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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rood + Riddle Official Vets (and Farriers) for Alltech National Horse Show

The Alltech National Horse Show’s press release was just full of news.

First of all, the parapetetic National Horse Show has moved again. After 100 or so years in the middle of Manhattan and the most glamorous setting imaginable, the show picked up stakes from Madison Square Garden and moved first across the Hudson River to the Meadowlands in New Jersey and then to Florida for a run, then back to New York, but to Syracuse this time, the show’s most recent venue.

Now it’s on to Kentucky, where the great show has found a home at the Kentucky Horse Park's indoor arena and a star-billing date on the fall hunter/jumper competition calendar.

And the show not only found a home in Kentucky--it found a title sponsor. It is one whose name we already know well: Alltech.

When the 128th Alltech National Horse Show opens at the Horse Park on November 2, it will have a new group of farriers backstage. The show has formed an official alliance with the Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, just down the road from the Horse Park. The alliance extends to Rood and Riddle providing the show farriers, the show veterinarians, and even the show equine pharmacy.

"We're planning to make a big effort," said Rood + Riddle's Scott Morrison DVM, head of the hospital's unique podiatry center. "We want to make certain that the competitors at the show are satisfied with their foot care."

A sport horse that regularly comes to Rood + Riddle for shoeing showed off a front foot one day. Striped hoof horn is a challenge for farriers since distortion in the tubules is very obvious. Rodney King didn't object to having photos taken of this horse. (© Hoofcare + Lameness photo, Fran Jurga)

Morrison said that the show is "only" expecting to attract about 360 horses, which he thought his team could easily handle. He said he expects two of the clinic's farriers, Rodney King and Jeff Henderson, will provide the bulk of the show service, and that he would be on call as well.

"We're looking forward to it," Morrison continued. "We'll get it done!"

Hind foot of a dressage horse that was being shod last May at Rood + Riddle's podiatry center. (© Hoofcare + Lameness photo, Fran Jurga)

The first week in November will be a busy time in the state of Kentucky. The fledgling horse show will have to compete this year (and only this year) for the attention of people in the Bluegrass because the Breeders Cup will run on Friday and Saturday at Churchill Downs.

Morrison remarked that one of the podiatry center's biggest consulting clients, Irish horse trainer Aiden O'Brien, will be bringing several horses to Kentucky for the Breeders Cup, and Morrison expects to be on call for any horses that need his help at both the National Horse Show and the Churchill Downs events that weekend.

Another view of the dressage horse. The stalls in the background are holding stalls. Many trainers and owners bring multiple horses and, after hauling long distances, can offload the horses to the holding stalls until all the horses' feet are done and it's time to leave.   (© Hoofcare + Lameness photo, Fran Jurga)
Is this the first time that the official farrier service at a horse show is to be provided by a veterinary hospital? Most likely, it is. But like the location of the horse show, the role of the show professionals is obviously changing as well. It may also be the first time that a group practice has provided all the veterinary services for an event of this magnitude.

National Horse Exhibition at Springfield, Massachusetts
The original National Horse Show was first held in 1853 in Springfield, Massachusetts and attracted 500 horses.  (Engraving published in Gleason's Pictorial, 1853). After the current version of "The" National Horse Show began in New York in 1883, the show featured a 14-mile endurance race through Manhattan for military horses; it finished in the show arena.

At Rood + Riddle, both veterinarians and farriers are employed under the same roof in the pursuit of making lame horses sound and keeping sound horses that way, thanks to the podiatry center building. The unassuming building tucked behind the main hospital sometimes resembles a swarming ant hill of humans, trucks, trailers, vans and horses: each professional may have clients booked into the podiatry center for out-patient procedures or trimming and shoeing, and the staff come and go from the center throughout the day. Horse owners haul their horses from any number of states for consultation or for regular periodic treatments and shoeing.

A normal staff of four veterinarians and at least three farriers, plus interns, apprentices, technicians, administrators and helpers make up the staff on a typical day. The vets and farriers may work all or part of the day on the road in service to clients in the Lexington area, or be busy with cases at the podiatry center or with hoof-related concerns of patients in the hospital.

Rood + Riddle's podiatry center offers off-site referral services so several staff members acrue some of the highest numbers of frequent flyer points in the entire horse industry. Other cases are handled by reviewing radiographs, photos and videos via the Internet or Federal Express.

Rood + Riddle operates a satellite podiatry center at The Sanctuary, an equine rehabilitation facility in Ocala, Florida, and the staff regularly attends to clients' horses in the Wellington, Florida area during the winter months. In addition, the vets and farriers all seem to evolve into educators after they join the staff, and are involved as clinicians and lecturers at educational events all over the world.

At the World Equestrian Games, Rood + Riddle created and hosted a mini-museum of farriery tools and shoes.  Visitors could pull out the glass drawers to see shoes on display. (© Hoofcare + Lameness photo, Fran Jurga)

Most people connect Rood + Riddle with the Thoroughbred racing and breeding world of Lexington, but the clinic obviously has a burgeoning sport horse practice embedded behind its racehorse reputation and address.

"Rood + Riddle is extremely pleased to serve as the Official Veterinarians and Farriers for the upcoming Alltech National Horse Show,” Dr. Tom Riddle, co-founder of the hospital, said in the press release. “Rood & Riddle’s participation in both the World Equestrian Games and the National Horse Show underscores our practice's commitment to the sport horse."

Rood + Riddle was a sponsor of last year's Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, held at the Kentucky Horse Park, and the clinic served as the official veterinary hospital for that event, with staff vets serving at the Horse Park. At WEG, farrier services were provided by the American Farrier's Association.

At the World Equestrian Games last year, large monitors suspended on two walls showed video footage of podiatry work at Rood + Riddle. This monitor was displaying quarter crack repair. (© Hoofcare + Lameness photo, Fran Jurga)

About the show: While historically the National Horse Show included Nations Cup international show jumping, gaited horses, fine driving and even classes for fire and police horses, the Kentucky version of the show will be an indoor AA-rated hunter, jumper and equitation over fences extravaganza. The show, as always, will host the finals of the ASPCA Alfred B. Maclay Finals in equitation.

NOTE: Hoofcare + Lameness would like to compile a list of farriers who have served in the capacity of official farrier to The National Horse Show. If you can help with this list or have old programs with information, please email Fran Jurga. As it turns out, farriers have played a big role, historically, in the show, and this seems like a good time to research more history.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. Please, no use without permission. You only need to ask. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the 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  
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