Thursday, January 21, 2010

Virginia Tech Hires Full-Time Farrier for Veterinary College Post

20 January 2010 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog at

Travis Burns will leave his employment with the multi-farrier practice Forging Ahead in Round Hill, Virginia to become the full-time farrier at the veterinary college at Virginia Tech. He's shown here with one of his favorite horses, a big-footed barefoot fellow named Gumpy. (Hoofcare & Lameness photo)

This announcement was received this week from the
Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia; thanks to Drs. R. Scott Pleasant (far left) and David Hodgson (near left) for their assistance. (University announcement text in red)

We are very pleased to announce that Travis Burns, of Marshall, Virginia, has joined the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech as a full-time farrier.

Burns’ arrival in February will allow the College to provide complete equine podiatry services through the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. In his position, Travis will assist the equine faculty in building on the service, education, and community engagement strengths of the College. We believe that Travis’s special skills, knowledge, and experience will be a great resource for our students and regional horse owners, farriers, and veterinarians.

Proper management and care of a horse’s hooves is essential to the overall health of the animal, according to Dr. David Hodgson, head of the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences. “Properly trimmed and balanced hooves and correctly fitting shoes are essential to preventing lameness and other maladies in horses,” said Hodgson. “The addition of Travis to our department and hospital further enhances the overall preventive healthcare package we are able to offer our patients, clients and referring veterinarians. We are very pleased to welcome him and plan for him to enhance our ties to the local community of farriers. Travis will be working closely with Dr. Scott Pleasant and other members of our veterinary team. Dr. Pleasant is one of the leading veterinary exponents for the advancement of hoof care in horses. ”

Travis’s interest in horseshoeing began at an early age while working with horses at his uncle’s riding stable in North Carolina. He attended farrier school in the winter of 2002 and then continued to shoe horses while attending college. He graduated from North Carolina State University in 2006 with a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science. In 2007, Travis was accepted into a one-year internship program at Forging Ahead, an elite multi-farrier practice in Northern Virginia. Upon completion of the internship program, based on his outstanding ability, Travis was retained at Forging Ahead as an associate farrier.

Travis recently achieved Certified Journeyman Farrier certification by the American Farrier's Association, the highest level of certification granted by the organization.

(end of Virginia Tech document)

Hoofcare and Lameness would like to congratulate both Travis Burns and Virginia Tech for the new directions each of them is taking (and taking together). While Travis is heading into a new area, there is no doubt he gives a lot of credit to the formal internship program that he completed at Forging Ahead; he was later hired on as an associate farrier there. The fact that he would be an AFA Journeyman and be considered for this position at the vet school so early in his career is testimony to the program that Paul Goodness has designed at Forging Ahead for farriers who want to seriously accelerate their careers working on top sport horses or specializing in lameness. While not everyone can be an intern at Forging Ahead, the program can be emulated by others, and hopefully more internships for working professional farriers will be offered in the future.

How does Paul Goodness feel about losing his protege? "I think it's so great," he said in a phone interview this morning, "that Virginia Tech would choose a young, talented farrier like Travis. He'll go far in this industry. They are starting with a clean slate, by hiring someone who wants to help horses and make a positive difference on many fronts. This is a step forward for the farrier-vet world. I will be able to stay in touch with Travis and send him cases from Leesburg. (Note: Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Virginia, which is affiliated with Virginia Tech and where Paul is the farrier).

"It's not a crisis here at Forging Ahead. It's true, 2009 wasn't the best year for us, and I'm sure not the best year for most farrier businesses," he continued thoughtfully. "But we've already picked up new clients this month and I don't feel like I need to be running back and forth to Florida. Scott and I have full books, all day, just here at the shop with haul-ins. We're predicting a big year and an influx of foreign riders to the area to train and compete before heading to Kentucky for WEG in the fall. The farrier business should be just fine, as should be the lameness referrals."

Here's a re-post of the NBC News segment taped at Forging Ahead about the internship program during the run-up to the Kentucky Derby last April:

, ,Please allow time for NBC's "Thank Goodness" video to load. Click the play icon to begin.

Links to more articles about Forging Ahead:
Link to Internship Program Announcement in 2007
Link to "Friends at Work" About Forging Ahead in 2009
Link to Forging Ahead web site

In 2009, Travis attended the Fifth International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot in West Palm Beach, Florida and the North East Association of Equine Practitioners Conference in Ledyard, Connecticut. He also was a guest presenter at one of our Hoofcare@Saratoga evenings last August in Saratoga Springs, New York, where he presented Forging Ahead's clever reverse Mustad glue-on shoe for laminitis therapy.

While I was working on this announcement, several people forwarded to me links to a story that was published around the country today, via Associated Press, and most notably on the ABC News and National Public Radio web sites. The article features Jason Wilson-Maki, farrier at Texas A&M University, along with a brief mention of Michael Wildenstein, farrier at Cornell.

There are many hardworking farriers at vet schools around North America, including Jason and Michael, whether full-time employees or contract service providers. I'm sorry to say that I don't know who they all are, so if you work for or with a vet school, please contact The Hoof Blog so we can keep a list.

And today we can add Travis Burns to that list of farriers...and Virginia to the list of vet schools that has one.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. Please, no use without permission. You only need to ask.

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