Monday, September 29, 2008

Friends at Work: "Good Hands" Are Part of the Job Description

I always say that farriers are "two-faced". Not dishonesty-wise, but literally. Farriers who have spent their lives on the job usually have great faces enhanced by plenty of laugh lines around their eyes.

But their hands are a second "face" and you can read a lot about them by looking at their hands' creases, their scars, their lumps and bumps and all the old burn scars inside their wrists and sometimes up to the crooks of their elbows.

Pennsylvania farrier Bob Skradzio Sr. has the most interesting hands of anyone I've met and I've even photographed them! His hands were featured for a month on the Hoofcare & Lameness/St. Croix Forge wall calendar about ten years ago, and many people told me that it was one of their favorite of all the photos, even though no horses, no hooves, no shoes, and no tools were in the picture. In a way, all those things were there because you could see what 50 years of shoeing horses had done to his hands.

That's what came to mind on Sunday when I read the article in Sunday's Augusta Chronicle about Mark Berchtold, a farrier in Aiken, South Carolina. It's a nice article, to be sure, but my eye went to the photo of Mark's hands cradling a hoof, shown above. I'm sure most would be checking the position or fit of the shoe but I was looking at Mark's hands.

In the article, Mark admits that he broke his left hand twice and his right hand three times and lost part of his thumb. And right now he's having a knuckle problem.

The newspaper did a nice article about Mark, and there's a little slide show, too.

Two of my favorite faces, four of my favorite hands: lifetime veteran farriers Bob Skradzio, Sr. of Pennsylvania and Joe Kriz, Sr. of Connecticut. Both have sons (by the same names) who are farriers.

© 2008 Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. All images and text protected to full extent of law. Permissions for use in other media or elsewhere on the web can be easily arranged. Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at the blog's web page or received via a daily email through an automated delivery service. An RSS feed is also available. To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness, please visit our main site,, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found.

Questions? Send email to

Sunday, September 28, 2008

United Kingdom Dominates Farrier Apprentice Competition; Ireland Second

Apprentice Farrier, originally uploaded by Diamanx.

Thanks to Tony Diamanx for making this photo available. I do not know the identity of this farrier.

The British apprentice team of Ben Casserly (age 21) from Uckfield, East Sussex and Ricky Hilton (age 22) from Welshpool, Powys, in Wales, scored a gold medal for their nation at the truly unique Euroskills competition last weekend in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Young farriers from all over the European Union were tested on shoemaking skills using gas forges.

In addition, Ricky Hilton (who is apprentice to former world champion James Blurton of Wales) won the individual gold medal and Ben Casserly (who is apprentice to his father), won the silver.

Ireland's team of Paul O'Reilly and Ruairi Brennan won the silver medal, with Paul winning the individual bronze medal.

Switzerland was third.

The competition tested apprentices who are learning all sorts of trades, from hairdressing and car repair to culinary arts and even cleaning, against one another in national teams.

The world finals will be held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 2009.

The winning British farrier apprentices, Ben Casserly and Ricky Hilton, were exuberant on the dais, compared to their counterparts from Ireland and Switzerland. (UKSkills photo)

Ricky Hilton, left, and Ben Casserly, right, European champion farrier apprentices. (UKSkills photo)

These photos are mirrored from the UkSkills web site, which followed the exploits of all the British teams from all trades.

James Blurton has written an article with more photos of Ricky Hilton in action on his web site. Click here to read "Probably the Best Apprentice in the World". While you're there, have a look round Jim's site; it is quite well done.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

"Best Shod" Classes Keep Farriery Front and Center in Britain and California

We're coming down the stretch of a very long show season and the end-of-year "Big Shows" will soon be here. All the horses and ponies who have been chasing points all summer find out if they have qualified to compete at the "indoors" for hunters and jumpers and the "nationals" for breeds like Arabians. The Quarter horses are pointed toward the Congress in Ohio or the World show later in the fall. This weekend is the big Dressage at Devon show in Pennsylvania, which has a phenomenal in-hand division as well as actual dressage test classes.

On the regional level, those year-end banquets start, with endless awards for point winners that will hopefully keep people coming back to show next year.

It's also pressure time for farriers. Nothing is worse than qualifying for year-end competitions, only to have your horse too lame to compete. After such hard campaigns, these horses suffer from foot fatigue and unless a horse has great hoof walls, this is the time of year when farriers reach for the glue, the pads, the wall repair compounds.

This time of year reminds me that farriers receive little recognition in the show world. Sometimes I see farriers and vets and grooms listed in congratulatory ads in the breed magazines, but it's pretty rare.

All of which makes me remember how British horse shows give "best shod" awards at their shows. These classes were originally encouraged by groups like the Worshipful Company of Farriers or horse welfare groups.

Here's an example of a show with these classes. It is in Hay, on the English-Welsh border, in the county of Hereford. From their show list, held in July:

"Included into the following classes for 2008 will be judging of the "Best Shod" Horse or Pony. Classes: 34, 35, 37, 38, 41, 71 & 72. The Judge for 'Best Shod' will be Mr. Mark Jones Dip. WCF., Dorstone, Hereford. Clients of Mr. Jones, of course, are not eligible for judging.

"Winning Horses and Ponies will receive a Best Shod rosette and will be asked to supply the name and address of their Farrier. A 'Best Shod' card will be sent to the successful Farriers."

(This show obviously includes many in-hand classes for Welsh ponies and cobs, like the one shown in the photo.)

These classes provide a consolation prize for owners and exhibitors--the horse may not have won a class, but it did go home with a prize ribbon for its feet. And those ribbons look just as good hanging over the mantle. But they also make that owner a little more appreciative of the farrier who works on the horse. And for the farrier, it's nice to have some recognition.

Different shows in Britain run these best-shod awards differently. At a breed show, there might be a "best feet" award. At the Suffolk show, having a heavy horse best feet winner is a great honor; the breed made good feet an emphasis years ago and the class still has a great honor attached to it. (Just ask Roger Clark, FWCF Hons., who takes great pride in the classes he was won...and who won again this year.)

One of the favorite best-shod or best-feet classes is at the Badminton Horse Trials, held each May. You'll see familiar names of top competition and world-champion farriers like Billy Crothers and James Blurton on the recent list of winners of the "Farrier's Prize". Last year's winner was Martin Deacon FWCF and before that, Sam Head, the up and coming shoeing son of former WCF Master, Mac Head FWCF.

This year's Badminton best-shod winner was Paul Gordon of Cheshire, England, farrier to the scarily-named Valdemar. On the awards page for this most prestigious event in the world, Paul is listed, not the owner and not the rider. Just Paul, and the horse's name. Just to clarify, there may be little correlation between winning at Badminton and the Farrier's Prize: Valdemar finished 36th in the horse trials, but was #1 in the hoof-judging.

James Blurton of Wales won both the Gatcombe Park and Burleigh horse trials awards for best-shod horse this year.

At England's Melplash show for heavy horses, the class is described this way: "This Competition is for the best shod horse in the Heavy Horse Section (Classes 80 - 85). The judge will examine each horse before or during the line-up for preliminary judging, taking into consideration: a. Condition of the feet; b. The making (or preparation) and fitting of the shoes; c. Nailing, and position of the clips. Normal shoes and showing plates are equally acceptable, PROVIDED they are suitable for the horse."

For more information about best-shod classes, a good reference has been written by Tim Challoner AFCL who describes the why and how of the best-shod class for the Dales Pony exhibitors.

In the USA, the only class of this type that I know of is at the Draft Horse Classic in Grass Valley, California, which also hosts an actual farrier competition and is dedicated to the legendary Scottish farrier, Mr. Edward Martin FWCF. Some of the winners of the best-shod class at that show have included well-known California farriers (and outstanding competitors) Jason Harmeson and Jason Smith. It's great for non-competition farriers to have their work quality judged alongside the pro competitors. As far as I know, in these classes, handmade shoes are not required.

The Draft Horse Classic had the world-class judge and former world-champion, Mr. David Wilson FWCF of Scotland as judge this year. It was his only US clinic/competition this year.

Nevada farrier Jean Meneley gets the credit for organizing that event and keeping it going for many years. She believes that both the best-shod class for the showing horses and the farrier competition make horse owners and breeders more aware of the role of farriers in the well-being of these special horses.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Texas Clinic Partners with Palm Beach Equine; Podiatry Services to Expand

(edited from a longer press release)

The growing trend toward veterinary clinic networks and shared consultants continues. Along with that trend is the concept of podiatry services as a profit center or consultant service. How different clinics plan to incorporate this concept into their service offereings is always interesting: Veterinarians wearing shoeing aprons is a new fashion statement. This information was received today:

Katy Equine Clinic in Katy, Texas and Palm Beach Equine Clinic, headquartered in Wellington, Florida, have formed a strategic partnership. Katy Equine's clients will now have access to Palm Beach's state of the art resources, including 19 leading Florida-based veterinarians, streamlined digital medical records and advanced diagnostic and treatment options. These new resources augment the current services that the Katy Equine Clinic and its founder, James "Mike" Heitmann, D.V.M., M.S., have provided for more than 25 years.

Plans call for the Katy Equine Clinic to become a regional referral hospital specializing in surgery, lameness, podiatry and emergency / ICU care. On the immediate horizon will be the construction of a new surgical suite and the purchase of additional diagnostic tools. Already available are digital radiography, computed radiography, ultrasound, two surgical rooms, shockwave therapy and the ability to create platelet-rich plasma for the treatment of wounds and ligament and tendon injuries. The number of staff veterinarians has already doubled, with Michelle Dumas, D.V.M., and Josh Zacharias, D.V.M., M.S., joining Dr. Heitmann and Catherine Berry, D.V.M.

"Joining the Palm Beach Equine Clinic team is a great opportunity to work with experienced veterinarians and utilize state of the art technology," says Dr. Zacharias, who has a Master's Degree in Veterinary Clinical Sciences and was the Equine Emergency Surgeon at Iowa State University before the move to Texas.

In addition to his role as surgeon, Dr. Zacharias has a keen interest in the equine hoof and attended farrier school. "Equine podiatry is critical to maintaining the athlete's soundness. I look forward to working with the farriers in the Katy and Houston area and providing world-class equine hoof health," he explained in the press release.

© 2008 Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This post was originally published on September 24, 2008 at

To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness, please visit our main site,, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Belknap's Laminitis Paper Wins Scientific Publishing Award

(University news release)

Dr. James Belknap, associate professor of equine surgery in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, has been awarded the annual Equine Veterinary Journal Open Award for 2007 for his work as senior author of a paper published in the Equine Veterinary Journal. The Open Award is funded by the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) Trust and presented to the senior author in recognition of a paper considered by the judges to be of outstanding excellence.

The paper, "Lamellar pro-inflammatory cytokine expression patterns in laminitis at the developmental stage and at the onset of lameness innate vs. adaptive immune response," focused on inflammation of the laminae, which they recognized as present in early forms of laminitis.

"No matter what type of laminitis, inflammation is playing a large role in the developmental process," Dr. Belknap said. "Researchers used to believe that inflammation was not a major component of the disease, and that the disease was mainly caused by a decrease in blood flow."

Dr. Belknap said discovering that inflammation plays a key role in the developmental stages of the disease has caused a paradigm shift in the way the disease is researched worldwide. This opens up new opportunities for discovery of novel treatments for this disease, which commonly results in crippling lameness of affected horses.

"We still have a long way to go to answer the big questions," he explained. "We still must determine which specific pathologic will eventually allow us to formulate an effective therapeutic regimen for this devastating disease."

Dr. Belknap received his veterinary degree from Colorado State University and has worked at Ohio State for four years as a surgeon; he has a special interest in equine podiatry. He grew up in Kentucky on a farm where he developed an early interest in horses.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. All images and text protected to full extent of law. Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online or received via a daily email through an automated delivery service. To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness, please visit our main site,, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found.

This post originally appeared at on September 23, 2008.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Aboriginal Brumby Walkabout: Pollitt and Hampson Back from the Outback

Professor Pollitt has been chasing wild horses in the Australian Outback. His studies are comparing the hooves of wild horse herds in different regions, with different environmental influences and breed/origin characteristics.

"We spent two weeks hiding at water holes, on mountain ridges, and walking through the desert photographing and filming horses and other wildlife including camels, dingos and emus..."

So begins the latest chapter in the literally "wild" annals of The Australian Brumby Research Team at the University of Queensland. The intrepid team is lead by Dr. Chris Pollitt and PhD candidate in hoof studies, Brian Hampson, and is attached to the famed Australian Equine Lamnitis Research Unit.

The researchers continue to trek out to the most remote areas in the huge country of Australia. Their goal is to find herds of horses that are surviving without human intervention. Over the past few months, this meant a wilderness expedition into Aborigine territory in the sparsely populated zone known as Central Australia. It's outback of Everywhere.

Many people, especially Americans, are not aware that Australia has, by far, the largest feral horse population in the world, and the most vast area of country for horses to run. Even more interesting is that the wild horses co-habitate with feral camels.

A "feral" horse, by the way, is a horse running wild that is descended from domesticated horse that were turned loose or that escaped from ranches or military units. The only true "wild" horses left on the planet are the Przewalski horses, most of whom live in zoos. In colorful Aussie lingo, a "Brumby" is a feral horse running wild Down Under. You may remember the dazzling brumbies of the film Man from Snowy River. If you don't, you can watch a clip of it that was posted on this blog last April by clicking here. If you have never seen that film, rent it!

The Australian Equine Genetics Research Unit at The University of Queensland is collaborating with the wild horse unit to test the DNA of different groups of wild horses in the studies. The aim is to find out what breed or breeds have been the most influential over isolated groups; this should make studying the feet more valid. For instance, a mountain group might be heavily Arabian, a desert group might have more Thoroughbred influence, or there may be a surprise breed, such as drafts or ponies, that crops up in the DNA.

Brian Hampson writes of the latest research trip: "The traditional land owners, the Urkaka people, allowed us to perform our study on their land. This is predominantly sandhill desert country with rocky valley systems 50km long and 5km wide on the edge. Our three Aboriginal guides took us through the valley system, where few white people (have) had access, to show us a permanent spring which was the only water for 30km.

"The horse and camel pads into the spring were like highways from the helicopter. We saw hundreds of horses and camels and got up very close to them at water holes. We darted and applied GPS collars to six horses and retrieved four collars after one week. One horse was more than 50km away from water on the last two days and couldn't be found. The other stallion couldn't be redarted at this time. I will be back out there later in September to do some more work on the desert horses and collect the other two collars.

"The sandy desert horses have long feet but not broken away. They scrape their toe through in swing phase in the deep sand and some square off the toe. The rocky desert horses have a short wall with a smooth bevel all the way round.

"The places these horses go, what they eat and how often they drink will amaze most people. Mares with foals are poor but stallions and loan colts are good to fat condition. The country is baron desert around water holes and horses have to walk out 10-15 km before finding any feed."

Hoofcare and Lameness has been involved in cheering on the efforts of the Brumby team because the wild horse has not been well-documented in the annals of natural history. I hope you will visit the unit's web site and consider donating to this important project. Click here to go to the sponsorship page and learn more about getting involved with this project. You can help, even if you live half a world away!

Congratulations to Greg Giles and his company, Cavallo "Simple Boots", for joining the sponsor list for the Brumby research, along with the Footloose Syndicate, a trio of private citizens who will be assisting on future research expeditions.

An unidentified Brumby foot from one of the desert herds. Hampson noted differences in hoof morphology between rocky desert and sandy desert hooves. This is possibly a rocky desert hoof, judging by his description.

© Fran Jurga, Hoofcare Publishing and the Australian Brumby Research Unit. No use without permission.

Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at or received via a daily email through an automated delivery service. This post was originally published on 22 September 2008.

To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness, please visit our main site,, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Lame Brains Unite: Hilary Clayton Gait Study Course Opened to Public

This horse is outfitted for a session of gait analysis in the McPhail Center's world-class video gait analysis laboratory. Equipment at the Center includes a Motion Analysis system, AMTI force plate, Noraxon EMG system, Pliance saddle pressure pad and other custom equipment for making measurements of horses and riders.

Every September, we get the feeling we should be learning something new. Starting back to school. Taking a new interest in our profession. Moving forward with the times.

But we've never had an opportunity like this before.

A private course in equine lameness has been scheduled for next month at Michigan State University's McPhail Center for Equine Performance. The decision was made yesterday to open the course to the public, so this is the first and perhaps only announcement that interested professionals and horse owners may register for a hands-on course in equine gaits and lameness identification with world expert Dr. Hilary Clayton.

The course is offered by the innovative international program Equinology, which offers courses on biomechanics with Dr Clayton and other experts all over the world. The program is designed as a professional development track for those seeking a career in equine body work, rehabilitation, etc. but sometimes courses are open to non-program participants.

Here's a brief description:

Course Title: Biomechanics, Applied Anatomy and Gait Abnormalities (Course # EQ 300)
Course Dates: 10/20/2008 to 10/23/2008

This 4-day course offers both classroom and hands-on approaches. This is an actual course, not a workshop. The goal is for you to learn to recognize irregularities and gait abnormalities. Live and filmed horses, some with diagnosed problems, will be presented for inspection.

Understanding gait diagramming and where the limbs are placed throughout individual gaits enables you to visualize which joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles are utilized for the movements. This course does not attempt to replace veterinary expertise; however it will teach you better assessment skills. Surface anatomy and palpation of joints, tendons and ligaments are also included.

Course topics include:
Gait analysis and evaluation guidelines
Conformation evaluation
Locating palpation points
Causes and symptoms of the lame horse
Subjective analysis of conformation: Limb deviations, rotations and determination of symmetry
Basic anatomy and terminology
Preventing lameness
Defining and diagramming the basic gaits
History of biomechanics
Biomechanical techniques
High Speed Cinematography
Equipometry discussion
Measuring horses
Stay Apparatus: structure, function and palpation of the forelimb
Reciprocal and Stay Apparatus: structure, function and palpation of the hindlimb
Structure and function of the head and neck
Sports analysis/video presentations & problem solving for various disciplines

Prerequisites: A good knowledge of veterinary vocabulary, equine anatomy and horse handling skills; you will be expected to have read Dr Clayton's book, The Dynamic Horse.

Tuition: $995 for four days.

Note: Equinology and Dr Clayton will also offer this course at Writtle College in Essex, England in January 2009.

About the center: The Mary Anne McPhail Equine Performance Center is a state-of-the art equine sports and lameness facility housed in its own mini-campus with dedicated indoor arena, stabling and laboratories at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in East Lansing, Michigan. Since the center opened in the year 2000, some of the world's leading research in equine sports medicine and biomechanics, culminating in world-renowned research to benefit performance and soundness of equine athletes, has been conducted at the center. Veterinarians and researchers from all over the world travel to the McPhail Center for consultation and collaboration.

About Dr Clayton: Dr. Clayton has been the first incumbent of the Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine since July, 1997. As a veterinarian and researcher, Dr. Clayton's studies on the biomechanics of equine gait have focused on sport horses, including dressage and jumping horses. Her work has included videographic analytic studies of Olympic dressage and jumping events and kinematic and kinetic research with some of the world's top dressage riders and horses in the Netherlands. She has a special interest in the foot and has contributed greatly to the body of knowledge on the role of the foot in locomotion and its functional anatomy. A lifelong rider, Dr. Clayton is a USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold Medalist, and is a certified equestrian coach in the UK and Canada. She is the author of several books including Conditioning Sport Horses, The Dynamic Horse, Clinical Anatomy of the Horse, and Activate Your Horse's Core. She is co-author of the textbook, Equine Locomotion, and is a longstanding consulting editor with Hoofcare and Lameness Journal, which also sells her publications.

To learn more, visit or to register, use the online system. If you have questions, contact Debranne Pattillo, President of Equinology, in Gualala, California: tel 707 884-9963 or email Please mention that you read about the course on this blog and that you are inquiring about course EQ300.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. All images and text property of the McPhail Center and/or Hoofcare Publishing and protected to full extent of law.

Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online or received via a daily email through an automated delivery service.
To subscribe to or learn more about Hoofcare and Lameness, please visit our main site,, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Favorite Photos: Coffin Joint Pressure Test

Yesterday, I announced on this blog that we had a few copies of the Proceedings and Summary Book + CD-ROM of the 4th International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot.

Today, the shelf is almost empty. Thanks to everyone who has helped support the conference with their purchase.

The book is filled with the "greatest hits" images from the speakers' slides, if they were able to provide high enough resolution files.

This one was a big hit with me. It was taken at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital's Podiatry Center, by Dr. Scott Morrison. Regional perfusion of the distal interphalangeal (coffin) joint is pretty routine there but he just happened to have his camera aimed at the foot and it was set on a fast shutter speed. It caught the spurt of fluid exiting the joint in mid-air.

If you double click on the image, you can see it at full size (on most computers, using most browsers).

But don't even think of right-clicking on it. This image is the property of Dr. Scott Morrison and is protected under international copyright by both the Laminitis Conference and Hoofcare Publishing.

But it is a great shot, don't you agree?

Click here for information about ordering the summary book and/or proceedings CD-ROM or just scroll down to Wednesday's post. Don't wait too long!

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. Please visit our main site,, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found.

Friends at Work: Elizabeth Decker in the Bluegrass

Click on the screen to watch a slide show of farrier Elizabeth Decker at work; photos by and thanks to Gene Manley of Manley Farm. Slide show is mirrored from Gene's photo set at Read more below.
Kentucky horse farm owner Gene Manley likes to take photos. He's a man who studies things--flowers, fencelines, his horses, his family--through the lens of his camera. The results are lovely, but when he turned his camera on his farrier last month, he didn't expect that he'd be sharing the photos with the world...but he wasn't counting on Hoofcare & Lameness stumbling on them, either.

Manley Farm outside Lexington is fortunate to have an energetic and hard-working farrier at their service: Elizabeth Decker.

Elizabeth Decker is a great role model for farriers everywhere. A few years ago, she set out to build a farrier business for herself in one of the country's toughest markets. There's lots of competition in Lexington, Kentucky; sure, there are a lot of horses, but there are also surely a lot of mega-farrier businesses and small herds of apprentices following around the Great Ones, not to mention world-class referral experts like Dr. Ric Redden and the stable of vet/farrier pros at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital's Podiatry Clinic.

Around Lexington, you never know who will pick up a foot you worked on and have a look. On the other hand, it's a good place to find top-shelf advice, and surgery or hoof repair expertise is just a quick horse van ride away.

Elizabeth earned her chaps with an apprenticeship under the detail-driven eye of sport horse specialist Victor Camp and worked toward her goal of an independent practice. Along the way, she picked up some special cases at the Kentucky Horse Park and began mentoring equine science students at Midway College as the farrier appreciation instructor.

Now she's well on her way and it's been a pleasure to watch her progress. She's subscribed to Hoofcare & Lameness since farrier school, and has even had her father call to order books for her for Christmas. And she doesn't just buy books, she reads them.

Note: these photos are not in order, but you are basically seeing Elizabeth prepare two front shoes, hot fit them, and begin to nail them onto one of Gene Manley's horses. As with all farriers, her job is made more pleasant or more challenging (it all depends...) by the presence of an audience.

Elizabeth can handle it; it's all in a day's work in the Bluegrass!

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. All images and text protected to full extent of law. F

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bill Moyer Named AAEP Vice President

William ("Bill") Moyer, DVM will be the 2009 vice president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners. Dr. Moyer, of College Station, Texas, will join the Executive Committee next year and then serve as AAEP president in 2011.

Moyer is currently professor of sports medicine and head of the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. He began his career at Texas A&M in 1993 following more than two decades on faculty at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. While at Penn, Moyer held numerous positions, including director of the Equine Outpatient Clinic and professor of sports medicine.

Recognized for his expertise in equine lameness, Moyer has authored or co-authored several books, including the bestselling A Guide to Equine Joint Injection and Regional Anesthesia and the now out-0f-print A Guide to Equine Hoof Wall Repair, co-authored with farrier Rob Sigafoos. His research also has appeared in numerous refereed journals and he has been an invited speaker at continuing education meetings worldwide.

Dr. Moyer is a 1970 graduate of the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Research and commentary by Dr Moyer has been a mainstay of Hoofcare and Lameness Journal since its first issue in 1985, when he agreed to serve on the editorial board. Dr. Moyer's Guide to Equine Joint Injection and Regional Anesthesia is the bestselling book technical book ever sold by Hoofcare Publishing; the revised and expanded 2007 edition is now in its second printing.

Dr. Moyer always credits the late New Bolton Center Jack Anderson as an influential mentor in the development of his study of foot-related lameness in horses. Anderson's anvil is enshrined as a monument on the lawn at New Bolton.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This post originally appeared on 17 September 2007 at

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Who's the Happiest Man in Italy This Week?

World Champion Mirko Piazzi (blue shirt) of the Italian team with his groom Samantha (far right) and the farriers working at the FEI World Reining Championships at the La Palasturla facility in Manerbio, Italy. I wish I knew their names!

Italy has long been knocking on the door of international reining competitions, and the Italian team burst through in great style this week when they won the FEI World Reining Championship.

At the FEI level, tough medication testing kicks in for reiners, and the role of the farrier becomes more important than ever. In the world of horseshoes, Italy is also a rising-star country with the dazzling array of aluminum shoes for reiners and sport horses manufactured by Colleoni there. Endurance is another sport where Italy is providing innovation matched by successful scores.

More insight may be offered in December, when Italian vet/farrier Hans Castilijns from Tuscany speaks at the American Association of Equine Practitioners. Hans's lecture will be a "don't miss" highlight of the farrier conference there. Watch this blog for more information on the AAEP's vast offerings on lameness and hoofcare at this convention, which will be held in San Diego, California. (See you there.)

Teams from Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Switzerland, The Netherlands and the U.S.A. competed in Italy this weekend along with individual riders from Australia, Austria, Poland, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Sweden and the Dominican Republic.

Team USA took the silver medal with 663.5 points closely followed by Team Germany. Sylvia Rzepka, riding for Germany aboard Doctor Zip Nic, earned the highest score of the day, a 227.5.

The celebration continues on Mirko's blog if you want to congratulate him or share in the fun.

Who ever would have thought that a western riding sport would turn into an international event? Probably no one; it just happened. And it's great fun to watch the international aspects of this sport grow; a victory like this will surely only broaden the sport's appeal more!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Friends in Need: Ribbons for Linda

Linda Best in healthier times, showing one of her Miniature Horses.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl with a big heart and some big plans to help her friend. And it worked.

Today was a special day. A little girl named Michaela put on a horse show today, with some help from a lot of bigger people. She wanted to help the woman who got her involved in showing. And she knew the woman needed her help.

The horse world turned out today to help Linda Best, a farrier from New Hampshire who is battling pancreatic cancer without the benefit of insurance. Linda is also trying to keep up her half of the shoeing business that she runs with her husband, Paul. She's also trying to run her farm. She's also trying to home-school her children. Do you get the picture?

But today, she was the guest of honor at a horse show to raise funds for her healthcare. All planned by a little girl who believes that Linda needs and deserves help.

The horse world responded in a big way. The show was helped with a lot of free publicity from the local media, and a lot of sympathy and affection for Linda.

If you'd like to help Linda, you can read about the horse show here.

There is a PayPal donation button at the bottom of that page if you want to forward a donation electronically to Linda's fund at the bank.

You could also send a check to:
Ribbons for Linda Best
c/o Kennebunk Savings Bank
P.O. Box 1880
Ogunquit, ME 03907

UPDATE: A fund-raising auction to benefit Linda will be held this Saturday at the open house at Horseshoes Plus farrier supply company in Barrington, New Hampshire. Farriers have made and donated hand-crafted artwork for the auction. Call 800-382-5434 for details.

Linda has been shoeing horses around here and in New Hampshire since she was 19 years old. She and Paul first subscribed to Hoofcare and Lameness in 1987. They have a unique business, since both of them are farriers. I am sure that Linda hasn't asked for this help, and no one asked me to ask you to help.

Sometimes, you just know what to do. I hope you will, too.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing.

Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online or received via a daily email through an automated delivery service.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Farrier Art: Thelwell's First Cartoon Will Be Auctioned in England This Month

"Ow do they feel then?"

Around any barn, anywhere (just about) in the world, you can describe a pony as "a real Thelwell type" and, immediately, whomever you are talking to knows exactly what you mean. They can "see" that pony. Round in the belly, overgrown in mane and forelock, a bushy tail, and a little short-legged, tweedy girl perched atop a flat saddle: there's your basic Thelwell syndrome.

Oh, and both the child and the pony usually exhibit some attitude.

Thelwell cartoons have made us laugh and nod our heads for generations. They are too true, a keen observation on the slightly mad, slightly wonderful world of little kids and ponies. We know those kids. We know those ponies. And we love Thelwell for capturing them for us.

But did you know that the very first Thelwell cartoon featured a farrier? Sketched in 1952, it showed fictional farrier Joe Clark sending the little girl on her way from the forge with new shoes on her pony's feet. Thelwell's cartoons were published in the British magazine Punch, which was of the New Yorker genre of literary publications liberally peppered with humorous cartoons and artwork.

The original of this most important first cartoon was lost for many years, and only re-surfaced after Thelwell's death. A lady came forward who said it had been hanging in her living room for many years and had been bought in a shop in the Cotswolds. She has now arranged to have it auctioned off in Cheshire at the end of this month.

If you love ponies and farriers, here's your chance to own a piece of history. The drawing is expected to perhaps bring as much as 3,000 pounds (approximately $6000 US).

And if you need somewhere to hang it, I have just the place.

Meanwhile, I'll keep scouring the shops and flea markets, knowing that things like this really are out there...if you know what you're looking for and find it first.

Visit the web site of Wright Manley auctioneers in Beeston, Cheshire, England for details of the auction on September 25.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Riding for Real: Snapshot from the Paralympics Equestrian Games in Hong Kong

Bettina Eistel of Germany won the bronze medal in division III at the Paralympics in Hong Kong this week. She was born without arms. Notice both sets of reins.

View a gallery of photos from the Games, from which this one was selected, on's horse racing channel. Great Britain won team gold with three out of four riders scoring over 70! The USA finished 10th.

I hope the Paralympics will earn a lot of good press this week and help restore some good will to equestrian sports after the embarrassment of the drug test violations in horses competing at the "real" Olympics.

Maybe the Paralympics is the real Olympics. It certainly embodies the spirit of what the Games are supposed to represent, perhaps much more than professional riders are capable to pretending to convey.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Save the Date: Cornell Vet School Hosts 25th Annual Farrier Conference in November

(Double click on image to enlarge and/or print it.)

Conference announcements are being mailed this week for the 25th Annual Farriers Conference at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, to be held November 8-9, 2008 in Ithaca, New York. The mailing was sent to all Hoofcare and Lameness Journal subscribers in the Northeastern USA, among others! If you don't receive the mailing or would like to know more about the conference, the information will be posted on the vet school web site at this link:

Cornell's conference is annually one of the premier events on the farrier education calendar. Led by Michael Wildenstein FWCF (Hons), who is now adjunct professor of farrier science at Cornell, the conference attracts farriers from around the country and Mike continually brings fine speakers from all over the world to share their work with attendees.

This year includes two British farrier instructors, Mark Caldwell and Neil Madden, who are both deep into advanced studies of hoof shape, hoof balance, and hoof mechanics, as well as the ever-personable American draft horse specialist Bruce Matthews of Vermont, who has developed a program for teaching horses to stand (safely) while being trimmed or shod.

Among the Caldwell/Madden presentations will be a tech-based demonstration comparing high-speed video with pressure-mat results in evaluating hoof landing and weightbearing, and a session on hoofmapping by British parameters. Sunday's entire program will be given over to Caldwell and Madden to present their work on static vs dynamic hoof balance in a lecture/PowerPoint format.

After a fabulous full course dinner on Saturday, Dr. Lowe will reminisce about the first farrier conference at Cornell, and veteran farrier and horseman Steve Kraus will lecture on conformation faults and how they affect performance horses.
I look forward to this event so much every year, both for the high quality of the speakers and the chance to snoop around the Cornell vet school library. It is also special because of the people who attend--many of them never miss a year. Over the past 25 years, the group has seen the finest vet and farrier speakers on the hoof stride onto that stage; I believe the repeat attendees must be among the best-educated farriers in the world. Anyone who is asked to speak at this conference should be honored...and had better show up prepared to answer excellent questions and talk late into the night. It's a great group of people...and this conference supplies wonderful food, as well!

Note: hotel rooms can be a problem, especially if Cornell has a football game that weekend. Book early! Most people stay at the Best Western University Inn, which is the closest to the vet school. Call 607 272 6100 and ask for the farrier conference rate.

Ithaca is served by major airlines like Northwest, US Air, and United. Check for fares and details. Another (somewhat) nearby airport is Syracuse, New York. New York City would be a few hours' drive. Ithaca is right in the middle of the state.

For more information, or to inquire about sponsorship or space in the trade show, call Amanda Mott in the vet school's continuing education department at 607.253.3200 or email her: Amanda has been on (much-deserved) vacation and I'm not sure exactly when she will be back.

If for some reason you need the brochure and cannot reach Amanda, email Hoofcare and we will forward the PDF file to you as an email attachment.

Hoofcare and Lameness is proud to be associated with this event.

Be Awed. Be Inspired. Check out the Paralympics and Find Out Why Paul McCartney Cheers On Amazing Athletes (and Their Horses) with a Song

The Olympics aren't over yet. Right now, in Hong Kong, some of the world's most courageous and gifted equestrians are competing in the Paralympic Equestrian Games, while other sports compete in the now-familiar venues in Beijing.

Limited to dressage, the competition is divided according to levels of disability, but includes both a set test and a freestyle. Horses and riders have flown to Hong Kong from all over the world to compete.

This amazing sector of equestrian sport caught the eye of Sir Paul McCarthney when he met British Paralympian Sophie Christenson, who rides in spite of her lifelong battle with muscular dystrophy. He was so impressed with her amazing ability that he loaned a song to the British Paralympian effort. It's the first time a Beatles or McCartney song has been used commercially.

Some may have seen the short version of this video, but watch this one. And then learn more about Paralympics, and riding for the disabled in general. You may be amazed at your reaction; imagine what you could do to help these athletes.

Click here to go the official Paralympics Equestrian Games web site.

Click here to meet the USA team, which is currently in tenth place in Hong Kong.

This could be the best thing you do for yourself all week.

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Lost: Dr. James Rooney, Equine Pathologist and Biomechanics Author

Dr. James Rooney died yesterday at his home in Chestertown, Maryland. The noted author and outspoken commentator on the biomechanical problems of horses was 81 years old.

More to come...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Let the Good Times Roll...

Spa Treatment, originally uploaded by Rock and Racehorses.

Sarah K. Andrews is one of my favorite horse photographers. Her horse Alibar was showing off his feet for her one day, so she snapped the shutter to get a good look at the bottom of the foot with an old stifle injury. This is the only way I can think of to get all four feet of one horse in the same photo at the same time and it would be a lot easier for me to photograph feet this way than getting down on the ground.

The other thing I have wondered about is how to get a horse on a transparent floor and shoot up at the feet....

Two new offerings coming out this fall will change the way we perceive the horse. In a few weeks we will begin offering "Equus" for sale, which is perhaps the most stunning collection of horse photos ever, because the aim of the book is to redirect your eye from the way you naturally look at horse images. (you'll "get it" as soon as you see this amazing book); the other is a DVD by German vet Gerd Heuschmann, author of "Tug of War", the #1 best-selling book on classical vs sport dressage biomechanics.

Gerd Heuschmann, by the way, will be in Middletown, New York in October for a three-day seminar. His work on biomechanics is amazing. Details to follow!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Gustav vs Louisiana: Picking Up the Pieces

Radar screen of a hurricane-tracking plane, courtesy of NOAA archives.

The news crews are pulling out of Louisiana, now that Gustav is gone. They are labeling it a blow-over, but was it really?

Back in 2005 when Katrina hit, farrier Dick Fanguy was supposed to be at home in bed recovering from back surgery, but instead reported to work at the Louisiana State University horse triage station at the showgrounds...and stayed there for weeks, shoeing horses and treating wounds and helping the vets.

He checked in here on Sunday, saying he had been in touch with the vets, and was ready to hunker down until it passed. He'd report to work if they needed him. He ended up hunkering way down. His friend Danvers reported this afternoon that Dick exited his house near Baton Rouge with the help of a chainsaw, as all the trees surrounding his house had come crashing down. (Dick's advice: Bring the chainsaw into the house before the storm hits. You might need it to get out.)

It's not over for Dick.

Further south, Molly the (Amputee) Pony's barn is partially flooded, with plenty of roof damage. Her owner is still living in a FEMA trailer from Katrina, and you can imagine her concern as a tree almost toppled on the construction site of her unfinished replacement house.

It's not over for Kaye and Molly.

No doubt more stories will be heard as the power returns and people can communicate better. Just remember that a storm is a storm, even when CNN is disappointed that it wasn't a bigger story or when FEMA wants to take credit for an evacuation well-orchestrated. Maybe Hanna or Ike will be better for broadcast ratings, but any storm, anywhere, is a danger to people and animals.

The lights may be back on in New Orleans' French Quarter by tomorrow night. But the people out in the countryside may have to sit and wait a while (in the dark) before they can tell us what happened or send photos. It may not be over yet, for them.