Monday, April 21, 2008

Big Brown's Glued Hooves Featured in Today's New York Times

Get a good look at the feet of Kentucky Derby favorite Big Brown. The horse has wall separations in the medial heels of both front feet and is advancing through the healing process as the new wall grows down. The shoes are glued on with half-web rubber rim pads and full-web heel cushions and the horse continues to train in Florida. He'll move to Churchill Downs in Kentucky next week. (New York Times photo (see link to story and more photos, below); double click or click to enlarge on your screen)

Kentucky Derby favorite Big Brown is the subject of a lengthy article in today's New York Times. But most of the story is about his feet, and his glue-on shoes.

The story includes an interview with hoof repair impresario Ian McKinlay, who has been generously providing images and video to this HoofBlog. (See following blog posts for much more on Big Brown's wall separations and see similar hooves undergoing repair and gluing.)

Another Derby favorite, Pyro, has also been training and racing in glue-on shoes.

The last time I can remember horseshoes being so prominently featured in the Times was 1996, when Kentucky farrier Steve Norman worked with Derby favorite Unbridled Song, and helped him prep for the Derby, and race, wearing a variety of bar shoes.


Anonymous said...

Big Brown's farrier really stuck his head out for this one......lucky the horse didn't go down....then it would not be such a celebration.

Forget about the imbalance.....
The distorted shape of this horse's hoof (note the heel bulbs/frog are totally displaced from the hoof capsule (squeezed out behind it). Compare that to the "big frog" horse that has it hands down on soundness.

It amazes me that any contraption (work of art they are called) can be nailed, glued, fused, clipped on to a thoroughbred's hoof, yet a healthy, well functioning bare hoof cannot compete on the track???????

That is like saying you have to be on drugs to compete. By requiring shoes they are predisposing a breed that is already challenged (and NOT by being bred into it) but by environment (locked up in a stall 20 hrs a day, ridden 2 years prior to when their skeletal development is complete, forced to ingest a diet that is detrimental to their metabolism in a volume/timeframe unheard a natural situation, and social isolation for a HERD animal.) Racing at a later age would help save some of the catastrophic injuries these babies suffer, maybe it would also help the owners get a better education on how a horse should be managed, allowed the time needed to mature properly, and take into consideration the health and life quality of an animal, that although an amazing creation, has ultimately become a money maker at any cost to their own existence.

Big Brown did win, but was it really on his own?? If a runner wins the marathon with artificial braces on his leg that give him a better stride but he is crippled without that right???

Again, why can't a barefoot horse....who can perpetuate the good feet needed out there, that won't throw a shoe in a race and potentially kill a jockey or another raced??
I am all for the investigations into the tragedy of this and past Derbies.....unfortunately it is happening at racetracks worldwide every day. We can only hope the horse comes out on top.

Martin Kenny said...

I have to say that I am extremely concerned about Big Brown's ability to hold together. If you look at the AP view(from front)of his feet, you can readily see that the hairline is jammed and there is extensive swelling going on in that area. This would indicate that there is compression of the horn tubules at the toe as well as improper blood distribution to the feet.

The "Repair" performed on the quarters is a fabulous example of the high tech help that we farriers have been able to perform in order to keep these athletes up and running. However, It does come with a price and a mighty high one at that.

Heidi Meyer has a point with her post, but the answer is not to take the shoes off... but to learn how to better understand the hooves so that shoes can assist these heroic equines instead to simply keep them on the track.

This horse has a HISTORY of improper loading creating problems in his feet. If he doesn't have a major breakdown, such as foundering , a major hoof crack blow out, or worse yet, bone column breakdown, I for one will be amazed.

The sad thing is that the public will not understand and they will feel it is just too hard on these animals to run like this. Sad, when that isn't the case at all. What the problem is, is that the all mighty dollar gets in the way of common sense.