laminitis, which afflicted Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro. Laminitis is a severe, painful condition in horses that can be fatal. The laminitis initiative will foster training programs and studies for new treatments of equine diseases.

“We are very pleased to make this commitment in support of the School of Veterinary Medicine’s research of equine diseases,” Gretchen Jackson said. “Our close relationship with Dr. Richardson over the last eight months persuaded us to name the chair in his honor. We are indeed grateful to him, and we especially look forward to a future without laminitis.”

“I am deeply honored by this generous and important gift,” said Richardson, chief of surgery at Penn’s George D. Widener Hospital and leader of the team that treated Barbaro. “The Jacksons’ remarkable philanthropy will translate into better outcomes for injured and ill horses in the future.”

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Empty Sky: Hoofcare's Loss

My heart is heavier than an anvil tonight.

John Lancaster, a.k.a. Ransom Sloan, has been a key behind-the-scenes person here at Hoofcare & Lameness for the past five years or so. No, you don't know him, you've never met him. And you never will. But if you read our journal, you've seen his photos, appreciated his Photoshop artistry, and been the beneficiary of his generosity, as have I.

John was killed, we think, in a helicopter crash this morning south of Vermilion, Louisiana. He was a helicopter pilot and instructor (when he wasn't helping out Hoofcare & Lameness) and had a gig this winter servicing oil rigs in the Gulf out of Lake Charles, LA. Apparently they were trying to land on the rig when the chopper exploded.

I have known John since I was fresh out of college. We both lived in the Woodstock, Vermont area and were in the horse scene. John was the product of a unique alternative school project started by his family and his mother was the president of the horse show facility where I worked.

John came back into my life about ten years ago when I found out he was a ski instructor in Vail, Colorado and that he had married another Woodstock-area horsewoman, Lisa Simons, who went on to become a farrier and then a veterinarian and hoof researcher. Lisa Lancaster is, of course, a key person here and our star author, as well as a close friend. Her upcoming article in the new issue on the histology of the white line at the crena will dazzle you with its insights and its imagery...many of which are the handiwork of John Lancaster.

John was also instrumental in handling the editing and assembly of the material for the book The Sound Hoof, written by Lisa, and he created her info-packed web site,

The last time I saw John was when he hosted a graduation party for Lisa in May at Michigan State. He was so proud of Lisa's survival of vet school, and I think so happy that they could move back to Colorado and see what next would happen in their lives. With two people that talented, the future looked very bright that day in May.

The Coast Guard is still looking for our friend John out there in the Gulf tonight. Pray for a miracle before you turn off your lights. Maybe leave one on for our friend John.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Balled-Up Feet Cause Concern, Racing Cancelled on Polytrack in Kentucky

The Daily Racing Form reported on Friday that Turfway Park in Kentucky had cancelled racing on Thursday after horses were found to be finishing races with balls of the artificial racing surface stuck to their feet.

In the article, one jockey complained that it felt like his horse was walking on stilts. Trainers were spraying "Pam" cooking oil or WD-40 on the soles of their horses' feet to try to prevent sticking.

Turfway is in the second year of racing on the much-lauded Polytrack surface, recently installed at Keeneland in Lexington and several California tracks.

Turfway augmented the surface for last week's freezing winter racing conditions with a special blend of Polytrack topping surface. Polytrack is marketed as a racing surface that is not affected by weather conditions and that it is safe for horses. However, the weather has been unseasonably cold in Kentucky for the past week or so.

It sounds like they need some bubble rim pads, but I doubt the ones used on pleasure horses would work with race plates. However, if they can bond plastic rim pads to shoes, couldn't they bond a bubble rim?

This looks like an opportunity for glue shoe expertise to shine. If anyone hears of a solution, or has a suggestion, let me know!

The story is posted on the Daily Racing Form web site, but you must register to view it. Presumably, Polytrack will have an additive to counter the sticky stuff...or it will warm up soon. Think spring!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Date Announced for 2007 Cornell Farrier Conference

The 24th Farriers Conference at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine will be held at the Ithaca, New York campus on November 10-11, 2007, according to resident farrier Michael Wildenstein. The university had considered moving the event to be part of a large horse show in Syracuse, but the decision was made to stay on campus this year.

This blog will announce speakers as soon as the information is available.

Cornell's conference is one of the longest running farrier eduction events in the world and certainly one of the leading venues for serious farrier continuing education.

Hotel rooms in Ithaca can be difficult to find if you want too long, especially if there is a football in town that weekend; book now!

By the way, Cornell's farrier education program offers specialized week-long residencies for farriers and veterinarians wishing to have in-depth training with Michael Wildenstein on specific skills or foot problems, or to work on skills needed to pass American Farrier's Association tests. At $250 for an entire week, this has to be the greatest bargain in equine professional education. Learn more at

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Farrier and Wife Killed in Florida Tornado

Danny Ward called to tell me that longtime Standardbred farrier Mike Sluss and his wife were among the victims of last week's horrible tornado in Central Florida. Mike was a Hoofcare & Lameness subscriber and was a graduate of Bruce Daniels' South Jersey Horseshoeing School, which operated in the 1970s and 1980s. The Standardbred Canada web site added these details: (begin quote from site)
(Trainer James) Dean was at the (O'Brien) awards in Mississauga, Ont., on Saturday night...but his heart was in Florida, where his long-time friend and blacksmith Mike Sluss and his wife Melinda were killed by a tornado. The couple's only child, 15-year-old Aaron, survived the storm.

"I flew out [of Florida] on Friday morning, and that's when the storms hit at about 4 a.m.," Dean told Trot Insider. "I wasn't even sure if I was going to get out of Orlando. It was weird, because the storm stayed in the same area; it went west to east and never really moved further south.

"My friend Raphael called and said there were some places that got hit bad but he had no idea about Mike and I didn't either. James MacDonald [brother of horsemen Mark and Anthony] picked me up at the airport and when we got to the house I flipped CNN on to see the damage.

"I was watching the CNN broadcast and when I was sitting there I said 'damn that looks like Mike's shoeing truck'. It's a red truck and had a big white box on the back. Out of the corner of my eye I saw it said Lady Lake and he doesn't even live there so I thought it couldn't be. Two minutes later Raphael called and said 'Mike's dead'."

Dean stayed for the awards but went back to Florida the next day, and has since been trying to help out and clean up.

"There is absolutely nothing left," he said. "There was no warning at all. You can't recognize anything. About 100 yards behind Mike's place it's almost like a forest and all those trees are fine. It looks like the damn thing came over and dropped right on his property," Dean said of the tornado. "All the trees on his property are just stripped right clean, the ones that are still standing."

Dean said that Mike and Melinda's son appears to have escaped serious injuries.

"They had to do reconstructive surgery on his arm. He's lucky. I don't know anyone could have survived that because there is nothing left," he said.

Dean had been a good friend of Mike's for many years, having worked with him at Ben White Raceway as far back as the 1980s. "He used to do all Stew's [trainer Stew Firlotte] horses and Raphael and Mike worked together for eight years. Just last year Mike phased out standardbreds because he's getting older and the young ones can be a handful to shoe; there are a lot of show horses around here so he got doing that," said Dean. "Mike was just here two weeks ago. He stopped in while I was doing feeds and that. Raphael and I just bought shoes from him last week. He used to make all his own shoes and everything. He was just a good guy, too. He didn't have a mean bone in his body."

Dean said a funeral will take place this Friday (Feb. 9) and that a trust fund will be set up for the couple's son.

A story published in Monday's Orlando Sentinel tells the cryptic story of how a woman who lived 30 miles away from the Sluss home found one of Mike's cancelled cheques in her yard after the storm, and of the lives of two people who will be mourned by their community and many in the harness racing world.

(end quote from Standardbred Canada)

Click here to read the Orlando Sentinel story, which has more details but is very disturbing.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Advice to Horse Owners: Be Objective about Obese Horses

(report provided by ILPH)

At the recent Scottish Equine Welfare Seminar of the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in Edinburgh, Robert Eustace FRCVS of The Laminitis Trust rattled the cage of equine obesity in the show ring and in the home paddock.

"Obesity – a major cause of welfare problems" was the title of his presentation.

Robert was able to graphically show the difference in what horse owners nowadays think is acceptable weight compared to forty years ago and even twenty years ago, by using winner photos from old and recent horse shows. The attendees were captivated by this visual proof of the changing form of horses shown in-hand (what we call "halter" horses in the USA).

Robert expanded on the damage that is occurring to these obese animals and their progeny, if indeed they were able to reproduce.

He concluded with some very basic sound advice to all horse owners: Every time your horse is shod, use your weight tape and mark on the stable wall the weight it shows. This will prove that the horse owner is keeping an accurate record of the weight at a regular interval so any weight gain or loss is easily detected.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Farrier Elmer Campbell Has Died

Elmer Campbell, one of the first farriers elected to the Kentucky Derby Museum's "Hall of Fame" for farriers, has died in Florida.

Elmer is shown in the middle in this photo with his twin sons Charley on the left (I think) and Joe on the right. This photo was taken at the 1985 Breeders Cup at Aqueduct. Both sons were shoers with their father at the New York tracks; Joe is still there and works as paddock farrier at Saratoga in August. Charlie died in 2005 after a long battle with cancer.

I will post more information shortly to add to this story.