Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Have a Heart: Hoofcare's Plastinated Valentine to the World

Today's a big day for hearts. Whenever I think of hearts, I think of that racehorse champion of days gone by, Phar Lap. He's always associated with Australia, but the truth is that he was foaled in New Zealand. Next month will be the 80th anniversary of his tragic death at the heigh of his racing career.

When Phar Lap died, his heart and his hide went to two museums in Australia, and his skeleton went to a museum in New Zealand. Phar Lap's heart, at 6.3 kilograms (13.86 pounds) was considered extraordinarily large by horse standards; it lives in a museum in Canberra, Australia. The average weight of a horse heart is four kilograms and there's even an Australian saying: "a heart as big as Phar Lap's".

On the clinical side, horses' hearts are the subject of a lot of studies lately. Research and education are aided by plastinated organs, such as this heart preserved by Christoph von Horst, PhD, DVM of  HC Biovision in Germany. Yes, that was once a living, beating heart.

Everyone in the hoofcare worlds knows Dr von Horst for his amazing plastinates of hoof tissue, but he works on all sorts of animals, and preserves every type of tissue and even entire organs like this heart.

Imagine if Dr von Horst's technology had been available to the taxidermists assigned the task of disassembling Phar Lap, who died mysteriously in California and had to be shipped home to Australia in pieces.

I'd love to know if his famous hoof with its even more famous quarter crack was also preserved somewhere. (If you've never seen the movie Phar Lap, I think it is one of the very best horse movies ever made--and it's true!)

Hoofcare + Lameness is pleased to be associated with Dr von Horst as his agent for plastinates in the United States.

If you need a heart (or a hoof) this Valentine's Day, just give Hoofcare + Lameness a call!

The newest offerings in the field of hoof anatomy specimen are "relief" hoof slices. They are completely embedded with plastic resin, but look lifelike. Hooves like this are just US$60.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. You only need to ask.

Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at the blog 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.