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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pollitt Hoof Studies Group Hot on the Trail of Australian Wild Horses

A wild horse pen in the Australian bush.

Researcher Brian Hampson at the University of Queensland in Australia is in pursuit of two lofty goals: a solid database of information about the hooves of “brumby” wild horses and a PhD on the topic of "Improving the foot health of the domestic horse".

Australians are known for their relentless pursuit of goals, as illustrated in that most classic of all horse films, The Man from Snowy River. In that film, we saw a foreshadowing of things to come, as the real-life contemporary Australians established global dominance in the sport of eventing. The riding in that film was so good, it seemed like any number of the cast could have been members of the Australian Olympic team picking up some extra cash.

Pollitt and Hampson are more likely to be pursuing their brumbies from a helicopter than on horseback, but both are more than capable of stepping in as rider extras in the next Australian horse film classic. Pollitt’s equestrian accomplishments include a national heavyweight championship in endurance and Brian competes in cattle working horse events and trains horses when he’s not in the research lab.

“I will be going bush in a few weeks,” writes Brian in an email today. I think that means that he will head into the wilds to check on the "mob" of wild horses outfitted with GPS sensor collars. The foot research group is studying how much movement wild horses do in a day, in what direction, over what terrain and what changes show up in their feet. The project also have video cameras mounted at watering holes to see how much immersion the feet typically experience. The horses are in an exceptionally dry area with access to two watering points.

Each sensory-equipped brumby is funded by a sponsor, including one that originated from the introductory post on this blog. Thank you very much to that donor…whoever you are! It is not too late to become involved in this project and help Dr Pollitt and Brian reach their goals. The cost is approximately $2600 per horse.

Click here to read the original post about the brumby hoof study.

Click here to visit Dr. Pollitt's Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit's in-depth web site.

"You can bid the mob good day": This short clip from the film "The Man From Snowy River" is on everyone's favorite lists for capturing amazing horsemanship (and horses) on film. For a lot of people, this is the ultimate wild horse image. At some special fundraising events for laminitis research, Dr. Pollitt recites the original Banjo Patterson poem on which the movie is based. He wears his Akubra hat and cracks an authentic kangaroo-hide stock whip for punctuation.

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