Thursday, May 31, 2007

Secretariat's Nail Head Cast in Silver to Raise Laminitis Research Funds has announced a commemorative line of jewelry designed and cast from an original nail from one of the shoes worn by Himself in his superlative 1973 Belmont Stakes performance.

Sales from this jewelry line are earmarked to benefit continued research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine's New Bolton Center towards finding a cure for laminitis, the debilitating and deadly disease that cut short the lives of both Secretariat and 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro.

Each piece in the Belmont Nail Jewelry Series is cast in solid sterling silver from an officially authenticated shoe nail worn by Secretariat during his record breaking 31 length victory to claim the Triple Crown. The nail head sports what I believe is the Izumi starburst pattern, unless there were other nails in 1973 that had star logos on the head.

The original nail - obtained when the champion was re-shod two weeks after the Belmont - was carefully catalogued and preserved until retrieved for casting. The nail jewelry is available in either a satin (shown) or polished finish measuring just over 1.15" in length and comes with a certificate card in its own embossed packaging.

While the original nail was recently valued at more than $6000 (wouldn't you love to know who the appraiser was?), the Belmont Nail Jewelry Series affords racing fans and collectors alike the chance to pay tribute to Secretariat and his historic legacy while combining horse fashion with charitable efforts that can make a difference in the equine world.

View all the many designs sporting the nail fragment at

Now if we could just see the shoes...

Street Sense Won't Run in the Belmont

There will be no third jewel of the Triple Crown for James Tafel's Street Sense after trainer Carl Nafzger announced today that the winner of the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands and runner-up in the Preakness would skip the June 9 Belmont Stakes to focus on a fall campaign.

"I gave Mr. Tafel all of my reasons for going, and all my reasons for not going," said Nafzger. "The Triple Crown is out - Curlin took us out. We're not going to the Belmont. We have set goals for this horse - we want the Travers and we want the Breeders' Cup Classic. If we can be the first horse to win the [Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup] Juvenile, the Derby, the Travers and the Classic, then Mr. Tafel said these are worthy goals, let's go after it."

Nafzger said that the entire Street Sense camp was "really deflated" after Curlin rallied to edge the Kentucky Derby winner in the memorable Preakness finish. He said that, as sportsmen, both Tafel and he wanted another shot at Curlin in the Belmont - but with no Triple Crown on the line, the option of a fall campaign became more attractive.

"Let's don't chase spilled water," Nafzger said. "We spilled water in the Preakness - we spilled it. We got beat and we got outran. So that's behind us, and our decision now is to regroup."

Nafzger said that Street Sense would remain in "light training" at Churchill Downs before he gears up for the fall campaign, and that the $1 million Haskell Invitational on August 5 at Monmouth Park or the $500,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga would be used as a prep for the Travers later in August in Saratoga. There would be one more prep for the Classic, but Nafzger said "there's a million races for us to choose from" to use as a final prep for the 1 1/4-mile Classic.

(Received via NTRA press release)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

UMaine Professor Puts Track Surfaces to the Test

An article in our local Boston Globe newspaper yesterday has been picked up by Associated Press and is seeing ink across the country and over the web. The article profiles University of Maine soil scientist Dr. Mick Peterson and his special studies of racetrack surfaces. Dr. Peterson has a mechanical hoof impact machine and travels to racetracks who suspect changes or defects in the surfaces of racetracks.

Monday, May 28, 2007

New Educational Opportunity for Career-Motivated Farriers at Forging Ahead

One of North America's innovative multi-farrier practices has just announced an unusual program for farriers seeking to build a career in professional farriery. Forging Ahead in Round Hill, Virginia is a partnership of several leading farriers who are responsible for the hoofcare of many of the top sport horses in the USA. Forging Ahead also operates a busy haul-in farrier clinic and provides the farrier services at Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in nearby Leesburg, Virginia, where the farriers participate in research and treatment programs at the hospital.

The new program is described as an "internship". Two interns per year will be selected from applicants. Interns will be paid and housing will be provided. While Forging Ahead has offered apprenticeships in the past, and trained many top farriers from the beginner level, this program is designed for farriers who have already attained a level of competence and wish to be exposed to a huge caseload of sport-horse and lameness work.

Forging Ahead is currently headed by Paul Goodness, one of the leading behind-the-scenes masterminds of Hoofcare and Lameness Journal (it's not his fault when it's late) and a highly respected, though somewhat reclusive expert in high-tech farriery and lameness mechanics. Paul is also active in product development in the farrier industry and received the CJF designation from the American Farrier's Association.

Senior partner with Paul is sport-horse specialist Randy Pawlak; current full-time farriers are Matt Hatcher, Scott Sellers, Amy Sidwar, and Zeb Foltz. The practice has long-time affiliations with horses and riders representing the USET, and other nations' teams; Paul was USET's official farrier in the 1990s and the firm's resume is outstanding for work in both competition horse and veterinary work. He's the only American farrier ever to win the "Best Shod Horse" Award when his work was judged against top British farriers at the Badminton Horse Trials in England.

Paul is a graduate of the unique but now defunct New Bolton Center (University of Pennsylvania College of Veterinary Medicine) advanced farrier residency program that flourished in the 1980s and produced many of the East Coast's leading farriers, including Rob Sigafoos. The program ended 20 years ago, but there has been talk in several circles recently about the value of such a program.

Cornell vet school's informal program with Michael Wildenstein also offers farriers advanced specialized training on an intensive on-the-job level with a full load of cases, but farriers are not paid or housed while they learn at Cornell and the program is currently not offered on a long-term basis, although Cornell may have plans that have not been announced yet (scroll down for news from the Cornell program).

Forging Ahead will be looking for motivated, focused farriers with preference given to farriers who have experience with horses as well as with shoeing. There has been a void in advanced farrier education opportunities for years, and this program certainly can't fill it alone. The hope is that other group practices or solo senior farriers will begin similar programs so that legitimate speciality training can be a reality for those who seek it. Eventually, college credit may be possible, but this is a working, "hands on" program rather than an academic or research pursuit.
Forging Ahead has published a summary of their program description and application form at

Please contact Amy Sidwar at Forging Ahead for more information. And please leave comments here to share your opinions about how farriers should or could receive advanced training. Just click on the word "comments" to open a box and leave your message. You may leave the message anonymously or sign your name.

This is a tremendous opportunity. Thanks to Forging Ahead for living up to their name, once again!

Photo of Paul Goodness in a low-tech, traditional environment courtesy of Forging Ahead.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Cornell Vet School Appoints Wildenstein to Faculty Position

Cornell University Resident Farrier Michael Wildenstein CJF, FWCF (Hons) has officially been promoted to the position of Adjunct Associate Professor of Farrier Medicine and Surgery in The Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University.

The university is also announcing plans to enlarge the farrier shop and to expand the student enrollment to four per semester. This includes farrier students and veterinarians who wish to serve a podiatry internship at Cornell with Mike.

In 2008, Cornell will also be hiring another farrier to work with Mike for six months of the year, and Mike will be encouraged to lecture and teach outside of Cornell.

Michael Wildenstein CJF FWCF (Hons) has served as Cornell’s resident farrier for more than 15 years. Over that period he set goals for his career and exceeded them, culminating with the award of a Fellowship with Honors from the Worshipful Company of Farriers in England. Only three other farriers can boast of that degree with honors; the fellowship alone is akin to a PhD in farrier science. Having the fellowship awarded "With Honors" is the ultimate recognition.

Along the way, Wildenstein authored a book, hosted conferences, lectured around the world, was inducted into the horseshoers’ hall of fame—while somehow managing to train farriers in the farrier school and tend to all the hoof-related medical and surgical support needs of the vet school. He also serves as a consulting editor to our own Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. One of his H&L articles, on deep sulcus thrush, was the first place award winner in the category of "horse care education" in the American Horse Publications awards in 2006.

Wildenstein announced his resignation from Cornell this winter when it looked like he had hit the ceiling for his job description. Offers were coming in from other schools and private industry, so he submitted his resignation and looked around the world to see what might be out there. Now, he’s looking at new opportunities within Cornell.

In Cornell’s early years, farrier Henry Asmus was assistant professor of surgery at the vet school. Henry was a German immigrant and protege of the great farrier Anton Lungwitz in Dresden, Germany, as was John W. Adams, the farrier lecturer and professor of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania who translated Lungwitz’s “Textbook of Horseshoeing” into English. (It’s still in print!)

While Adams migrated into medicine, Asmus put Cornell on the world map of horseshoeing by making a mission of educating rural blacksmiths and farmers and by authoring papers filled with progressive and innovative solutions to hoof problems. He established the farrier school at Cornell, which is still operating and is the oldest school in the USA, and wrote pamphlets for the US Government on shoeing and farm horse care. Until the 1930s, Cornell vet students were required to study farriery and one of their "lab" hours was time spent working in the forge with Professor Asmus.

Henry left a legacy at Cornell for leadership in the farrier profession. The legacy was at times endangered, and Asmus’s faculty position disappeared after his retirement. Later farrier instructors--legendary farriers Eugene Layton, Harold Mowers and Buster Conklin--held staff positions and upheld the school’s reputation for excellence. Cornell has always educated farriers from within the vet school and has continuously offered a conference open to all farriers for the past 24 years.

So Mike Wildenstein’s new position at Cornell is nothing new in the rich historical annals of the esteemed university. But in our changing times, when farriers are working so hard to contribute to the welfare of horses, the fact that one university is reopening the faculty to a farrier is a meaningful milestone to thousands of farriers who spend their days crouched under horses, studying the hooves in their hands with equal intensity to any scholar in a laboratory.

As an added boost, Mike's appointment received a vote of confidence from the polling of the entire Cornell vet school faculty.

Hoofcare & Lameness sends warm congratulations to both Mike and Cornell. As a post script, I can tell you that Mike did not attain his advanced degrees with the goal of this recognition and a promotion on the job. He did it because he wanted to be the very best at farrier that he could be. That will always be the best formula for success, in any job, in any life. The rest, if Mike's experience is any proof, will follow.

Photo courtesy of Cornell University. Please link to this blog or share this post with people in the horse world who should know this great news. Click on the envelope icon below to email this post to others. You may also leave comments here, which will be shared with Mike. Just click on the word "comments" below to leave a comment or read comments left by other readers.

American Farrier's Association's Executive Committee to Meet in Nashville, Tennessee in June

(May 24, 2007) Lexington, Kentucky--In an effort to reach out to the AFA members and chapters and increase input to the organization, the American Farrier's Association's Executive Committee has decided to take it‚s five annual face-to-face meetings on the road. Traditionally, these meetings have taken place at the association's headquarters at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

"After the first face-to-face in Lexington, it was decided that we should use these meetings as an opportunity to reach out to our membership in each of the new regions as we conduct business on their behalf," said Dick Fanguy, AFA Vice President. "The meetings will take place over two days with one being a Œtown hall‚ style where we can answer any questions members might have and hear first hand what each of our members expects from our association and officers."

In Nashville, Tennessee, hosted by Music City Horseshoers Association, the EC will hold its executive meeting all day Thursday, June 7 and will host a Town Hall meeting on Friday, June 8 along with a clinic for all interested farriers and enthusiasts alike.

The venue for the meeting will be Saddle Up Therapeutic Riding Center in Franklin, TN. Meetings are slated for 9am-5pm. All farriers are encouraged to attend, regardless of their affiliation with the AFA. The clinic is free of charge. Locally, contact Steve Davis at 615-945-9575.

(This post is edited from a press release.)

Australian National Farrier Championships Will Be Held at Equitana Asia Pacific

The Victorian Farriers and Blacksmith Association will host the Australian national shoeing, forging and blacksmithing championships at the Equitana Asia Pacific horse exposition at the Melbourne showgrounds on November 15-18, 2007.

Boasting top competitors from all over Australian and New Zealand, the competition will be judged by internationally recognised judges, Danny and Steve Mallander from Yorkshire, England.

The culmination of state-based competitions, the winner of these championships will be crowned the National Champion for 2007.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Do You Not See What I Don't See? Unorthodox Shoeing Takes Reiner to the Top

I love high-resolution digital photography. Finally, I can enlarge images on my computer screen and see details of feet that my old magnifying glass could never show me.

I thought I would share this image with you. These are the front feet of a reining horse called Walla Walla Whiz, ridden by reining superman Shawn Flarida of Springfield, Ohio at the NRHA's big competition in Oklahoma City last weekend.

This horse was in the vet clinic with colic symptoms and a fever less than 24 hours before this photo was taken. The horse left the clinic and loped right into the arena, where he blasted to the top with a score on his last round of something like 231...and Shawn brought home another big paycheck. He has won more than $2 million in reining competition.

I was kindly given a high-res image of Shawn and Walla Walla Whiz in their winning slide. I opened the image on my computer and immediately reached for the phone to ask Shawn what he had on his horse's front feet.

I hope you can see what I see. In order to upload the image to this blog, I had to convert it to low resolution, so the feet may not be clear the way that they are in high-res on my big monitor.

Shawn's solution to the lost shoe woes of the reining arena was to half-shoe the horse. This would be what we used to call a "tip" shoe or a "grass tip" for racehorses. The shoe only extends back to the widest part of the foot. From there back the heels are filled with in with adhesive. Shawn's brother does his farrier work (sorry, I forgot the brother's name!) and he used two nails on each side.

I'll try to get a close up photo of the bottom of the foot too. Don't look too closely at these feet...this is not a post about hoof balance! Also, Shawn did not say how long the horse had been shod this way, and you can't say if what you see is really the contour of the hairline or if the horse's walls were blackened unevenly. Reining photos like this one always are like a can of worms!

I don't know what the footing is in this arena--obviously it is something ideal for reiners, given that Oklahoma City is their home town. But one thing is for sure: if a horse did lose a shoe in this red dirt, it would be a lot easier to find than the usual dirt-colored footing.

Thanks to Shawn (and congratulations!) for sharing his shoeing secrets with Hoofcare and Lameness Journal.

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",
go to

Contact Hoofcare Publishing anytime:
tel 978 281 3222 fax 978 283 8775 email

Monday, May 21, 2007

Book Review: Horses, Owners, Vets, Farriers and Therapists All Live Happily Ever After In New Book "Back to Work"

I wish you could fold me up like a bookmark and store me inside this book.

The lovely volume "Back to Work" arrived from the printer this week and I eagerly sat down for a critical review of the fat (389 pages!) hardcover about rehabbing horses from colic surgery, laminitis and soft-tissue injuries.

The first thing I noticed was how many friends of Hoofcare and Lameness Journal are featured in this book. Farrier Paul Goodness, vets Ric Redden, Cooper Williams, Bruce Lyle and Liz Maloney...the names jump off the page. It's like old-home week.

But the stars of this book are the owners. The author judiciously profiled each one--riding level, job and time and budget constraints, personality flaws and all, as she analyzed the techniques and timelines used to bring each horse back to performance.

And that's no mean feat. These injuries are severe but each horse's story that I read had a happy ending. Every vet and every farrier was a hero. The horses all eventually seem to have recovered, and some even surpassed their pre-injury level of performance. Each owner overcomes the challenges to handwalk their horses through the depths of winter and somehow manage to afford ACell treatments, chiropractics, heart monitors, magnetic blankets, and serial ultrasounds and radiographs. Vet clinics like Fairfield Equine in Connecticut and Palm Beach Equine in Florida and consultants like Ric Redden are in the budgets of these riders: lucky horses!

I admit to being mesmerized as I read the tales. After the first few, I started to realize that the horses were not going to even come close to pasture-ornament status, let alone see the dreaded "Entering New Holland" sign. And each of these dedicated owners kept the horse, obviously feeling a lifetime bond with it after the ordeal of hands-on rehab. I'd like to live in this world.

What's disturbing about this book is the lack of illustrations. Each horse and rider are pictured together, often during competition. Everyone looks happy. What we don't see are the horses themselves during rehab. No ratty stable blankets, no knotted manes, no soiled bell boots. We read about the therapies, but we don't see any treatments. There are no closeup images of bulging bows or abscessing soles. No radiographs, no ultrasounds. Everyone's smiling. Life is good.

Authors of technical chapters include veterinarians Mary Brennan, Barb Crabbe, Bob Grisel, Nancy Loving, Richard Markell, David Ramey, W. Rich Redding, Jeanne Waldron, Cooper Williams. Massage therapy section by Richard Valdez, human psychology by Janet Sasson Edgette. Each rider lists veterinarians and therapists who assisted.

One criticism: It's hard to understand how farriery as a subject could be left out of this book, but Texas farrier Ron Marshall and Hoofcare and Lameness consulting editor Paul Goodness are mentioned as individuals who played roles in helping foundered horses.

The story of Karen O'Connor's plagued-with-injuries event horse Upstage was a highlight of the book for me. She competed on him at the Rolex 4* in Kentucky last month. After seeing his medical history, that is nothing short of a miracle.

Vets, therapists, and farriers may not have the patience to read this book from cover to cover but the index is helpful in locating information buried in the text and it might be worthwhile to gain the author's insight into what sorts of owners are willing to go the distance to bring their horses back from injury and illness. Each horse's story has a timetable outlining how and when medical and therapeutic treatments progressed.

This book would make a superb gift to inspire an owner who is undertaking a suspensory rehab or a bowed tendon or whose horse needs to recover from colic surgery or laminitis.

Favorite quote from the book, attributed to David Ramey DVM on laminitis therapy: "If someone tells you that if he or she had started their particular approach to rehabilitation 'in time', your horse would be much better, you're either dealing with a charlatan, an egomaniac, or a fool. Laminitis is a humbling disease and anyone who claims universal success simply hasn't treated enough horses."

Contact Hoofcare Publishing anytime:
tel 978 281 3222 email

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Mustad Talks Up the Street Sense Derby Connection in Minneapolis Daily Newspaper

From the May 15 edition of the Pioneer Press, daily newspaper of Minnesota's Twin Cities:

Begin quote:
"By the way, the aluminum horseshoes Street Sense wore during his victory were distributed through a Forest Lake firm, St. Croix Forge. Street Sense will wear the aluminum shoes Saturday in the Preakness Stakes.

'(The Kentucky Derby) is the American icon of horse racing, and anytime you have a set of American companies contributing to that, it's always very exciting from a marketing perspective,' St. Croix Forge director of marketing and sales Glen Hause said Tuesday. 'It speaks to the quality and design and the trust that the horseshoer has in our products.

'It's like a tennis-shoe company trying to get a pro athlete doing something that's well recognized.'

(end quote)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Street Sense Update: Exact Shoes Clarified by Mustad

This just in from Alex Cook, public relations voice of Mustad Hoofcare Center:

"Fran, Street Sense was wearing St. Croix Forge Aluminum Racing Plates — they were low toe plains on the front and plains on the hind feet."

Please see the following post (May 15) for a full article about the Kentucky Derby winner's farrier and the use of St Croix racing plates and Capewell nails.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

St. Croix's Street Sense: Farrier Says Derby Winner Was Shod with Mustad Family Shoes

This just in from Mustad, via press release:

Veteran Horseshoer Richard McChesney shoes his second Derby winner

FOREST LAKE, Minn. – May 15, 2007 – Babe Ruth had his bat, Michael Jordan had his high-tops, and now Street Sense, winner of the 2007 Kentucky Derby, has his shoes.

For the greatest American horse race, Street Sense – and his Shoer Richard McChesney of Mt. Washington, Ky. – trusted his hooves to St. Croix Forge’s Aluminum Racing Plates and Capewell nails from Mustad Hoofcare Center, the hoofcare people.

McChesney has been shoeing horses for 39 years. He has shod two Kentucky Derby winners: 1990 Unbridled and now, 2007 Street Sense. “It’s taken me 17 years to come up with a second Kentucky Derby winning horse,” says McChesney. “But there have only been 133 Derby race winners, and I’ve done two of them, which makes me feel good.”

He switched to St. Croix Forge shoes a year and a half ago, when he decided to try St. Croix Hinds, because “the samples were a little beefier, with room for extra nails,” he says. “You can put four nails right close together, and it seems to hold better. It eliminated problems so well in back, I decided I might as well use them on the front.”

“Street Sense’s come-from-behind win in less-than-ideal conditions speaks to his championship spirit, assisted by Richard’s horseshoeing skills,” says Mustad Hoofcare Center President Carlos Xifra. “We salute them both, and are very proud that Richard trusts our products for the most celebrated American horse race, the Kentucky Derby.”

McChesney replaces shoes once a month on his horses. Street Sense will run the Preakness Stakes May 19 wearing the same St. Croix Forge shoes, secured with Capewell nails.

Monday, May 14, 2007

People News: Get Well, Manfred!

Put your hand over your heart today (Tuesday, May 15) and think of our friend, Manfred Ecker, the original farrier at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital's podiatry clinic in Lexington, Kentucky. Manfred was hospitalized a few days ago with a heart problem and will be undergoing a "procedure" at the University of Kentucky's medical center today.

I'm sorry to say that I have hundreds of photos of Manfred's exquisitely-crafted shoes and braces and tools, but this is the closest I could come to a photo of Manfred himself. I remember this day very well: a big Belgian pulling horse (foundered, of course) was in the clinic for shoeing. Manfred fired up the beautiful stainless steel forge and before long he was striking for Aaron Gygax (shown here on left), as they went to work creating handmade shoes for the giant horse. On that day, there was no glue, no high-tech fiber and no support material in sight, just two highly skilled farriers doing the job as farriers have for hundreds of years. What impressed me was how easily they switched gears--or centuries--in their work.

We're thinking of you today, Manfred.

Sue Dyson: More Information on Collateral Ligament Injuries in the Foot Follows Up Paper in Our Journal

This image from the journal article illustrates the telltale bump on the coronet that indicates a collateral ligament injury. However, Dr. Dyson warns that such visible signs are evident only in a percentage of cases. She recommends scintigraphy or MRI for identifying ligament damage in horses that illustrate specific lameness behavior characteristics.

Sue Dyson's article "Desmitis of the Collateral Ligaments of the Distal Interphalangeal Joint" was very well-received when it was published in Hoofcare & Lameness #79. While it is often difficult to definitely prove that collateral ligament (CL) injury is the sole cause of lameness, particularly in sport horses with degenerative joints and possible multiple foot problems, the good news is that horses do tend to recover from CL injuries.

Recently Sue shared with me her newest paper, which is a retrospective of more than 200 horses that had been diagnosed with lameness related to collateral ligament injury in the foot.

Among the many key points were that there was rarely any outwardly visible sign of injury not could the injury site be palpated or manipulated to induce or replcate the lameness. Trotting in circles on a hard surface was the ideal test. Only occasionally was heat or swelling present. While the injury has now become a common diagnosis for hardworking event horses and jumpers, it may be common in other sports as well.

The horses fell into three groups for comparative study of their diagnostic images, histories, and follow-up, when available.

In a group of 109 selected horses studied for comparison, the medial ligament (73%) was more damaged than the lateral (27%) one; the damage to the ligament was visible on MRIs of all 109 horses. One third of the horses from that sector of the study returned to work. These horses were identified as having lameness caused directly by injury to the ligament, and no other known cause of lameness.

A second group of horses had collateral ligament injury as one of multiple lameness disorders affecting the horse's soundness; these horses had a much poorer prognosis.

A third, smaller group of horses had problems with the ligaments at the point of origin or insertion, but 55% returned to full athletic function.

One of the points made in the paper that is very interesting is the higher incidence of bilateral collateral ligament injury, although the medial is still the more severely affected, in most cases.
A telltale sign of common CL injury in the foot is when the horse is more lame on the outside leg when trotted in a circle on a hard surface.

Whenever possible, Hoofcare & Lameness tries to keep readers up to date with newer research by our authors.

Sue Dyson is a consulting editor of Hoofcare and Lameness and generously shares her articles and photos and cases with us. In Hoofcare 80, she addresses the dilemma of lameness examinations on horses with multiple limb lameness, and suggests guidelines for sorting out horses that are two-legged, three-legged and even all-legged lame.

She is also co-author, with Mike Ross of UPenn, of the reference book Diagnosis and Management of Lameness in the Horse, sold through Hoofcare Publishing.

For more information, see "Desmitis of the Collateral Ligaments of the Distal Interphalangeal Joint" by Sue Dyson MA, VetMB, PhD, DEO, FRCVS in Hoofcare and Lameness Journal, issue #79
"Collateral Desmitis of the Distal Interphalangeal Joint in 233 Horses (January 2001 –July 2006)" published in the Proceedings of the 11th North Carolina State Medical Association, 2006

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Plastinate: A Funny Name for a Fascinating View of Soft Tissue, Horn, and Bone

If you have visited a Hoofcare and Lameness trade show booth at any of the conferences this winter, chances are that you saw our display of plastinated samples of hoof tissue. If you haven't been to our booth, perhaps you have been to the highly successful (and somewhat controversial) museum exhibit called "Body Worlds," which also uses the plastination process to preserve body tissue. While we can be forgiven for studying closeup hoof tissue, the jury is still out on the ethics of human tissue manipulation.

We are working on bringing Dr. Christoph von Horst of Germany to the USA to share his delicate and precise representations of the hoof. Best guess is that he will be in Palm Beach for the laminitis conference in November.

In the meantime, Hoofcare and Lameness will facilitate orders for Dr von Horst. Each tissue sample is, of course, life size and sandwiched in inch thick Lucite. The sample becomes a living study object but it also is a work of art, and the play of light through the hoof tisue is dazzling.

One visitor to our booth at the AAEP convention was so enchanted that he offered to buy the entire display!

Each sample is treated to resist light damage and will not fade. The cost on most is around $200 including air shipment from Germany. I will try to mount some more images to share them with you, but please contact Hoofcare and Lameness if you are looking for a unique gift, award, trophy, or a real treat for your own study of the hoof. Navicular damage and P3 rotation samples are available but sometimes are in great demand and have a longer lead time.

What's the Antithesis of Natural Horsemanship? Meet No Horsemanship: Robotic Horse Training on a Sanitized Track

Call this the round pen backlash. Or high technology's answer to the average human's inability to train a horse. Several sources on the web have pointed me to a web site for what appears to be an Eastern European group that is promoting horse training systems that remove the influence of humans from the conditioning process.

Did you ever wonder what Disney World did with ride parts when they go through periodic renovations?

Kurt Equine Systems of course would appeal to a trainer who has more horses than exercise riders. Or someone who needs to condition multiple endurance horses but simply does not have the time to get them all ridden. There are also problems with weather and reliable help and many other variables in training that can make you dream of a "system" that would get all the horses moving and know when to quit.

Watching this video, I thought I was in a bizarre futuristic equine science fiction film. Dr Who goes to the racetrack? But the racetrack has been sanitized, and the only people in sight are in the control room--or are those robots, too?

The web site promo doesn't give many details; it tells us that these systems work for either horses or camels, so that is a broad hint to me that this prototype has been installed in the Middle East, possibly in Qatar, Saudi or The Emirates, although I think if it was in the UAE I would have heard about it. Someone would have called me from the World Cup back in March and said, "You MUST see this!"

I present this to you only as a wonderment. No comments, just wonderment. I knew when I posted the video of the Seawalker system for hoof rehab that someone would have to top it. And this is way over the top!

Link to individual video clips of horse monorail and robotic training systems.

For the time being, I think exercise riders still have job security but if Todd Pletcher's string gets much larger...

Friday, May 11, 2007

Pergolide Cleared for Equine Veterinary Use by FDA

This announcement just in from the FDA:

May 11, 2007

CVM Working to Address Concerns about Supplies of Pergolide for Horses

The Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) is aware that veterinarians and horse owners are concerned about the issuance of an FDA Public Health Advisory (PHA),, detailing the removal of pergolide products from the market. Pergolide, a drug used to manage the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in humans, is being removed from the market due to concerns about cardiac side effects.

CVM recognizes that veterinarians are prescribing pergolide for the treatment of Cushing’s Syndrome in horses. Veterinarians have been prescribing the drug under the provisions of the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act which allows veterinary practitioners to prescribe approved human drugs for “extralabel” use in animals.

FDA is working with the sponsors of the approved products and all other interested parties to ensure that pergolide remains available to treat Cushing’s Syndrome in horses until a new animal drug application is approved for that use. This includes trying to make the approved product available through veterinary distribution channels and exercising enforcement discretion as appropriate over the pharmacy compounding of pergolide. Bulk substance used for pharmacy compounding should be labeled for “animal use only.” All pharmacy compounding must be done under a valid veterinary prescription to treat an affected horse.

Although the sponsor has stopped marketing pergolide for human use, CVM will also work with sponsors who are interested in seeking approval of a new animal drug application for the use of pergolide to treat Cushing’s Syndrome in horses.

For more information, contact Christopher Melluso, DVM, at or (240) 276-9065.

New Lameness Treatments: IRAP™ Therapy

One of several new high-tech treatments for equine lameness is the creation of an enriched serum injection for horses with potential joint damage. "IRAP" is not a new hip-hop group; it's a therapy that has quickly made its own place at the table of equine therapy, especially for sport horses and racehorses whose owners expect a return to the previous level of soundness and the shortest possible length of time.

Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein (IRAP™) therapy works like this: the veterinarian, often a surgeon or lameness specialist, injects a horse’s affected joint with serum that contains anti-inflammatory proteins that block the harmful effects of Interleukin-1 (IL-1), an inflammatory cytokine that has been shown to accelerate destruction of cartilage during osteoarthritis. (A cytokine is a chemical secreted by the immune system to attack infections and damaged or dying cells.)

What makes the process a little complicated is that Interleukin-1 (IL-1) is a quite normal part of the horse's inflammatory response but it can sometimes be detrimental to a horse's joints and accelerate damage to cartilage there. IRAP™ creates a barrier that prevents IL-1 from having its damaging effect.

Since the serum sample is derived from the horse’s own blood, there is minimal risk of an adverse reaction. The incubated serum also does not contain any drugs.

The treatment process consists of drawing a blood sample using a special syringe containing glass beads. The blood is incubated for 24 hours and a centrifuge separates the serum from the red blood cells. The serum, now enriched with Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist protein, is divided into three or four doses. The horse receives one dose injected into the affected joint once weekly for three to five weeks.

A quick check around the web found that quite a few vet clinics are promoting IRAP therapy. Here are some comments from veterinarians:

Dr. Laura Werner of The Equine Center in San Luis Obispo, California: "The reason IRAP is so exciting is its potential for a long-term effect on battling osteoarthritis. Whereas some of the therapies might only have short-term effect, IRAP has the potential to stop the cartilage matrix from being degraded and increase healing. IRAP has the ability to stop the inflammation cycle and bring comfort to your horse. The research on IRAP is ongoing but the results have been very encouraging."

Dr. Laurie Tyrrell of Virginia Equine Imaging: "IRAP can also be used as maintenance therapy throughout a competition season to reduce the amount of steroid use. IRAP therapy is not for every horse. There are some factors that make a horse a less successful candidate; however the therapy shows great promise for horses that have become refractory to traditional management of osteoarthritis, as well as offering an alternative therapy for those worried about excessive use of corticosteroids."

According to the web site of Steinbeck Country Equine Clinic in Salinas, California: "Coffin joints and stifles that don’t respond well to steroid injections seem to be the most popular condition to treat (with IRAP therapy). Reactions are uncommon largely due to the fact that it is the patient’s own serum."

IRAP is one of the many therapies and treatments that will be on the program of the 4th International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot to be held in West Palm Beach, Florida, from November 2-4.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Pergolide Update: Resource Blog Launched for Horse Owners Concerned about Drug Ban

Above: a horse shows common signs of Cushings disease, including the telltale long coat that does not shed. Horse owners report a rapid improvement of the appearance of horses when they receive pergolide as a medication for Cushings disease. Photo courtesy of our friend, Dr. Christian Bingold.

A proactive horse owner in Pennsylvania has pleaded her case for U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) release of the Parkinson's disease drug "pergolide" for equine veterinary use by enlisting the power of the broadcast media. Horseowner Judy Amick and her veterinarian were interviewed for a story that ran on the 5:00 news yesterday on WJAC-TV6, the NBC affiliate in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

Pergolide is widely used to medicate horses suffering with Cushings disease. Many people credit oral pergolide medication with controlling their horses' Cushings symptoms, especially the periodic low-grade laminitis that is a common side effect of the disease.

Recently, pergolide was removed from the US drug market by the FDA because of side effects experienced by human users.

Horse owners say that their horses have no side effects, and that the drug is actually keeping horses alive that would have to be euthanized without the drug.

Click on this link to watch a clip from the segment:

The withdrawal of pergolide has been a call to arms for Pennsylvania veterinary expert and author Eleanor Kellon VMD. She is the resident medication expert on the 5000-member "Cushings list" discussion group on The discussion group helps support owners of horses with Cushings or insulin resistance problems.

To mobilize of horse owners to take action in the pergolide situation, Kellon has launched a blog designed to give details on the drug's political battles, and to give owners resources for letterwriting and petitions.

Click on this link to go to the new blog:

"This site has been started to keep (people) current on the latest information in the fight to keep pergolide available for our horses," Kellon writes of the new blog. "There is at present no viable alternative to pergolide to control Cushing's Disease (PPID) or to stave off the debilitating, often painful and life-threatening side effects of this disease."

Kellon encourages horse owners to sign the "Save Pergolide" petition, and use the site's links to write to federal and state officials, elected representatives, equine veterinarian associations, state horse councils and groups.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Martin Deacon Wins 2007 Farriers Prize at Badminton Horse Trials

At the prestigious (and grueling) Badminton Horse Trials in the Cotswold district of England this weekend, one of the world's best farrier competitions was held, and there were no anvils or forges in sight.

Each year, Badminton presents The Farriers Prize, which is a "Plaque to Owner and Farrier of the Best Shod Horse." As I recall, the horses put forward for the prize are inspected and evaluated by a representative of the Worshipful Company of Farriers.

In the past two years, the winners were Welsh farrier teammates and world champion competitive farriers, James Blurton and Billy Crothers. Another year, I remember the prize going to Sam Head, son of Mac Head FWCF, for his shoeing job on one of William Fox-Pitt's horses.

This year's winner was Top 12 finisher Sarah Cohen's Hide and Seek II, and the winning farrier was Martin Deacon FWCF of Leicestershire, England. Sarah was also the highest-placed British rider this year.

Martin is a very well-known farrier in Britain, and a stalwart of the Worshipful Company of Farriers. He is also the author of one of the most popular books sold in the Hoofcare and Lameness library; No Foot No Horse (Foot Balance: The Key to Soundness and Performance) is Martin's treatise on using conventional balance paradigms to shoe both correct and crooked-legged horses. Portions of the book have been reprinted as articles in Hoofcare and Lameness over the years.

Photo of Clayton Fredericks presenting W P in Limbo at the initial vet inspection in front of Badminton House in Gloucestershire, England courtesy of Kit Houghton and Mitsubishi Motors. Yes, the game of badminton takes its name from this estate, although the game was brought back to England by British officers who had been stationed in India. When it was played at an 1873 party on the lawn on Badminton House, the home of the Duke of Beaufort, the nameless game became ever linked to the foxhunting estate.

Accelerometry for Track-to-Hoof Evaluation Funded in Canada

"Comparing track surfaces using accelerometry and strain measurements on the hoof as biomechanical indicators of the hoof track interaction" is the title of a study that has received second-year funding at the university of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. Principle researchers are Drs. J. Thomason and A. Cruz.

The Quarter Racing Owners of Ontario recently joined both the Ontario Thoroughbred and Standardbred Racing Industry and private donors to fund Equine Guelph’s Research Program athe University of Guelph. This generous support has enabled the program to celebrate an important milestone with funds surpassing $500,000 for 2007-2008 for equine research.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Stem Cell Therapy for Suspensory Injury Shown on Vet Hospital Video

Here's a link to a video of a surgical procedure at the New England Equine Practice in Patterson, New York. This is one type of procedure for stem cell therapy. The surgeon extracts bone marrow from the horse's sternum to harvest stem cells, which are then injected into the tendon or ligament that is damaged.

The video is posted at this link:

More information on this type of therapy, which was developed by surgeon Roger Smith at the Royal Veterinary College in England, is at the web site of the Vetcell company, marketers of the procedure.

You can also read an article about New England Equine Practice's new surgical facilities and hospital.

All-women Jockeys in American Storyboard Classic at Suffolk Downs

Women will take over Suffolk Downs racetrack in Boston, Massachusetts on June 16. That will be the day of the premiere of the new documentary "Women in American Horse Racing," produced by American Storyboard, right here in Gloucester, Massachusetts, home of Hoofcare and Lameness Journal.

To highlight the film's premiere, Suffolk will run the inaugural American Storyboard Classic, a race in which all jockeys must be female.

The film is sponsored in part by Autotote and The Daily Racing Form.

More details at the American Storyboard website.

Friday, May 04, 2007

State Racing Commissioners Urged to Ban Toe Grabs

Bill Casner, owner of WinStar Farms in Kentucky and head of the committee on shoeing and hoof care that was formed out of the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit in January, addressed the Association of Racing Commissioners International last week in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

His message? Toe grabs should be outlawed from US Thorougbred racetracks. California was the first state to officially ban shoes with grabs higher than 4 millimeters.

I'm still wondering who's going to pick up the feet of horses in the paddock to check...You can see turndowns and bends. A farrier can see a bar shoe. But unless the horse is standing on a firm, flat surface, will the horseshoe inspector really be able to tell how high or low the grab is?

Read the complete article on the Thoroughbred Times web site.

Mr. Casner subscribes to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. Do you?

Photo of Steve Norman's hands and flat hind shoe at Churchill Downs by Dan Burke.

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", go to

Direct “subscribe now” link to Hoofcare & Lameness Journal:

Contact Hoofcare Publishing anytime: tel 978 281 3222 fax 978 283 8775 email

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Horse God Built: The Untold Story of Secretariat

As if the ghost of Barbaro wasn't strong enough, I'll have the ghost of Secretariat lingering in my mind on Saturday, when the 133rd Kentucky Derby is run at Churchill Downs.

Secretariat's ghost will be larger than life thanks to the recent publication of a new book on the great horse. The Horse God Built by Lawrence Scanlan is the latest to go on an almost-full bookshelf on the big red horse.

I recommend this book with some reservations. The book claims to be the story of the relationship between Secretariat and his longtime groom, Eddie Sweat. Scanlan makes a noble attempt to recreate Eddie, who is now dead, but because of the time that has passed, Eddie cannot be separated from the bigger story of African Americans in racing. The author makes a few nods to the fact that racism and class discrimination existed on the racetrack in the 1970s, but he doesn't go there with conviction. Racist statements by trainers just hang in the air. Scanlan seems distracted, evidenced by musings throughout the book about his own horse and imagining what things were like for Eddie Sweat.

Most African Americans are gone from the backstretches of American tracks. Most are also gone from the horse farms where the horses are bred and raised. If that is so, why is it so? And who is Eddie's counterpart today? To me, that's the bigger story of this book, and Scanlan doesn't go there.

You might want to buy this book for the final chapter, called "Eulogy for a Horse." It describes the death and funeral of Secretariat, and has anecdotes about his autopsy, his gravesite, etc. I thought I had read everything about Secretariat, but I did not know how he died or where. I assumed that he had been euthanized in his stall when he suffered a relapse of laminitis. If Scanlan's report is correct--which he attributes to the farm manager and owner Penny Chenery--then I had been missing a big part of the story. In this case, ignorance was bliss.

The final chapter also tells the story of how Man 'o War died and his body laid in state in an open casket...thanks to the fact that he was embalmed. A human apparently requires two pints of embalming fluid; Man 'o War required 23. His funeral and all the speeches were broadcast live, by radio, across the country.

When Will Harbut, Man 'o War's longtime groom, died, the Blood-Horse obituary listed his survivors as "a wife, six sons, three daughters--and Man 'o War." The horse died a month after his groom.

From Will Harbut to Eddie Sweat to whoever snaps the leadline onto the bridle of Saturday's winner...what did these grooms have in common? If Circular Quay or Scat Daddy wins the Derby on Saturday, it may well be Todd Pletcher's groom Isabel who is there with the leadline. The media will love her but more importantly, they will see her, because she is a woman in a man's world, unlike Will and Eddie, who were nameless and faceless in their roles with superstar horses.

I'd like to thank Lawrence Scanlan for trying to piece together Eddie Sweat's story. It's a tall order. Most of all, I'd like to thank Eddie Sweat for having nurtured Secretariat into the horse we all will remember.

The Horse God Built is sold in bookstores everywhere but please try to purchase it from an independently-owned bookstore. You can also order it from Robin Bledsoe's horse bookshop in Cambridge, Massachusetts: 617 576 3634 or

Photo: Secretariat in full stride, winning the Gotham Stakes for three-year-olds in New York. Bob Congianese photo from the cover of The Horse God Built.

FEI Investigates Possible Abuse to Horse Injured on Cross-Country at Rolex Three-Day Event

At the Rolex Three-Day Event in Kentucky on Saturday, Amy Tryon's horse Le Samurai was injured at the last fence of the cross-country course at the Kentucky Horse Park. The horse continued and crossed the finish line, where he was immediately examined by veterinarians and transported to the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute nearby.

While no real diagnosis has been disclosed, it sounds like the horse may have ruptured his suspensory ligament or somehow disrupted the suspensory apparatus. The injury is not life-threatening.

Yesterday the Federation Equestrian Internationale (FEI), which is the governing body of world horse sports, announced that they had launched an investigation into possible horse abuse in this incident.

Here's the official statement from the FEI:

The FEI was notified of an alleged case of abuse which occurred during the CCI 4* Lexington, Kentucky USA on Saturday 28 April involving competitor Amy Tyron (USA) and Le Samurai.

The preliminary investigation was conducted according to the regulations, whereby the Ground Jury met on Saturday 28 April following the cross country to investigate an incident of alleged abuse before fence 34. The Ground Jury collected written statements from the Fence Judges and Sector Steward and reviewed the video as well as interviewing the FEI Veterinary Delegate, Dr. Catherine Kohn. The rider, Amy Tyron, was interviewed on Sunday immediately after the Sunday morning horse inspection and gave her account of the incident. Following the interview, the Ground Jury referred the matter to the Appeal Committee. The Appeal Committee, in full possession of all the written statements and video recording, took the following decision:

According to article 164.4.5 of the FEI General Regulations: “In serious cases, immediate disqualification with one or more horses from a competition or from the whole event with a referral to the Secretary General (for referral to the Judicial Committee)."

Once the FEI has collected all reports and evidence, the case will be submitted to the Tribunal (the former Judicial Committee) and all the relevant evidence will be reviewed prior to any decision being made.

The FEI takes these matters very seriously and endeavours to ensure that the welfare of the horse is a priority.

(end of statement)

I will keep you posted on this one. Amy Tryon was Bronze Medalist for the USA at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Scat Daddy: Bar Shoes Will Come Off Before Derby Day

This just in from the Daily Racing Form:

Scat Daddy, winner of the Florida Derby and Fountain of Youth Stakes in his last two starts, has been training with bar shoes on his front feet and had them on for his final workout Sunday at Keeneland. However, he will remove them for Saturday's Derby and race in conventional plates, trainer Todd Pletcher said.

Bar shoes are usually used to protect a tender part of a hoof. The shoes Scat Daddy was wearing "keep him from putting pressure on his inside quarters," Pletcher said.

"He won't run in them, but he has trained in them," Pletcher said. "It's not something new. He's had bar shoes, or similar shoes, since July. I'd say that in the last year, for 10 months he's trained in bar shoes. He might not need them any more, but I'm not going to take a chance now."

Note: Scat Daddy's regular farrier is Ray Amato, who is based with Pletcher's stable at Belmont Park in New York and Saratoga. While Scat Daddy and Pletcher's other five (or more) Derby starters are in Kentucky, they are in the hands of Kentucky track farrier Steve Norman. I visited Scat Daddy and Pletcher's other Keeneland-based horses for a few minutes last week with therapist Dianne Volz and her crew. He looks fantastic and has really matured since he left Saratoga last August. Then again, they all looked great, as you would expect from horses in the care of the nation's leading trainer. Thanks to Dianne for letting me tag along!