Sunday, August 31, 2008

Thoroughbreds with Crushed Heels: Ian McKinlay's Latest Video Offers Advice

Hoof repair specialist Ian McKinlay, known for his literal "stop-gap" expertise for keeping racehorses like Big Brown running in spite of cracks and blow-outs, has created a short video about crushed heels in racehorses.

Ian spoke to an SRO audience at a Hoofcare@Saratoga event a few weeks ago and will be speaking at the AAEP's farrier conference in San Diego, California in December.

Learn more about his dual-density rimming technology for shoes at

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

To learn more about new research, products, and treatments for the horse's hooves and legs as reported to veterinarians and farriers in the award-winning "Hoofcare & Lameness Journal",
go to

Direct “subscribe now” link to Hoofcare & Lameness Journal:

Contact Hoofcare Publishing anytime:
tel 978 281 3222 fax 978 283 8775 email

Gustav New Orleans Report: Molly the Pony Evacuated, Stablemates Stuck

Molly never wanted to hear the word "hurricane" ever again. After surviving being abandoned and left to die after Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the plucky little pony made a big comeback, only to be attacked by a pit bull so that what was left on her right front leg had to be amputated.

Molly was the first successful amputee equid at Louisiana State University's vet school and became the subject of the fastest-selling book ever perhaps in horse book history: the first printing of the children's book about her sold out completely in 30 days and had to go back to press! (and now the second printing is going quickly)

So when Gustav headed west from Cuba into the Gulf of Mexico, I said, "Oh, no! Look out, Molly!" But her dedicated caretaker, Kaye Harris, moved Molly and a companion pony, Flossie, to a safe haven where they will be well-cared for.

Not so for the other 19 retired ponies at the Kids and Ponies Foundation's retirement sanctuary/farm in St. Rose, Louisiana. A pre-planned evacuation site cancelled, forcing them to find an alternate place, which Kaye did, but then there was the problem of moving 19 ponies with a single truck and trailer.

So Miss Kaye and the 19 elderly ponies will stay put in spite of the mandatory order to evacuate all people and horses inside Interstate 10. The new house built to replace the one so badly damaged by Katrina isn't even finished yet, but the roofs of the barns have been reinforced and everyone is hoping for the best.

P.S. Molly has a foundation to help with her ongoing veterinary expenses and help the other ponies who have found a home at the Kids and Ponies farm. Visit

If you go the web site, you can see some of the 19 ponies who will be weathering the storm at the farm. Some are in their 30s, one is at least 40, and another has deformed front legs. Keep them in your thoughts.

To learn how to order the book MOLLY THE PONY, please click here or email

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

To learn more about new research, products, and treatments for the horse's hooves and legs as reported to veterinarians and farriers in the award-winning "Hoofcare & Lameness Journal",
go to

Direct “subscribe now” link to Hoofcare & Lameness Journal:

Contact Hoofcare Publishing anytime:
tel 978 281 3222 fax 978 283 8775 email

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"Hot Walker" Redefined: Thermographic Video of Horse on Treadmill Shows a Horse of Different Colors

This video is a simple example of the product of a thermographic video camera. Thermography is a system for measuring the relative temperature of body tissues close to the skin surface of an animal. In this case, the video clip was provided by the Flir company, which manufactured the system.

Please don't ask me any questions about this horse because I don't know anything about it, nor do I know at what point the video was shot, so the relatively high temperature (see scale on right of screen) may be a function of the horse being "warmed up".

And don't ask if the horse was shod or unshod. No info, unless someone out there recognizes this video clip.

Watch this a couple of times and you will start to understand why thermography has been recommended for the detection of soring practices in Tennessee Walking horses, as well as in use to monitor therapy or as an aid to other modalities of diagnostic imagery.

Note: if you are reading this blog as an email, the videos will not show up; you need to click through to the actual blog post to run the videos.

Once you are bored with the horse on treadmill, click the play button on the next video, below. What do you notice? (I don't know if the settings on the two videos were comparable, so this is just for fun.)

Thanks to Flir and Science Photography for these videos.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What Is My Life Worth? Asks Australian Vet Clinic After Hendra Virus Kills Colleague Who Treated Infected Horse

I was sent this letter and am posting it here to share with others. Whether you live in Australia or not, diseases like Hendra are a real risk for all who live and work around horses. Please read this letter and act, or not, but think about your job, your life, and your safety in the lens of Ben Cunneen's death.

Note: Hendra virus is an "emerging" infectious disease that can be transmitted to humans from infected horses. First discovered in 1994 when an Australian racehorse trainer died from exposure to infected horses, Hendra recently infected a vet clinic outside Brisbane, Australia. A young vet who treated an infected horse contracted the virus and died last week. At the same time, a controversy erupted over the government-ordered euthanasia of a horse that recovered from the disease; he was either a public health risk or worthy of observation and study, depending on your point of view.

From the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta:

Hendra virus (formerly called equine morbillivirus) is a member of the family Paramyxoviridae. The virus was first isolated in 1994 from specimens obtained during an outbreak of respiratory and neurologic disease in horses and humans in Hendra, a suburb of Brisbane, Australia. The natural reservoir for Hendra virus is thought to be flying foxes (bats of the genus Pteropus) found in Australia. Hendra virus caused disease in horses in Australia, and the human infections there were due to direct exposure to tissues and secretions from infected horses.

To all fellow horse lovers and their families,

Today we attended the memorial service of Ben Cunneen, who was an excellent Australian equine veterinarian and an all-round great guy. He died after contracting the Hendra Virus while “just doing his job”. It was a very sad day.

As I looked around the church I couldn’t help but think that it could have been any one of the people that were here today to say good-bye. It could have been any one of the wonderful people who try and save our horses' lives at Redlands Vet Clinic; it also could have been you.

There has been some talk in the media about developing a vaccine to protect humans, but so far the powers that be have stated that it would not be “commercially viable”.

I cannot see the sense in this statement when you think of the number of people involved in the equine industry, be it as professionals or in a hobbyist capacity.

I remembered when we all united to let our government ministers know how we would not tolerate them lumping a levy on us for the cost of containment of Equine Influenza, and I thought, "We can do this again. We can show them the might of the equine public, their families and their friends by spending five minutes to write a letter to the relevant governing body."

This is not a chain letter, it is a campaign to have some good come out of a terrible tragedy.

Please pass this on far and wide. Don’t be afraid to send it overseas, the equine industry is far-reaching when you really think about it. We have vets from Scotland every stud season and would gladly pay for them or any of our employees to receive a Hendra Vaccine.

We can write to:
1. Kim Carr who is the Minister For Innovation, Industries, Sciences & Research at and has the CSIRO as part of his portfolio.

2. Eric Abetz- Shadow Minister For Innovation, Industries, Sciences & research at

While we are at it since it was so effective previously we should write to:
3. Tony Burke who is the Minister For Agriculture at

4. Mr Nigel Scullion- Shadow Minister For Agriculture at

Thank you for your time and please feel free to share any of your ideas with us-

Kelly Batholomeusz

P.S. This is David Bartholomeusz. It is a very sobering thought that not only did Ben contract this virus just doing his normal job, but the virus itself has changed its disease process and clinical signs dramatically from previous outbreaks. That was how it sneaked under our guard.

If this has occurred once, who is to say that it won’t occur again, and what will it be next time? Colic? Diarrhoea or constipation? Salivation? Is it going to be the case that we are going to have to take quarantine precautions every time we handle a horse, whether it be to treat it, or even to put a bit in its mouth? After all one of the ways of transmission is via saliva from an infected horse.

Referral of horses to a hospital for urgent attention such as a colic would be delayed because of the possible need for testing before it goes in, and the DPI is not open after hours.

It has been 14 years since the first cases, and there have been a few confirmed cases every year or two. We are fortunate that the virus is not highly contagious like Equine Influenza, but who is to say what the next variation of this virus will do?

How many deaths – human or equine – are needed to make a vaccine important enough to overcome the need to be “commercially viable”? Or are there enough humans potentially exposed to the virus because of the presence of horses and bats in their lives?

Make no mistake – this virus is DEADLY, and anyone who has anything to do with handling horses can be at risk, especially if there are bats AND horses in the same area.

I for one would be VERY interested in having access to the vaccine regardless of the cost – what is my life worth?

Dr David Bartholomeusz

A Treat for the Eyes: Unusual Painting of Forge at Night Exhibited at Yale

If you are anywhere near New Haven, Connecticut between now and Sunday, get yourself to the Center for British Art at Yale University. Inside that modern cubist block of a structure you will find this very romantic painting, "A Blacksmith Shop" by the British artist Joseph Wright of Derby, painted in 1771.

I am sorry that I didn't know sooner that the painting was going to be in the United States. It was only there briefly, and is now headed back to its home at the Walker Art Gallery of the Liverpool Museum in Liverpool, England.

If you double-click on the image I have embedded, you can see some of the fantastic detail enlarged.

Wright specialized in portrait painting but had a "thing" for painting scenes lit by candlelight or, in this case, forge light. I have admired this painting for years and would have loved to see it in person. He was a pioneer, as painters rarely sought out places like mines and blacksmith shops to paint. I imagine him painting lovely portraits of totally boring aristocrats by day, and sneaking out to paint his candlelit scenes at night.

The story of the painting is that the farriers were called out at night to shoe a traveling family's horse that needed to keep going. The painting catches the welding moment; the boy by the anvil is hiding his face from the sparks. The well-dressed fellow in the foreground is leaning on a hammer. What do you think those lads in the back with the candle are up to? The forge appears to be in the ruins of a church or something; note that the night sky can be seen through a giant rip in the wall above the hanging horseshoes. Obviously, there is a lot of mystery in this painting.

Wright put layers of gold leaf between the layers of paint to try to simulate the glimmering light cast by the hot shoe on the anvil.

Thanks to our old friend Tim Helck, formerly of Summit Tech farrier supplies in New Jersey and now with the New York Times, for bringing the exhibit to my attention. The painting appeared on the paper's web site last week to promote the exhibit.

If you're in Connecticut this week, the Yale Center for British Art is at 1080 Chapel Street, New Haven; (203) 432-2800,

And if you are in Liverpool, your beautiful painting will be home soon!

Thanks for not stealing this scan as it was very generously loaned by the National Museums, which was very kind of them.

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

To learn more about new research, products, and treatments for the horse's hooves and legs as reported to veterinarians and farriers in the award-winning "Hoofcare & Lameness Journal",
go to

Direct “subscribe now” link to Hoofcare & Lameness Journal:

Contact Hoofcare Publishing anytime:
tel 978 281 3222 fax 978 283 8775 email

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hendra-Infected Australian Vet Ben Cunneen Dies in Hospital

Ben Cunneen, a 33-year-old veterinarian at Redlands Equine Clinic outside Brisbane, Queensland in Australia, died last week from complications of the Hendra virus. Cunneen treated a horse at the clinic that was infected with the virus. Other staff members at the clinic have been hospitalized or are being closely monitored.

A statement on the clinic's web page reads:

It is with sorrow that we advise the passing of our friend and colleague Ben Cunneen.

Ben had been seriously ill in hospital after contracting the Hendra virus during the current outbreak at our clinic. Ben passed away peacefully at the Princess Alexandra Hospital on Wednesday 20th August 2008.

All of us at the Redlands Vet Clinic will miss him greatly. Ben was a fun loving, caring and enthusiastic person and each and every one of us enjoyed working with him every day.

Our love and best wishes go out to his wife, family and friends.

Hendra is a deadly virus spread by fox bats. An outbreak in 1994, also near Brisbane, cost two humans their lives.

Initial research has been completed at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong in Victoria and further work has been done in Atlanta in the United States, according to the Department of Primary Industry's chief vet, Ron Glanville.

But "commercial considerations" might prevent this vaccine ever making it to the market, he told a press conference following the death of Ben Cunneen.

A lockdown on the Redlands Equine Clinic was lifted yesterday and some horses were discharged.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Grant Moon and Welsh Team Score Double Dominance in International Farrier Contest at Stoneleigh

His hair may be gray now, but British farrier Grant Moon has returned to world-class farrier competition and stepped up the victor's pedestal with amazing ease after a long absence. Moon won the individual competition this weekend at what is considered the world's toughest contest, the "Stoneleigh International" in England, a.k.a. the 29th International Team Horseshoeing Championship, hosted by the National Association of Farriers, Blacksmiths and Agricultural Engineers of Great Britain at the Royal Agricultural Showgrounds in Warwickshire.

Grant also won the international individual title back in 1985, soon after leaving farrier school. It's interesting to note that Grant has competed at Stoneleigh under two flags in his lifetime. While he began his career representing Wales, he moved to the USA and later competed at Stoneleigh for American honors in 1989. David Duckett, now of the USA, and Bob Marshall, now of Canada, are two other farriers who have represented various countries. Duckett won the individual at Stoneleigh for the USA in 1987.

Not only did Grant Moon win the individual title; his home country team of Wales won the team competition on the following day. Meanwhile, half a world away, two Welsh farriers were hard at work at the Olympics in Hong Kong: Ian Hughes is official farrier for the entire Olympics and Paralympics and Haydn Price was team farrier for Great Britain.

Runners up were Scotland and England. No word yet on where the US team placed. Results were provided by the Forge Magazine, official publication of the NAFBAE, and they only reported the top three placings.

In a complete break with tradition, the 2009 "Stoneleigh" competition, which will be the 30th annual, will be held August 27-30 at the Aintree International Equestrian Centre in Liverpool, which is presumably somewhere near the Aintree Racecourse where the thrilling Grand National Steeplechase is held each spring.

This year, the Stoneleigh International's Gold Sponsor was Life Data Labs of the USA; Silver Sponsor was Mustad of Switzerland.

Read results and see lots of photos at Forge Magazine's web site.

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

To learn more about new research, products, and treatments for the horse's hooves and legs as reported to veterinarians and farriers in the award-winning "Hoofcare & Lameness Journal",
go to

Direct “subscribe now” link to Hoofcare & Lameness Journal:

Contact Hoofcare Publishing anytime:
tel 978 281 3222 fax 978 283 8775 email

Common Farrier Licensing System Announced for Europe

In November 2008,The European Federation of Farrier Associations (EFFA) will launch the much-anticipated Europe-wide farrrier qualification system to be called "Certified Euro-Farrier". Working farriers who have completed a course of formal training and have achieved national qualifications in a country whose system is recognized as meeting EFFA’s Basic Standards of Competence will be entitled to put CE-F after their names.

Qualified farriers will be awarded a certificate and from 1 January 2009 will receive an annual vehicle window sticker.

Countries currently registered as being eligible are Switzerland, Holland, Austria, Great Britain, Denmark and Finland. Other countries will be accredited as they reach the necessary standard.

The farrier associations in each country will be responsible for submitting the names of those eligible and for keeping the record up to date with additions and removals. Names and contact details of CE-Fs will be published on EFFA’s website (

The aims of the Certified Euro-Farrier scheme are to :

• Provide recognition for those who have achieved the necessary standards of competence;

• Provide a means of identifying competent farriers from other countries. This is particularly important for horse owners in view of EU legislation allowing farriers to practice in other countries purely on the basis of experience; and

• Encourage countries without qualifications or with lower level qualifications to raise standards of farriery to meet the EFFA standard.

Membership in EFFA is open to all farriery associations in all European nations, whether they are members of the EU or not. Current member nations are: Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Great Britain, Ireland, Holland, Spain, Iceland and the Czech Republic. However, not all nations have education and testing systems that comply with the eu-farrier qualification system at the start.

Germany, for instance, has a farrier training and apprenticeship system of longstanding that was recently tested in the federal courts when jurisdiction of farrier licensing was shifted from the metal trades (blacksmithing) to agriculture (horses). As part of the shift, farriery was ordered to combine barefoot trimming and so-called "soft shoeing" (non-steel) into training curricula. The dust is still settling there, as a federal court judge last year ruled that the natural hoofcare providers could be exempt from government oversight of training programs.

Requests for further details or clarification of the new qualification system should be sent to Miles Williamson-Noble, Certified Euro-Farrier Registrar at

Presumably, the British DipWCF level test would translate into the Eu-Farrier qualification.

Thanks to Miles Williamson-Noble for core information in this post.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Golden Horseshoes: Larry Rumsby's Shoes Were "Lamazing" for Canada in Hong Kong

Two Olympics Golden Guys: Rob Renirie, left, shod the individual dressage gold medal winner, Salinero, for Anky Van Grunsven of Holland. Today we learned that Larry Rumsby's shoes on Hickstead helped Canadian Eric LaMaze win the jump-off for the individual show jumping gold medal. Larry and Rob met in Sydney when both were shoeing for their countries at the 2000 Olympics and have been friends ever since.

The champagne corks are popping in Bromont, Quebec tonight. We can only imagine what they are saying around the table since they are speaking French...and very rapid French, at that!

Tonight's jump off for the Olympic gold medal in show jumping was one of the most exciting climaxes of a sporting event series I can remember. There was none of the tragedy of Athens, when so many horses were injured.

Yes, there was a bit of a scandal, as four riders were disqualified (including the leader going into today's final) for the topical ingredient capsaicin, or hot pepper essence, which was believed to have been applied as part of a liniment.

Before long, the strains of "Oh, Canada" came through the speakers, as Eric LaMaze stood on the highest block and grasped his gold medal for his amazing clear jumpoff round riding Hickstead.

The footing in Hong Kong has been amazing, but there is no doubt in my mind that there was still an element in Hickstead's torque-y turns and brave gallop at the final jump that proved how confident that horse was on his feet. Light on his feet, the announcer would say, but we know that what matters is how the horse gets in that fourth stride in the combination and how he lands and turns at the same time, knowing that he wouldn't slip.

Eric LaMaze pointed over and over to the horse after he crossed the line, as the crowd went wild with applause. My guess is that Hickstead, in turn, would point to his feet, again and again, and to the farrier who made the shoes that helped the horse that cleared the jumps that won the medal for Canada!

If you don't know Larry, make it a point to. He lives in the very horsey ski village of Bromont, very close to the Vermont border and can often be found in Wellington, Florida in the winter with his clients. Larry's wife Louise Mongeau owns the Marechalerie Bromont farrier supply store in Bromont. I'm not sure if they live in a nice world or that they make it that way. Perhaps it is both.

Today the spotlight is on Larry and the celebration should be one to remember!

The entrance to Marechalerie Bromont is a mounting block turned flower box, topped with a farrieresque sculpture. Larry Rumsby is no stranger to the Olympics; the equestrian events for the 1976 Olympics in Montreal were hosted in Bromont. Larry's family has been there for generations, on the same farm...on Rumsby Road.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tropical Storm Fay Spawns Twister in Wellington, Florida; Equine Clinic and Sports Complex Damaged

This image from the Los Angeles Times shows damage to the Palm Beach Equine Clinic and Sports Complex in Wellington, Florida yesterday.

According to several reports, a tornado ripped through the showgrounds and especially damaged the Palm Beach Equine Clinic, shown here, where several stalls were destroyed and a stable was literally lifted up and moved across a courtyard.

Read the story from the Palm Beach Post here.

Hilary Clayton Equine Biomechanics Lecture in Pennsylvania September 24th

ANNOUNCEMENT: Hilary M. Clayton, BVMS, PhD, MRCVS will be the speaker at the Dressage at Devon Forum in Devon, Pennsylvania on Wednesday, September 24, 2008. With her lecture The Bio-Mechanics of the Horse, participants will also be able to participate in one of Dr Clayton's lively question and answer discussion sessions.

The lecture, Fitness Training to Maximize Dressage Performance, will address the fitness requirements of dressage horses at different levels of training, including exercises that can be used to improve the horse’s fitness and strength in a highly sport-specific manner. Descriptions will include exercises performed from the ground,cross-training exercises and strength training exercises. Dr. Clayton will also discuss performance issues related to lack of strength or suppleness.

A graduate of the University of Glasgow, Dr. Clayton is a professor and the McPhail Dressage Chair in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at Michigan State University. She has focused her professional career on the study of the movement of horses, including gait analysis, lameness mechanics and the conditioning of sport horses. Dr. Clayton is also an accomplished equestrian with Bronze, Silver and Gold medals from the United States Dressage Federation.

Fitness Training to Maximize Dressage Performance will be held in the Devon Room at the 34th Annual Dressage at Devon Horse Show, on the Devon Horse Show Grounds in Devon, PA. The Forum will begin at 7:00 (doors open at 6:00 pm.). Tickets are $40 and a gourmet boxed dinner and soft drinks. There will also be a cash bar. For information or to purchase tickets, contact Anne Moss at 610-380-1518 or email

Dressage at Devon is the highest rated international dressage competition and most complete breed show outside of Europe. Olympic medalist Robert Dover calls Dressage at Devon “the standard by which all American horse shows should be judged.” Dressage at Devon takes place at the Devon Horse Show Grounds, Route 30, in Devon, Pennsylvania, September 23rd through 28th. For more information on Dressage at Devon please visit

Dr. Clayton's new book and dvd set, Activate Your Horse's Core, is now available from Hoofcare Publishing. The 95-minute dvd and laminated stable manual help trainers and riders understand the biomechanical stresses on sport horses and how to develop balance and strength of movement. The cost is $50 plus $5 postage in the USA, $12 postage to the rest of the world. The set was co-authored with Dr Narelle Stubbs.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Golden Horseshoes: Holland's Farrier in Hong Kong

He's going for the gold. Lift up one of Salinero's shoes and the entire country of The Netherlands would believe that they are made of gold.

In the next few hours, Anky Van Grunsven of Holland and Isabell Werth of Germany go for the gold medal for individual dressage at the Hong Kong Equestrian Games of the Beijing Olympics. The two women are separated by a few one-hundredths of a point...and years of tooth-and-nail competition and micro-point finishes. Or will a dark horse come up from the ranks to take first place?

Each of the top two horses is shod by one of the world's leading sport horse farriers, Rob Renirie for Holland and Dieter Krohnert for Germany.

Anky takes her own farrier to the Olympics with her, and he is also the official farrier for his country. Rob Renirie is a cool study in composure and has an analytical eye for the horse he loves, Salinero.

In Sydney in 2000, Rob ran out into the arena to grab the bridle of Bonfire, Anky's first gold-medal winner, when he exploded from all the controlled energy after his test. Rob studies the horse and knows the rider well.

Holland had to settle for second to Germany in the team medals, and missed the use of a top horse, Sunrise, who went lame. It is all coming down to this one ride, since Anky has announced that she may retire.

If you have a chance to go to a seminar with Rob Renirie about shoeing, go. The former jumper rider turned farrier has also studied equine biomechanics at the University of Utrecht and he has created a place for himself at the pinnacle of sport horse farriery by combining the expertise of a rider, a trainer, a scientist and a skilled farrier into one person.

If you missed his four-hour master class on sport horse shoeing at the Palm Beach laminitis conference last November, you really missed something.

Someone showed me a picture of Rob taken in Hong Kong last week. It was late at night. Pouring rain. Rob with his white head was unmistakably, crouched under an umbrella with Anky's groom, Willeke. They were watching Anky school in the middle of the night, when it might be a little bit cooler. The rain didn't matter. Rob's eyes were locked on the horse's hooves. He was willing them to turn gold.

Post script: Anky Van Grunsven of Holland won her third consecutive individual Olympic gold medal in dressage in Hong Kong.

Golden Horseshoes: German Farrier Shoes the Olympic Champions

Dieter Krohnert, Official Farrier of the German Equestrian Teams

Since 1990, the German equestrian teams have not left home without him. And since 1990, they have won all the Olympic team gold medals in dressage.

Dieter is an enigmatic globe-trotter. If he sat down next to you on an airplane, you might think he was a spy. Or a race car driver. Or a hundred other things...but probably not a farrier. He is clever, inventive and thinks on his feet. Dieter pushes the envelope by narrowing his eyes and nodding, ever so slowly....and coming back from the anvil five minutes later with an answer to your problem cradled in his big hands.

Dieter brought my attention to spider-plate shoes and thumbprint heels and Luwex pads. A seminar for farriers he gave at Rochester Equine Clinic five (or so) years ago was exceptional.

Dieter's English is very good, although he is one of those people who tells you a lot if you pay as close attention to what he doesn't say. He is proud of his country and its horses and of his work.

Dieter has his own farrier clinic near Hamburg, Germany and also works with a vet clinic, so his lameness cases are as interesting as his sport horse tricks.

If they gave gold medals for farriery, Dieter's neck would be very tired from holding them all up.

Congratulations, Dieter, on Germany's three gold medals in these Olympics. One to go!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Objective "Lameness Locator" System Will Be Marketed by UMissouri Veterinarian

Dr. Loni Taylor runs alongside a test horse. Three sensors are placed on the horse's head, the right front foot and the dorsum of the pelvis. The sensors measure the head acceleration, the pelvic acceleration and the right front leg angular velocity. By reading these measurements veterinarians will be able to determine whether or not a horse is lame before it shows any signs. (Story provided by University of Missouri)

In the equine veterinary industry, lameness in horses has been assessed subjectively for centuries, said Paul Schiltz, a veterinarian for Equine Medical Services in Columbia. Each vet has his or her own opinion about what's wrong with a horse - and they often disagree.

But Kevin Keegan, professor of veterinary medicine and surgery at MU, has a solution to this problem with the technology he has created that is going commercial in the next couple of weeks to months.

In the late 1990s, Keegan began working on the Lameness Locator with a simple goal: to develop an objective way of detecting lameness.

"Each practitioner says something different when observing, so we need a way to teach our students exactly what to look at," said Keegan, also director of the E. Paige Laurie Endowed Program in Equine Lameness at MU.

Through a lameness evaluation performed by multiple vets, he found, for example, that in looking at a horse's front legs, these vets agreed only 25 percent of the time.

Keegan then began observing horses on treadmills and putting markers on their bodies to record movements and transmit them to a computer. He attended MU engineering meetings and developed rules and equations to analyze the movements, pairing up with MU engineer professor P. Frank Pai, who has worked with airplane vibration evaluations.

The Lameness Locator is a spinoff of Pai's work with airplanes. The locator analyzes vibration damage to see where the horse's movement is off, Keegan said.

But the invention wasn't practical for other industry professionals. It was then that Keegan began collaborating with Yoshiharu Yonezawa, an electronics engineering professor from Japan, Keegan said.

Keegan and Yonezawa worked intensely on decreasing the size of the sensors and the number of other instruments and wires they put on the horses to record the movements, he said.

One of the first steps was to use fewer sensors. Their previous work showed they needed only four markers to determine the lameness: on the top of the head, the right front leg, the top of the pelvis and the right hind leg. A year ago, they stopped using the locator on the right hind leg because it was transmitting the same information received from the right front leg, Keegan said.

The equipment, now wireless, measures the acceleration of the head and pelvis and the angular velocity of the front leg. If they're sound, the data looks like a symmetrical sine wave, and if they're not, Keegan and Yonezawa measure the shape of the signal. A lame horse has a disruption in the shape, Keegan said. A frequency analysis, which pinpoints the location of the lameness, is performed.

With the Lameness Locator ready to go for a wider market, Keegan needed funding. He started a business called Equinosis and got a license. His company raised money from Angel Investors in Columbia, and production will begin in the coming months with 100 units this year for vets across the country, Keegan said. A price has not yet been set.

"I've been impressed," said Schiltz. "It's a new approach to a very old problem. Depending on the price, I don't know any lameness clinic that wouldn't want one."

Schiltz said it will benefit vets when they're observing subtle lameness that isn't visible by simply looking at the horses. He said that because lameness is a specialty in equine vets, another big advantage is that vets who don't look at lameness every day could have a way to evaluate the horses without relying solely on their experience. It would also be a great teaching tool, Schiltz said.

Tom DiSalvo, co-owner of the thoroughbred racehorse American Thunder, didn't know about the Lameness Locator before bringing his horse to the MU Equine Clinic from Illinois, and he is impressed.

"I think the system is great," said DiSalvo. "It helps Dr. Keegan focus on the problem and save time in diagnosing."

It will also help vets locate multiple problems that might have been overshadowed by an obvious lameness in another area, Schiltz said. All of the lameness will be shown at the same time, he said.

"It would be useful for any vet practice that deals with lameness, but the limiting factor will be the cost of the equipment," Schiltz said. "I think it's such an applicable program that I would be able to justify buying it even if it's not cheap."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Shoeing for the USA": Todd Meister

(photo courtesy of Chespeake Dressage)

Todd Meister is one of those special guys. He calls himself a farrier, but as he told me once, "I'm a farrier who keeps his veterinary license up to date". Lest you think he is a vet who talks hooves and then leaves a prescription, think again: Todd is a certified as a journeymay farrier by the American Farrier's Association. He specializes in event horses and I've watched him work with team vet Brendan Furlong at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.

For the past ten years or so, Todd has been partnering with Steve Teichman and Vance Glenn in running one of the USA's most successful group farrier practices, Chester County Farrier Associates in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

He is a 1995 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's College of Veterinary Medicine. His wife Missy is a veterinarian as well, but she doesn't shoe horses.

"My Shoes Are There!" Meet England's Nigel Turner

Life goes on at home for Nigel Turner but his shoes are going for the gold on the hooves of Tim Stockdale's "Ruby".

Farrier Nigel Turner is the regular farrier for British show jumper Tim Stockdale and his stunning gray mare, Fresh Direct Corlato (stable name: Ruby). Watch for them as the show jumping gets underway. Actually, you can't miss them; the cameras will love this horse. And as she sails over those jumps, she'll be flashing the shoes that Nigel prepared for her

Nigel, who lives near Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, England, has been shoeing for Stockdale for about five years. Tim and Ruby have been together for seven years, although she has been out of the limelight and the headlines for a while. The mare suffered a terrible fall while showing in Portugal two years ago but has made a dramatic comeback.

In the newspaper interview, Stockdale said, "At the end of the day having a good team is an integral part of this and with the feet of the horse you can't take any chances," he said. "You have got to have people that are the best at what they do."
Read a local newspaper article about Nigel here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Press Release: Mustad announces six scholarship recipients

(received via press release from Alex Cook at Lilja Inc., posted as received)

FOREST LAKE, Minn. – (August 13, 2008) – Mustad Hoofcare Center announced today the six recipients of its scholarship essay contest for farrier students. Recipients were given a $750 scholarship to help offset the costs of their farrier education.

Participants wrote original essays on “Benefits of Keeping Horses Shod. ” Essays were judged in three categories:
1) overall best presentation;
2) most suitable for educating horse owners on hoofcare and protection; and
3) best description of the importance of shoeing, or “For the Better of the Horse.”

The recipients of the 2008 Mustad Scholarships are:
Alyssa Clermont Nakusp, British Columbia
Adam Zepf Cold Spring, Ky.
Jacob Wade Quaker City, Ohio;
David Marshall Tompkinsville, Ky.
Gordon Norris Morrison, Colo.
Charlotte Ruse Cloverdale, British Columbia

“Education is a cornerstone value in our mission as a company. Mustad is proud to be supporting the next generation of skilled farriers,” said Carlos Xifra, president of Mustad Hoofcare Center. “We believe that a strong farrier education is critical to ensure the best possible care – for the better of the horse.”

Funds for the scholarships were raised at the 2008 AFA Convention in Lexington, Ky. Mustad, together with Anvil Brand Shoe Co., hosted Farrier Appreciation Night for 400 farrier and industry guests. Mustad matched the funds raised that evening through raffle ticket sales to AFA members; GE Forge & Tool also donated $1,000 to the scholarship pool, bringing the evening’s total to $4,500.

About the scholarship winners

Alyssa Clermont currently attends the Advanced Farrier Program at Olds College in Olds, Alberta, and works as a farrier apprentice in Saskatoon. She trains horses for barrel racing and speed events, and also enjoys photography. Clermont chose the farrier profession because she is interested in equine health “and I believe you have to start from the ground up to have a healthy horse,” she said.

Adam Zepf is currently a farrier apprentice in Cincinnati, Ohio. Zepf grew up around horses and frequently found himself by the farrier’s side. After researching a career as a farrier, “the prospect of the forging and shoe building really caught my eye and interested me more,” he said.

Jacob Wade recently graduated from Kentucky Horseshoeing School. Wade has always been interested in equine hoofcare. While working for a company that trains reining horses, he was introduced to a farrier who got him interested in a career as a farrier. “My future plans are to become a Certified Journeyman Farrier and to own my own productive shoeing business,” said Wade.

David Marshall has loved horses since he was a child, but only recently had the privilege of owning one. Being a horse owner has given Marshall a new perspective on the importance of farriers and their vital role in the equine industry. David is a veteran of the Iraq War, an avid outdoorsman, NASCAR fan, golfer and a horseshoe player.

Gordon Norris currently attends Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. He was involved in high school and college rodeos. Norris had always been interested in hoofcare and learned more about being a farrier after befriending the farrier who tended to his family’s horses. “I realized right away this was an ancient craft, a brotherhood that has bonded man and beast for centuries,” he said. Norris enjoys camping and trail riding with his young family, and is an avid outdoorsman.

Charlotte Ruse is a recent graduate of the Farrier Program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Cloverdale, British Columbia. After working at a stable, she learned about all aspects of equine care – from stable maintenance to grooming to training – and fell in love with caring for horses. Ruse was particularly interested in learning more about how the farriers worked. “I want to use my knowledge to help other horse owners and anyone in this industry to give horses the best possible care,” she said. She enjoys riding her own horses and participating in dressage and English horse events.

(end press release)

Blogger's note: You'll find lots of information about Mustad and the company's products at

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hoofcare@Saratoga: Double Session with Big Brown's Ian McKinlay on August 12

New Jersey comes to Saratoga: Conny Svensson, left, is a Swedish horseshoer specializing in Standardbreds at the Meadowlands; among his famous charges has been the leading money earner Moni Maker. Ian McKinlay, right, is a Canadian-born hoof repair specialist based in New Jersey whose recent clients have included leading Thoroughbreds Big Brown and Ginger Punch. Track surface researcher Mick Peterson PhD of the University of Maine completes this Tuesday's roster. (Photo kindly loaned by George Geist, IUJH)

All roads lead to Saratoga Springs, New York on August 12th; join us for a special double session with three great speakers!

The afternoon session will be from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Hall of Fame Theater at the National Museum of Racing on Union Avenue, just 1/2 mile or so off I-87 at exit 14, and opposite the main entrance to the racetrack.

The evening session will be from 7 to 9 p.m. (or so) at the Parting Glass Pub on Lake Avenue in downtown Saratoga Springs, just off Broadway.

In the afternoon session, meet quarter crack repair specialist Ian McKinlay who will go over the development of glue-able horseshoes, hoof injuries and the work he did on horses like Big Brown to use adhesives to help horses with quarter cracks and wall separations. Ian will speak, show slides and videos, and be available for questions.

Two of Ian's Big Brown shoes, a.k.a. "Yasha" shoes, are on display in the National Racing Museum. One is a front shoe worn by Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby; the second is a new Yasha shoe so you can see how much the plastic compressed with use. In the next case are Secretariat's front shoes from the Belmont Staks in 1973.

Dr. Mick Peterson, a specialist in racetrack surfaces, will discuss how the hoof hits the track and what the "impact" of different surfaces may be on hoof structures. Dr Peterson is conducting research for the Jockey Club's Grayson Foundation.

Standardbred shoer Conny Svensson will also join us, and talk about his work at the Meadowlands and how he overcomes problems with different surfaces. Because of a work-related emergency, he may arrive too late for the Museum session.

Admission is free; you can order meals and drinks in the meeting room at the Parting Glass.
Call the info line at 978 857 5900 if you have questions. Please don't call the museum.

You will also have a chance to view the RIDE ON exhibit at the museum, which salutes the valiant efforts of horsecare professionals to help injured horses.

NOTE: There is a concert in Saratoga on Tuesday night, so traffic may be tough. Take back roads. Do NOT take exit 13 to come into town. You can get to the Parting Glass from Exit 15 as well as 14.

See you there! This is a wonderful opportunity to meet three top professionals in three different aspects of the hoof.

On Tuesday, August 19, another double session is planned, with Allie Hayes of HorseScience and Michael Wildenstein of Cornell vet school.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Laminitis News: Vermont Horse Show Fundraiser Benefits Research in Barbaro's Memory

From left to right: Dr. James Orsini and Gretchen and Roy Jackson at Vermont benefit held to benefit laminitis research in honor of the Jacksons' late, great racehorse Barbaro last week at the Vermont Summer Festival horse show.

On the evening of Thursday, August 7, more than 100 guests enjoyed "An Equine Evening" held in the Grand Prix Pavilion at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, Vermont, to honor Barbaro, the late Thoroughbred racehorse Barbaro, who died because of complications of laminitis in 2007.

Barbaro, the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner, suffered catastrophic injuries to his right hind leg during the running at the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown for three-year-olds. He underwent intensive surgery at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center under the care of Dr. Dean Richardson to repair multiple fractures. His struggle for survival captured the nation’s attention.

However, in January of 2007, Barbaro was euthanized after a difficult battle against laminitis.

Proceeds generated through donations and raffle ticket sales during An Equine Evening, co-chaired by Kimet Hand and Betsy Perrott, benefited the University of Pennsylvania's Laminitis Research Fund, the Barbaro Foundation, a program established by Gulfstream Park that oversees an annual scholarship for future veterinarians, and the Spring Hill Horse Rescue in Clarendon, Vermont.

Gretchen and Roy Jackson, owners of Barbaro, were the evening’s honored guests, as was Barbaro’s trainer, Michael Matz, who was unable to attend.

“I just want to thank everyone who came here this evening. You are the ones supporting the Laminitis Fund and the Barbaro Foundation,” Mrs. Jackson addressed the guests. “I feel like I’ve said this so many times; Barbaro opened our hearts to what horses mean to us. We never expected what happened to Barbaro, but are thankful for all the positive things he has brought.

“Barbaro always seemed to enjoy being out there,” she continued. “He ran so easily and showed up so proudly in the paddock and we found so much joy in that. Even after his injury and during the eight months he spent in a stall, he kept his ears pricked, always happy to have visitors. But when the laminitis hit, he became a different horse. He let us know he was ready.”

James Orsini, DVM, ACVS of the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center took to the podium next to address the fundamentals of the laminitis disease and hopes for the future.

“Through Barbaro’s tragedy, laminitis has been turned into a household word and that has helped us gain the means to move forward and better understand the disease, and most importantly, prevent it,” Orsini explained. “We are making progress.”

Orsini outlined multiple revolutions in preventative technology including a variable temperature ice boot designed to reduce inflammation in the hoof, slow the metabolic process required by an affected hoof, and quell the pain laminitis inflicts.

Roy wrapped up the evening’s presentations with more positive news. “To date, the Laminitis Fund has raised approximately 1.5 million dollars,” he said. “We have received letters from every state and 15 foreign countries. Barbaro has inspired more optimism and positive causes than we could have ever imagined.”

As New England’s largest “AA” rated hunter/jumper horse show, the Vermont Summer Festival offers over $750,000 in prize money, making it the richest sporting event in the state of Vermont. Visit the Vermont Summer Festival website for more information, including full results.

Photo credit: David Mullinix Photography

Friday, August 08, 2008

Giant Stride for Toe Grab Ban: No Graded Stakes May Be Run at Tracks Allowing Grabs in 2009

You're looking at the foot of a young Thoroughbred racehorse. The toe grab is the dark gray line that you can see from 7 to 5 o'clock on the circular face of the foot/shoe. (file photo)

The American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) today announced new eligibility requirements for graded stakes races in the United States.

At its meeting this week in Saratoga Springs, New York, the committee adopted two new eligibility requirements for graded stakes.

1. States or racetracks through house rules must adopt, at a minimum, the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) model rule on androgenic anabolic steroids by January 1, 2009 or the date of a state or racetrack’s first graded race in 2009, whichever is later. If a state or racetrack does not adopt the model rule, then their races will lose their graded status. Those races will not be eligible again for grading until the rule is adopted.

2. The committee adopted a requirement for grade eligibility whereby states or racetracks through house rules must adopt the ARCI model rule on toe grabs on front feet by January 1, 2009 or the date of a state or track’s first graded stake in 2009. If the rule is not adopted, then races will lose their graded status. Those races will become eligible for grading once the rule is adopted.

Interpretation: States or tracks that allow toe grabs on horses and/or the use of steroids after January 1, 2009 will lose their ratings on any graded stakes that are run there.

Gray area: There are actually two ARCI model rules, at this point. First is the 2007 ARCI model rule, which says that front toe grabs must be less than 4 mm. This is the rule that was adopted by California last year. But since last week, there is a second proposed ARCI rule  that would limit toe grabs to 2 mm. That rule was sent from the model rules committee to the ARCI Board but I do not believe that it was voted on.

This is masterful politics. If states or tracks don't ban toe grabs, they can't run their big races that bring in big crowds, big name horses, and big handles.

My understanding of this rule until reading the text was that it would apply to the races themselves, but it seems that this is a much, much broader sweep.

This, my friends, is NEWS.

Shoeing for the World: Kelvin Lymer's Shoeing Role at Hong Kong Olympics

Kelvin Lymer of Worcester, England will be working as the official farrier of the Olympics in Hong Kong for three weeks, along with Ian Hughes of Wales. Kelvin and Ian will run the forge and shoeing clinic, facilitate the work of team farriers from other countries and help with horses from countries (the majority) who are not sending farriers. That must be his very favorite good-luck apron. One of the apron manufacturers hopefully sent him a new one to wear in Hong Kong! Picture by Emma Attwood, Worcester News

British farrier Kelvin Lymer DipWCF is serving as one of two official full-time event farriers for the 2008 Olympics Equestrian Events.

Kelvin, along with Ian Hughes of Wales, arrived last week and is staffing a farrier's forge and shoeing shop that are designed for use by both the official farriers and also to assist team farriers from different countries who will be attending. They'll also be helped by Australian Greg Murray as well as farriers from the Hong Kong Jockey Club, since there is no racing in the Territory during August. Kelvin will be in Hong Kong for three weeks; Ian will be on hand for eight weeks, since he will also be the farrier for the Paralympics in September.

Kelvin is no stranger to the bright lights of major competition; he has been the official farrier for the British endurance teams at events like the World Equestrian Games.

There's a great article about Kelvin in the Worcester News, his home paper in England (except for the part where they spelled his name wrong). Click here to read a lot more about Kelvin and his plans for Hong Kong.

As far as I know, this is the first time that the Olympics or any big FEI event has hired full time farriers to staff a purpose-built clinic for the hoofcare needs of the horses. It's an honor to be asked to shoe for your nation, to be sure, but to be asked to shoe for the world: that's a lifetime achievement. Three solid weeks on the job will be filled with great memories for Kelvin...and a lot of work and responsibility. He'll have great stories to tell when he gets home!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Meet Rodney King: Rood and Riddle Has a New Accent on Farriery

Rodney and Natalie King left their home and horses in New Zealand for the exposure to lameness and hoofcare technology at Kentucky's Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital Podiatry Clinic. From the sounds of it, Rodney will be bringing skills and experience that will make his trip mutually beneficial!

For many in the USA, a life’s dream would be to visit the sparkling green country of New Zealand. We’d buy horses or we’d go skiing, or we’d race a sailboat, or bungee-jump into a rainforest. For Americans who’ve been there, New Zealand always tops the list of places they’d like to escape to again…and not come back.

So why would anyone leave?

New Zealand is also one of the horsiest places on earth. There’s a racetrack in every town, the three-day event riders are major sports personalities, and a farrier can make a good living there.
But Rodney King thinks there’s more to see and do in his career as a farrier.

Last week, Rodney started his new job as a farrier at the Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. Rood and Riddle has a very successful “podiatry” clinic staffed by a talented team of vets and farriers and technicians…and loaded with cases and clients.

Rodney’s accent should puzzle the Kentuckians!

Rodney knows what he is getting into. He visited Rood and Riddle last year on a New Zealand Equine Research Foundation scholarship and, when a position became open, he applied for it.

Now Rodney and his wife Natalie are living in Lexington, and learning the American way of doing things. At Rood and Riddle, that means lots of aluminum glue-on shoes, lots of laminitis, and lots of long hours. In return, a farrier or vet has the chance of a lifetime to learn about the horse’s foot and be around some of the leading minds in the world of the hoof.

Rodney has already passed his AFA journeyman certification test and, in fact, was told that he had the highest written-portion score of the year.

Dr Scott Morrison, director of the clinic, said today that Rodney “fit right in and went right to work. He knows what the routine is,” he said.

Welcome to America, Rodney!

Monday, August 04, 2008

But is it art? New York museum goers gawk at hanging horse

Visitors to a New York City museum are struck by the ironic juxtaposition of a horse hanging over their heads. How'd it get way up there? Who put it  there? And why head first?

Well, art is in the eye of the beholder, we are told, but also in the intent of the artist. Italian conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan admits that this installation currently on view in Manhattan is not a real horse, but a taxidermied horse hide (so where do you get one of those? on eBay?) and a fiberglas resin artistic vision of a horse.

Ok, Maurizio, that explains the horse. Now explain the wall.

The "piece" is part of "After Nature,'' the summer group exhibition at New York's New Museum of Contemporary Art. According to the press, "the show pits the helplessly human against the forces of the natural world to decidedly uplifting effect". We are told that the dangling horse "forms a powerful allegory of cruelty, madness, failed ambition and redemption".

Of course, I am distracted by the odd angle of the dangling lower legs and see another scenario entirely. That horse didn't collide with the wall at a gallop; if he had, his front legs would be through the wall. Standing still, he for some reason put his head through a hole in the wall, perhaps to get a carrot, and got stuck. Or maybe he's a cribber, and he gnawed his way through the wall. He was standing on mid-winter Vermont snowpack when he got stuck, and it melted underneath him, leaving him dangling. So they moved the entire wall to Manhattan and installed it in the museum.

That's why I write about horses, not art. I don't go looking for cruelty, madness, or failed ambition when I go to a museum. Do you? Redemption, maybe.

Read more about the artist and exhibits at

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Big Relief: Big Brown Wins Haskell Invitational at Monmouth, Shoes Still Glued

I guess he can hold his head high again. Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner (and Belmont also-ran) Big Brown returned to form this afternoon and won the Haskell Invitational Stakes at New Jersey's Monmouth Park.

That answers one question, but opens a lot of others. Will the van take him back to Aqueduct on Long Island...or will it swerve northward toward Saratoga, where the bigger test and a rematch with his Triple Crown mates might be waiting at the Travers Stakes on August 23?

Hoof repair expert Ian McKinlay checked in today and reported that Big Brown is still wearing the glue-on Yasha shoes with thick black heel cushions.

Remember, Ian will be speaking on hoof repair and glue-on shoes on Tuesday, August 12 at the National Museum of Racing in Saratoga Springs, New York, sponsored by Life Data Labs, and again that evening in downtown Saratoga, as part of the Hoofcare@Saratoga events. Standardbred shoer Conny Svensson from the Meadowlands and racetrack surfaces researcher Dr Mick Peterson will also be speaking on the 12th.

This week, the 5th, is a program from the Grayson Jockey Club Foundation's Shoeing Committee on shoe variation and surface variation with new high-speed videos from Mitch Taylor along with Steve Norman and Bill Casner, with a guest lecture from trainer/surface expert Michael Dickinson of Maryland.

Call the office at 978 281 3222 for more information, or email I look forward to seeing you there...and thanks! to all the blog readers who came last week.

I think most of us would like to see Big Brown in Saratoga, too.

Thanks to Steve Sherack and IEAH for the nice photo of their horse, Big Brown.

Shoeing for the World: Two Tons of Horseshoes for Hong Kong

Two tons of horseshoes were ordered for the farrier clinic at the Olympic stabling center adjacent to Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong. The shoes were primarily shipped from the warehouses at Mustad and Kerckhaert headquarters on the European continent. 

Head Olympics Farrier Ian Hughes of Wales said that the containers were filled this spring, and that he included "everything I could think of that anyone might need", including plenty of glue-on shoes and adhesive.

South Asia is not a remote outpost for farrier and vet supplies. Martin Draper's Tallahesse company is based in Singapore but has a branch in Hong Kong. He imports most of the farrier supplies used at the racetracks and in horse breeding and showing, including Victory, St. Croix, and Kerckhaert shoes.

Ian and two assistants will serve the horses at Hong Kong, along with the official "team" farriers dedicated to countries like Great Britain, Holland, Germany and the USA. In addition, the Hong Kong Jockey Club said that the 22 farriers at the racetrack are serving in a standby capacity.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Legacy of A. Smith

Allen Smith, a farrier from Marion, Massachusetts died this afternoon. His friends will want to know, so I am posting the sad news here. He died at his home near Buzzards Bay.

Because he was such a private man, I'll leave it there. Most of us didn't even know he was sick until very recently. Those who know him understand.

But for those who didn't know him: Allen Smith was always a bit amused and intrigued by the ironic fact that his trade matched his name. He was "A Smith". And he was proud of it.

Back in the days when farriers were called horseshoers and drove trucks with smokestacksfor their coal forges sticking up into the air, Allen had the word "horseshoer" written in big letters on the side of the wooden "cap" on his truck.

I remember one night at a Southern New England Farriers Association meeting, someone asked him why he had the word painted so large, instead of his name. Allen didn't hesitate for a second. He answered that you could read it from a mile away and wherever he went, people would walk by his truck and make a comment or tell a story about how their grandfathers had shod horses, or something they remembered from a blacksmith shop in their towns growing up. 

In this way, Allen was a catalyst. He worked that same logic (or was it magic?) in many ways in his many roles in the farrier world, from shoeing my old horse Jasper (with concave, of course, that he imported as bar stock from England) on an island enclave off Cape Cod that he had to sail his boat to, to being the president (more than once) and peacemaker (perpetually) of the American Farrier's Association. He showed up at my house for a meeting one night on his motorcycle...but still wearing his trademark bow tie (from his "part-time" job as a professor of library science) under his leather jacket.

Allen may have wanted to leave this world privately, but it would be important to remember how strongly he believed that the proud traditions of farriery and smithing should be honored as long as any one of us remembers what a real blacksmith shop looked and smelled and sounded like. May our eyes and noses and ears never forget that combination.

Back in 1989, Allen sent me a poem written by the highly-regarded poet Edward Kleinschmidt called "Katzenjammer", in which the poet explained in lovely verbiage that in spite of the word "schmidt" in his last name, he was certainly not a smith, and that all the real smiths were dead anyway.

Allen objected. And wrote this poetic answer to Kleinschmidt: 

Smith y Gwf

And while you write, a smith
Tends fire, takes heat, and turns a shoe
To burn the balanced coffin horn
Among the bones of the limb,
Pacing the day, breaking steel
Across the anvil devil,
In back of behind.

--A. Smith

I believe there always be A. Smith among us, wherever horses are shod.

Racing Commissioners Rules Committee Agrees to Recommend Banning Toe Grabs, Educating Trainers

The Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) met in Saratoga Springs, New York on Friday. On the table: recommendations from the Jockey Club Thoroughbred Safety Committee, which includes urgent action on recommendations for more states, racing meets and individual racetracks to ban toe grabs on front shoes of Thoroughbreds. (See previous posts for recent bans on shoe modifications at certain tracks around the country.)

According to a memo received today from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), the RCI Model Rules Committee met in all day session Friday at the National Museum of Racing and has made the following recommendations to the RCI Board for adoption:

• Impose further restrictions on the use of toe grabs in Thoroughbred racing, limiting their size to 2mm.

• Impose a new requirement on licensed horse trainers to undergo at least four hours of continuing education each year as a condition of maintaining a current trainer’s license. The continuing education program would be required to be approved by the ARCI or the commission in a particular jurisdiction.

Regulatory jurisdictions with representatives present and participating in the Model Rules meeting included: California, New York, Kentucky, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Virginia, Indiana, South Dakota, Ontario, Jamaica, Trinidad/Tobago, Delaware and Minnesota.

It will now be up to the RCI Board to approve or deny the committee's recommendation.

Here is the text of recommendations that were given to the Rules Committee; the toe grab and continuing education for trainers seem to be the only points that received action.

JUNE 9, 2008

Recommendation #1: – Shoes and Hoof Care

Based on published research*, prior considerations and recommendations brought forward from the 2006 Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit Shoeing and Hoof Care Committee and recent discussions with persons with expertise in shoeing matters, The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Safety Committee (“Committee”) calls for:

“An immediate ban on toe grabs with a height greater than two millimeters, bends, jar caulks, stickers and any other appliance worn on the front shoes of Thoroughbred horses while racing or training on all racing surfaces.”

Further, the Committee calls for:
1.  All racetracks to immediately implement this ban by “house rule.”
2.  The Association of Racing Commissioners’ International and all North American racing authorities to implement this ban by rule as soon as possible, but no later than December 31, 2008.

In addition, the Committee encourages:
1.  The development of educational guidebooks and DVD’s on proper hoof care and shoeing for trainers and owners.
2.  Racing authorities to establish requirements for continuing education on the proper care and welfare of the Thoroughbred racehorse in order for trainers to renew their license.
3.  Racing authorities establish certification criteria for farriers practicing within the enclosure of licensed race tracks and training facilities.

Finally, the Thoroughbred Safety Committee hereby requests that proposals for research on the effects of toe grabs and other appliances on rear shoes on Thoroughbred racehorses on all racing surfaces during racing and training be developed and submitted immediately (or no later than October 1, 2008) to the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation.

* Kane AJ, Stover SM, Gardner IA, et. al. Horseshoe characteristics as possible risk factors for
fatal musculoskeletal injury of thoroughbred racehorses. Am J Vet Res 1996; 57:1147-1152.