Friday, June 29, 2007

Message from Down Under: It's a Smaller World Tonight for Farriers

I didn't understand the message at first, but now I get it.

There was a little blip on the world map of farriery. It shone brightly and then was gone.

Many of you knew Paul Mitchell because of the beautiful loop knives he made at his Pinehurst Forge in Tasmania. Others of you knew him because he travelled the world to fuel his love for farriery. He might have been sitting next to you on an airplane or in a hotel bar at a farriery competition or convention. He probably epitomizd what you always thought an Aussie would be like.

Get out the world atlas and look up Tasmania. Don't stop looking until you find it. It might not be where you think it is. Remember that a farrier came all the way from take the world by storm. Put your finger on that little dot on the map and it might still be warm from the last fire in his forge.

Maybe some more details will find their way here, maybe not. The basic message is: Paul Mitchell died on Tuesday, June 26 in Tasmania, half a world away, or half a world closer, depending on how you look at a map.

Remember him. I will.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Get Well Wishes to Dr Scott Morrison

We might all have to mobilize and head to Lexington, Kentucky to help our friends at the podiatry clinic at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital there. A few weeks ago, founding farrier Manfred Ecker was hospitalized with a heart ailment, and has been recuperating.

Now comes the news that clinic director Scott Morrison DVM required an emergency appendectomy on Tuesday. Maybe they could share a room?

At last count, the clinic employed four vets, five farriers, a legion of technicians, a nice new secretary (Heather), and at least one intern vet. The fleet of farrier trucks outside the clinic looks like a Miracle Mile showroom for Stonewell Truck Bodies.

Scott has built an amazing center for the innovative treatment of horses of all kinds. You might see any sort of disease or disorder and meet most anyone in the hoof world, if you go there.

Let's all wish Scott a speedy recovery, after he's rested for a little while.

The picture was taken at the Luwex Symposium in Germany last October, where Scott was a lecturer/demonstrator. They had him shoeing horses day and night. I remember them leading this horse out onto the stage. Scott looked around, wide-eyed (of course, I was the only English-speaking person within earshot) and said, "Um, did anyone notice that this horse is foundered?" He looked around for a schedule. "Is this horse supposed to be foundered?" he asked again. I remember thinking that was a pretty funny question to ask. He paused for a second, as if someone might answer or give guidance. A hundred or so German farriers in the audience just stared back at him. They didn't blink. Scott chuckled, shrugged and went to work.

Planet of the Lost Hoof Picks: Canadian Organization Expert Tackles One of the Horse World's Most Pressing Issues

I have a dryer that eats my socks and, to prove it, a drawer full of odd socks waiting for their mates. I optimistically believe that the lost ones will show up again some day but in my heart of hearts, I know that the dryer ate them.

It's much the same for hoof picks. No matter how brightly colored or how big and visible, hoof picks disappear around the barn and you can never find one when you really need it.

(The exception is my PowerPick, designed by farrier Doug Ehrman of The Sound Equine. I keep it in my car to use as a weapon in case I am carjacked or need to break the glass to escape if my car falls off a bridge. I'm sure it is great for cleaning hooves but I love it so much, I can't bear to bring it near a horse, which would guarantee its disappearance.)

The disappearing hoof pick problem distresses a professional organizer in Montreal who is also an avid rider whose horse lives in a boarding situation. Jacki Hollywood Brown is determined to put her organizing talents to work in the barn and has written a hilarious post on her "Well Organized" blog.

I think I agree with one of her points: Why do we bother to microchip our horses? They are big enough to find and their stalls are labeled. Let's microchip the hoof picks and track them by satellite: it would fascinating to find out where they go!

I hope you'll take a minute and read Jacki's hoof pick theories and share the post with your boarding-barn clients. I thought it was hilarious...but I think she might be serious!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Horseshoeing Homecoming: Bryan Quinsey Returns to the Farrier World as FPD General Manager

Dan Burke, president of Farrier Product Distribution (FPD) joined me for a conference call this evening. Also on the line: former American Farrier's Association Executive Director Bryan Quinsey and FPD's Linda Hill. The subject? FPD's newsletter announcement stating that Bryan joined the Kentucky distribution firm on June 18th as the company's new general manager of operations.

"Bryan will be working on the home front," Linda confirmed. She said that Bill Kleist remains with the company as sales manager. "It was getting to be too much for me to handle alone, with Dan on the road so much."

"It's nice to be back with old friends," Bryan said warmly, with his characteristic enthusiasm intact. "It's a great homecoming.

"I already know many of FPD's vendors," he continued. "I'll be working on the company's web sites and keeping things moving forward so Dan can be on the road more."

Bryan left the AFA in the spring of 2006 to take the executive position with the Friesian Horse Association of North America at the Kentucky Horse Park. He said that while he was in The Netherlands on Friesian business, he had a chance to visit the Kerckhaert factory, on Dan Burke's recommendation.

Dan remarked that having Bryan in the office at home would allow him to travel even more to promote the company's products. "We needed help to handle our growth and to continue expanding operations," he said.

Bryan, who lives in Lexington, Kentucky, said he would be moving to Shelbyville, a town that is between Lexington and Louisville, where FPD's warehouse and office is located.

FPD is a major importer of Kerckhaert horseshoes and Bellotta rasps. The company is also premiering the new Vector horseshoe nail and supplies many tools used by farriers. FPD is technically a distributor; the Shelbyville, Kentucky warehouse ships out supplies to farrier stores all over the U.S. instead of selling directly to farriers.

In the same phone conversation, I had a chance to visit with Joy Ream of Palm Beach Farrier Supply, who was stopping at FPD while driving back to Florida from a visit to her family in Ohio. Palm Beach Farrier Supply is one of many new advertisers in Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. Many old-timers in the farrier world know Joy by her former last name of Luikart. She bought Palm Beach Farrier Supply two years ago.

Dan mentioned that New York track shoer Ray Amato had confirmed that Belmont Stakes winning filly Rags to Riches had been shod with Kerckhaert raceplates on her hind feet.

FPD is a longtime advertiser with Hoofcare and Lamensss Journal. Watch for their Vector nail ad in our next issue.

History Mystery: Laminitis at the Battle of Little Big Horn?

Is there any one among us who does not know the meaning of the three simple words, "Little Big Horn"? Today is the anniversary of the day after the massacre known generally as "Custer's Last Stand". The battle was June 25, and the history books tell us that it was today, June 26, when the annihilated troops of the US 7th Cavalry were found.

Comanche, the lone survivor of the battle of Little Big Horn, with the German immigrant farrier Gustave Korn, who saved his life and helped the horse recover from seven wounds suffered in the battle. Photo courtesy of and the Library of Congress, available from the Denver Public Library's Western Image Collection. Note the swallowtail saddle cloth, now in vogue with dressage riders.

Volumes have been written about the horses that carried the Custer troop but recently an interesting footnote has been unearthed in the book Laminitis and Founder: Prevention and Treatment by Drs Butler and Gravlee. I was very surprised when Custer's name popped up in that book.

The authors put forth an interesting footnote from agricultural (not military) history that has not been widely published before. They quote a report published in the journal Agricultural History in 1944, which states that Custer's horses had been wintered in fields known for heavy growth of highly selenium-rich plants and soil.

In 2000, Cornell equine nutritionist Harold Hintz mentioned the lameness problems of Custer's late-arriving pack train horses; he brought equine selenium toxicity back into the Custer conversation.

Sitting Bull took care to not winter his horses in those types of fields.

But it wasn't until the 1930s--more than 50 years after the massacre--that it was scientifically proven that selenium is toxic to horses in large doses, and that it causes a form of laminitis-like changes of such severity that horses' feet will actually start to slough. In Custer's day, it was known as "alkali disease", and the US Army had kept records of horses sloughing their hooves when grazing in the upper plains states as far back as 1860. (USDA, 1991 report on selenium toxicity)

(To learn more about selenium toxicity, scroll down and read our post from June 11, 2007; horses are still suffering from selenium-based laminitis today, as the University of Missouri vet school shares.)

By the way, the Native American name for the Little Bighorn is "The Greasy Grass" River.

Most peoplewill confidently tell you that no one on the US Cavalry side survived the battle, but that is not so. But only one horse, named Comanche, was found alive on the battlefield. He alone was standing, if barely, out of 225 horses that marched into the valley. 

Comanche was a wild horse from Texas who was rounded up and sold to the US Government. He was ridden by a horse-loving Irish immigrant, Captain Myles Keogh. Writer Deanne Stillman has been hard at work on the definitive biography of Comanche as the icon of the American wild horse. Her new booHorse Latitudes: Last Stand for the Wild Horse in the American West, will be published by Houghton Mifflin in spring 2008.

But in recognition of today's anniversary, a couple of chapters were sneak-previewed on the web today, and you can have a good read, thanks to  (Make sure you read both chapters, and make it all the way to the battle.)

Another interesting book is Custer's Horses by Gary Paul Johnston.

And what became of Gustave Korn, the German farrier who was Comanche's personal groom? Korn cared for Comanche at Fort Riley in Kansas, among other locations. The horse was revered by the US Army.

However, in 1890, Korn was assigned to field duty and was killed at Wounded Knee. According to records, Comanche became depressed without Korn by his side, although another farrier, Samuel Winchester, was assigned to be his personal servant.

On November 7, 1891, Comanche died of colic in Winchester's arms. The horse was 29 years old.

As an interesting aside: Comanche's hide was stuffed and he has been living at the University of Kansas at Lawrence for over 100 years, unless he has been moved recently. It's very interesting to read that his hide was excessively long-haired, even though winter had not begun.

Comanche was never ridden after Little Big Horn, and spent his days roaming freely about the fort, where he bullied people for food and ate out of the trash. He also developed a liking for beer and was known to be intoxicated more than once.

To learn more:
Colorado State University hoof tissue test for selenium toxicity

Hintz HF, Thompson LJ. Custer, selenium and swainsonine. Vet Hum Toxicol. 2000 Aug;42(4):242-3.

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

Contact Hoofcare Publishing anytime:
tel 978 281 3222 

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Farrier/Vet Running for President...of the United States

First we had a U.S. Senator (Lincoln Chafee/R-Rhode Island, now in the private sector) who had a horseshoeing career before politics.

Now we have a candidate for President of the United States who knows his way around an anvil.

One of the first academic achievements listed on Donald K. Allen's resume is that he is a graduate of Midwest Horseshoeing School in Macomb, Illinois. Allen, who now lives in Youngstown, Ohio, shod horses for nine years, and proudly says that he was licensed, presumably in Illinois. He graduated from the vet school at the University of Illinois in 1980, after having shod horses at the vet clinic while a student there.

He admits that he has been married three times, has been charged with failing to pay child support, and he once lied about his age.

It's interesting that he is also a veterinarian, but it's his experience as a hard-working farrier that he touts as his magic link to understanding the American work ethic.

Dr. Allen has big plans for the USA if he is elected. He is running as an Independent and says he will eliminate the income tax and institute a federal sales tax. He wants to finish the fence along the Mexican border and believes that English should be the national language. He's dead set against puppy mills (finally, an issue I can get behind) but thinks that being gay is ok.

He's an interesting man who is asking his supporters to each send him $1 to support his campaign. He admits he's not a millionaire and that his opponents will outspend him.

But should mega-millionaire NYC Mayor Bloomberg decide to run for the same office as an Independent (as the pundits are predicting he will, since he just quit the Republican party to become an Independent), Dr. Allen will surely gain more publicity. Given that Bloomberg's daughter Georgina is currently representing the US in show jumping in Europe, the two Indies can at least talk horses.

Note: Hoofcare and Lameness subscriber and farrier Jim House was elected to the Arkansas state legislature last year; Jackie Cillie, wife of Horseshoes Plus supplier owner Bruce Cilley serves in the New Hampshire State Senate.

Photo from Dr. Allen's web site; presumably he's doing a reverse shoe (aka "open-toed egg bar") for laminitis?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Uruguayan Super Horse Invasor Injures Fetlock: Next Stop, the Breeding Shed

This just in form the NTRA; if you follow horse racing, you know that this is a huge loss to the sport:


Invasor, the 2006 Horse of the Year, was retired today due to a cracked sesamoid bone in his right hind leg. The injury was detected following a workout at Belmont Park this morning in which Invasor worked five furlongs in :59 2/5. The injury is not life threatening, and Invasor will retire to stud at Shadwell Farm in Lexington, Ky.

"I feel honored and privileged to have trained Invasor for Sheikh Hamdan," said Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of Invasor. "He feels so bad for all of us connected with the horse. He's a great owner and a great sportsman. It's a very sad day for all of us. Invasor was a superb horse and a pleasure to be around. Everyone on my team did a great job with him, as did jockey Fernando Jara. It's a shame the way it ended, but at least he will be able to go to stud."

"He came back fine from the workout," McLaughlin continued. "But when we went to wash his feet, he took a couple of funny steps and we noticed some swelling in his right hind leg. We had him x-rayed shortly thereafter, and that is when the fracture was detected."

Invasor captured the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge last year at Churchill Downs en route to 2006 Horse of the Year honors. He won two races from as many starts in 2007, taking the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park in February and the Dubai World Cup at Nad al Sheba in March. He had been scheduled to compete in the June 30 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park.

Blogger's Note: The trainer did not specify which sesamoid bones were cracked but he surely was referred to the proximal (think: proximity, or closeness) sesamoid bones, which are like two walnuts located at the back of the fetlock, between the long pastern bone (P1) and the cannon bone, which is the straight up-and-down bone leading to the hock, in the hind leg. The fetlock area is more or less like the horse's ankle (human and equine anatomy doesn't exactly match up). The sesamoids act to regulate the tension of the tendon running down the back of the leg, as it changes direction.

The proper name for the navicular bone, inside the foot, is the distal (think: "distant") sesamoid; it helps the deep digital flexor tendon to change direction and make a smooth pull to flex the foot. The words proximal and distal differentiate the sesamoids from each other and refer to the relative distance from the horse's head.

Sesamoid bones are nature's block-and-tackle engineering in the structure of a horse's leg. But you knew that!

Invasor was lucky to have such a mild fracture. You may remember that two weeks ago I was blogging about the death of race filly Ruffian, who smashed the sesamoids of her front foot in a match race in 1975. She didn't survive the surgery that attempted to save her life.

Invasor made racing very exciting in the United States for the past year or so. He leaves some very big raceplates to fill.

Photo of Invasor links to Dubai World Cup web site.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Topic Review: Toe Grab and Farrier Recommendations from The Jockey Club's Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Welfare and Safety Summit Committee Supports Enforcement of California Rule on Toe Grabs

A special committee on shoeing and hoof care that was formed coming out of the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit is calling for a ban of toe grabs with a height greater than 4 millimeters on the front horseshoes of Thoroughbred racehorses.

The committee is chaired by Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association President Bill Casner. Members of the committee include trainers Richard Mandella and Todd Pletcher; farriers Steve Norman and Mitch Taylor; veterinarians Sue Stover, Rob Gillette and Bob Hunt; mechanical engineer and track surface researcher Dr. Mick Peterson; California racing commissioner John Harris; and Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron.

The committee began meeting in January to follow through on the Welfare and Safety
Summit recommendation to ban certain horseshoes that research has shown to be
detrimental to the soundness and safety of racehorses. In recommending a ban of toe grabs greater than 4 millimeters, the committee is focused on the use of “regular” and “high” (or Quarter Horse) toe grabs, which have a 6.4- and 9.5-millimeter toe grab,respectively.

Research by Dr. Sue Stover of the University of California at Davis has demonstrated that high toe grabs on front shoes make a Thoroughbred 16 times more likely to suffer a catastrophic injury while racing.

The California Horse Racing Board passed Rule 1690.1 “Toe Grabs Prohibited” in February 2006 and will discuss enforcement at its meeting tomorrow. John Harris, vice chair of the California Horse Racing Board, commented, “We have solid research on this issue and now it’s time to do something about it. I think that will happen this week at our February 22 CHRB meeting. That should pay some good dividends for horse welfare. I urge the rest of the country to follow our lead.”

The California rule will be proposed for adoption nationwide at the Association of Racing Commissioners International Model Rules Committee meeting in April. The rule states, “Toe grabs with a height greater than 4 millimeters worn on the front shoes of Thoroughbred horses while racing are prohibited.”

The committee on shoeing and hoof care is also calling for tracks to ban the use of all toe grabs on front horseshoes on synthetic track surfaces such as Polytrack, Cushion Track and Tapeta.

The use of toe grabs, turndowns, caulks and toe grabs on hind horseshoes is also under consideration by the committee pending the review of existing research. A request for proposals for further research may be forthcoming.

Committee members are also working on educational materials on shoeing and hoof care,
including the use of high-speed cameras and track surface measuring devices developed by Dr. Peterson. Graphic displays of the effects of toe grabs on the front legs of racehorses are also in development. The committee’s future agenda includes the potential to develop and offer a model rule requiring certification for farriers licensed to shoe racehorses and extending the toe grab restrictions to American Quarter Horse racing.

The Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit was coordinated and underwritten by the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and The Jockey Club, and was hosted by the Keeneland Association on October 16-17, 2006. The work of the special committee on shoeing and hoof care is being assisted by Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation
President Ed Bowen, The Jockey Club Executive Director and Executive Vice President Dan Fick and University of Kentucky Equine Studies doctoral candidate Kimberly Brown.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Standredbred Loses a Shoe, Stays in Gait, and Sets a New Track Record

Standardbred trotting colt Mythical Lindy, unbeaten in three starts this season, set the track record for 3-year-old trotters with his 1:57.3 triumph from post seven on the half-mile oval at New York's Monticello Park in today’s eliminations for the June 25th Nevele Pride stakes event.

What’s interesting about this colt and his record-breaking time is that he did it after losing his right front shoe at the quarter pole. Not only did he not break gait, which is what usually happens when a horse loses a shoe, but he went on to win the race and break the record.

“He was pretty comfortable the whole way,” driver David Miller said about Mythical Lindy. “He threw a shoe after the first quarter [mile] and I was little worried when it first came off. That was pretty amazing he kept trotting; he didn’t change his gait at all. That really surprised me.”

After next week’s race, Mythical Lindy will continue his march toward August’s $1.5 million Hambletonian, the world’s richest harness race, at The Meadowlands in New Jersey.

Thanks to our friend Anna Svensson of the US Trotting Association for sharing this story. Anna’s husband is Swedish Standardbred specialist farrier Conny Svensson. They live in New Jersey. No, I don’t know if Conny shod Mythical Lindy! Conny is famous for taking shoes off before a horse goes out on the track. He once pulled all four shoes off the famous trotting mare Moni Maker just before a race in France and she set a record of 1:53:2, the fastest mile ever trotted in Europe.

Virginia Horseshoers Association Honors Veteran Farrier Eddie Watson

Eddie Watson has recently been diagnosed with colon cancer and is undergoing treatment. The Virginia Horsehoers Association (VHA) will hold a unique "Appreciation Clinic" for him on September 22, 2007 at Hockaday Hill Farm in Spotsylvania, VA.

The VHA is honored to recognize Eddie for his unwavering dedication to the farrier industry and anticipates this clinic will allow many of his friends, family and peers to come out and spend the day with him. Shayne Carter, CJF, Roy Bloom, CJF, Dave Farley, CF and Dan Burke, CF ( Farrier Product Distribution, Inc.), will be the clinicians for this event with others possible.

Please contact Butch or Connie Hockaday at 540-582-5486 or email if you plan to attend.

A formal event flyer/announcement is being prepared.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Australian Horse Shoe Nails Now Owned by Mustad

FOREST LAKE, Minn. – June 15, 2007 – The Australian Horseshoe Nail Company, from Australia, has joined the Mustad Group, Switzerland, in a deal that closed June 15, 2007.

Beginning July 1, 2007, Australian Horseshoe Nails will be distributed by Mustad’s Australian company, O’Dwyer Horseshoe Sales Australia Pty. Ltd. The Australian Horseshoe Nail will be available to all existing Australian distributors of the Australian Horse Shoe Nail Company.

The Australian Nail product line will be manufactured in one of the Mustad horseshoe nails factories.

(received via press release this morning)

Happy Birthday to the Man Who Loves to Shoe Horses

With a big grin, I send the very happiest birthday wish in the world to beloved farrier Bill Miller of Rochester, Washington.

Bill turns 80 today.

He has been helping me with articles, historical references and friendship since I first entered the hoof publishing world back in 1981.

Congratulations, Bill!

And thanks to Dave Duckett for letting me know that today is Bill's big day!

Laminitis Research Moves to the Manure Pile

Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) laminitis researcher Nicola Menzies-Gow at the Royal Veterinary College is looking for manure from horses being treated with the Australian laminitis-preventative called Founderguard.

The product, which is not approved by the FDA for use in horses in the USA, has been shown to be effective in the prevention of pasture-associated laminitis — but can be difficult to obtain, even in the UK where it is available.

Our friends at the British horse magazine Horse and Hound have published an appeal for horse owners using the product to submit manure samples. H&H writes:

Menzies-Gow is looking into the consequences of long-term use of Founderguard, which contains the antibiotic drug virginiamycin. She is investigating whether the drug causes increased antibiotic resistance in equine gut bacteria.

Nicola said: "If we can demonstrate that any resistance that does occur is only temporary and not transferred to other bacteria, this will provide evidence that the product should be used for the prevention of laminitis, and possibly increase its availability."

If your horse is being treated with Founderguard and you would like to help with the research, email Nicola at

The original research testing the efficacy of the medication was done at the Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit, under the direction of Hoofcare and Lameness consulting editor Chris Pollitt.

Critics of the drug in the US pointed to the possibility, which may or may not be proved by Menzies-Gow, that the drug lowers a horse's response to bacterial invasion.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Facts and the Fiction of Ruffian's Brace

Ok, so the comments so far are running about 50-50 on the Ruffian movie. It seems everyone (me included) wanted more Sam Shepherd, who played trainer Frank Whitely Jr., and less of the Bill Nack character, no offense to the real Bill Nack.

What threw me for a loop was when they showed the surgeon struggling to get what was obviously an actual farrier-made brace onto Ruffian's leg after the surgery.

I didn't remember any mention of a brace in Jane Schwartz's superb biography "Ruffian: Burning from the Start" so I pulled the book off the shelf and re-read the final chapter. What a surprise.

I learned that one of the people who showed up at Ruffian's stall after the race was Dr Edward B.C. Keefer, a human orthopedist who, in his retirement, switched his research to horses and pioneered an amputation technique that saved the stallion Spanish Riddle, stablemate to Secretariat. Keefer ran a nonprofit organization on Long Island called the Equine Preservation Society and used a technique he developed to make artificial blood vessels from Dacron.

According to Jane Schwartz, Keefer was standing by in case Ruffian's leg needed to be amputated. She writes that during the surgery, Keefer drove home to get one of his braces that he had built for a horse that wore the same size shoe as Ruffian.

Jane writes that Keefer went and woke up one of the shoers and together they labored for over an hour to try to get the brace onto Ruffian's leg. During that time, she had to stay under anesthesia, possibly increasing the chances of complications. Keefer and the farrier finally got the brace on and Keefer --not the veterinarians--cast the leg over the brace. When they were done, they had a package that weighed 40 or 50 pounds on the end of her leg. The year before the filly had refused to wear even a light cast on her leg for a minor hairline fracture.

You know what happened next.

But wait, what about the brace in the movie? It really was a brace. The producers called Dick Fanguy, longtime farrier at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and now vice president of the American Farrier's Association, when they were filming in Shreveport because they heard about the braces he made for the vet school. They actually rented a sample brace and invited Dick to the movie set. "The director said it was beautiful," Dick said.

What's interesting is that the brace was actually made for a hind leg. An Arabian mare "got hung up in a hog fence" according to Dick and severed all her tendons and cracked her cannon bone. The vets wanted to cast the leg but they needed to still be able to medicate the wounds.

"I took a sliding plate and welded a piece of angle iron back in the heels, and then welded another piece of angle iron to it," Dick told me tonight. "Then I built the cage coming up, with rings on the side. It was all padded. I nailed the shoe on and bolted the brace onto the shoe. The lady who owned the mare could lace through the rings with a length of inner tube."

"It was an Arab, so it survived," he quipped.

Dick said he spent a lot of time explaining about braces to the producer and crew, even though the brace is only shown on camera for less than 10 seconds. "These people were really trying to get things as accurate as they could," Dick said.

One More Thing to Worry About: Scrambled Signals on Electronic Doorlocks

Did you know that your cell phone has the power to scramble the electronic programming on your truck's door lock conrol fob? US Rider is warning people to keep cell phones at least an inch away from remote controls on key chains...or you may find yourself out in the cold. or the hot. or the rain. or the whatever. Be careful where you toss those keys! Don't toss your keys and your cell phone in a backpack or even your jacket pocket.

I wonder if US Rider has heard one of my favorite jokes, the one about the farrier who locked his keys in his truck? It took him an hour to get his apprentice out.

USRider offers nationwide roadside assistance designed especially for equestrians. The plan includes standard features such as flat-tire repair, battery assistance and lockout services, plus towing up to 100 miles and roadside repairs for tow vehicles and trailers with horses, emergency stabling, veterinary and farrier referrals, and more. (I didn't know that, either.)

American Farrier's Association Executive Committee "Road Trip" to Nashville, Tennessee Deemed a Success by Officers

(via press release from the AFA) The American Farrier's Association's first effort to reach out to its members proved a worthwhile success in Music City last week. "This will prove to be a turning point for the entire AFA," said Dave Ferguson, CJF, TE. "I think our membership will now see how the process works and that we make decisions that effect all AFA members."

Ferguson went on to say, "We want our membership to have ownership in this organization and this is a great way for them to be a part of the process."

The two day event featured an executive committee meeting where the committee worked tirelessly on a strategic plan for the association. "It was amazing to see how our executive committee conducted business, debated and ultimately came together to make monumental decisions for the betterment of the association," commented Steve Davis,CF the Music City host chapter President. "Due to the Town Hall meeting, we were able to address our concerns and questions to our elected body and we all came away with a better understanding of how our leadership works. As a result, several past members re-joined the AFA on the spot!"

A total of 12 farriers turned out for the Town Hall meeting with many more stopping in after work to the forging demonstration by President Elect, Andrew Elsbree.

"This was hugely successful at opening up the dialog with the people we serve," stated Dick Fanguy, CJF, AFA Vice President. "The feedback I got back with regard to the Town Hall meeting, and the shoeing demonstration was extremely positive. This was a good place to start and we already have commitments from our chapters in California and North Carolina to host future EC meetings. We are going to hunt down members one at a time."

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Poetin: World Champion Dressage Star's Laminitis Trial Verdict Date Set

The German dressage magazine St. Georg is reporting that a date has been set to announce the verdict in a lawsuit regarding the death of World Champion dressage mare Poetin in France.

Poetin was sold at auction and foundered soon afterwards. St Georg is reporting that the mare was injected with Celestovet, a cortisone-based steroid, on the day of the sale. According to a statement from the mare's purchasers, the horse was unable to walk normally off the van that delivered her from the sale. The mare sloughed both front feet and was euthanized 90 days after the sale.

Laminitis caused by steroid reaction is a controversial subject and it is expected that arguments are being, or have been, presented from both sides of the courtroom.

At the time of her sale, Poetin was allegedly owned by the Dutch bank ING ("the orange bank"), as part of a debt settlement. ING had refused to turn over the mare's medical files to the court.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Selenium toxicity and Laminitis Possible Side Effects of Drought-Damaged Hay

Received via press release from the University of Missouri today

COLUMBIA, Mo. — While much of the Midwest has recovered from the drought that parched the area last year, horses are continuing to experience effects from the hot dry summer of 2006. Due to a bad hay crop, University of Missouri-Columbia veterinarians are reporting an increased number of horses with chronic selenosis and vitamin E deficiency, problems that can be fatal.

“Last year’s drought meant that Missouri’s hay crop, which is usually balanced very well for a horse’s nutrition, was much poorer than usual,” said Philip Johnson, professor of veterinary medicine and surgery. “Because of the poor Missouri hay crop, horse owners imported hay from other states nearby and possibly fed their horses hay that was too high in selenium. This can have very grave consequences for horses.”

Selenium is a naturally occurring element and is an essential part of horse diets. However, too much or too little can create problems for a horse. When chronic selenosis, or selenium poisoning, occurs from eating too much of the element, horses can lose the hair in the mane and tail and develop a form of laminitis, a painful condition that affects the hoof. If left untreated for too long, a horse with chronic selenosis may require euthanasia as a result of severe laminitis.

Johnson said that the amount of selenium in hay can vary by county throughout the nation, but that Missouri hay typically has just the right amount of the essential element. For a small fee, horse owners can have their hay tested to determine if it has the right amount of selenium in it.

“Usually, by the time the horse is showing symptoms, it may be too late to reverse the disease completely,” Johnson said. “However, if a horse owner has other horses that are feeding from the same food source, it’s important to have those animals treated before the damage is permanent.”

Photo of Dr. Johnson provided by University of Missouri. Dr. Johnson will speak on his important research on the subject of laminitis and represent his university at the Fourth International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot, a gathering of the world's leading researchers and field practitioners in West Palm Beach, Florida in November.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Interesting photo of the day..."The Queen Will Understand!"

A New Zealander blogger visiting the UK snapped this very-behind-the-scenes shot of the Household Cavalry during the Trooping of the Colors ceremony in London yesterday. They couldn't get seats in the stands so went around the back and this is what they saw.

Double click on the photo to see what's really going on at Buckingham Palace! Apparently the Guardsman remained in the saddle throughout the process! The fellow on foot seems to be trying to shield the farrier from sight and the one in the black uniform is undoubtedly exhorting him to hurry up and finish!

Of course, we all know that the Windsors understand that sometimes you just have to wait for the farrier to finish.

Derek and Dot, the curious Kiwis, wrote, "The Guards were obviously trying to cover it up but I did manage to sneak one. Embarrassing for them, I know."

All in a day's "work", for D and D, who are spending "three or four" years touring the inland canals of the UK in a narrowboat.

Float along vicariously with them via their blog at
Thanks for the photo!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Rags to Riches: First Filly to Win Belmont Stakes in 102 Years!

It was an historic day at Belmont Park today. Rags to Riches, one of the most regally bred horses racing in America today, proved that breeding will out as she duelled Preakness winner Curlin and burst across the wire to win the 1.5 mile classic, one of the last long-distance races on dirt in the USA. She's the first filly to win the race in more than 100 years, and the very first of her sex to win the race at the longer distance. The race was formerly run at a shorter distance.

R2R is by leading US sire AP Indy, himself a winner of the Belmont, and a son of Seattle Slew, who won the Belmont as part of his Triple Crown in 1977. But if you look on the other side of her pedigree, she is out of Better Than Honour, by Deputy Minister. Better Than Honour is also the dam of last year's Belmont winner, Jazil. That is one valuable broodmare!

Read all about it and watch the video on the Thoroughbred Times site. Photo by Z above, links to Thoroughbred Times.

I don't know anything about her feet yet but I know that she, like most of Todd Pletcher's trainees in the Northeast, was surely shod by Ray Amato at his home base at Belmont. I had the pleasure of meeting the filly in April at Keeneland, shortly before her win in the Kentucky Oaks. Thanks to her therapist, Dianne Volz, and her groom, Isabel Aguilar, for introducing me.

This was Todd Pletcher's first victory in a Triple Crown race. To do it in such a dramatic way, with a filly beating the colts, is a great way to break a curse.

I'm still hoarse from screaming!

On TV Night: Premiere of Ruffian Movie

Real-life horseman Sam Shepherd stars as trainer Frank Whitely in this based-on-fact movie of the life of the great racefilly Ruffian, who lies buried near the finish line at New York's Belmont Park, only yards from where she broke down while on the lead in a match race against champion colt Foolish Pleasure thirty years ago.

Air time is 9 pm Eastern on ABC; check your local listings and have a box of tissues nearby. The DVD goes on sale next week and may include the excellent documentary on the making of the film, including lots of biomechanics and special effects related to the filly's injury.

ALSO RECOMMENDED: Bill Nack's new book, "Ruffian: A Racetrack Romance" goes on the shelf next to Jane Schwartz's "Ruffian: Burning from the Start". Nack is one of the main characters in the ESPN movie; the film is roughly based on his book. Nack was the only person I have heard about who was on the track with both Ruffian and Barbaro as they were loaded onto ambulances after breaking down. His description of the parallels between the two tragedies, 30 years apart, is compelling journalism worthy of accolades from all corners of the horse and publishing worlds. (See following posts for more about Bill Nack and the book.)

The Final Hours of Ruffian: Bill Nack's Story Comes to Life

"I took off through the clubhouse and raced down the stairs and swept blindly past a guard and onto the crown of the track, where I heard a jockey screaming at me just before his muscular bay colt thundered past, nearly bowling me over as he came home alone in triumph past the finish line. I ran across the infield to where she had broken down and there he was, the man crouching under her, fumbling with the cast. Saw the ambulance rolling to a stop and saw the lifting of the screen as the filly stood there trembling and wide-eyed and scared, sweat pouring off her in the heat of that early Sunday evening: July 6, 1975. Went unwelcome to her burial at dusk the next night, on the infield at Belmont Park, and stood outside the small urn of light cast by the headlights from the truck that had borne her enshrouded remains from Doc Reed's hospital across the road."

Author Bill Nack takes you back 30 years to the glory and heartbreak of the great race filly Ruffian. His description of the last few hours of her life is shocking, raw, and disturbing. As it should be. This paragraph is just the beginning. I highly recommend that you read this book: "Ruffian: A Racetrack Romance" by William Nack, from ESPN Books, published last month. Please patronize your local independently-owned bookstore or ask Hoofcare Publishing to special-order it for you. Photo above: Ruffian in one of her many stakes victories, photo by New York Racing Association.

Ruffian: Barbaro's Breakdown Through the Lens of Racing's Legendary Filly

"In the end, beyond all the screams and cries and the lifting of that ominous screen, at the center of all the clamor and the chaos and that scent of panic curling upward in the tremulous air, young Barbaro stood naked in the grandstand shade, his shoulder muscles quivering as he shifted on his three perfect feet. Gnawing on the bit between his teeth, his large eyes rolling white with panic, the bay raised and pumped the shattered remnant of his right rear leg, broken like a jigsaw puzzle in some thirty places. He touched the foot to the ground, raised it once more, and angrily punched the air.

"Seeing this, I felt as though I'd been transported back in time again, doing it all over once again, running madly through the clubhouse and down the stairs two at a time, gulping sunlight as I stepped onto the Pimlico racetrack. Piddling along with my head down, I walked toward the stricken horse as if in sleep, fumbling and feeling my way along the damp walls of the same recurring nightmare that long ago I'd come to know so well, the one where Ruffian had come and gone in a thrash of dying light.

"Jamie Richardson, the track superintendent, was crouching under Barbaro and working to fit him with a temporary aluminum splint. A handful of racetrack workers stood on either side of the horse, trying to keep him calm while Richardson worked under him. Barbaro was in deepening pain as the flow of natural adrenaline began to wear off. He looked worried and confused. In his brief and simple life, he had always had four legs on which to stand and move and now for the first time he had only three, and he had never known such pain, and all of this and the excitement were arousing fear in his eyes. Barbaro lifted and cocked his injured leg, then flashed it just past Richardson's ear, missing it by inches.

"Watch it, dammit!" said a voice. "He'll kick your brains out."

"Whoa! Whoa, son," said Richardson.

"Easy with him," said a voice from the crowd.

"Oh jeez, oh jeez, please be careful with him," said another.

"A man appeared carrying a walkie-talkie telephone. The crowd on the track grew larger. "Where's the doc?" the man said. "Get the X-ray machine to Barbaro's stall. Now! That's right. And make sure Doc Dreyfuss can get out on the track ... Who are all these people? Get these people off the track."

"From the fans pressed against the nearby rail came a woman's voice: "Help him! Please help him."

"Richardson was having trouble fitting on the cast. The colt kept moving the injured leg. "Whoa, son ... whoa," he said. "Hold him. Hold him."

"More fans gathered behind the fence, faces hung as in a still-life watercolor, hands on lips, fingers on cheeks, women in tears. "Don't kill him," one said. "Please, please don't kill him!"

"She had seen the screen, the one they always raise to protect the people from their feelings, to block the view of crowds when they have to destroy hopelessly injured animals through lethal injection, and Barbaro looked wild-eyed when he saw the large screen looming towards him. The horse's trainer, Michael Matz, shouted, "Get that screen out of here! You're scaring the horse."

"The cast was on and the ambulance door opened. "We're ready to load," said a member of the ambulance crew. "Get the horse turned around."

"Barbaro hobbled onto the back of the van and left to a flutter of cheers."

How amazing that one person could have been present at the breakdowns of both Barbaro and Ruffian, even though they occured 30 years apart. How fortunate that that one person should have been the bard of American horse journalism. The lines above the opening paragraphs of Bill Nack's new book"Ruffian: A Racetrack Romance", a slim but compellingly poignant tribute to one of the world's greatest racehorses...and to the tragedy of racetrack breakdowns. Nack's book has been made into a movie by ESPN and will be shown on ABC-TV at 9 pm tonight, starring real-life horseman Sam Shepherd as trainer Frank Whitely.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Barbaro's Laminitis Research Funds Will Be Disbursed in Winner's Circle at Saturday's Belmont Stakes

Via press release from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) today; photo above of Barbaro with Dr. Dean Richardson, Gretchen and Roy Jackson ©University of Pennsylvania:

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced today that the NTRA Charities – Barbaro Memorial Fund will make its first two disbursements, totaling $150,000, this Saturday at Belmont Park in the winner’s circle following the seventh race on the Belmont Stakes Day card. Also part of the ceremony will be a check presentation of $15,000 to the Fund from the New York Racing Association.

A disbursement of $100,000 will be made from the NTRA Charities – Barbaro Memorial Fund to the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation (GJCRF).

A disbursement of $50,000 will be made to the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s Fund for Laminitis Research. Penn Veterinary Medicine is fighting laminitis through new and cutting-edge research to develop preventative and therapeutic management strategies. This work builds upon Penn Vet's extensive and renowned reputation for animal stem cell research and equine care.

In addition to the well-established international symposium on laminitis and diseases of the foot that Penn Veterinary Medicine has conducted every two years since 2001, the School has recently announced the appointment of a Senior Research Investigator, Hannah Galantino-Homer, V.M.D, Ph.D, to begin the work of the Laminitis Research Initiative.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Schedule Published for 2007 Laminitis Conference in Florida

I hope you will take a minute and visit the new web site for the 4th International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot. (URL is The speakers and topics have been published and I hope you will agree that this is an exciting immersion into the serious study of horse foot problems. I'd love to know what you think! Click on the "Comments" button below or send an email to

Maybe we could start the conference now, with a discussion of the heel bulbs on the hind foot of the horse from the web banner...To view the image at full size (as with any image anywhere on this blog) double-click on the image and it will open in original size in a new window. Just don't copy it, please, without permission. (and that is usually easy to arrange)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Price is Right: Behind Bob Barker's Million Dollar Smile Are Several Million Dollars of Donations

Are you ready for the media blitz, ad nauseum? The Price Is Right TV game show host Bob Barker is retiring on June 15, after 35 years of hosting the show that you probably have seen only when you were home with the flu. Or maybe you really do know how much that dinette set is worth and want to pit your wits against the TV audience.

Before you throw something at your television throughout all the upcoming tributes to Barker, consider this:

Six of the nation's premier law schools--Columbia, Duke, Stanford, UCLA, Yale and Northwestern--have each been given $1 million endowments to train future animal law attorneys. That $6 million came from Bob Barker, who was here in Boston recently to soeak at the 2007 Animal Law Conference at Harvard Law School.

The new legal study institutes at the Barker-funded universities will help train lawyers to specialize in cases involving animals and provide a resource for lawyers and lawmakers in the field who find themselves involved in interpreting, making or defending laws that affect all animals, including horses.

Harvard received a separate endowment from the producers of TPIR to establish the Bob Barker Endowment Fund for the Study of Animal Rights. The Fund will support teaching and research at the Law School in the emerging field of animal rights law.

Bob Barker heads his own DJ&T Foundation, the purpose of which is to help control the dog and cat population. He funds the foundation's work through his own resources.

Barker made news two weeks ago by donating $300,000 to rescue Ruby, a foot-sore elephant, from her concrete-floored pen at a Los Angeles, California zoo. Thanks to Barker's donation and the publicity it generated, Ruby now lives at the Performing Animal Welfare Society Elephant Sanctuary in San Andreas, southeast of Sacramento. Meanwhile, the LA Zoo has announced construction of a $39 million, six-acre Asian elephant exhibit called the Pachyderm Forest, where elephants will be able to roam more freely, on natural footing.

The final episode of Barker-bedecked TPIR will be broadcast Friday, June 15. The 83-year-old Barker has won 17 Emmy awards, including 13 as TV host, more than any other performer...and is nominated for more this year.

"I'm going for the Featherlite slant, Bob..."

Photo courtesy of the DJ&T Foundation

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Amy Tryon Abuse Hearing Date Set for June 25 in Switzerland; Charges and Defense To Be Heard in Injury to Le Samurai at Rolex Three-Day Event in USA

This just in from the FEI:

"In relation to the case of alleged abuse involving rider Amy Tryon (USA) and horse Le Samurai which occurred on 28 April 2007 at CCI 4* Lexington, please be informed that rider Amy Tryon has requested a hearing and in turn, the FEI has scheduled a hearing to be held on 25 June in Lausanne."

Friday, June 01, 2007

Vets in Court: Charges Cleared in Fracture Case; Non-vet Witnesses Testimony Not Relevant

LONDON, ENGLAND (May 31) -- The Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons last week dismissed a case against a veterinary surgeon having found that her actions during the treatment of an injured horse did not amount to serious professional misconduct.

Margarida dos Santos Correia MRCVS was practising at the Lady Dane Veterinary Centre in Faversham, England at the time of the incident. She was attending a Thoroughbred gelding called Prune that had a puncture wound on his hind leg, causing increasingly severe lameness, swelling and seepage.

The charge faced by Dr Correia was that, having identified that Prune was severely lame in his left hind leg and that it might be fractured, she caused Prune to be transported some 50 miles to a referral centre, without providing adequate physical support.

During the hearing the Committee heard that when Dr Correia first examined Prune, she had not ruled out a fracture, but decided that cellulitis from the puncture wound was more likely. It was alleged by lay witnesses that she did not examine the horse properly three days later and that, prior to transportation, she again failed to palpate the leg properly.

The Committee, however, preferred Dr Correia's evidence that she examined the leg properly on all three occasions; further, it accepted that a lay witness could easily have mistaken stance-related distortion for displacement.

The Committee stated that it was sure there was neither a detectable limb fracture, nor visible distortion to show that a fracture had occurred; it noted the opinion of both expert witnesses that this was not unusual in a non-displaced unicortical fracture and that sometimes, even with the benefit of a radiograph, it could be an impossible fracture to detect. It agreed that Dr Correia's diagnosis of cellulitis was consistent with the symptoms presented at the time.

Professor Derek Knottenbelt MRCVS, expert witness for the RCVS, described the case as a very difficult one for Correia - a "young and relatively inexperienced veterinary surgeon" - to face so early in her career. He stated that, "cellulitis is far and away more common than tibial fracture," adding, "[Correia] made a genuine error of judgment that she is unlikely to make again".

The Committee heard that Dr Correia had spoken by telephone with a senior colleague who had agreed with her diagnosis, but had not been talked through the protocol for transporting a horse so injured. It found it a "matter of great regret" that this colleague did not see fit to examine Prune himself, before allowing him to be moved.

Both experts agreed that transportation in 'Robert Jones' bandages with splints applied by an inexperienced person such as Correia possibly could result in more harm than good. Neither Correia's senior colleague, nor the equine referral clinic, had suggested to Dr Correia that she employ any such protective procedure.

Alison Bruce, chairing the Disciplinary Committee, said: "We wholeheartedly concur with the expert witness for the Respondent, Professor Tim Greet FRCVS, when he concludes in his report that: 'Under such circumstances, it is my opinion that Dr Correia's actions could not, at any time, be construed as demonstrating seriously deficient professional care, nor was her conduct disgraceful in a professional respect.' The case is dismissed."