Monday, January 28, 2008

Friends at Work: Jeremy Davis in Tennessee

Here's a new friend at work, Jeremy Davis from Tennessee, who was recently featured in an article in the Knoxville News. Click on the blue type to read a nice storyy about a hard-working farrier; Tennessee was hit by a cold snap this week so Jeremy probably has even more stories to tell!

Note: “Friends At Work” is a regular feature of the Hoof Blog. When newspapers and web sites alert us to features on our hard-working readers and friends, I sometimes can figure out how to link to the story and share the photo with blog readers. Preference is given to people who aren’t normally in the news…and the more exotic the locale, the better! Scroll down the blog to read more "Friends at Work" posts from all over the world. You could be next!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

AFA Negotiates with FEI Games for Farrier Services at 2010 Kentucky Mega-Event

The World Equestrian Games—formally known as the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™--is coming to the Kentucky Horse Park and if you think 2010 is a long way off, you’re just not thinking “big” enough.

The American Farrier’s Association has been thinking big, though, and the news is that members of the AFA’s Executive Committee have met with Kate Jackson, Competition Director for the Games. At stake: cooperation between the Games and the AFA, who have agreed, in principle, to provide standby farrier services throughout the Games.

“I am pleased to inform you that I am presently in negotiations with the WEG on behalf of the AFA to determine an official level of recognition by the WEG of the AFA for services rendered by AFA Farriers to the WEG in 2010,” said AFA President-Elect Andrew Elsbree, who will take office on March 1st. “We are currently negotiating sponsorship levels with Kate Jackson,” he continued.

“AFA Farriers are the most qualified and best educated hoof care professionals to serve the multiple disciplines competing at this global equestrian event,” Elsbree said on Saturday. “We will be available before and during the Games to help competitors anyway we can!”

At Elsbree’s side in presenting the AFA’s offer to WEG was the AFA’s vice president, Dick Fanguy, who will, according to the AFA’s ascendancy scheme, probably be AFA president during the Games in 2010.

The AFA would probably have announced the agreement at their convention next month, but news of the relationship was leaked in an article in a Lexington newspaper on January 18 by members of the FEI Games Foundation. The statement in the newspaper—that AFA members would shoe horses for free for WEG competitors—was incorrect, so a correction appeared in a later paper, which drew more attention to the AFA’s relationship to WEG.

Wording of the title and how the AFA can make use of sponsorship is governed by official FEI Games policies and will be decided during further discussions between the AFA and Jackson, according to Elsbree.

“She’s had positive experiences with AFA certified farriers before,” Elsbree said, “And was delighted to think that we could manage the logistics for them.”

Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital stepped forward as a sponsor in return for being named the “Official Equine Hospital and Veterinary Partner” of the Games. Rolex watches are the “Official Timepiece” of the Games.

As Competition Director, Jackson will organize all logistical arrangements for the importation, quarantine, stabling, veterinary and training facilities for more than 900 horses from more than 60 nations as well as oversee and coordinate the production of the competitions.

By way of comparison, only 300 horses traveled to Los Angeles in 1984.

The AFA’s national headquarters is located in the cluster of offices on the grounds of the Kentucky Horse Park, where the Games will be held. The Park also features a small horseshoeing shop where visitors can watch a farrier work. Elsbree said he recently met with Horse Park Director John Nicholson about ways to improve the AFA’s visibility at the Horse Park.

At the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, farrier Ada Gates coordinated horseshoeing services, utilizing members of the Western States Farriers Association and local farriers. For that event, horses were stabled at the Santa Anita racetrack, where a farrier shop was made available to visiting farriers who were on site to serve clients or as official “team” farriers. Santa Anita provided a standby farrier all day for two weeks before the Games and during the Games. Those farriers made their trucks available to the visiting farriers. On competition days, standby farriers were on hand at competition sites and at the stables. Ada’s detailed article in the November/December 1984 American Farriers Journal is a chronicle of those weeks.

Pat Harmon, the late Bill Crowder and other farriers from Georgia worked together to provide farrier services during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

About the Games: The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games will be held September 25-October 10, 2010, at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. The event, which is held every four years, will decide the world champions of the eight equestrian disciplines recognized by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI). The Games have never before been held outside of Europe; nor have all eight disciplines ever previously been held together at a single site. It is anticipated that more than 600,000 spectators will attend the 16-day competition.

Congratulations to the AFA for establishing a relationship with WEG. Watch for an official announcement of the agreement soon.

All HoofBlog text and images © Hoofcare Publishing 2008 unless otherwise noted.

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Toe Clips Making a Comeback on the Track?

Happy Feet, originally uploaded by Rock and Racehorses.

Here's a lovely shot of the hooves of Lawyer Ron, caught before he stepped off Ray Amato's famous black mats outside trainer Todd Pletcher's barn at the Oklahoma track in Saratoga.

Note two things about this photo: 1) the toe clips! and 2) no toe grabs! and, while you're at it, the depth of heel on the near side. Many racehorses are dismissed as having low heels but Lawyer Ron seems to be doing just fine. He just turned five.

Lawyer Ron won the Eclipse Award this week for best older stakes horse.

Todd Pletcher is often imitated around the backstretch; I wonder if we'll be seeming more toe clips this year!

By the way, a detailed presentation and forum on toe grabs is scheduled for the AFA convention in Lexington, KY on March 1; toe grabs will also be on the agenda of the second Racehorse Welfare and Safety Summit, hosted by the Grayson Foundation/Jockey Club on March 17-18. Mr. Pletcher is on the hoofcare committee that has been studying toe grabs.

PS I don't think Todd Pletcher would tolerate messy wrapping, in case you are wondering about that. I think the near bandage was probably pushed up during shoeing. The off has probably been rewrapped.

Thanks to Sarah Andrews for the image to post.

Happy Australia Day

Happy Australia Day! (Today's a big mid-summer holiday throughout the country!)

The heavy horses are a big attraction at the Royal (Sydney) Easter Show, which includes a heavy horse shoeing competition.  I've been there, done that but my photos don't look anything like this one. I did have the honor of riding on the massive Carlton hitch wagon in the parade one year, though.

The massive McGuire hitch of Clydesdales resides year-round in a permanent palace of a barn, right on the showgrounds, and the show hosts a wonderful heavy horse breed show, with special classes for antique vehicles. The Clydesdale breed is very popular in Australia and dominated the classes when I was there.

All horse events for the huge show had been cancelled because of the equine influenza outbreak but things seem to be under control again...and the horse events are back on!

Good luck to everyone in the horse business in Australia getting back on their feet after the disastrous epidemic.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friends at Work: Hawke's Bay, New Zealand

British farrier Pete Wherret DipWCF showed up in a New Zealand newspaper today. He’s in Hawke's Bay, seeing to the hooves of the 700 polo ponies in town for the Dewars Cup. Read the article about the inter-Equatorial polo-specialist farrier (and the tournament) here.

Note: “Friends At Work” is a regular feature of the Hoof Blog. When newspapers and web sites alert us to features on our hard-working readers and friends, I sometimes can figure out how to link to the story and share the photo with blog readers. Preference is given to people who aren’t normally in the news…and the more exotic the locale, the better! Scroll down the blog to read more "Friends at Work" posts from all over the world. You could be next!

Return to
Go to most recent story on the Hoof Blog and view all news from the top.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

USEF Rule Requires Heel Measurements on Some Hackney Roadsters

This is the USEF official diagram of measuring heel length, according to the rule book. "Heel length" may be a misnomer; what is actually being measured is hairline distance from the ground, since the heel angle can be exaggerated (high or low) and identical hair line heights may be paired to radically different heel lengths.

Received from USEF's Stacey Meier, posted here for general public information

Lexington, KY— The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has selected the six competitions which will be required to take heel measurements from the first and fourth place ponies in Roadster and Hackney Roadster Pony Championships. The 2008 competitions include:

J. D. Massey Classic - Pendleton, SC (April 16-19)
Des Moines Springfest - Des Moines, IA (April 24-27)
Syracuse International - Syracuse, NY (June 25-28)
Lexington Junior League - Lexington, KY (July 7-12)
Kentucky State Fair - Louisville, KY (August 17-23)
UPHA/American Royal - Kansas City, MO (November 18-22)

Prior to these show dates, competition managers, secretaries and stewards will receive informational packets that will explain all procedures and policies regarding USEF rules HK116.3. and RD112.2 which state:

“All Hackney Roadster and Roadster Ponies must be re-measured and issued new measurement cards prior to competing in licensed competitions for the year 2004 and beyond. In all Hackney Roadster or Roadster Pony championship/stake classes (except Junior divisions) at selected USEF competitions which will be notified in writing by USEF, the first place and fourth place ponies must allow a heel measurement to be taken immediately following the class to verify the heel measurement is at or below what is indicated on the current measurement card; a copy of which must be on file in the show office prior to the pony competing.

"The heel measurement will be taken by the competition steward at a location determined by the measuring official and competition management. The heel measurement must be taken from the left bulb of the left front heel, from the skin line on the lower side of the coronary band with the ruler perpendicular to the flat surface. It is the trainer's or driver's decision and responsibility to determine if the pony will be hitched or unhitched for this measurement. If the heel measurement is higher than the measurement on the pony's USEF measurement card, an overall height measurement must be performed by two measuring officials (See GR502.4) no later than one hour following the end of the session at the designated location.

"Any entry that exceeds the legal height limit will forfeit winnings in that class. In the event there are fewer than four ponies in a class, the pony occupying the final placing will be measured. In the event of an emergency and the steward is unavailable to take the heel measurement immediately, competition management must appoint a representative to remain with the pony until the heel measurement can occur.”

Any questions regarding these USEF rules or the 2008 competitions selected should be directed to Carrie Mortensen at the USEF office via email at or by calling (859) 225-6986.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Speed Skater vs. Rough Shod Icelandic Horse: Place Your Bets!

Claudia Pechstein may be in for a surprise on March 8th. The former world champion in speed skating has won five Olympic gold medals, two silver and two bronze...but has she ever skated against a horse wearing studded shoes?

At the European Championship on Ice, which will be held in Berlin, some of the best Icelandic horses in Europe will be tolting at high speed against each other, but there will also be held a very exciting speed duel between Pechstein and a pacing horse.

Pechstein is featured on a video on YouTube skating backwards; she even looks fast that way. I hope they clip those furry Icelandics to cut down on wind resistance. Claudia doesn't seem to have any.

These horse can fly across the ice, it should be a great race! They wear sharp-studded shoes. Not far from here, harness races are held on the frozen lakes in Maine in winter. Those horses allegedly wear shoes with a continuous outside "sharp" rim.

Photos below from the Icehorse event web site.

Too Fat? Too Thin? British Court Faces Conflict Over "Abused" Horse with Cushings Disease

A magistrate in Norwich, England is learning a lot about Cushings disease this week, according to newspaper reports. A pony seized by animal welfare officials had been a family pet for 20 years. Following their veterinarian's advice, the owners kept the pony in a very lean condition score to prevent laminitis as a complication of the Cushings disease that the pony suffered.

The pony had already suffered laminitis.

The owners said they were quite surprised when animal welfare authorities seized the pony, claiming it was emaciated. The pony was sound at the time of seizure.

The pony's veterinarian testified in court that the condition of the pony was not abusively thin, and that the owners were trying to be kind to the pony and avoid a recurrence of laminitis.

According to newspaper reports, the vet representing the animal welfare agency testified that the horse had suffered muscle wastage and fat loss as a result of poor care.

In the USA a few years ago, a well-meaning welfare agency seized two thin ponies in New Jersey. The owner claimed they were being kept intentionally lean to avoid laminitis. The welfare agency, wanting to be kind, plumped up the ponies while they were in custody. The ponies developed laminitis and the owner sued the welfare agency.

In other court cases this year in Britain, horse owners were prosecuted for allowing horses to become too fat, putting them at risk for laminitis.

Politics on All Levels: Smear Campaign in Farrier Election

Mike Miller AWCF of Alabama sent a scan of a post card sent to farriers in the southeastern United States recently. Mike is a candidate for the board of the American Farrier's Association and was the target of a hate-mail campaign designed to cost him votes.

Mike, who is also an M.D., is an unabashed and unapologetic supporter of some type of registration of farriers in the United States.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

New Book Announcement: Therapeutic Farriery Available from Hoofcare Books

Therapeutic Farriery: A Manual for Veterinarians and Farriers by Yehuda Avisar has made its way east.

"Yudi" may not have a name that is a household word in vet/farrier circles, but I don't know of many well-known experts who would have the time and perseverance to complete a project like this. He has paid his dues; this Israeli-born veterinarian worked as a farrier at the side of the legendary Charles Heumphreus, longtime resident farrier at the University of California at Davis' vet school, and many of the photos in the book show examples of his work on cases at the school.

This new book is very well-researched and referenced. Many of the photos look dated because they are from the Heumphreus archive, but this is the closest thing we have had to an actual new textbook on farriery in many years. You won't find banana shoes or plastic shoes or inflatable hoof pads or even Natural Balance shoes. There are no justifications for hoof balance theories and hardly a word about wild horses.

If there is such a thing as a subjective science, hoof science is it. Every author is noted for his exclusions and his biases and this book is no different in that respect. And the cases are all illustrative of the dry California hoof, something that has been missing from hoof reference books to date. The author's specific division of hoof problems into subsets is inspiring--he even has separated heel dermatitis from foot mange and defines things like "false quarter". He gives references to people like Don Birdsall, a California farrier who was way ahead of his time in "mapping" the foot and studying coronary contour and dedicates a small section to the oft-overlooked (or misdiagnosed) problem of coronitis. Most interesting to me was a section on frostbite and, conversely, burns in the hoof caused by power tools or resin curing.

One could use this book to reference many concepts in farriery and find both text and clear diagrams to back up a certain technique. It would make an excellent textbook for a college or professional course, and I think that may the author's intent. The book is nicely designed, with references in color to offset them from the text.

The tendency in farrier publishing is for an ever-rising standard of photography and graphics, thanks to the influence of talented visually-oriented people like Chris Pollitt. This book takes a step or two backward, to the text-centric, footnoted reference books of the pre-Internet, pre-PowerPoint age. When you need a reference book, this book can be a treasure on your bookshelf.

Therapeutic Farriery costs $90. You can order it from Hoofcare & Lameness; please include $6 for post in the USA and $13 for post to most other countries. It is hardcover, 292 pages, and is fully indexed and illustrated. Click here for a printable, faxable/mailable order form, or send an email with Visa/Mastercard info and your full name and address to

And how's your book coming?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

British Government Seeks to Count, Quantify Hoof Trimming in Lead Up to Regulation of New Paraprofessional Group

A nation with one of the most standardized farrier programs in the world--and an Act of Parliament to back it up--is looking at natural hoof trimmers in preparation for a possible national training and registration program. Equine dental technicians are also on the list of “new paraprofessionals” under scrutiny by LANTRA.

Lantra Equine and Professions Allied to Veterinary Science Industry Partnership Manager, Lisa Jarvis said: “We estimate that around 500 dental technicians and barefoot trimmers work in the UK, but it is an emerging area and very little is known about it.”

Lisa adds: “In order for Lantra to work with the para-professionals and (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) Defra to develop frameworks for training and qualifications we urgently need equine dental technicians and barefoot trimmers to take part in this research.”

The agency has invited people currently making a living as natural hoof trimmers to fill out a survey form about their background, training, horse skills, and levels of expertise at trimming.

The survey questions are grouped into eight main themes:
· Current numbers employed in the industry
· Entry route into current job role (i.e. school, college, university)
· Training route used (length of training, type of training, accreditation)
· Predicted numbers entering the industry
· Job roles – tasks, competencies
· Business – number of clients and horses treated
· Membership in organizations
· Interaction with other professionals (e.g. veterinary surgeons, farriers)

Farriers in the UK are regulated under the Farriers Registration Act, a national law enacted by Parliament in the 1970s. The Act specifically outlaws the shoeing of horses by anyone who is not a qualified farrier listed by the Farriers Registration Council.

Barefoot trimmers have been able to work on horses for pay in Britain up to this point because they are not performing farriery, i.e., applying shoes. According to the Farriers Registration Council (FRC), farriery is defined in the Farriers (Registration) Act 1975 as ‘any work in connection with the preparation or treatment of the foot of a horse for the immediate reception of a shoe thereon, the fitting by nailing or otherwise of a shoe to the foot or the finishing off of such work to the foot’. In the future, in other countries and in other legal documents, farriery may be re-defined as “trimming and/or shoeing”, or it may continue to migrate into two distinct professional groups.

Click here to view the survey (but don't fill it out unless you live in Britain and are a hoof trimmer).

Friends at Work: New Zealand Heat Wave Takes Its Toll on Farriers

The temperature in New Zealand hit 30.7 Centigrade this week; that's roughly 87 Fahrenheit and considered a heat wave in the sub-tropical country.

The local paper in Bay of Plenty chose the job of a farrier as one of the worst to be doing during the hot spell. (It's summer in the Southern Hemisphere, remember.)

Read more about the New Zealand heat wave and a little bit about Peter Huxtable here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Santa Anita Will Add Australian Pro-Ride Binder Fibers to Cushion Track Footing on Main Track

(edited from text provided by Santa Anita)

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 15, 2008)—Santa Anita Park officials announced today that its troubled synthetic "Cushion Track" racing surface in southern California will be reformulated under the auspices of the Australian company Pro-Ride by adding binder fibers to the existing surface mix.

“Tests show that we’ve found a way to reformulate the existing Cushion Track surface,” said Santa Anita President Ron Charles. “With the addition of polymers and fiber, the surface becomes kinder, more consistent and it cushions the impact of the track on the horses. It functions properly in diverse weather conditions and reduces the amount of kickback,” he added.

Pro-Ride will introduce their patented polymer binders into the existing Cushion Track. “We’ve made this choice based upon the results of scientific testing and the reaction of the horsemen to whom we’ve shown the final product,” said Charles. “The addition of the Pro-Ride polymer and fiber effectively transforms the existing Cushion Track into the synthetic surface we wanted from the start.

“We are now in the process of developing a timeline for acquiring the necessary polymer and fiber,” Charles said. “It is estimated that it will take 10 to 12 days to produce the binder. The material will be mixed into the track surface without having to remove or displace the track. It is our intent to schedule the application so as to minimize any disruption to training or racing,” he added.

Santa Anita’s winter/spring meeting runs through April 20.

Colorado State Study Finds Surpass Cream Beneficial to Both Treat Osteoarthritis and Relieve Pain in Horses

(Original text was provided by Colorado State University)

FORT COLLINS - Colorado State University Equine Orthopaedic Research Center scientists have discovered that a topical cream may be the first cream available to both treat osteoarthritis and relieve pain.

The first scientifically controlled study in horses testing the benefit of a topical diclofenac liposomal cream on equine osteoarthritis, sponsored by IDEXX Pharmaceuticals Inc, was headed up by Dr. David Frisbie, a clinical sciences professor with expertise in joint disease, and a team of researchers at the Equine Orthopaedic Research Center. The center is part of the university's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

"These findings offer opportunities for a new approach to treating this debilitating disease that affects both humans and horses," said Frisbie. "Finding a drug that treats the pain in addition to the disease allows us to provide better comfort to equine athletes with osteoarthritis while helping them improve."

The topical cream, called Surpass, contains a 1 percent concentration of diclofenac sodium. The cream is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for direct application to sore joints in horses.

The study tested pain relief and disease modifying potential of the product on 24 horses with a similar level of osteoarthritis at the start of the treatment period. One-third of the horses were treated with Surpass, one-third were given oral phenylbutasone "bute," a drug known to treat osteoarthritis, and one-third were untreated.

The horses were given regular treadmill exercise five days a week for the course of the study. All horses were evaluated with regular lameness examinations, X-rays, MRIs, synovial fluid and serum tests to monitor their progress during of the 10 week study.

The study showed that both Surpass and the drug known to treat osteoarthritis decreased lameness. More significantly, the study showed that only Surpass had positive effects on the joint. MRIs of the horses in the Surpass group showed decreased bone sclerosis, decreased cartilage erosion and increased levels of a key component of cartilage. All of these results indicate an improvement in the condition.

Surpass is the first drug of in its classification, which is a drug classification that includes aspirin and other pain-fighting medications, to demonstrate dual action with both symptom modifying and a disease modifying properties.

Surpass is approved in the United States as a prescription product for the control of pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis in horses.

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Equine Practitioners in Orlando, Florida. in December of 2007.

Horses and Humans Rock On: MBT Shoes

You are looking at the profile of the must-have human shoe around the Boston area these days.
Does it remind you of anything?
These MBT "physiological" shoes from Switzerland are a high-tech hoofwear dream: no less than five layers of sole activate unused muscles and simulate the blissful barefoot state. They don't use the horseshoe terms "rocker toe" and "air wedge heel" in human shoe-speak but the tech behind these shoes is intriguing and oddly familiar.
Has anyone out there tried them yet?

Duct Tape Laminitis Treatment for Ex-Racehorse Wins Prize

Dan Gardner, a retired farrier from Gladstone, Virginia, took home the $5,000 grand prize and a year’s supply of duct tape in this year's "How Duct Tape Saved the Day" competition sponsored by Henkel Corporation's Duck® brand duct tape.

While Dan's use of duct tape may be commonplace to most Hoof Blog readers, it was a novel use for the judges at Henkel.

Here's Dan's story:

"In 2003, I was volunteer working at a local equine rescue center. One day a winning Thoroughbred horse, named Early Start arrived at the facility. He had broken down on the track and for some time had been left unattended. He subsequently foundered which means the wall of his hoof and the internal tissue and bone had separated causing serious lameness.

"The choices were obvious. The humane thing to do would have been to destroy the horse, but the rescue facility wanted to try and save him. As a retired farrier, I took on the task. Beginning that day, I used a disposal infant diaper with antibiotic salve to protect and cushion the foot and wrapped the dressing with duct tape. Duct tape is the only suitable wrap that can withstand the wear until the next daily treatment.

"It took over 2 years and hundreds of rolls of duct tape to bring Early Start to a complete recovery. Today, he 10 and he is my youngest daughter's foxhunter and event horse. Simply, duct tape saved everyday for Early Start making my family and this horse winners for life."

(Remember: he's telling about using the tape; obviously trimming was done and other care was given to aid the horse's recovery; duct tape and diapers alone can't do it!)

Second prize went to a woman from a search-and-rescue posse in the Arizona desert who duct-taped her horse's shoe back on while searching for a lost child.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hoof Lectures at This Week’s North American Veterinary Conference in Orlando

Saturday, January 19 will be “hoof day” at The North American Veterinary Conference at the Gaylord Palms Resort Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. A full day’s program alternates between Scott Morrison DVM (above, left) of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, KY and Michael Wildenstein FWCF (Hons) (above, right) , Adjunct Professor at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Morrison’s topics are: Hoof Balance and Function, Difficult Foot Cases, Practical Approach to Heel Pain, Rehabilitation of the Foundered Foot, and Sterile Maggot Debridement.

Wildenstein’s topics are: Trimming and Evaluation of the Hoof, Advanced Therapeutic Horseshoes, Fungal Infections of the Foot, and Clinical Case Discussions.

Visit for registration information.

(Photo of Michael Wildenstein by Lexy Roberts)

Lo! And Behold! Re-energized American Farrier’s Association Offers News, Launches Convention Web Site

It’s not easy being a journalist in the hoof business. What should be the #1 source of information, the office of the national farriers’ association, is usually busy trying to keep its internal affairs out of the news. When the American Farrier’s Association (AFA) offers news on a hand-forged platter, it's a red letter day.

The remarkable news is that the AFA is being pro-active in announcing that the latest of the AFA's executive directors, Jon Bonci, has made his exit. Vice President Dick Fanguy explains that Bonci has returned to a job in the media business in his native New York. Dick stressed that the resignation was bad timing with the AFA’s convention coming up in February, but that the move was not based on politics or interpersonal relations.

Bonci took over following the exit of acting director Michael Nolan a year ago. Nolan, in turn, was brought in to manage a fractured association following the resignation of Bryan Quinsey only a few weeks after a hard-fought election in the wake of a damaging scandal over a top-secret task force with an agenda to push for licensing of farriers in the United States.

The good news is that former employee Rachael Highton has returned to the AFA and will serve as office manager in the Lexington national headquarters. Rachael has worked on administration of previous conventions for the AFA.

In February, the AFA re-invents itself with a smaller region-based national board, replacing a congress of large and small local association representatives, and a new slate of officers. Andrew Elsbree of New York is the incoming president.

The AFA has also launched a standalone website promoting the upcoming convention, to be held the last week of February at the Kentucky Horse Park and Rupp Arena in downtown Lexington.

News from the site is that the roster of sponsoring companies for the AFA’s big competition has evolved, with Vector horse nails taking over sponsorship of the “live” shoeing class and Delta taking over the specialty forging class. (Will they still have the big "Capewell Cup" trophy, I wonder?) Also, the AFA voted to offer free convention registrations to Australian farriers impacted by the equine influenza outbreak there.

Overall, farriers and industry types from all corners are optimistic about a return to Lexington, Kentucky for a national convention. See you there!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Friends at Work: George Crighton in England

Farrier, originally uploaded by Peter Meade.

Here's another of Peter Meade's lovely images of early morning farrier work in England. This is the companion image to yesterday's, which showed the horse's steamy breath; here's George's to add to the atmosphere. Thanks so much to Peter for sharing these images, which include some beautifully lit close-ups of George's hands and tools.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

British News: Worshipful Company of Farriers Hosts Veterinary Students for Seminar

(received via press release from the Worshipful Company of Farriers)

The Worshipful Company of Farriers is to hold an important one-day Symposium on Saturday 1st March at The Forge, National Agricultural Centre, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, England. This is aimed at Veterinary Students, and focuses on Farriery: the art and its use in the treatment of lameness.

Please note that farriers - particularly farriery apprentices - are welcome to attend and attendance will be added to their 2008 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) record.

Three experts, and well known speakers, Roger Clark FWCF, Simon Curtis FWCF HonAssoc RCVS and Ben Ryder-Davies BSc BVM&S MRCVS will cover topics ranging from the essentials of foot trimming and of shoe-making and the use of farriery in treatment of lameness in horses.

Program:10.40am: Introduction to the Farriery profession.
11.00am: The essentials of foot trimming. (Simon Curtis)
12.00pm: The essentials of shoe-making. (Roger Clark)
1.00pm: Lunch
2.00pm: The use of farriery in the treatment of lameness in horses. (Roger Clark, Simon Curtis and Ben Ryder-Davies)
4.00pm: Close

The event lasts from 10.40 am to 4pm and aims to give a close insight into this key area. There will be plenty of time for discussion with the speakers, and those interested in attending should sent their name, and details, along with a cheque for £30 (which includes lunch) and payable to The Worshipful Company of Farriers, to: Smith Ryder-Davies & Partners, 18 Grundisburgh Road, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 4HG England. Tel: 01394 380083.

"Horse" of the Year is a Pony! Teddy Wins 2007 Farnam® / Platform® USEF Horse of the Year

Karen O’Connor’s popular pony “Theodore O’Connor” was selected from among horses representing all USEF breeds and disciplines as the nation's most exceptional horse for 2007.

Owned by The Theodore O’Connor Syndicate, LLC, the pony is one of the most successful horses in the history of U. S. Eventing. "If size truly does matter, Teddy has proven he is a giant and a huge champion in the hearts of all his fans," said Karen O'Connor, Theodore O'Connor's rider. "It is truly a privilege to be a part of his life."

At 12 years of age, Theodore O’Connor was the first pony in history to compete at the Pan American games. Known as “Teddy”, the 14.1-hand Thoroughbred/Arabian/Shetland cross led the U.S. Eventing team to a Gold medal and brought home an Individual Gold, as well. When the medals were presented, Theodore O‚Connor certainly wowed the crowd as he galloped around the arena, inches shorter than his Gold-medal teammates.

The chestnut gelding captured the heart of the eventing world last spring at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, where he placed third in the four-star eventing competition. Teddy's farrier is Hoofcare and Lameness Journal's contributing editor Paul Goodness. Paul, who founded the successful group practice Forging Ahead, is also farrier at Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Virginia, has been farrier to the Team O'Connor horses for many, many years.

Other 2007 accomplishments for Theodore O‚Connor include: Reserve Champion of the USEF National CCI**** Championship, the first pony ever to compete at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day-Event, Winner of The Fork CIC*** and United States Eventing Association Horse of the Year.

USEF Members, media and the USEF Board of Directors voted to select Theodore O'Connor for the prestigious honor , which was presented at the Horse of the Year gala at the Louisville (Kentucky) Marriott Downtown Hotel last night.

Other finalists for the award were: Aequus+//, an Arabian owned by Hazelbank Investments; Esteban, a Friesian owned by Deb Goldmann; Free Willy, a Hackney owned by Blevins Farms; and Sapphire, a Jumper owned by McLain Ward and Blue Chip Bloodstock.

Farnam's line of Platform® horse feeds and equine health supplements sponsors the Horse of the Year program.

(Information from a supplied press release was used in this post. Thanks to Carrie Foote at Farnam for the photo of Teddy and Karen at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day-Event in April 2007.)

Good Morning!

Morning, originally uploaded by Peter Meade

This photo is a good post card to the world of what life is like around here in January. But photos of horses with steamy breath and furry coats just hint at all that goes into taking care of horses when the ground is frozen (or knee deep in snow) and fencelines are mere suggestions on the landscape. This image is by Peter Meade, a polo photographer in the UK who embarked on a farrier photo adventure recently. I will post some more of his images. They are very nice!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Monty Roberts Joins Up with Farriers, Hosts Clinic at California Ranch

Join-Up® With Your Farrier! Is the title of an interesting new clinic to be hosted later this month (January 19-20) by natural horsemanship maestro Monty Roberts at his Flag Is Up Farm in Solvang, California, near Santa Barbara.

In fact, Monty has “re-joined” up with his former farrier, Ada Gates Patton of Pasadena, and the two will offer expertise to both farriers and horse owners.

Both Ada and Monty are concerned about farriers being injured by frightened or untrained horses; they are also concerned about the safety of nervous horses who are often on cross-ties.

Here's what Monty has to say about people whose horses won't behave for the farrier:

"In every country I have visited, I have found that some people believe that the farrier can educate the horse himself when it comes to standing and behaving while the footwork is done. This is an unacceptable mind-set. A farrier is a professional and should be treated as such. His expertise is to care for your horse’s feet, not to train him.

"While it is true that some farriers are also good horsemen and quite capable of doing the training, most horse owners do not plan to pay the farrier for training services. The farrier often feels that he is being taken advantage of and should not be required to take the time necessary to train. This can result in short tempers, and horses dealt with in an inappropriate way. While farriers are generally physically fit, muscular and capable of administering harsh treatment, should something like this occur, the blame should rest with the people securing their services, and not the farrier."

In his book, Monty describes a mophead-like tool that he uses to get a horse accustomed to activity around its feet from a safe distance; he describes it on his web site, too.

Monty and Ada will work with farriers and horse owners to demonstrate simple training and handling techniques, with the aim of conquering the specific fears that some horses have of farriers and/or having their feet handled.

Ada will also demonstrate simple methods of hoof measuring that she uses to evaluate hoof balance and achieve a more level, balanced trim.

The fee is $150 per day, and the clinics will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

Please call Flag Is Up Farm at (805) 688-3483 for more information and to reserve space.

Flag Is Up is located at 901 East Highway 246 in Solvang.

Freinds at Work: Farrier to Racing Legend Desert Orchid Becomes a Trainer

The last time we checked in with British farrier Paul Henderson, he was micro-managing corns (inflamed heels) on the precious hooves of the great National Hunt ("steeplechase" in American lingo) champion Desert Orchid. Fast forward ten years or so and Paul is now dabbling quite seriously as a trainer and had a winner on Boxing Day; the horse won again last week. Such success for a new trainer meant that he would be featured in a British newspaper today.

And, no, he hasn't given up his day job!

Friends at Work: Victor Harbor, South Australia

Here's Budd Glazbrook shoeing one of the tram Clydesdales out in the courtyard in the seaside town of Victor Harbor, South Australia. His work day is also a public demonstration of farrier skills. The Clydes pull tram cars over a wooden causeway to a nearby island and have been doing it every day in the old whaling port since the 1890s. The tram runs year round and is one of the last in the world. Budd has 14 Clydesdales to shoe. Photo from the Victor Harbor Times.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Night Owls and Tivo-ers: Catch Vet-Stem on ABC's Nightline Tonight

Southern California's Vet Stem corporation will be the star of the show tonight on ABC News' Nightline news program, which will air a special segment on stem cell treatments for joint disease and arthritis in dogs.

While the show focuses on dogs, Vet Stem claims to have been involved in the treatment of more than 2000 cases of lameness in horses. Suspensory ligament injuries are the highest success rate for Vet Stem treatment, according to the equine portion of their web site.

The web site, by the way, has case studies of 20 or so different horses. You can download the documents as PDF files from this page. Scroll down to almost the bottom to read a case study on stem cell repair of coffin joint lameness in a four-year-old Quarter horse.

On the news page, there is also a video about the sprinter Greg's Gold at California's Del Mar racetrack who was treated with Vet Stem technology, which consists of extracting stem cells from fat deposits near the horse's tail head, culturing them so they multiply, and injecting them at the injury site. (That is a massive over-simplification!)

On the east coast, Nightline airs at 11:30 p.m.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Santa Anita: Los Angeles All-Weather Race Surface Prefers Nice Weather

Rainy weather has closed down lovely Santa Anita Racecourse outside Los Angeles, California since Saturday; the track will re-open today, Thursday. Santa Anita received approximately seven and a half inches of rain in 72 hours over the weekend. In spite of sealing the track before the rain and not allowing training on the main track, the new artificial racing surface is not draining properly. The surface has been plagued with drainage problems.

Jockey Mike Smith, quoted in the Los Angeles Times, said an inconsistent track can result in injuries to a horse. "A horse's hoof is sinking about one inch into the surface at one point, then suddenly the hoof is sinking in four inches," he said.

Rumors abound that the rest of the meet will be moved or that the track itself may be excavated. A major announcement is expected on Thursday.

The California tracks received a statewide mandate to switch to artificial surfaces for Thoroughbred racing. The same surface, Cushion Track, was installed at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita, but the Santa Anita surface has problems with the drainage pipes beneath the surface. The entire surface was dug up over Christmas in an attempt to fix the problem. Several major stakes races are scheduled for this weekend at Santa Anita.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Conference on Walking Horses and Horse Protection Act Planned for Ohio in April

"The End of Soring" is the goal of the first Sound Horse Conference to be held in Columbus, Ohio, later this year.

The event is set for April 11-12 at the Hilton Garden Inn and is sponsored by the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the American Horse Protection Association, Friends of Sound Horses and the Humane Society of the United States.

Described as two days of "stimulating conversation and action," the goal of the conference is to accelerate progress to end soring "by bringing all interested people together to share ideas, increase knowledge, resources and action plans."

Discussion will include the challenges to enforcement of the Horse Protection Act, technology for future enforcement, proposed research that is needed, detection of pressure shoeing, how to prevent soring and other related topics.

The Equine Affaire, an all-breed, all-sport horse expo, will also take place in Columbus during that week.

"Soring" refers to illegal methods used to exaggerate a Tennessee Walking Horse's natural high-stepping gait in the show ring. Under federal law, horses may be inspected for signs of soring prior to competition, and are disqualified if they are found to have been sored.

Disputes between trainers and federal officials over the inspection process plagued the industry during 2006, resulting in the cancellation of the World Grand Championship class at the Walking Horse Celebration, but the 2007 horse show season appeared to go much more smoothly

From more information about the conference, e-mail or call (800) 651-7993.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Traction Counts at the Rose Parade (Just Ask Ada)

In 1932, movie star Mary Pickford rode in the parade.

It wouldn’t be New Year’s Day without Pasadena, California's Rose Parade, America’s most extravagant (and fragrant) parade. It’s mostly about flowers—every float in the parade is made out of flowers, but it's about horses, too. Hundreds of them!

Draft horses pull floats. Four matched chestnut Quarter horses pull a Wells Fargo stagecoach. Mounted posses. Painted Indian ponies. And, this year, even some of the US Equestrian Team riders hopped on borrowed horses and joined in the parade.

What do all those horses have in common? At sometime during the night last night, each and every horse was visited by a woman with a flashlight and a clipboard.

For the seventh year in a row, Pasadena resident (and farrier) Ada Gates Patton was up way before dawn and marched through a half-mile long string of vans and horse trailers and picked up the left front foot of each and every horse. (Ada is an icon of American farriery and was the first woman licensed to shoe horses on a racetrack in America.)

This morning, Ada was looking to see what was on the bottom of the horses’ feet. The parade route is five miles (not counting the staging area) and a horse slipping on the pavement or worse yet, falling, is not something that would enhance the image of the parade.

So, Ada checks that each horse is either a) barefoot or b) shod with either Borium or Drilltek hardfacing or c) nailed with Duratrack “hard head” nails. Plastic shoes are also an option. I asked her if hoof boots were allowed; she said they are not on her list.

Here’s Ada’s report:

1. No increase in barefoot horses this year. As usual, the minis, the Peruvian Pasos, and the Bashkir Curlies were barefoot.
2. The Marines used Borium on the shoes of the Palominos in their color guard that led the parade.
3. No Drilltek was seen by Ada who then quipped, “Well, it was pitch dark out there and it’s hard to tell in the dark if it’s Borium or Drilltek.”
4. Draft horses tended to wear rubber shoes, like you’d see on city carriage horses.

“The biggest increase is the move toward Duratrack nails,” Ada said. “I’ve been pushing them in that direction. I was surprised to see that some used as many as six Duratracks in one shoe. It's a no-brainer. The Duratracks (nail heads) are good for about five miles on pavement, which is the length of the parade.”

Ada said that no horses slipped and there were no mishaps, as far as she knew, and there haven't been any since she has been inspecting the horses for the Parade committee.

Ada said that she had full compliance today from the horsemen. No one needed to have their horses re-shod. She mentioned that one group of silver-saddled Palominos from Long Beach brings two farriers "just in case" but there was no official farrier on hand. There were, however, three veterinarians and a humane society horse ambulance standing by.

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Looking Back at 2007: This About Sums It Up, or: Israeli Vet Reminds Us Why We Are Still Just Spinning Our Wheels in Hoof Research

{Syndicated content copyright 2008 Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog and}

"Incorporation of more advanced analysis systems in recent years has provided veterinarians with abundant new information related to the various effects of common shoeing and farriery techniques on foot and lower limb biomechanics. It is quite obvious however, that some aspects are still controversial or unclear. Among these controversies are the effects of change in heel height on the angles of the PIP ("pastern") and MCP ("fetlock") joints and on the strains of the flexor tendons and SL ("suspensory ligament").

"Comparisons of unshod and shod horses are rare, but the use of analysis systems, such as the pressure mat, may help to clarify debate about the purported benefits of shoeing horses versus leaving them barefoot. Fine (finite element) analysis of the distal limb seems to be limited by the complex anatomy. Indeed, it seems that a full understanding of the function of smaller structures, such as the distal sesamoidean or collateral ligaments, may only be achieved with the use of computer simulation.

"Finally, it should be noted that from an evidence-based perspective, most studies that have been performed evaluating the biomechanical effects of the common shoeing and farriery techniques have been performed using sound horses, and many others have been in vitro studies. Thus, although the information obtained from such studies is interesting, its direct clinical relevance is speculative and the strength of evidence is not as strong as is desirable. "

--from the summary of the paper "An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Biomechanical Effects of the Common Shoeing and Farriery Techniques" by Ehud Eliashar, BSc, DVM, MRCVS, published in Veterinary Clinics of North America: Equine Practice, in August 2007.

Translation: when it comes to hoof research, "evidence-based" is a relative term. The same sentiment was voiced at the Fourth International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot by Rustin Moore DVM PhD DACVS in his lecture "Evidence-Based Treatment for Laminitis".

For years, many respected voices have called for a standardizd protocol for foot research. We are expected to accept as gospel studies performed on treadmills. Bar shoes or wedges tacked on to only one front foot. Horseshoes nailed onto untrimmed, unbalanced feet. Shoes tested on ponies instead of horses. Raceplates on high-heeled non-racehorses. Shoes applied for testing without following manufacturer recommendations. And, in almost all studies, the lack of control data of the horse without shoes, or at least with normal flat shoes. Contrary data even exists as to whether horseshoes dampen or increase concussion.

Dr. Eliashar's paper points out changes in study results on the same condition when the horse is on a treadmill and controversies over interpretation of statistics on toe grab relevance in racetrack breakdowns.

Looking ahead, it makes sense to draw parallels between the struggles between Darwinism and creationism when comparing the arguments for the benefits of shoes vs natural (shoeless) trimming. When scientists like Eliashar and Moore are cautious about labeling existing scientific data as "evidence-based", the boat has some serious leaks.

For years, researchers like Chris Pollitt have asked, "How do you expect us to explain laminitis when we don't know how the normal foot metabolizes and grows and functions?" Researchers like Robert Bowker have mused, "I discovered this really interesting facet, but I don't know what it might mean..."

Kudos to those willing to admit that
the function of the foot of the domesticated horse is still a mystery and that science doesn't have all the answers. Science may not have even been asking the right questions.

Happy new year, anyway!

Photo courtesy of Royal Veterinary College.

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