Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Horseshoes for the US Army: A 300-mile march on pavement tested calks for artillery horses

Here's the 112th Field Artillery, a New Jersey unit, in marching formation. Notice how close to the side of the road they are, particularly the wheels. In 1935, similar artillery horses from Fort Myer in Virginia were marched 300 miles on hard-surfaced roads to test out horseshoe designs.


How--and why--did the US Army make its decision about horseshoe policies in days gone by? The advent of paved roads in the 1920s necessitated a reaction from the Army. They realized that, in the event of war or a domestic crisis, artillery guns would be transported over pavement, and the horses' feet would have to accommodate hard-surfaced roads of different types.

The November-December 1935 edition of The Field Artillery Journal tells us about it; an account is transcribed here in red:

The First Battalion, 16th Field Artillery stationed at Fort Myer, Virginia, recently completed a march from its home station to the concentration area of the First Army Reserve at Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, and return to Fort Myer, Virginia.
  • Total distance covered, 301.3 miles.
  • Average march per day, 18.7 miles.
  • Speed varied between 4 and 5 miles per hour.
The entire march was made on hard surface roads with no apparent ill effects to any of the animals. The gait was the walk and trot. The first fifteen minutes of each day's march at the walk; from then on alternate walk and trot. Trotting took place only on level stretches of the road.

Horses were changed daily within the teams and sometimes by spare animals. Also the changing of complete teams from gun to caisson helped to equalize the loads. The use of Hippo Straps was resorted to upon suspicion of a sore neck and before the actual sore was apparent.

The shoeing problem presented many difficulties. Horses that walked with a drag walk--that is that would slide their feet over the road--soon wore out their shoes. Some animals would wear out a set of shoes in one day's march, others in two days, and practically all animals had to be shod within a week's time.

It was discovered that by building up a toe calk and heel calks to the same level on each shoe that they would last much longer. Caution had to be taken that heel calks did not wear down faster than the toe calks, thereby throwing the foot out of level. In one battery, 33 horses were shod in a 24-hour period.

As evidence of the splendid work done by the horseshoers, there was no case in which an animal cast a shoe during the entire march.


Another difficulty encountered was slippery roads. These were a serious menace to both animals and men and such roads should be avoided where possible. Roads of this nature are extremely difficult to recognize by motor reconnaissance. Even after stopping your car and making a very careful examination of the road surface it's a two-to-one bet that you are wrong and your nonslippery road will turn out to be something like an ice skating rink.

By experience in selection of routes this much can be said: Slippery roads usually have a high crown, that is the sides of the road slope off rather steeply, they are always made of a mixture of stone and asphalt or stone and some tar product. The appearance of the surface is most deceptive. It may appear rough or smooth and still be slippery. The presence of asphalt or tar on this surface is a sure sign of danger.

Concrete highways were found to be excellent and no slipping occurred on this type of road except where an unusual amount of repair work with tar or asphalt had been carried out.

Certain new types of asphalt pavement--such as that now being laid in Maryland on some of its state roads and the city of Washington, D.C.--make excellent footing for horses. In fact it proved to be the best type of hard surface on which to march.



The results accomplished are attributed mainly to the following reasons:
  • A thorough reconnaissance and careful selection of routes;
  • The time of day selected for the march;
  • The close supervision of the care of animals;
  • The care taken to insure a sufficiency of water for animals;
  • The superior work of the horseshoers;
  • Gaits maintained throughout the march.
(end of transcription from article)

To calk or not to calk? That was the Army's question.

Looking at these findings in hindsight, there is no discussion about any benefit or down side of raising the horse's foot off the ground with the calks, or what effect the calks may have had on the horses' foot landing patterns.

It seems the goal was to decrease the amount of time between shoeings by increasing the wear that the shoe could provide.

The author also does not comment on whether the horses had better or worse traction on different types of pavement encountered based on whether they were flat shod or shod with calks.

This video shows an artillery team in action during the National Cavalry Competition in 2011 at Fort Reno in Oklahoma; this is a unit from Fort Sill, also in Oklahoma. (Photo via U.S. Army Veterinary Corps Historical Preservation Group)

Horses today who work on pavement are often shod with various types of plastic shoes or steel that is protected with hard-surfacing "grip" material. Plastic shoes were available in the 1930s and were widely used at the time on city work horses that had to endure pavement all day, every day. Other variations, such as rope inserts on the fullered ground surface, were also in use at that time.

No followup to this article was published so it's difficult to know if the calked shoes were adopted for permanent use on the horses, or how they fared.

It was often Army policy to adopt a method of hoof trimming or one specific shoe, such as the Army's decree that the Goodenough shoe be tested on 50 percent of Army horses in the years following the Civil War. No criteria were given about which horses were best suited to that type of shoe; the goals were efficiency in stocking and procurement, economy in purchasing large quantities, and finding a shoe that offered maximum wear qualities.

Influential men all the way up to US Presidents were courted to adopt various shoe designs or trim methods for use by the US Army. The Civil War was barely ended before General Ulysses S. Grant was recommending a complete overhaul of how the US Army shod its horses. He recommended the adoption of the Dunbar system to Quartermaster Montgomery Meigs. It literally took an Act of Congress to change horseshoes for the Army, but Dunbar and Grant accomplished it.

While it seems insensitive to the horses to make judgments based solely on the longevity of a steel shoe, the Army had very practical decision-making systems that would be based on what would happen during a war situation, where the loss of a horse from work because of needing re-shoeing, or the loss of shoes, or the quick wear of shoes might affect the ability of the battalion to move the guns to new positions.

Another question this brings to mind is that calk-heeled shoes certainly weren't new. Removable calks were available commercially, as well. It is interesting that the military had been using flat shoes previously, although the reason behind that preference isn't stated--and might have been a good one to ask. 

Were calked shoes the answer to the Army's problem? Could a modification that extends shoe wear also be guaranteed to prevent slipping? There's more than one way to calk a horse, and the Army chose the most labor-intensive method: having the horseshoers (the US military did not the use of the word "farrier") forge them in the fire as part of the shoe, and from the same material. When a calk was worn, the entire shoe would need to be replaced. How efficient was that?

--story © Fran Jurga

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Thanks to the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps Historical Preservation Group for their mention of the horseshoe wear study of the Fort Myers unit.

To learn more:
Historic Hoofcare: Ice Harvesting (special shoes for winter traction) 

Click here to receive free hoofcare news alerts from The Hoof Blog.


by John Kiernan, Chief Farrier of the Cavalry Depot, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. 


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

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any direct compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned, other than Hoofcare Publishing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

When the Master's Away, His Apprentices Will Play (Music, That Is)


People sometimes refer to the musical sound of horse hooves. Others remark on the music that the hammer makes on the anvil.

Hit the right thing the right away, and you'll hear a tone that you can adjust by hitting it with something else, or by hitting the same thing in a different place.

Is percussion by itself still music?


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Laminitis-Surviving Rodeo Star "Vegas" Is Back: Turtle Powell's AQHA Roping Horse of the Year Returns to National Finals Rodeo


Back at it: 2010 AQHA Team Roping Header Horse of the Year RA Sonoita Silver (a.k.a. "Vegas"), was back in his namesake town last week for the comeback of a lifetime. The horse survived severe laminitis and was helped back to the arena by Lubbock, Texas farrier Blane Chapman. (Photo © Molly Morrow Photography, used with permission.)
World Champion Team Roper Turtle Powell was back in the saddle of his favorite horse last week. And no one at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) even noticed.

In the world of rodeo, bad news travels fast. When the ropers on the circuit heard that Turtle's outstanding horse "Vegas" had spent three months in vet hospitals in Montana and Washington because of fever and, eventually, severe laminitis, they shook their heads and said, "Too bad." They knew they'd never see the horse again.

Friday, December 07, 2012

On the Case: Wrapping Up a White Line Disease Rebuild

 A Series of Case Reports from The Hoof Blog


Lameness-specialist veterinarian Mark Silverman, left, and creative-thinking farrier Ernest Woodward, right, have opened the Southern California Equine Podiatry Center outside San Diego, California. The Hoof Blog asked them to share this case, which is somewhat more practical and more economical than many hoof repair treatments. 

To accomplish it, you need to know and understand the products used and their properties in order to select the right fabric, adhesive and/or impression material to insure the success of the job.


Thursday, December 06, 2012

Friends at Work: Would You Put Yourself in His Shoes?


Photographer Arjan Haverkamp saw nothing unusual about this scene at the Dierenpark Amersfoort (zoo) in The Netherlands. I think he was curious about the donkey's hooves. When I saw the photo, all I could see was the farrier's shoes!


Sunday, December 02, 2012

Organizations: Canadian Association of Professional Farriers Formed

 News via Press Release: 

 
The Canadian Association of Professional Farriers (CAPF) has been launched as an affiliate of the American Association of Professional Farriers (AAPF) to provide Canadian farriers with a professional organization that not only promotes the integrity of the farrier industry as a whole, but also strengthens the knowledge and skill set of its membership.



Friday, November 30, 2012

Slo-Mo Reining Horse: What They Won't See in Oklahoma City



You have to love the sport of reining, but you also have to admit that it is all sort of a blur when those horses pick up the tempo. During the spin and slide I always wish I could see their legs and hooves. Good luck with that!


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Online Veterinary Anatomy Museum Injects High-Tech Media & Movement into the Study of Equine Structure

What's your vision of an anatomy museum? Giant paintings on the walls? A sculpture of a hoof? Think again! The foot in this photo is from a 3-D movable program that is one of the showpieces of the new Online Veterinary Anatomy Museum. (Larger image © Hoofcare Publishing)

An anatomy museum is a wonderful place. But who among us can travel to Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology or to London's Natural History Museum when we feel like studying anatomy?

If we can't go to the museum, can the museum come to us?

Guess what? It already has.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Friends at Work: Meet Andrew Crook, Anatomy Technician at the Royal Veterinary College in Great Britain



Meet Andrew Crook, head of the anatomy service of the Royal Veterinary College in Great Britain. He'll explain more about his job to you in this video, which is designed to introduce new students to the anatomy services of the college.

Have you ever considered the variety of specialty professional positions within the broad category of "hoof-related"--meaning that they are available to someone who is interested in applying (or pursuing eternally) their knowledge of the horse's foot?


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Irish Farrier Radio Documentary: The Sound of History



Have you ever been to Ireland? Just click on the "play" icon and you can go there, for a half-hour or so, at least. But hang on tight--you're going to go back in time.

The year was 1977, and Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTE, the national broadcast service in Ireland) is interested in producing a radio documentary about farriers. It's a trade with one foot in the past and one in the future, and they select a representative group spread across the land from the city streets of Dublin to the wild western counties.

It did make it on the air, but then it went into a vault, never to be heard again. Until, of course, the Internet and the Hoof Blog came along. RTE very kindly gave permission for the entire broadcast to be mounted on the blog.

If you don't understand the very beginning, don't worry: it's in Gaelic!

About halfway through, the crew is in Dublin, where they are entertained by the well-known farrier John Boyne, who died of a heart attack two years ago. Boyne was the farrier at the Royal Dublin Show for many years, and shod the horses of the Irish showjumping team at the Army stables in Dublin. Americans might tip their hats to John; he was the farrier who trained Seamus Brady, longtime US Equestrian Team farrier, among many others.

John Boyne shod the champions like Boomerange, but he also shod the street horses in Dublin, and his was the last forge in the city. That's an important fact, since Dublin had a city ordinance that required that any horse working on the city streets had to be shod.

Thanks to this documentary, John Boyne's voice can still be heard.

The interviewer turns away from John at one point and asks questions of his lowly apprentice, Gerry. He's from the north of Ireland, County Tyrone. He represents "the future" of farriery, obviously.

Gerard Laverty, AWCF
As I listened, something in my head clicked. I knew that voice. It was Gerard Laverty, who has often been on this blog. He left Ireland and emigrated to Canada. What he learned in John Boyne's forge in Dublin has served him well; he is known head of the farrier school at Kwantlen University in British Columbia and has risen to be an Associate of the Worshipful Company of Farriers.

Back in 1977, he was handing tools to John Boyne. But one morning in November 2012, he heard his young voice bounce back at him across the years:

"I was back in Dublin, 1977. A first-year apprentice in the shop on Pearce Street, which still is in operation with his son John Jr. I even have a small part on the show.

"John was my boss for three years. He was quite a character. Looked like he’d rob you blind but had a heart of gold. Loved his family, what he did, and the connection to the past.

" He was happiest when he could help to promote an apprentice or give credit to someone just starting their business. He had a wonderful sense of humor and it goes without saying he loved to tell stories. He was an astute businessman and seemed to juggle the work of running a multi-farrier shop with several young apprentices with little fuss.

"He was a consummate horseman with a great understanding of lameness and disease. Yet he balanced that with a commonsense approach to shoeing.

"John was part of a generation of farriers that is fast disappearing. When he trained in the family shop, he was the 'floorman', one of a two-man team, the other being the 'fireman'.

"I remember him telling me when he started his business he'd go to his clients by city bus. As soon as possible, he hired a fireman and built his business from that meager start.

"While I was with John he mentioned Seamus Brady and how Seamus had come back to visit while he was in Dublin with the U.S.Equestrian Team (for the Royal Dublin Show). Other than that he laid no claim to giving Seamus his solid start.

"I guess that is John at his best, always content to stand in the shadow and celebrate success for us all.

"John Furlong was a skilled blacksmith who lived just south of Dublin, in Bray. Every time I met him, I wanted to go spend time in the shop with him. Never did. 

"I’ve forgotten the name of the other smith from the west of Ireland who made the display of corrective shoes. I think he is the fellow I was originally supposed to train with. He suffered a heart attack so instead I came to Dublin to work in the shop with John. 

"John McLauglin is still shoeing in Dublin and his younger brother, I've forgotten his name. I think it was Kevin, has worked for some of the biggest names in the Thoroughbred industry (including Coolmore).

"Hearing 'Boyner', as we all called him, transported me across a continent, an ocean and thirty-five years. Bonnie, my wife, wise woman that she is, says that, after smell, sound is the best sense to recall memories. 

"I sure felt that this morning. Sometimes to take a trip you really don’t need to leave home."

I'm sure many of the people who listen to this documentary have never been to Ireland. But maybe now their ears have.

To learn more:

Visit for the RTE page about this documentary.
Home page for RTE's archive of documentaries on all subjects.


--written by Fran Jurga

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© 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, www.hoofcare.com, 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 blog@hoofcare.com.  
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any direct compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned, other than Hoofcare Publishing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Sore No More? AVMA, AAEP Call for Congress to Pass Proposed Amendment to the Horse Protection Act and End "Soring" of Tennessee Walking Horse

News Via AAEP press release

Today the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) issued a joint statement of support for the "Amendments to the Horse Protection Act", as outlined in H.R. 6388 currently in review in the US House of Representatives.

A press release issued on November 20 combined statements from the AVMA and AAEP.

“Soring is an unconscionable abuse of horses that is used to produce a high-stepping gait—the “Big Lick”—and gain an unfair competitive advantage in the show ring," said Dr. Doug Aspros, AVMA President. For decades we’ve watched irresponsible individuals become more creative about finding ways to sore horses and circumvent the inspection process, and have lost faith in an industry that seems unwilling and/or unable to police itself.

"The AVMA and AAEP are committed to strengthening the USDA’s ability to enforce the Horse Protection Act and ending this abuse for good. We strongly encourage everyone who cares about the welfare of horses to contact their member of Congress and urge them to pass H.R. 6388,” .

Specifically, H.R. 6388 would make the following changes to the existing Horse Protection Act:

  • Makes the actual act of soring, or directing another person to cause a horse to become sore, illegal;
  • Requires the USDA (rather than the industry) to license, train, assign and oversee inspectors enforcing the Horse Protection Act;
  • Prohibits the use of action devices (e.g., boot, collar, chain, roller, or other device that encircles or is placed upon the lower extremity of the leg of a horse) on any limb of Tennessee Walking Horses, Spotted Saddle horses, or Racking horses at horse shows, exhibitions, sales or auctions and bans weighted shoes, pads, wedges, hoof bands, or other devices that are not used for protective or therapeutic purposes;
  • Increases civil and criminal penalties for violations, and creates a penalty structure that requires horses to be disqualified for increasing periods of time based on the number of violations; and
  • Allows for permanent disqualification from the show ring after three or more violations.
"The passage of H.R. 6388 will strengthen the Horse Protection Act and significantly increase the effort to end the abuse of the Tennessee Walking Horse," said AAEP President Dr. John Mitchell. "The AAEP encourages all veterinarians to contact their legislators to voice support for the bill and help end the cruel soring of these beautiful animals."

For more information on the AVMA and AAEP’s efforts to stop this egregious abuse of horses, visit our Soring Resource Page. Materials include a video, factsheet, backgrounder, reporting procedures, AAEP’s white paper, and the AVMA’s and AAEP’s official position on the issue.

To learn more:

The amendment bill was introduced to Congress on September 13, 2012. Read The Hoof Blog's coverage of the press conference to stiffen enforcement of the Horse Protection Act by banning action devices and padded shoes.


© 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, www.hoofcare.com, 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 blog@hoofcare.com.  
Follow Hoofcare + Lameness on Twitter: @HoofcareJournal
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any direct compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned, other than Hoofcare Publishing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Penn Vet Names Hankenson to Fill the Dean W. Richardson Professorship in Equine Disease Research Position; Laminitis To Be a Priority

Received via press release:

The University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) is pleased to announce that following an international search for a uniquely qualified candidate, Kurt D. Hankenson, DVM, MS, PhD has been appointed as the first incumbent of the Dean W. Richardson Professorship in Equine Disease Research.

The Dean W. Richardson Professorship was established by Mr. and Mrs. M. Roy Jackson, following the hospitalization of their Kentucky Derby winner, Barbaro, at Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center. Their desire to contribute to the treatment and elimination of laminitis was the catalyst for their gift to endow the professorship.

Mr. and Mrs. Jackson commented, “We are very pleased that this position has been filled and are confident that under Dr. Hankenson’s leadership significant steps forward will be made in the study of laminitis and other equine musculoskeletal diseases. We have faith in Penn Veterinary Medicine’s ability to do the kind of in-depth work that will bring about positive results.”

Dr. Hankenson did his undergraduate work at the University of Illinois, where he earned his BS in 1990, and then he earned his veterinary degree at University of Illinois’ College of Veterinary Medicine in 1992. Following his time as an equine clinician, he returned to academia and completed a Master of Science degree at Purdue University’s School of Veterinary Medicine in 1997. He received a Ph.D. from the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine in 2001.

Dr. Hankenson’s career has included an impressive range of clinical and academic positions at both human and veterinary healthcare institutions, and currently holds a faculty position at Penn Vet and at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine.

“I’d like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Jackson for supporting the research mission of Penn Vet by providing this Professorship. I am thrilled to be entering a new phase of my research and teaching career at New Bolton Center, and to be expanding my research program to focus on equine musculoskeletal diseases, particularly laminitis,” said Dr. Hankenson.

He continued: “I will capitalize on my background as an equine practitioner and basic scientist, and will utilize established relationships with scientists and veterinarians in the Philadelphia region and around the world to develop new diagnostics and treatments to prevent disease, and to expedite regeneration and return to normal function. The Richardson Chair is a unique and unparalleled opportunity for New Bolton Center, Penn Vet, and the equine industry. It will permit me to develop and sustain a research program focused on equine health.”

Surgeon Dr. Dean W. Richardson and his team cared for Barbaro for nine months, from May 2006 until January 2007. Dr. Richardson noted, “We are very excited to attract a scientist of this caliber to this position. In today's research environment, it will be an enormous advantage to have someone like Dr. Hankenson, who has a proven record of both research funding and productivity. He has a wide range of connections both here at Penn and throughout the scientific community. Dr. Hankenson's roots are in the horse world and he is sure to make major contributions to equine research.”

Joan C. Hendricks, VMD, PhD, the Gilbert S. Kahn Dean of Veterinary Medicine, said that she is especially pleased at Dr. Hankenson’s appointment.

“This is another example of Penn Vet’s ability to attract and retain the very best and brightest in the field of veterinary medicine,” said Dean Hendricks. “I am thrilled that Dr. Hankenson will be leading this endeavor and am confident that under his leadership, Penn Vet will remain at the forefront of discovery for this debilitating disease.”

The goal of the Dean W. Richardson Professorship is the development of a world-leading research program directly applicable to equine diseases, with particular emphasis on improving the understanding, prevention, and treatment of equine laminitis. A debilitating, painful, and uncompromising condition, laminitis is the second leading killer of horses worldwide and is presently uncurable.

Winner of the 2006 Kentucky Derby and a beloved American icon, Barbaro suffered a catastrophic fracture during the running of the Preakness that year. After undergoing successful surgery at New Bolton Center, he developed severe laminitis, which eventually led to his death. This Professorship serves as a lasting legacy of Barbaro.

(end of press release)

© 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, www.hoofcare.com, 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 blog@hoofcare.com.  
Follow Hoofcare + Lameness on Twitter: @HoofcareJournal
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any direct compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned, other than Hoofcare Publishing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Laminitis Treatment: UC Davis Experimental Anti-Inflammatory Shows Promise in Test Case



Can an anti-inflammatory medication have curative power over a disease like laminitis? Researchers at the University of California at Davis are beginning clinical testing of a new medication that might be an outside-the-box hope for relieving horses suffering with the disease. Here's a report from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine:

Four horses suffering from laminitis have been treated with the investigational anti-inflammatory drug so far. One experienced a complete remission that has lasted for more than a year, and three others have shown some improvement.

A paper on the first laminitis case has been accepted for publication by the peer-reviewed Journal of Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia. The paper is expected to be published in the journal’s February issue, but journal editors authorized the authors to disclose their findings ahead of publication.

Alonso Guedes, an assistant professor of veterinary medicine, treated this four-year-old Thoroughbred mare by administering an experimental anti-inflammatory drug to treat laminitis. (Don Preisler/UC Davis photo)
“This is an unusual step for us to announce this so far in advance, but because euthanasia is often the only way to alleviate pain in severe laminitis, we felt that it was important to let the veterinarians and horse owners know that this compound has shown potential as a treatment,” said Alonso Guedes, an assistant professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine.

The horses were treated under a “compassionate use” protocol approved by the UC Davis Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. That protocol allows animals to be treated with an experimental drug if no approved alternative treatment exists.

A clinical trial to assess the drug’s safety and establish a tolerable dose for the compound is expected to begin in the spring. Further clinical trials would be needed to establish the drug’s effectiveness as a laminitis treatment.

The experimental compound, known as t-TUCB, belongs to a group of anti-inflammatory compounds called sEH (soluble epoxide hydrolases) inhibitors. It stems from a discovery made more than 40 years ago by UC Davis entomology professor Bruce Hammock while doing basic insect biology research.

The "cure" for laminitis is
the rehabilitation of the
horse's foot and the
elimination of the triggering
cause. (Plastination model
of advanced laminitis by
Christoph von Horst DVM PhD)
  
Originally interested in finding biological insect control methods, Hammock has since broadened his research to also search for biomedical applications. He and colleagues have identified a group of anti-inflammatory compounds, including the sEH inhibitors, that have proven to be effective in relieving inflammatory discomfort and pain related to nervous system disorders in mice and rats. Their work has been published in scientific journals including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

Guedes noted that the safe management of laminitis-related pain is one of the biggest challenges for equine veterinarians. Often, euthanasia is the only humane alternative for alleviating pain and suffering in horses afflicted with the condition.

Consequently, according to UC Davis, the survival rate for laminitis is estimated to be only 25 percent. Very few surviving horses return to their previous levels of activity, and laminitis often reappears.

In his upcoming paper, Guedes reports the case of a four-year old Thoroughbred mare named Hulahalla. The horse had been retired from racing following a tendon injury and donated to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, where it was participating in a study focused on healing tendon injuries using stem cell treatments. She developed laminitis.

Veterinarians from UC Davis’ William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital treated the laminitis with conventional therapies including cold immersion, antibiotics, leg wraps, and two commonly-used nonsteroidal drugs intended to reduce inflammation and relieve pain — but the horse only got worse. At the point that the mare was spending most of the day lying down, Guedes got involved.

Before resorting to euthanasia, Guedes and the veterinary team decided to try one last treatment, t-TUCB.

The veterinarians administered the experimental compound intravenously early on the eighth day of Hulahalla’s illness. After receiving the first dose, the horse remained standing in the stall most of the day, became interested in her surroundings and walked voluntarily.

The mare’s demeanor, posture and mobility continued to improve over four days of treatment, and her high blood pressure gradually returned to normal. No adverse affects from t-TUCB were observed, and Hulahalla has remained laminitis-free for a full year.

The sEH inhibitors, including t-TUCB, are currently available from the Hammock lab, which has provided the experimental compounds to more than 100 academic scientists around the world for basic investigation into their role in treating disease.

Hammock said that work aimed at moving t-TUCB and related compounds toward clinical use is advancing in several areas. He and Guedes are working on compounds with potential for targeting pain and arthritis in companion animals. And they are working with UC Davis to move the intellectual property from this research into a company to develop medications for difficult-to-manage neuropathic pain associated with diabetes and nerve injury.

Funding was provided by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the UC Davis Center for Equine Health.

The University of California at Davis provided this article.

Click to order this award-winning anatomy reference graphic for the wall of your clinic, forge or office.

© 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, www.hoofcare.com, 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 blog@hoofcare.com.  
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any direct compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned, other than Hoofcare Publishing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Laminitis Research: BEVA's Equine Veterinary Journal Grants Free Public Access to New Findings

Temporary open access to a group of laminitis research papers is available to students, professionals and horse owners.
This doesn't happen every day.

The Equine Veterinary Journal (EVJ) has announced that it is giving the public open (free) access to a collection of important new research papers on equine laminitis.

Normally, non-subscriber access to these articles would be as much as US$40 per view.

The papers include practical advice as well as the latest research. The initiative has been made possible thanks to sponsorship from the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) Trust.

Professor Celia Marr, BVMS, MVM, PhD, DEIM, DipECEIM, MRCVS, and editor of the EVJ explains: “In view of the growing public interest in high quality science, there is increasing demand for easy, open access to journal articles via the internet, particularly on topics such as laminitis.

"In recent years, there has been an explosion of knowledge and new thinking about this devastating condition. We have also recognized that some of the old-fashioned remedies, such as standing in cold water, have sound science behind them. I hope that horse owners who are unfortunate enough to have come across laminitis will find this new online resource valuable.”

Laminitis is an equine health crisis whose time has come. The British Equine Veterinary Association Foundation recognized the need for open access to the latest research, and responded by opening a special edition of its journal to the public. (BEVA image)
The EVJ laminitis virtual issue, comprising 15 original research articles on topics including the role of insulin, the effects of cryotherapy and the regulation of epidermal stem cells in affected horses, is available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1001/%28ISSN%292042-3306/homepage/laminitis__recent_advances_and_future_directions.htm.

In addition, the issue contains several articles from international experts commissioned by the EVJ on important aspects of laminitis including causes, treatment, prevention and future research projects.

Contributors to this special issue include world-leading equine veterinary and research experts on the subject of laminitis: James Belknap, Ray Geor, Samuel Black, James A. Orsini from the USA, Andrew van Eps from Australia and Nicola Menzies-Gow from the UK.

Subjects covered include the present state and future of laminitis research, endocrinological aspects of the pathophysiology of equine laminitis, sepsis-related laminitis, supporting limb laminitis and progress towards effective prevention and therapy for laminitis.

The EVJ has a long history of promoting laminitis research. In 2004, the publication produced a special issue dedicated to laminitis and since that time significant numbers of articles on laminitis have been published every year.

Professor Marr concludes: “We hope that this special laminitis virtual issue will provide the rigor and quality of information that many horse owners are now seeking, to help them to understand and deal with this condition as effectively as possible.”

The landscape of academic publishing is changing as "open access" becomes the zeitgeist.

Open access in scientific publishing is a growing controversy in the academic and professional publishing world. New peer-reviewed journals are appearing that offer the public free viewing and sometimes downloading of new research and educational content, while others continue to restrict access to individuals and libraries that purchase subscriptions. These new journals both challenge the traditional model of restricting access to research while also expanding exposure for researchers.

Logo for the open access system.
Authors and researchers desire more access for their papers, but the traditional model restricts access, and the fees do not go to the authors and researchers. Journal publishers, on the other hand, have the high cost of editing and printing journals and of maintaining web sites.

The debate over open access is a fascinating one. EVJ's opening of this special issue to the public is evidence that the British Equine Veterinary Association recognizes the benefits of at least occasionally opening a few papers to the public, who often donate to the research that is detailed in the papers, but are often asked to pay to read what they have already funded.

To learn more:

Click to purchase and/or review the contents of the 2004 special print edition with Dr. Pollitt's papers
Click to view ordering information for your own copy of Professor Denoix's valuable reference on the horse's foot.
© 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, www.hoofcare.com, 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 blog@hoofcare.com.  
Follow Hoofcare + Lameness on Twitter: @HoofcareJournal
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any direct compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned, other than Hoofcare Publishing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Equine Locomotion Research: Qualisys Mocap System Captures Dressage, Jumping, Trotting, Icelandic Gaits...and Your Imagination



Today we go across the ocean and behind the scenes. The location is Stromsholm, Sweden, home of Professor Lars Roepstorff,.DVM, PhD and his amazing research into how horses move.

Whether you want to know how a horse moves or how the surface beneath the horse affects his gait, speed, or traction, this is one of the places in the world that could help you figure it out.

At the recent International Conference on Canine and Equine Locomotion, a field day (literally) was held at Stromsholm to showcase the capabilities of the research facility and of the technical equipment used in the research.

Both the horse and the rider are being tracked by the Qualisys cameras.
One setup showcased the three-dimensional motion capture ("mocap") capability of 60 Qualisys Oqus cameras. With a motion capture system this big, it was possible to have a capture volume of 20x40 meters--this gave dressage and jumping horses the freedom of being evaluated for a series of strides and movements at full canter. Measurements were made on dressage horses, jumpers, trotters, Icelandic horses (pace & tölt) as well as German and Belgian Shepherds running at full speed--who didn't make it onto this little video.

In the outdoor setting, the horses can work naturally and be captured in a series of strides.

The camera system was first used indoors, in a 60 camera setup. It was later moved outside into a 42 outdoor-camera system for the Icelandic horse and the trotter.

Qualisys is the clever tech firm that developed the software and assists the researchers in ramping up the technology to ever greater accomplishments. Their software is often featured on the Hoof Blog, and we look forward to what's next!


--written by Fran Jurga

If you like what you read on The Hoof Blog, please sign up for the email service at the top right of the page; this insures that you will be sent an email on days when the blog has new articles. 

Click on the ad image to go to the info page for the hoof wall anatomy poster.

© 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, www.hoofcare.com, 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 blog@hoofcare.com.  
Follow Hoofcare + Lameness on Twitter: @HoofcareJournal
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any direct compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned, other than Hoofcare Publishing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

British Equine Laminitis Research Expands: Why Are Some Horses More at Risk?

New research will look at blood flow to and within the horse's foot to determine why some horses and ponies are pre-disposed to laminitis. The research will be conducted at the Royal Veterinary College in Great Britain. This plastination casting of the blood supply shows the intricate variety of types of blood vessels that serve the foot. A dead horse's foot was injected with plastination material and the foot was treated to remove all evidence of tissue except the plastination. In this model, the blood vessels of the sole were removed to allow a full view inside the foot.  Corrosion casts like this one are sold by Hoofcare Publishing for educational and professional use.
Research announcement:

Great Britain's Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and the WALTHAM® research group are pleased to announce that veterinarian Elizabeth Finding, has joined them and the WALTHAM®-led International Laminitis Consortium to start her PhD on laminitis.

Elizabeth Finding
Finding will continue the essential search into why some horses and ponies have an increased risk of laminitis.

Laminitis is well-recognised as a major global welfare issue; it is a disease causing pain and suffering in those affected. Understanding why some individuals are prone to develop this painful--and potentially fatal--condition has been one of the major goals of the Laminitis Consortium so that targeted preventative measures can be put in place.

Anecdotal information has suggested that there is often an increase in incidence in laminitis following a bout of cold frosty weather. Previous work undertaken at the RVC has suggested that temperature may influence the reactivity of certain blood vessels of the hoof.

As part of her four-year PhD project. Finding will develop novel methods of assessing blood flow so that she can analyze changes associated with diet and season. In addition, she will be comparing innovative markers of blood vessel health between those that are and are not prone to laminitis.

Finding explains: “We hypothesise that ponies prone to laminitis have a dysfunction of the cells lining the blood vessels ("endothelial cells"). This may make them less effective in generating mediators which normally continuously dilate blood vessels and thus protect against the blood vessel constriction. It is thought that abnormal constriction may be initiated by the ingestion of too much rich grass especially under adverse environmental conditions."

The WALTHAM®–initiated International Laminitis Consortium comprises world-leading equine veterinary, nutrition and research experts interested in collaborating on the important topic of laminitis. It includes Dr Nicola Menzies-Gow and Professor Jonathan Elliott of the RVC, Professor Pat Harris of the WALTHAM® Equine Studies Group, and Clare Barfoot of Mars Horsecare UK Ltd.

(End of announcement)

•••••

From Hoofcare and Lameness: Elizabeth Finding is the lead author of a paper published in June 2012 in the American Journal of Veterinary Research (AJVR), "Evaluation of a technique for measurement of flow-mediated vasodilation in healthy ponies".

In that study, Finding and her colleagues tested between-pony and within-pony variations and interobserver and intraobserver agreements of an ultrasound technique for measurement of flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD) in healthy ponies. Testing and evaluation were favorable for using this technique in future research related to laminitis.

Finding is also the author of "Flow-Mediated Vasodilation in Healthy Ponies", published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

Click for Equine Distal Limb current pricing and full ordering information


© 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, www.hoofcare.com, 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 blog@hoofcare.com.  
Follow Hoofcare + Lameness on Twitter: @HoofcareJournal
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any direct compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned, other than Hoofcare Publishing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

New Zealand Farrier Stuart Muir Joins Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital Podiatry Center in Kentucky

New Zealand farrier Stuart Muir is now in the USA working at the Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital Podiatry Center in Lexington, Kentucky (image by Fran Jurga © Hoofcare Publishing)
New Zealand farrier Stuart Muir has crossed the Pacific and joined the staff at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital's innovative Podiatry Center in Lexington, Kentucky.

Muir has been working at the clinic for about six months, but this weekend he took the stage at his first farrier-vet seminar with podiatry center director Scott Morrison DVM. The team traveled to New York to share their expertise at the Equine Clinic at Oakencroft near Albany. The clinic hosts a vet-farrier podiatry seminar each October and invited Morrison back for the second year in a row.

Muir is a native of Christchurch, on the south island of New Zealand, and a 14-year veteran of the farrier profession. In New Zealand, he shod sport and race horses; he is a rider and had taken up Western riding before he and his wife made the decision to move.

How do you prepare for a high-profile job like staff farrier at Rood and Riddle? Muir is a certified farrier through the New Zealand national system and said that, like so many others, he acquired the skills needed for his position at Rood and Riddle by independently pursuing ways to further his education. He traveled to Australia to attend farrier education events with icons like Chris Pollitt and Grant Moon, as well as events at home in New Zealand, but in 2010 won a grant from the Equine Research Fund of New Zealand that financed a trip to the United States.

At the Equine Clinic at Oakencroft, farrier Stuart Muir worked on a pair of front shoes that illustrated two different ways to achieve asymmetric collateral ligament support  for the front hooves of a barrel racing horse. And then he nailed them on. (image by Fran Jurga © Hoofcare Publishing)

As part of that trip, Stuart spent a week doing an externship at Rood and Riddle, which was followed by a second externship in 2011. When fellow New Zealand farrier Rodney King left Rood and Riddle to return home, Stuart was looking into what it would take to fill the vacancy.

Stuart and American Jeff Henderson are currently the two farriers who work fulltime for Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. The Podiatry Center employs five veterinarians, including Dr. Morrison, and numerous technicians with equine podiatry support expertise.


--written by Fran Jurga

If you like what you read on The Hoof Blog, please sign up for the email service at the top right of the page; this insures that you will be sent an email on days when the blog has new articles. 


To learn more:
Gateway page to the New Zealand government definition of a "farrier" and explanation of the national farriery training and certification program there.

New Zealand government horse careers interview on farriery as a career with Stuart Muir 

© 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, www.hoofcare.com, 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 blog@hoofcare.com.  
Follow Hoofcare + Lameness on Twitter: @HoofcareJournal
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any direct compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned, other than Hoofcare Publishing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.