Friday, August 31, 2007

What's out the window?

Ok, everyone out there with too much time on your hands: did you know we have a web cam? Here's the view out the window today; the office is surrounded by schooners who have come to race this weekend in the Gloucester Schooner Festival.

The word "schooner" was born here in Gloucester, Massachusetts and the rig was the preferred design for the local fishing fleet. The 21 schooners here this weekend are either survivors or replicas of the old fishing fleet or elegant Alden schooner yachts or even more exotic designs. Sunday's race is for schooners over 100 feet long.

We were expecting the fabulous Canadian schooner Bluenose II from Nova Scotia but they are having engine trouble somewhere on the coast of Maine. We also have the U.S. Navy vessel Nizve in port. This little harbor is the place to be this weekend!

You can check our office web cam any time, day or night by clicking here. You won't see much at night!

There's a web cam with a wider view of the entire harbor here.

By the way, it is an old tradition to nail a horseshoe to the mast of schooner when it is launched. Some say it is for good luck; others say it is because the galley cook often served horse meat and the sign of a horseshoe on deck was a dead giveaway what the mystery meat in the stew was. There's even an old sea chanty, an ode to the horses on board.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

American Farriers Team Posts Highest Finish Ever at UK's "Stoneleigh" International

If there's a World Cup of farrier competitions, it's the international team competition held each August at the Royal Showgrounds at Stoneleigh, England.

Hosted each year by the National Association of Farriers, Blacksmiths and Agricultural Engineers in England, the team competition has traditionally been an all -out battle between England and Wales...with the other countries showing up and doing their very best to beat the Brits (and Welsh) at their own game.

Wales, for instance, fielded a team on which were three former Calgary world champions--Billy Crothers, Richard Ellis and James Blurton, plus veteran Andy Martin. That could be a little intimidating!

This year the US team, sent abroad by the American Farrier's Association, finished a very credible fourth overall, behind England, Wales and Ireland. I believe this is the highest finish ever for the USA and a round of applause is definitely in order. (Please correct me if I am mistaken.)

Team members were slated to have been Billy Reed, Conrad Trow, Travis Koons, and reigning Calgary world champion Bill Poor.

Details are sketchy at this point and more will be posted soon!

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Laminitis Researcher "Accidentally" Discovers New Bacteria in Horse Digestive Tract

Two new species of bacteria have been discovered in the gut of horses. Streptococcus henryi and streptococcus caballi, were found by accident by UQ veterinary science PhD student Gabriel Milinovich while researching the hoof-deteriorating disease of laminitis.

Mr Milinovich made the discoveries in 2004 in horses at St Lucia but has only recently classified and confirmed their existence. He said he did not believe the bacteria, two of thousands found in a horse's gut, were related to laminitis or harmful.

The 27-year-old researcher said he named streptococcus henryi in honour of Dr Dick Peter Henry, a UQ veterinary microbiologist who continued his research up to his recent death at age 78.

Streptococcus caballi was named in honour of the riding horse which is most prone to developing laminitis.

Milinovich's research will be published in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. He is supervised by Professor Chris Pollitt, Dr Darren Trott and Dr Paul Burrell.

(post edited from a university press release)

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Farriers and Vets Allowed to Work on "Emergency Only" Basis during Australian State's Emergency

Urgent Update for Veterinarians, Farriers, Equine Dentists and other Paraveterinarians in the State of New South Wales in Australia:

Equine Influenza is being detected at widespread locations in NSW, due to movements of horses, people or equipment before the standstill was imposed three days ago.

In view of this, all veterinarians, farriers, equine dentists and other paraveterinarians are advised to keep all visits to horse establishments to an absolute minimum, for emergencies only, and particularly to avoid sequential visits on the same day.

Only essential and emergency visits should be undertaken for the next ten days, while the true extent of the disease is established.

Hygiene and biosecurity guidelines for veterinarians and industry are posted on the NSW DPI website at and other specialist guidelines will also be placed there as they are developed.

From the office of Helen Scott-Orr, Director Health Science, Strategic Alliances & Evaluation, NSW Department of Primary Industries

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Australian Farrier Blamed for Equine Influenza Outbreak and Nationwide Lockdown of Horses

It is Monday morning in Sydney and the news is out: it is believed that a farrier has been identified as the source of the country's first outbreak of Equine Influenza. The country has been in a national stoppage of horse activity, racing, breeding, and transport since Friday.

According to Australian Olympic rider Heath Ryan, quoted by the Australian Broadcast Company (ABC) and other sources, a farrier shod a Japanese Thoroughbred stallion in quarantine, then proceeded to Centennial Park in Sydney, where perhaps his tools or clothing infected the horses he shod there.

Some of those horses were on their way to a horse trial, where they in turn infected other horses...who then went home to farms strung out all over eastern Australia.

It's still a theory, at this point. It's an intriguing and sobering scenario.

Sadly, it is not known how many horses in Australia may be ill since some people do not want to report their sick horses for fear they will be forced to have them euthanized, according to one event organizer where sick horses are known to have competed. Authorities are desperately trying to track horses that may have come into contact with sick horses.

From the ABC article:

Australian equestrian coach Heath Ryan has five horses at the Warwick event and says the virus spread after a farrier shod an infected overseas stallion at a Sydney quarantine station.

"I think the farrier somehow managed to do his feet and then go on into Centennial Park and not be properly cleaned," he said.

"The Centennial horses in Sydney were shod and then went on to compete at the ranch in the Hunter Valley. And from there it's just gone in all directions."

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Australian Farriers and Blacksmiths Association Advises Farriers to Use Caution During Flu Outbreak

Australia has never had equine influenza, nor has New Zealand. All that changed on Thursday. By Saturday, the entire country was in a lockdown, with all transport of horses, feed, and bedding stopped dead in their hoofprints.

Here's the word from one of the two national farrier associations there:

"The Australian Farriers and Blacksmiths Association (AFBA) wishes to advise farriers that they should take precautions when visiting their client's horses. It is suggested that you ring your local DPI and find out the best procedures to follow, I would suggest that the same procedure that a vet would have to follow would be appropriate.

"However in the meantime it would be a good idea to ring clients before visiting and find out if their horses are showing any signs of illness, however whether they are or not it would be suggested that you purchase some disinfectant and hand sanitiser gel, the gel for hands and disinfectant in a spray bottle that can be put on your shoes, and tools etc."

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Is this a natural swim-trim?

hippo feet, originally uploaded by moocatmoocat.

This was a hard photo to find; hippos are usually standing on their hooves. Hippos are of course known as "river horses" and this shot shows you why.

I wonder if anyone has studied the hoof wall composition of hippos; these hooves are in the water virtually 24/7, although not always in the nonweightbearing state.

Is it someone's job at the zoo to trim these hooves?

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Poetin's Owner Harvested DNA Before Foundered Mare Died; Clone of World Champion Dressage Mare Born in France

One of the most bizarre laminitis stories of recent years has taken yet another zany twist: a clone has been created of the late great world champion dressage mare Poetin, who died of laminitis in the midst of a stormy international sale transaction.

Here are some excerpts from the August 22nd press release sent out by Cryozootech, the French cloners-for-hire:

Cryozootech is happy to announce the birth of the clone of 2003 dressage world champion Poetin 2, a Brandeburg mare that died prematurely in 2005. This achievement illustrates the use of the cloning technique for genetic safeguarding.

Poetin 2 was born in 1997. This Brandeburg mare has an interesting life story:

Poetin 2 from Sandro Hit and Poesie by Brentano, was promised to a bright future: she won the German championship and the world championship in dressage for young horses, with so far unequaled scores (a 10/10 for her trot). She was sold for 2.5 million (Euros) in 2003 to an ING Bank / van der Zwan farm (Netherlands) consortium.

(French owner) Xavier Marie acquired Poetin at a dispersal sale in 2005 after the consortium broke up. Unfortunately, when she reached his place, Poetin 2 had acute laminitis from which she did not recover. She was euthanized in December 2005. A lawsuit ensured.

Knowing of Cryozootech's work for genetic preservation, Xavier Marie asked for her cells to be collected beforehand, with the objective in mind to get a replacement for his horse. Poetin's clone was born on March 30th, 2007. Now she frolics in paddocks of the Haras de Hus near Nantes on the west coast of France.

In other news: The firm reports that their first clone of a gelding has managed to successful breed a mare. Simultaneously, a research pony mare and the first horse clone to be born, is also pregnant, due to foal in 2008.

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Three Chimneys Farm Works to Help Slew 'o Gold Keep His Cool

Here's either the best or worst news of the day.

First, the bad news. Pensioner stallion Slew 'o Gold is suffering from Cushing's disease.

More bad news: the heat wave continues in Kentucky.

Still more bad news: Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky, where Slew 'o Gold stood at stud (as did his father, Seattle Slew, before him) is know for its beautiful barns. Unfortunately they have an open layout and are difficult to heat or cool.

The good news: The farm has wrapped Slew's stall in plastic and installed air conditioning.

I'm happy for Slew 'o Gold, but it makes me wonder about all the other older horses in the hot zone.

Slew 'o Gold will always be remembered for breaking the taboo against running races--and winning--wearing bar shoes.

Read the complete story from Three Chimneys Farm here.

Work and Play for Noted Veterinarian During Saratoga Visit

Linda and Dr. Frank Gravlee say hello to Rags to Riches at Todd Pletcher's barn. Note the strategically placed hay that prevents me from documenting her feet for you.

It was Alabama Stakes week at Saratoga, so Hoofcare and Lameness Journal made sure that someone from Alabama was on hand. Veterinarian and nutritionist Frank Gravlee, founder of Life Data Labs and inventor of Farriers Formula, enjoyed a hero's welcome, as did his wife, Linda, who is CEO of Life Data.

The Gravlees were featured in an article in Thoroughbred Times this summer for their innovative research on Thoroughbred nutrition at their research farm in Alabama. The Gravlees well-bred mares have foals by stallions like Distorted Humor, Royal Academy, and Posse at their sides. One of the foals' first lessons is how to stand still on a horse scale; they are monitored carefully and the mares' feed is scientifically formulated, measured, and administered. The farm's yearlings are headed to Keeneland next month to be sold.

Part of the Gravlees' whirlwind tour of Saratoga was a speaking engagement for Dr. Frank at our Hoofcare@ Saratoga event. After the lecture, Dr. Frank signed copies of his new book, co-authored with Dr Doug Butler, Laminitis and Founder: Prevention and Treatment.

Everyone in Saratoga was very welcoming to the Gravlees. Of course it didn't hurt that the Farriers Formula tractor-trailer rig had been stuck in traffic on Union Avenue outside the racetrack a few days before they arrived. It was just setting the stage!

However, the visit to Saratoga was related to Dr. Gravlee's research into laminitis and equine nutrition, and the publication of the book, rather than to a promotional push for the company.

Dr. Frank Gravlee stopped in the midst of his autograph party to chat with Diane and Curtis Burns. They market the Burns Polyflex shoe (, which Curtis designed, worn recently by winning stakes horses like River's Prayer, Octave, Teuflesberg, and Zanjero. Curtis is a flying farrier who pops up everywhere.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Alleged Tennessee Walking Horse Cruelty Case Charges Farrier As Well As Trainer

New rules in place at the 69th Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration - which began this week in Shelbyville, Tennessee– offer some signs of progress for an industry that has been plagued for decades by the specter of soring. But recent allegations of illegal and inhumane training methods serve as a reminder that the industry is still under close scrutiny.

In a letter sent this week to Hon. Charles Crawford, Bedford County, Tennessee District Attorney General, The Humane Society of the United States urged Crawford to investigate an alleged case of "pressure shoeing" and pursue, if warranted, animal cruelty charges against Tennessee Walking Horse trainer Dick Peebles and the farrier who allegedly performed the pressure shoeing. The Humane Society of the United States also offered assistance in investigating this case.

" At a time when some trainers and leaders in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry are trying to implement reform and finally put an end to soring, those individuals that refuse to comply with state and federal law and continue to abuse and molest these magnificent animals should be held accountable," said Keith Dane, director of equine protection for The Humane Society of the United States. "Those who practice the illegal act of pressure shoeing should be rejected by the entire Tennessee Walking Horse industry."

"Pressure shoeing"– generally held to be the most egregious form of illegal horse soring – is the trimming a horse's hoof so the shoe puts painful pressure on the horse's sole, forcing an exaggerated high gait. In some instances, foreign objects are placed between the sole and the shoe or pad which is nailed to the hoof, to create painful pressure on the sole.

On August 15, the Walking Horse Trainers Association (WHTA) Board of Directors and Ethics Committee issued a report detailing an investigation of Mr. Peebles' alleged shoeing violation. According to the report, Mr. Peebles, while not admitting guilt, agreed to accept responsibility for a shoeing violation and received a five-year suspension penalty, a penalty reserved for pressure shoeing under the USDA Horse Protection Act Operating Plan.

The WHTA's suspension of Mr. Peebles' trainer's license may not actually prevent him from training horses, or his clients from showing them. The suspension was not implemented and is not enforced under the Horse Protection Act, but rather the WHTA's own rules and ethics code; therefore, he is not officially banned from showing under any law or governmental regulation.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Lightning Strikes: A Sobering Reminder

Hoofcare and Lameness Journal subscribers will remember this photo that ran in the magazine a few years ago, but it is a good one to look at now and again to remind us all of the power (and danger) of an electrical storm. On the rainy day of September 1, 1923, 18 horses belonging to the Christy Brothers circus died as one when a lightning bolt hit a nearby transformer as they prepared for the parade. The lightning didn't come down from the sky but travelled through the wet, muddy earth from the telephone pole to their steel shoes. This photo shows one six-horse hitch who died as one; the four-horse calliope team and the eight-horse lead wagon team were all killed in the same strike. Several people died as well. Thanks to the Wisconsin Historical Society and Circus World Museum for the loan of this photo.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bone-Healing Seminar In Lexington, Kentucky

(from invitation)

SentrX Animal Care, Inc. will host a reception for the equine community at the Embassy Suites in Lexington, Kentucky, on Friday, September 7, 2007. The event will feature a keynote from Louise L. Southwood, BVSc, PhD, DACVS, DACVECC. Dr Southwood is a prominent large animal veterinarian, who will present an update on SentrX’s equine bone healing work.

“We are honored to have such a notable veterinarian as Louise discuss equine bone healing,” said Dr. Richard Koehn, president and CEO of SentrX Animal Care, Inc. “SentrX’s products accelerate the healing of wounds in horses with minimal scarring. The equine community has successfully put our products to use and we are excited to provide them a brief update on our work.”

Dr. Southwood is an Assistant Professor of Large Animal Emergency and Critical Care at New Bolton Center, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

Event Details
Friday, September 7, 2007
5:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Embassy Suites
Lexington, Kentucky
1801 Newtown Pike

To learn more, visit

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Monday, August 20, 2007

British Farriers to Face Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Requirements Beginning in 2008

Passing the British farrier education system's stringent apprenticeship and exam systems will no longer be a ticket to a lifelong career for farriers there. Beginning in 2008, British farriers must also prove that they have spent a required number of hours per year in pursuit of new knowledge or participating in farriery-related events.

From the website of the Worshipful Company of Farriers:

"Every farrier will be required to gain 10 points per year averaged over a 3 year period. The system will start in earnest in 2008. The requirement in 2008 is 5 points, in 2009, 8 points, and from 2010 onwards 10 points per year. Farriers who have completed the required amount of CPD in the previous year will display CPD Stickers on their vans."

A similar program launched by the American Farrier's Association two years ago was withdrawn. The 2006 Grayson Jockey Club Foundation's racehorse welfare summit meeting hoof care committee recommended continuing education programs for racetrack shoers.

CPD is a growing trend in many fields. The Fourth International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot was recently granted 18.5 hours of CPD credit to veterinarians.

A controversy in the US exists over veterinarians not being able to receive credits for educational events' lectures if farriers are speakers.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Myhre Equine Clinic Announces 2007 Farrier-Vet Conference

Myhre Equine Clinic (MEC) in Rochester, New Hampshire has announced that its annual farrier and veterinarian conference will be held on October 18 and 19, 2007.

The conference will have a new format this year, with one full day or lectures on hoof wall infections and chronic laminitis and one full day on navicular disease.

Speakers scheduled are Drs. Bryan Fraley and Bob Agne of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital's Podiatry Center in Lexington Kentucky, plus farriers Patrick Reilly of the University of Pennsylvania and Rebecca Watts, resident farrier at MEC.

The clinic is offering a ten percent discount to attendees who pre-register. This conference was a sell-out last year, so pre-registrations is recommended.

Drs. Fraley and Agne provided consultation services in the Boston area on a monthly (or so) basis primarily on complex laminitis cases.

Myhre Equine Clinic is in the former clinic facility of Rochester Equine Clinic.

Rochester is convenient to airports in Boston, Manchester, New Hampshire or Portland, Maine. It's a beautiful time of the year to visit New England.

A great hotel is the Governors Inn; less expensive is the Anchorage Inn.

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"Hoofcare@Saratoga" Toe Grab Forum Explored Thoroughbred Shoeing

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NEW YORK--An evening dedicated to the proposed ban of toe grabs by state racing commissioners brought out a diverse group of interested attendees on August 7th. The second of Hoofcare & Lameness Journal's "Hoofcare@Saratoga" Tuesday evening gatherings at The Parting Pub filled every seat in the restaurant's function room.

Facilitated by the Grayson Jockey Club Foundation, the evening focused on the work of the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit's hoof committee. On hand to present thewere committee chairman Bill Casner of WinStar Farm, and committee members Mitch Taylor, owner of Kentucky Horseshoeing School, and Steve Norman, a well-known Churchill Downs shoer.

A late-afternoon condensed run-through was presented for anyone who needed to attend the yearling sales that night.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Racing's Hottest Filly Is Just Plain Hot Today

Belmont Stakes winner Rags to Richess shipped to Saratoga earlier this week after three days of examinations and diagnostic tests at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center. She was given a clean bill of health. R2R galloped around Saratoga for her trainer, Todd Pletcher, than exchanged exasperated looks with me. I felt about the same way that she looked. And it would get even hotter as the day wore on.

Historic Firsts: Secretariat's First Shoes

On August 3, 1971 a yearling colt in Virginia named Secretariat had aluminum race plates nailed on his front feet for the first time and was transferred down the road to The Meadow's training center for breaking.

Another anniversary is that of Secretariat's defeat at Saratoga on this day in 1973. A few days earlier, he had beaten the track record for a mile, and in the mud, during a morning workout in front of a grandstand full of fans. As many as 5,000 people would show up just to watch him train in the early morning.

But in the Whitney, the 1-10 favorite Secretariat couldn't catch the 10-1 older gelding, Onion.

That loss, coupled with Man 'o War's historic loss at Saratoga years earlier, in which he had been defeated by the aptly-named Upset, earned the racetrack the nickname "Graveyard of Champions".

Above: Secretariat as a weanling as seen on his web site, .

Thursday, August 02, 2007

American Farrier's Association Changes Publishers (again) for Magazine

A letter in today's mail informs me that the American Farrier's Association (AFA) has terminated its contract with Sebastian Publishing for publishing the Professional Farrier, the AFA's member magazine.

The wording of the letter is a little vague, but it sounds like Danvers Child and April Raine, partners in iHorseshoe Inc., will "assume production of the magazine in collaboration with the AFA". The letter does not specify whether this is a temporary arrangement or if the team is working as employees of the AFA.

Sebastian Publishing, headed by Rob Edwards, formerly published The Anvil. Sebastian had been publishing Professional Farrier since October 2006. iHorseshoe will be the magazine's fourth publisher since 2003, but Danvers has had editorial involvement at different times with different publishers over that period.

As always, Hoofcare and Lameness wishes the AFA the best.