Friday, October 31, 2008

Oregon Farriers ID Wounded Horse by Its Shoes, Shooter Arrested

Note: if you read this blog in the email digest form, you will need to click here to go to the real Hoof Blog to watch this video .

KTVZ, an NBC affiliate in Oregon, has provided a video clip from their news last night that would make any amateur detective smile.

Like the rewarding finale of the wonderful 1980s film, "My Cousin Vinny", two Oregon farriers came forward this week and identified a highly publicized horse crime identifying its shoes.

For the past week, an emaciated, abandoned horse has been recovering from two gunshot wounds to its head at the Bend Equine Medical Center in Bend, Oregon. Hunters found the horse wandering in a mountainous area.

Legal authorities in Deschutes County set out to find the gunman, and to find the horse's owner. Could they be one and the same? A private citizen offered a reward. The skinny dark brown Arabian looked a lot like half the horses in the county, with few distinguishing characteristics. The vets scanned the horse, but he had not been microchipped.

There was one thing, though, and one thing only to go on: the anonymous horse was wearing shoes.

Who would care enough to pay to have a horse shod, and then abandon it, let alone shoot it?

Farriers Laura Felder and Kyle Deaver came forward and provided photographic evidence that the horse was wearing their shoes. Their shoeing business records identified the horse as one they had shod this summer for a children's camp.

Watch the video to see where this trail leads...and then put that digital camera to work recording the horses you own or work on in your business. Thanks to KTVZ for making the video clip available.

These farriers deserve a medal!

© 2008 Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. This article was originally posted on October 31, 2008 at

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 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.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Boo! Halloween Hoof Face in German Farrier Shop

keratoma removed from horse hoof

There's nothing funny about a keratoma but German farrier Loic Entwistle couldn't resist the temptation to turn this hoof into a jack o' lantern. Or is it the face of a ghost that made this photo suggest Halloween?

It looks like this foot may be growing out after a keratoma (hornsaule in German) in the toe of the hoof wall was surgically removed, and was brought back to the hospital for a trim and clean-up of the wall defect. The veterinarian probably marked the hoof wall area to be cleaned up with a marker...and it became a face!

A keratoma is a benign or non-cancerous tumor made of horn. I think they are either more commonly found in Europe or they are more aggressive in removing them as European farrier textbooks always have lots of photos of keratomas and they even explain the different types based on where in the wall the tumor is located and describe the common shapes the tumors will take depending on location.

Even though a keratoma can reside uneventfully inside a horse's hoof wall for a long time, it can also sometimes grow large enough to press against soft tissue and/or the coffin bone, or cause chronic abscessing.

To learn more about keratomas, read "Hoof Wall Resection and Reconstruction for a Tubular Defect" by Andrew Poyntom FWCF in Hoofcare and Lameness #78, and the chapter on different types of keratomas in the book Hoof Problems by Rob Van Nassau, available from Hoofcare Books. (Click here to learn more about this book and order your copy.)

If you read German, another excellent treatise on keratomas is in Uwe Lukas's Gesunde Hufe-kein Zufall available from the German Equestrian Federation's online bookshop.

Many thanks to Loic Entwistle and his amazing photo library for the loan of this image.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Favorite Video: A Horseshoe Is Born

by Fran Jurga, originally published October 28, 2008 at

If you receive The Hoof Blog via email, you will need to click here to view the blog in a web browser in order to see the video.

I remember the first time I ever set foot in a horseshoe factory. It was in Australia. Carl O'Dwyer was squiring me around. We were off to the races or something when he stopped by the factory (O'Dwyer Horseshoes). It didn't occur to him that I would want to see the factory part of the business. Then he couldn't get me out of there. I remember his shoes were made by young Irish girls wielding huge tongs. I took rolls and rolls of film and not a single photo captured what I felt I really saw in that place.

If you haven't ever seen a horseshoe assembly line, it's quite an operation. There are two popular ways to make horseshoes commercially. One is to drop-forge and the other is to turn. Drop-forging is the "American" style. Turning is the European style, as used by Kerckhaert and Werkman.

American horseshoers were in a real battle in the early 1980s. Many farriers felt that the "keg" (machinemade) shoes available to them just weren't good enough and there was a call for "real" farriers to handmake all their shoes if they cared about properly shoeing the horse. Then two things happened in 1985: The first was that the Carlson family took over the St Croix Forge horseshoe company in Minnesota and pledged to design and make a superior American-made shoe. Which, to everyone's amazement, they did.

The second thing was that a charming Frenchman named Jean-Claude Faure came to an American Farrier's convention with a turned shoe from his Faure factory in Europe. He walked around the convention in elegant clothing carrying shoes in the pockets of his suit jacket. He did not speak English. He would pull a shoe from his pocket and ask a farrier to hold it, to look at it. For most of them, it was the first time they had seen a turned shoe or any shoe punched for E-head nails. (European shoes typically use European e-head nails; American shoes are punched to fit City head nails, but that's another story.)

While the farrier politely looked at the shoe and peered through those big nail holes, the gallant Mr. Faure grinned at them and said the two words he had learned in English, "You like?" in a hopeful voice.

Leading farrier Bruce Daniels agreed to be Faure's dealer in the USA. Kerckhaert was right there and Werkman not far behind. Farrier conventions became international festivals, just as now we have the slick Italian designer aluminums and the Chinese and Malaysian imports from Asia.

In 1985, the European shoes were a revelation; they had clips built into the shoes. They came in lefts and rights and fronts and hinds, with toe clips or side clips: an inventory nightmare. And they fit the new wave of big-footed European warmbloods that were becoming popular in America. St Croix geared up and answered the Euro challenge, inspiring improvements from all US shoe manufacturers. The golden age of horseshoe manufacturing dawned.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

In this clip you see snippets of the line at the Werkman factory in Holland. Most manufacturers are not eager to show their lines and equipment, and you will note that Werkman does not show the process in order, and you do not get to see how they make the clips, one of the steps that has always mystified me.

Two elements are missing from this video: the heat and the noise. Both are off the charts, if Werkman's factory is like others. But this video is a window into the world of horseshoes before they touch human hands, all with the matching mirror of a horse's hoof in mind.

Thanks to Werkman for this video clip; the horses have never had it so good.

© 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 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.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Closer Look at the Pro-Ride Racing Surface

Sarah Andrew is on hand at Santa Anita for the Breeders Cup and shows this view of the Pro-Ride artificial surface. According to one report, the footing reached a temperature of 145 degrees today in the California heat. In this photo, which was surely shot in the early morning, you can see some material sticking to the horses' feet and shoes.

What's next, teflon non-stick horseshoes? Spraying the feet with Pam?

Thanks, Sarah!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Champion Australian Jockey Takes Off His Shoeing Apron to Don Silks

There's something about fillies: Australian jockey (and farrier) Glen Boss has been one of the world's leading money-winning jockeys in recent years. He rode to victory in three consecutive Melbourne Cups aboard superstar mare Makybe Diva. This weekend he rides favorite Samantha Miss in the $3 million Cox Plate.

As America gears up for the Breeders Cup championship races this week, all eyes in Australia will be on the $3 Million Cox Plate to be run at Mooney Valley. In the jockeys' room, however, one pair of eyes will be solemnly focused on the scales.

Remember those gut-wrenching passages in Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit as the jockey tried to come back from injuries and keep his weight down, all at the same time? I remember a joke told by one of the Thoroughbred trainers about flying cross-country with a jockey. The trainer felt guilty eating the airline's peanuts. The jockey took one, and cut it into quarters...and rationed it to last the flight.

Now it's my turn to remember. I was at a farrier convention. The awards banquet followed a buffet dinner. I wasn't in a hurry to eat so I lingered by the bar. Then I heard loud grumbling. The line was halfway through...and the food was gone. All of it.

There couldn't be two people with different eating agendas than a jockey and a horseshoer.

Today, meet a man who is both.

Australian champion jockey Glen Boss has been trying to make the weight so he can ride the favorite--a young filly running against colts--in this weekend's Cox Plate. He'll be riding for his friend, the trainer, but under Australian riding terms, he needed to get his weight down to just (gulp) 47 kilos (103.4 pounds). He would need to lose more than 10 pounds from a body that already was so lean you can't pinch him.

Glen's effort has been poignantly documented in photos by an Australian newspaper. What attracted my attention was seeing a closeup of a jockey's head with the words "Fighting Farrier" stitched into a watch cap.

Yes, Glen Boss used boxing as one of his main exercise routines to drop the pounds. His trainer and advisor was fellow farrier and former Australian welterweight champion Julian Holland. According to the story, they met when shoeing in the Gold Coast region of Australia 20 years ago. Boss was able to put his race winnings to use and sponsor Holland. This year, Holland is returning the favor and training Boss to ride in one of the world's richest races.

The campaign for Holland's title would dub him "The Fighting Farrier" forevermore in Australian boxing history and that moniker certainly fits Boss now, as he emphasis shifts from fighting in the ring to fighting the scale.

Read the full story by clicking here. And stay tuned tomorrow to find out how Samantha Miss did in the Cox Plate.

Looking ahead a few weeks: Glen Boss will try to equal the record of consecutive Melbourne Cup wins when he rides Profound Beauty in that race for Euro trainer Dermot Weld. The race, run at Flemington Racecourse outside Melbourne in Victoria, is worth $5.5 million.

Or at least Glen Boss hopes to: ironically, the star filly who is willing to take on the colts in Australia's richest race is questionably sound with a bruised foot. Maybe Boss can take a look.

Glen Boss, left, spars in the ring with fellow farrier Julian Holland, former welterweight champion boxer of Australia, whose quest for that title was sponsored by Boss's race winnings.

Be sure to visit the photo gallery documenting what he's going through to make the weight. Click here to see 28 photos of a determined man.

Photos credit for this blog post:

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. This post was originally published on 23 October 2008 at

Curlin Goes for Glue: Breeders Cup Favorite Sports High-Tech Urethane Glue Shoes

Curlin Saratoga Morning Workout, originally uploaded August 2008 by Rock and Racehorses.

Horseshoer Curtis Burns, inventor of the Burns Polyflex shoe, confirmed tonight that Curlin has been wearing a custom-designed square-toe Polyflex shoe since early last summer when the colt arrived in Saratoga, where Burns lives.

"We had so much rain in Saratoga early in the summer," Curtis said. "Steve Asmussen was looking for a way to protect his feet, so his blacksmith, Dave Hinton, changed to our shoes. And he was training so well, they just decided to race in them. And he won. So he still has them on."

Burns said that Curlin was re-shod at Santa Anita this week with the shoes, which are clear polyurethane with a steel wear plate and interior metal frame-wire for stability.

The only difference between the Polyflex shoes that Curlin wears and those that several other Breeders Cup horses will wear is that trainer Steve Asmussen convinced Burns to custom-make square setback toes for the front shoes of the big chestnut colt.

The shoes were so successful that, as of this week, Burns now offers both the full toe and square toe models for his customer.

Curlin remains the traditionalist in his hind feet, however: our friend Ed Kinney, president of Thoro'Bred Racing Plate Company, Inc. of Anaheim, California reports that Hinton confirmed that Curlin will wear Thoro'Bred wide web aluminum racing plates behind.

Other horses wearing the Burns Polyflex shoes will be (at the time of this writing) Big Booster in the Turf Marathon, Miraculous Miss in Friday's Sprint, and Student Council, and some other horses trained by Asmussen.

Burns said that his shoes have been worn by several of Todd Pletcher's horses in the past. Because many farriers now feel comfortable applying the shoes, Burns no longer applies them himself and said he's not sure who's wearing them.

Curtis likes Midnight Lute, the 2007 Breeders Cup Sprint champion trained by Bob Baffert, to come back from a quarter crack. According to press reports, he will run in a bar shoe.

Food for thought: in the old, old days, glue was made from horses' hooves. Now we put glue ON their hooves.

Note to readers: I hope you will study Sarah's photo of Curlin on the Oklahoma track at Saratoga, where he was in training until a month ago. Notice how deeply his hooves sink into the "natural" dirt surface. Please read the blog article that follows this one, about the new artificial surface on which the Breeders Cup will be run, and watch the embedded video of Curlin galloping on that surface. Remember that Curlin won the 2007 Breeders Cup Classic in the pouring rain over a muddy-beyond-words track.

© 2008 Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing, publishing 23 October 2008 at

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Hooves Have It: Will Thoroughbreds Sink or Swim Over the New Surface at Santa Anita?

A horse trains over the hilly Pro-Ride covered training track at Lindsay Park Training Center in Australia. (Photo at

(NOTE TO EMAIL-SUBSCRIBER READERS: This blog post contains two video clips. To watch the videos, you will need to click here and read this post on the blog's web site.)

“Training on dirt, you know exactly where you are going into a race. Synthetics? They all seem to train well over it but they don’t all run well. So, it’s a question mark.” (Trainer Todd Pletcher earlier today)

"Sure, I guess it is good publicity if a horse wearing my shoes wins the Breeders Cup but right now I don't care if my horses win or lose. I just want them to all come home safely. None of us wants to see an injury in the Breeders Cup, or any race, but on Saturday, well, I can't wait until it's over. And they're all home safe and sound." (Horseshoe manufacturer)

If you haven't been following the Breeders Cup, here's the nutshell version (Readers: if you are already up to speed on the Breeders Cup, please skip past this recap): America's biggest race series has expanded to two days this year, culminating in the Breeders Cup Classic, where 2007 Horse of the Year and all-time leading money earner Curlin will face off against the best American horses left standing and some of the best horses that Ireland and England have to offer.

Interest in the Classic was toned down several notches with the defection of Big Brown a few weeks ago, when a training mis-step ripped his heel and sent him to the Breeders Shed instead of the Breeders Cup.

The x factor in the Breeders Cup is that while the championship has been hosted at Santa Anita Racecourse outside Los Angeles, California in the past, this is the first time that it will be raced on an artificial surface. Santa Anita agreed to host the 2008 races years ago and installed an artificial surface last year, but had to rip it up and installed a different one in September of this year. The dark-colored Pro-Ride surface from Australia has not been raced on by most of the horses.

To make matters more interesting, most of the European horses have never raced on anything but grass. (And some Euro runners are entered in the turf races.) Classic entries HenrytheNavigator and Duke of Marmalade are running on a non-grass surface for the first time. The Euro excuse for poor performance over dirt in the past when running in the USA is that the horses hate having dirt kicked in their faces. And Pro Ride claims little to no kickback.

As Todd Pletcher says, horses all seem to train well over artificial tracks but they sometimes run differently than they would on dirt.

This video clip will give you an idea of how the hoof hits the surface; you can also see how dark the material is:

Colonel John and Tiago are two horses in the Classic who have won on an artificial surface; Japan's undefeated Casino Drive shipped in a month ago and ran in an allowance race in order to see how the undefeated colt did on the new track. (He won.)

According to the Pro-Ride web site, the new surface "has minimal kickback, provides greater hoof support and is the most consistent surface available." And, most interesting of all, it does not require watering.

The company estimates that the hoof penetrates 20 mm into the surface. Comments from farriers include that the surface does stick inside the foot, especially along the frog, and that some horses appear to be shedding the back parts of their frogs.

Horses need to adjust to a surface for exactly those kinds of reasons. Many Thoroughbreds have intentionally-thinned soles to create a cupping effect, but if the cup fills with track surface, it can make the horse sore until the horse gets used to it and the sole hardens. If a horse's sole fills with dirt or his frog is sore, he may adjust his stride to land more toe first, or heel first, as need be to avoid pain.

Trainers watch for this type of change in action and will pack the feet or poultice them or work with the horseshoer to adjust or change the shoes. Some horses in California now train over the artificial surfaces without shoes while trainers try to figure out what the best foot solution is for an individual horses.

Trainer Bobby Frankel is quoted in the New York Daily News yesterday as one who is having troubles with his horses' feet. He blames it on the heat: "When it's 90 degrees out, the (synthetic) track surface heats up to 160 degrees."

And many horses just take the changes in stride!

Here's a video clip, courtesy of Horse Racing TV, of Curlin in a public work last week at Santa Anita. I know this is pretty boring, but watch behind him as he gallops. There is very little, if any, displacement. Also notice how deeply (or not) his feet penetrate the surface.

John Sherreffs, trainer of Tiago, said on September 25: "I've looked at the course a couple of times, but the one thing I like about any racetrack is the ability of the horse to get a hold of it and get a little rotation of the foot into the track. Some of the synthetic tracks, they just stop the foot from going into the track at all so that...they don't slide. So, there's a little jarring and, personally, I don't like that for racehorses. I prefer that they get a little hold." (NTRA quote)

Other factors affecting the championship are that the temperature continues to be in the 90s, which is very hot for the Europeans, and which may affect the track, which is not supposed to need watering...but watering has been done during this hot spell. There are also wildfires in the hills around Arcadia, which could affect air quality on some level.

Trainer D. Wayne Lucas is one who avoids racing his horses on the artificial tracks. His quote: "I'm on all dirt tracks. I gear our program to that."

Four horses have broken down since the Oak Tree meet opened on September 20th, according to the Daily Racing Form.

Hoofprints in a Pro-Ride racing surface show distinct impressions; the manufacturer claims that the hoof sinks 20 mm into the surface. General observations about artificial surfaces are that the hoof slides less. (Pro-Ride photo)

© 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 blog may be read online or received via a daily email through an automated delivery service. This post was originally published on Thursday, October 23, 2008 at

To subscribe 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.

Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to

Comments to individual posts are welcome but are moderated; please click on the "comment" icon at the bottom of the post.

"Women and Horses" Expo Includes Hoof Clinic with Ada Gates Patton

Those were the days: Ada Gates Patton dragged her stalljack, tool box, apron, and a horse from the Metropolitan Opera's production of Aida onto the stage of Late Night with David Letterman. Once she buckled her apron onto Letterman, they got to work nailing a shoe on the saint of a horse. This weekend, Ada will teach women to use her new hoof measuring ruler to keep records of changes in their horses' hooves.

Whe Women and Horses Expo premieres this weekend (October 24th through 26th) at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Missouri with three days of great equestrian entertainment, education and exhibitions, there will be one woman in the crowd who will be proud to be wearing an apron.

At an event like this, you'd expect demonstrations and clinics by respected horse trainers such as Julie Goodnight, Sue de Laurentis, Cheryl Childs and Donna Maye West. Entertainment from someone like Templeton Thompson, the Texas-born singer/songwriter would be a real bonus. The Women and Horses Expo will deliver three days of equestrienne-oriented programs and attractions!

But wait, there's more! Ada Gates will put her apron to good use and share information about horseshoeing and trimming with the audience.

Ada Gates Patton was the first woman in the United States and Canada to be licensed to shoe Thoroughbred race horses on the track. She shod horses for Monty Roberts at Hollywood Park and at Monty's Flag Is Up Farms during the late 70's and through the 80's. Ada has received advanced training in the Join Up methods and is currently being filmed for a DVD with Monty Roberts on hoofcare for his education series.

Ada should be quite at ease on stage; she has had more publicity than any other American farrier because of her burst through California's anvil ceiling back in the 1970s. She's been on the Today Show and old-time tv shows like "What's My Line" and "I've Got a Secret", not to mention a hilarious stint on 1980s late night television when she taught David Letterman to nail on a shoe.

Ada owns Harry Patton Horseshoeing Supplies in Monrovia, California and works on educational projects with Monty Roberts. Harry Patton was Ada's late husband, and a well-known racetrack horseshoer in California.

With Sedalia only half-a-day's drive from some of the biggest cities in the eight states bordering Missouri (and only about 375 miles from Dallas, Texas, for example!) and a region containing one of the largest horse populations in the country, the Expo is a great choice for a short weekend trip for all horsewomen in the eight state area, and a super source for holiday season shopping, with vendors offering everything for horse and rider as well as horse lovers of all ages!

© 2008 Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Need to Laugh? Watching the New "Farriators" Video Can Help!

(If you read this Hoof Blog by email, you will have to click through to the actual blog to watch these two video clips. Hint: It's worth it.)

Let's face it, farrier competitions are a tough subject in the world of videos. The lighting is usually poor, there's smoke in the air, the forge blowers howl, cameramen inevitably focus on the horses' faces instead of their hooves, and the farriers you want to shoot always have their backs to you. Get in the way and someone will surely trip over your cord and fall into the fire.

Leave it to the Irish to put some humor into the serious "sport" of farrier competitions. Farrier Supplies Ireland is trying to get the "Green Anvil" competition circuit established, and they somehow teamed up with visual anthropologist Lia Philcox from London, who must have quickly figured out that the participants all had a sense of humor and made that the theme of the video.

One reason I like this video is because there is almost no narration, which means our friends in Japan, the Ukraine, Iran, Chile and Slovenia (among many other countries who read this blog) can have a good laugh even if they don't speak English.

Here's Part One (click on the screen to play):

And here's Part Two (click to play):

Thank you, Lia, for unlocking the video so we can show it here. And thanks, Farrier Supplies Ireland, and thanks to all the fearless Farriators! You're all winners because you have made a lot of people around the world laugh! And cheer!

© 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 blog may be read online or received via a daily email through an automated delivery service.

This post was originally published on October 19, 2008 at

To subscribe 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.

Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Favorite Photo: "Easy Shoer"

Move over, Easy Rider. Here comes Easy Shoer! (Loic Entwistle photos)

These photos are posted as provided by our friend Loic Entwistle of Germany. We had trouble with translation on the phone last week, so I am posting these as is, since they speak for themselves. You can click or double-click on the photos to see them in full size.

I am not sure that Loic is the designer of this shoeing rig, but I suspect he is. He won the "best rig" contest against an amazing array of tricked-out Mercedes and Range Rover vehicles at the 2006 Luwex Hufsymposium with his amazing custom-built truck.

My guess is that he couldn't beat himself, so he came back the next time with this rig.

Just a hunch.

Even if you don't speak German, I recommend that you visit Loic's site. Hoofcare will be featuring some of his lovely (and often humorous) hoof photography over the next few months. Since his photos are so clear and you already know how to speak "hoof", you may find that you can teach yourself a bit of German at his site!

This has long been one of my favorite farrier's web sites. Loic has a lot to share...but his photos always bring up lots of questions! He has subscribed to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal since 1994, but I didn't get to meet him until 2006.

Click here to go to Loic's site. But be prepared to stay a while. I know you will enjoy his photography and his sense of humor, no matter what language you speak.

Note: The 2008 Luwex Symposium opens October 23rd in Krueth, which is sort of the German equivalent of the Kentucky Horse Park. Loic is one of more than a dozen speakers from probably as many countries. His topic will be "Compensation of ground impact force with computer-aided measurement in mismatching feet." This conference is translated into Spanish, English, French, Italian and German. Dr. Scott Morrison will be the lone USA speaker this time.

In 2009, Hoofcare and Lameness may organize a group trip for Americans (and any other nationalities) to travel to Kreuth for this conference. It is probably the most adrenalinized farrier conference in the world. Three days at this conference is truly an immersion into European farriery. And a whole lot of fun! The hotel is right on the showgrounds, so you can't get too lost. Luwex offers a package including hotel and conference fees so we would only be arranging transportation. It might be a great way for Americans to experience European farriery, all in one place. They are always so disappointed that American farriers don't attend.

Here's Loic's real award-winning shoeing truck design. With him (yellow jacket) is Italian veterinarian Lorenzo d'Arpe. This photo was taken at the Luwex Hufsymposium in 2006. (Fran Jurga photo) Click here to read about Loic's truck.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. This post was originally published on October 15, 2008 at

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Churchill, Arlington, Calder and The Fair Grounds All Ban Toe Grabs

Trainer Steve Asmussen paid close attention to how Steve Norman was trimming his filly Pocahontas during Derby Week at Churchill Downs in 2004. (Thanks to Dan Burke of FPD for this photo.)

This press release was issued today and is printed below verbatim, so that I don't possibly misquote the fine print of what is and is not allowed. I know that this verbiage is still a little confusing, but eventually the what-is-legal-and-what-is-not parameters will sort themselves. The bold terms are mine, to help keep the main points straight.

Brief explanation of terms: Toe grabs refer to traction cleats in the toe bend of the shoe (front of foot). Currently shoes are sold with toe grabs of different heights. Turndowns refer to mechanically bending the heels of the shoe in the back part of the foot. Shoes are sold with flat heels. Turndowns usually refers to a steeper alternation of the heel and a "bend" is a minor turndown.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Oct. 14, 2008) - Churchill Downs Incorporated has implemented a new horseshoe policy at its four racetracks that bans the use of toe grabs greater than two millimeters. The new policy is effective immediately.

The policy, which will apply to all horses racing and training at Churchill Downs, Arlington Park, Calder Race Course and Fair Grounds Race Course, states:

"Front horse shoes which have toe grabs greater than two millimeters shall be prohibited from racing or training on all racing surfaces at all Churchill Downs Incorporated racetracks. This includes but is not limited to the following: toe grabs, bends, jar calks, stickers and any other traction device worn on the front shoes of Thoroughbred horses.

"Any hind shoe with a turndown of more than one-quarter inch will not be allowed on the dirt courses.

"Hind shoes with calks, stickers, blocks, raised toes or turndowns will not be allowed on the turf courses. This includes quarter horse shoes or any shoe with a toe grab of more than one-quarter inch."

"Our change in policy is another positive step toward improving the welfare and safety of our equine and human athletes, and it's consistent with the recommendations of The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Safety Committee, TOBA's Thoroughbred Action Committee and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to address safety in horse racing," said Donnie Richardson, senior vice president of racing for Churchill Downs Incorporated.

(end press release)

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. This post was originally published on October 14, 2008 at

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.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Heel Bulb Injuries 101: Big Brown's Latest Hoof Malady

Earlier today this blog provided details about the heel bulb injury that predicated the disappointing retirement of champion three-year-old Thoroughbred Big Brown. This post will give some background into the type of injury for those unfamiliar with foot anatomy and injury.

(Double click on photo for a much larger detail view.)

A horse's heel bulbs are similar to the fleshy part of the palm of your hand above the wrist, at the base of your thumb. The bulbs are in the back part of the foot, above the hairline and below the "waist" of the pastern. In this photo, which shows a foot cut in half, it is the brownish zone at the right that bulges out from the hoof. The heel bulbs are comprised of soft tissue, namely the digital cushion, a fat-cartilage mass that fills out the foot and provides multiple cushioning, circulation-enhancing and/or structural functions in maintaining the integrity and strength of the foot. The bulbs are covered with skin and hair and are not protected by hard hoof wall or sole. They are a vulnerable structure. (Photo courtesy of

This stakes horse at Keeneland suffered a heel injury that might have been similar to Big Brown's. Technically the heel bulbs are the area covered with hair, just below the horseshoer's thumb. The area was filled in and covered with acrylic and a glue on Polyflex shoe was applied by Curtis Burns. This photo was taken when the horse was well into the healing process. Sometimes the hind shoe scrapes down the back of the pastern over the heel bulbs and ripping off part of the heel or pulling off the front shoe. Thoroughbred racehorses frequently suffer from a grabbed quarter, heel bulb lacerations and coronet bruising and cuts because of toe grabs on their shoes. But, as Big Brown showed today, these injuries can occur even without toe grabs. Frequently a hind foot comes up and strikes the front foot when there is a gait abnormality, such as when horses are galloping on soft turf and the front foot stays on the ground a fraction of a second too long and the hind foot comes forward and strikes it. The injury frequently happens when horses scramble out of the starting gate, and can happen to hind feet when "clipping heels" with another horses. Some horses have conformational or coordination problems that designate them "hitters" and suffer from chronic lower leg and hoof injuries. They usually wear bandages, bell boots and have their hind shoes "set back" to reduce the chance of injury when training. Big Brown wore bell boots when schooling for the Belmont to protect his quarter crack patch.

One of Big Brown's feet in the spring of 2008: His heel bulbs are partially recruited into the hoof wall repair for his heel separations. (Ian McKinlay photo)

How bad can a heel bulb injury be? This is a case at the Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital's Podiatry Clinic, as featured in issue #79 of Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. Dr. Scott Morrison reconstructed the frog and over time, was able to restore the foot and the young Thoroughbred began its racing career wearing normal raceplates. Heel bulb injuries are common around farms, particularly wire cuts, horses catching a hoof in a cattle guard, pasture injuries, trailer loading mishaps, etc.

Aftermath of a heel bulb laceration: This ex-racehorse shows evidence of a severe injury earlier in its life. The horse is completely sound.

© 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.

This post was originally published on October 13, 2008 at
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.

Iavarone: Big Brown Was Barefoot; Injury Not Related to Toe Grabs

I was fortunate to be on a conference call this afternoon with Michael Iavarone of IEAH, managing partner owners of Triple Crown star Big Brown. As reported earlier today, the colt grabbed a quarter at some point in his work on the turf this morning and his immediate retirement from racing was announced.

Among the information that Iavarone shared was that Big Brown was not wearing his glued-on Yasha shoes this morning. He was barefoot. He stressed that toe grabs were not on the hind shoes and that the horse wore no bandages today. The injury happened on the Aqueduct (New York) turf course, perhaps on a turn, although no one has seen video of the incident.

Iavarone said that the colt cut about a three inch wound in his heel bulb. When the owner arrived at the barn, the horse was still walking, which the owner attributed to adrenaline, but the horse grew increasingly resistant to being led around the shedrow.

Trainer Rick Dutrow's immediate worry is to prevent infection. Iavorone did not have specific details on the treatment regimen. He said that the injury was not life-threatening but that it's timing, just 12 days before the biggest race of the colt's life, predicated the decision to announce his retirement rather than start a stop-gap treatment for a miracle cure.

Iavarone had few technical details to share, other than that a gash about three inches long showed where the heel bulb had been injured and that part of the hoof wall was gone as well. He mentioned that the horse was not favoring the limb and was standing on all four feet.

Big Brown will remain in New York for perhaps three weeks to a month and then will go to Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky to stand at stud.

In my next post, I will share the anatomy of the heel bulbs and some photos of injuries. Iavarone said he would try to make photos of the injury available.

Big Brown has the most well-documented hoof problems in history. He suffered from hoof wall separations in the heels of both front feet this winter and then survived a quarter crack before the Belmont Stakes. Check the April and May 2008 archives of this blog (see column to the right) for much more on Big Brown, including videos of his hoof repair.

© 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.

This post was originally published on October 13, 2008 at

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.

Bye Bye, Big Brown: Champion Colt Retired After Foot Injury During Training in New York

Today was the day he booked his van ride to Kentucky.

Champion three-year-old colt Big Brown limped home from a work at New York's Aqueduct racetrack this morning.

Owning partner Richard Iavarone of IEAH is quoted on "Big Brown has been retired. He not only tore the bulb off his foot, but half the foot was torn off. We did everything we could to get to the Breeders' Cup. It's devastating. And what makes it even worse is that he worked great."

Considering that a great portion of both heels of both the colt's front feet were artificial hoof wall and glue holding on a high-tech gasketized Yasha shoe, this is quite a feat.

Iavarone is quoted on the Daily Racing Form web site as saying that the decision was made after consulting with Aqueduct horseshoer Alex Leaf, who was at the track this morning. Leaf had ben a key player in keeping Dutrow's star Saint Liam sound in spite of hoof crises as he won the 2005 Breeders Cup Classic.

Hoof repair specialist Ian McKinlay, who worked on the horse's well-documented quarter cracks and wall separations and designed the custom-made heel insert shoes, was not at the track.

One of the greatest rivalries in horse racing in many years was developing as Big Brown trained toward the Breeders Cup Classic at Santa Anita in California on October 25, where he would have met champion older horse Curlin and the undefeated Japanese mystery horse, Casino Drive.

Next stop for Big Brown: Three Chimneys Farm outside Lexington, Kentucky, where he can share two-out-of-three's-not-bad stories with another almost-Triple Crown winner, Smarty Jones.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. This post was originally published on October 13, 2008 at

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.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dressage: The Debate Over Biomechanics Goes Live in the USA This Week


In the last year, a new word has crept into the dictionary of dressage around the world. "Rollkur" refers to the hyperflexion of the horse's neck as a training procedure and it has rattled dressage cages around the world. 

The man with a stick who rat-a-tats the bars of those cages is German dressage-specialist veterinarian Gerd Heuschmann. And to him, rollkur is just the tip of a huge iceberg. His book Tug of War: Modern vs. Classical Dressage has been a lightning rod for dressage purists, and has enjoyed a perch atop the bestselling horse books list for most of the past year. 

This month, Heuschmann is speaking in the United States and his lectures are sure to re-open the debate. I will hope to catch his biomechanics lecture next weekend at the International Dressage Symposium at Maplewood Warmbloods in Middletown, New York. 

Another clinic with Dr.Heuschmann is planned for February 12-14, 2009 by the Utah Dressage Society. 

If you have a chance to hear him speak, in any language, make the effort but be sure to keep an open mind. It is his mantra that modern "sport" dressage as practiced by some trainers and riders is cruel and he provides compelling, dramatic, and emotional evidence that sport-type dressage is causing damage to horses' musculoskeletal systems. He, and many other proponents of the classical ways of training, believe that dressage training is a long process that can't be rushed. He is not condemning dressage itself, only the practices of certain trainers and the rewards of the current judging system. 

Sample image from the upcoming Gerd Heuschmann DVD; this is a 3D model of the horse used to explain the effects of tension and improper movement in dressage.

Heuschmann's upcoming 60-minute DVD, "Stimmen der Pferd" ("If Horses Could Speak") on the biomechanical exploitation of horses in sport dressage is said by its producer to be the most expensive production ever attempted on the subject of horses. 

As riveting as Dr Heuschmann's arguments may be, and as lavish as his filmmaker's portrayal of the horse, the debate over rollkur lost some of its teeth following the technical and scientific forum by the FEI on the subject, which included Hoofcare and Lameness consulting editors Drs. Jean-Marie Denoix of France and Hilary Clayton of the USA, among others. 

The researchers and the FEI stopped short of condemning the practice, partly because of a lack of biomechanical evidence. Instead, that forum issued stern warnings about possible misuse of the practice and stressed that it should only be used as a training method by experienced riders and trainers. 

The sport of dressage suffered another blow last week when a German television news broadcast showed a hidden camera's' video of a well-known rider/trainer repeatedly whipping a horse while lunging on a small circle. With this post, Hoofcare and Lameness and The Hoof Blog begin sharing with you some exciting original video about equine sport, and especially sport science and biomechanics, produced by Epona TV. 

Epona TV is a subscription-based video library that includes content from Dr. Hilary Clayton and Dr. Gerd Heuschmann, among others.  

Dr. Heuschmann's book, Tug of War: Modern vs Classical Dressage is available from Hoofcare and Lameness

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing, also representing Epona TV and Wu Wei Verlag.  This post was originally published on Sunday, October 12, 2008 at

Friday, October 10, 2008

Vet School Farriers: Change on the Hoof

An article caught my eye today on the web site of the University of California at Davis College of Veterinary Medicine. One of the largest and most horse-specialist vet schools in the country has two farriers on staff now, Marc Gleeson (in the UC Davis photo above) and Bill Merfy. And former farrier Kirk Adkins is still around, teaching a hoof science course for undergrads. The article started me thinking about how hooves are being served at vet schools.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Farrier Fundraising Fun: "Hunks and Horses" Calendar Debuts

Note: regretfully, the photos and links that were originally part of this article back in 2008 are no longer functioning--hopefully the farriers, the fundraiser and the charity are thriving!
"Like the horses they love, their strength shows in gentleness, their lives are rooted in history and tradition, and their spirits run free in the wind..."

So begins the dedication of the Hunks and Horses calendar.

Horse owners in the Tucson, Arizona area will have something to stare at while they wait for their farriers next year. Some will be staring at it quite fondly.

A good-hearted owners' group called the Swingin Saddlebabes has created a photo calendar of 12 of their favorite local farriers, hard at work on their horses. Proceeds will go to a local horse rescue agency.

I wonder who had more fun making this calendar--the horse owners or the farriers? All are in good spirits and out to do good.

The designated-hunk farriers are Philip Ramos, Karl Rossi, Don Miller, John Hall, Bobby Jenkins, Casey Abbs (really, honest), Ken Kalember, Todd Fairweather, Johnny Mill, Steve Shaw, Manny Madrid and Jason Willour. Ken Kalember gets extra points for posing with his Aussie dog and they all cheerfully posed with their clients horses, who are identified by name.

The lucky beneficiary is Equine Recline: Rescue, Rehabilitation, Retirement, of Sahuarita, Arizona. Right now, the ranch is paying $16 for a bale of Bermuda hay (foreign readers, note: it is a type of grass, not imported from Bermuda!) and they expect the cost to go up to $20 a bale this winter. Tucson is in the mountains south of Phoenix, near the Mexican border.

Farriers in Arizona have it made. And so do their dogs. Ken Kalember took off his apron and posed for the "Hunks and Horses" farrier calendar to raise money for a local horse rescue ranch. So did 11 of his (all male) farrier friends. The fundraiser was the brain child of a group of horseowners who are very fond of their farriers!

Projects like this at times like this are a win-win for all involved. Everyone needs a calendar. Everyone needs to buy reasonably-priced Christmas gifts this year. And the humane societies, animal shelters and rescue farms in your area need your help. And, most of all, everyone needs a good laugh.

There's a big difference between feeling like you're handing over a $100 donation out of your pocket and if you're ordering a pile of calendars (or whatever a fundraiser has to offer) that you can give as gifts.

If the hunky Tucson farriers aren't your thing, find out what the dog or horse charities in your area are selling for fundraisers, or figure out what you can make to sell to benefit them. You'll be giving the best gift to yourself: the feeling that you're helping make things better for the animals who count on people like you. And don't ever forget that your livelihood depends on your area's horse-friendly community of owners and professionals, no matter where you live.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. This post was originally published on October 8, 2008 at 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 free daily email through an automated delivery service. Thanks!


Following the incredible success of MOLLY THE PONY through this blog, it's time to add Molly's friend, THE GOAT LADY by Jane Bregoli.

Here’s what THE GOAT LADY is about:

Who’s that funny-looking lady in old clothes down at the end of the street? She walks with a limp and her yard is filled with goats.

On a street of beautiful new homes with perfect lawns, the old farmhouse looks out of place. The children can only wonder what goes on there. But the goats fascinate them.

One of the mothers is an artist, and she sees something beautiful in the goats and the old woman.

When the artist fills the town hall with paintings of the goats and their owner, the new residents in town get an eyeful. Children and adults learn to see the beauty in what they once thought was just a rundown house and a weird old woman in their neighborhood.

They learn that their houses are built on the fields of the old farm, and that the “goat lady” once owned it all. They learn she sold the fields to pay her late husband’s medical bills. And that she donates healthful goat milk to people who are ill, like she is. And they find out that the young baby goats go to poor families overseas, thanks to the Heifer Project, a longstanding anti-poverty program that supplies farm animals to poor families.

And the neighbors learn to start acting like neighbors, the children learn a lot about goats, and the goat lady finds out she has a lot more friends that she thought she did.


Teach children that old people have value and something to teach that they can value. That the way someone dresses or the shape their house is in are not yardsticks to their character or value. That animals make a great difference to poor people in other countries. And that people who wear old clothes and live in shabby houses may turn out to be generous and help people in need.

And THE GOAT LADY won the ASPCA's Henry Bergh Award for best children's book about animals!


Size: 9.25”w x 10.25” h, 32 pages
Hardcover, laminated cover.
Full color illustrations and paintings throughout.
Written for children in grades 3-6, much loved by many adult readers
Very similar to MOLLY THE PONY in size, shape, length.
And it is a TRUE story!
Cost: $17 publisher's list price

And don't forget Molly!

Update on Molly: MOLLY THE PONY is in its third printing!

Molly (the real pony) continues to do well at Ms Kaye’s farm down in Louisiana. Her fame through the book has not gone to her head at all. She had a tough time when Hurricane Gustave hit, but her barn is being rebuilt and she keeps limping along to schools and hospitals to share her story and her message of hope.

We need to raise enough money (or find a sponsor) for a truck and trailer so Molly can go to places beyond New Orleans, though she has plenty to do right there!

Thank you to everyone who has purchased MOLLY THE PONY and donated to her fund.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Favorite Photo: How an American Farrier Relaxes on Weekends

woman farrier competitor
Lady farrier at the Royal Berkshire Show, Newbury, originally uploaded by Anguskirk.

This farrier was competing in the horseshoe making at the Royal Berkshire Show,in Newbury, England. The photographer, Angus Kirk, didn't know her name but he knew a good shot when he saw one. Most, if not all, of the county shows in Britain host farrier competitions, with the national championship decided at The Royal Show in July. Both Mike Miller and Bob Pethick think that this is American farrier Raleigh Desiato from California.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Zarkava in l'Arc: Unbeaten Filly's Domination Continues As She Captures World's Richest Race

The sacred victory and the mystique of horse racing, French style: this intro to the 2007 l'Arc personifies the confidence the French have that this is THE horse race to win. They might be right! And in true French style, they will celebrate the domination today of one of the world's greatest racehorses, the filly Zarkava.

If you needed an excuse to splurge on a bottle of French champagne, you can justify it tonight: the incredible filly Zarkava has demolished an international field of turf superstars in France's Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. The filly has won everything in Europe, or so it seems; the Arc was her fifth Group One stakes win.

Zarkava is owned by HH. The Aga Khan, who doesn't even need the $6,243,600 prize money. He both bred and races the filly and said after the victory, "No decision has been made yet concerning her future career. She will not run in the Breeders’ Cup. Today is the apogée for a breeding operation which dates back 90 years and for five generations of my family. I am really amazed by my filly."

The filly won from the #1 post position, and didn't break well. She ran an amazing come-from-behind race over the grueling 12 furlongs. Her trainer withheld the decision of whether she would run or not until the afternoon, so that the condition of the track could be assessed.

Why the concern? First of all, the inside post position meant that she would break over the most cutup section of the track, and it had also rained during the night.

Second, the filly has a racing style somewhat like Big Brown's, with an off-on switch controlling a superhero-like surge of ground-eating speed. That means that she likes firm ground, so she can skim over the surface without using her energy to pull her feet out of the ground with each stride. Remember that grass racing (and all racing in France) is done with totally flat shoes. In the USA, rain on race day often means switching a turf race to dirt; in France, they don't have that option, so the trainers watch the weather and the tracks have a system for rating the condition of the track.

What might have been: We can only wonder. Earlier this summer, American superstar Curlin was being aimed to race against the filly in The Arc, but his career on grass was short, and he went back to the dirt. Now he is being switched again, this time to Cushion Ride, the newly-installed artificial surface at California's Santa Anita racetrack. If he likes it (how do you tell without a race?), he'll take on leading three-year-old Big Brown in the Breeders Cup Classic on October 25.

A cadre of European invaders are expected at Santa Anita to take on Curlin and other top American horses. Many grass horses (almost all racing in Europe is on grass) switch well to artificial surfaces, but rarely dominate when switched to dirt.

Zarkava is not expected to make the trip to the Breeders Cup, but there's hope for next year, since she is only three years old.

You can watch videos of the race on, but the voiceovers seem to all be in Japanese, since there was a Japanese horse in the race. The effect, however, is the same in any language: Zarkava is incredible!

Note: This year, it is remarkable that two of the leading horses in the world are both fillies, both are undefeated, and both have names starting with the letter "Z". We have Zenyatta racing in the USA and headed for the Breeders Cup in 18 days, and Zarkava in Europe.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. This post was originally published on October 4, 2008 at

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 free daily email through an automated delivery service.

To subscribe to the 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.

Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to

Friday, October 03, 2008

Working with Horses: Veterinary Practice Acts Defended in Courts

What color is your state? Blue states allow non-vet equine dentists to work on horses; orange states allow non-vet equine massage therapists to work on horses; striped states allow both professions to work independently of veterinarians; white states have either not modified their veterinary practice laws to allow dentists and massage therapists to work or have possibly not adopted the AVMA's newest model veterinary practice act, which tightens restrictions on the definition of veterinary care of animals. Some states may be more permissive, others may be tolerant but have restrictions, such as IAED certification for non-vet dentists, but charges against a non-vet are often based on complaints from horse owners or veterinarians, so everyone is still subject to discipline. In most states there are high fines and criminal statutes for practicing veterinary medicine without proper licensing. Even a a person with a DVM degree is subject to prosecution or discipline if he or she is not licensed to work in a given state. (Map: JAVMA)

An article in the upcoming October 15th edition of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) summarizes the ongoing legal confrontations going on in Texas and Maryland between state veterinary medical boards and legal consultants defending equine massage therapists and horse dentists.

A third lawsuit, questioning the legality of the veterinary practice act in Minnesota, resulted in a court decision in favor of the vet board in that state, and against the rights of an individual to earn a living as a horse dentist.

In each case, the non-veterinarian practitioners have been represented by the Institute for Justice, a civil liberties law concern in Arlington, Virginia. At question is the right of individuals to continue to earn a living, when their occupation has been redefined as within the scope of veterinary medicine under the new vet practice acts adopted in some states.

Five states--New Hampshire, Georgia, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Oregon--have amended vet practice acts that allow non-vet dentists and massage therapists to work legally.

In many cases, the affected parties have held up horse shoeing (and trimming) as examples of an unregulated field that is allowed to continue without interference by state veterinary boards.

In some other states, horse owners have organized to legally challenge state veterinary boards, charging that they have the right to hire whatever practitioner they wish to care or treat their animals. In Florida, a proposed state law allowing horse owners to choose their practitioners failed to pass the state legislature.

In the case of the Minnesota dentist who protested the law, he would have been allowed to continue working if he had become certified by the International Association of Equine Dentistry (IAED), but he did not want to go through the certification process.

The Institute for Justice defends the rights of individuals to pursue their chosen professions.

Reading this article, and perusing the map of US states that have granted concessions to non-vet dentists and massage therapists is recommended for anyone who makes his or her living working with horses.

What's especially interesting is that the problems seem to be centered on horse care rather than all species of animals.

From the court documents in Minnesota, as quoted by the AVMA: "The state may legitimately exercise its police power to protect public health, safety, or welfare through the regulation of occupations that require specialized training or skill and the public will benefit from assurance of initial or continuing occupational ability ... Veterinarians are the natural group to provide education and training with respect to the overall health and anatomy of animals."

Click here to read the upcoming JAVMA article.

Click here to visit the International Association for Equine Dentistry, whose certification is recnognized in Minnesota.

Click here to meet Mercedes Clemens, the certified massage therapist in Maryland who is no longer allowed to work on horses.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. This blog post was originally published on 3 October 2008 at

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.

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