Thursday, December 10, 2015

Farrier Charity: Brandenburg Gate of Horseshoes Earns Guinness World Record and Generous Donations

"We make iron glow, and it makes children's eyes light up."

A farrier group in Northern Germany has a habit of making the news. They undertake creative fundraising challenges that leave people gasping, and help them raise money for children's charity.

But last week they outdid even themselves, when they assembled 13,000 horseshoes into a steel replica of one of Germany's great architectural landmarks, the majestic Brandenburg Gate in the nation's capital of Berlin.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Worshipful Company of Farriers Awards "Best Shod Horse" Title at Britain's Horse of the Year Show

Carl Bettison AWCF (Hons) judging a hunter during the Worshipful Company of Farrier's Best Shod Horse evaluation at Great Britain's year-end Horse of the Year Show last month. (photo used with permission)

This article is edited for international readers from a British press release

Great Britain’s 2015 Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) saw the prestigious Worshipful Company of Farriers (WCF) Best Shod Horse competition take place on Friday, October 9. Entrants lined up ready for their hoof inspection in order to have a chance of winning this reputable award.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Hooves@War Veterans Day Salute: Farrier Heroes 100 Years Ago at a Place Called Ypres

This lithograph by Howard K. Elcock depicts Provisional Farrier Sergeant T. Cussens of the Army Service Corps rescuing horses from a stable at Ypres during a shell attack. He received the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his brave act. Six men and many horses were killed by the shell. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

American Pharoah Wore Custom Heel Plate Horseshoe in Breeders Cup

In an interview today from the Breeders Cup at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Kentucky, Santa Anita horseshoer Wesley Champagne confirmed that 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah raced today in the Classic wearing his now-trademark heel-plate double-shoe on his injured left front foot.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Will Golden Horn Make History at the Breeders Cup? Meet His Farrier, Ed O'Shaughnessy

Newmarket, England farrier Ed O'Shaughnessy looks like he's about to share a bottle of champagne with his #1 customer, champion three-year-old Thoroughbred Golden Horn, trained by Ed's client, John Gosden. Earlier this month, Golden Horn became only the seventh horse in the long history of British racing to win both the English Derby and the French Arc. And today, Golden Horn will run in Ed's shoes in the Breeders Cup Longines Turf to make history by winning the third great turf race, in a third country. British farrier supplier Stromshom Supplies presented the bottle of champagne to Ed, who was their "plater of the year" for 2014.

It's Breeders Cup day. Click around the Internet and you can see the races through the eyes of the breeders, the jockeys, the trainers, the owners, the bettors, and everyone else with a stake in the world championship race day.

Here's a chance to look at one of the world's top horses through its shoes, as told by his farrier.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

For She’s a Jolly Good Fellow: Sarah Brown Passes Britain’s Highest Farrier Examination

Scotland's Sarah Mary Brown joined the small rank of farriers worldwide who have earned the right to add the letters "FWCF" after their names. This means that they have been through all the examinations of the Worshipful Company of Farriers, including the highest level, the Fellowship exam, which Sarah passed on October 12, 2015. And yes, if anyone is counting: she is the first woman in the world to do it. (2014 Aaron "Cowboy" Kampfer portrait of Sarah)

Education Update with Michael Wildenstein at 10th Annual Equine Clinic at Oakencroft Farrier Conference October 22-23

Date: October 22-23, 2015 (Thursday and Friday)
Time: 8AM - 5PM
Clinician: Consulting/referral farrier Michael Wildenstein, FWCF (Hons)
Location: The Equine Clinic at Oakencroft, 880 Bridge St. Ravena, NY 12143
Price: Thursday & Friday $275; Thursday only $140; Friday only $130

Monday, October 12, 2015

In wake of breakdowns, Keeneland issues results of track surface review

Keeneland Racecourse horse training in Lexington, Kentucky
Keeneland has the unique perspective of being able to compare racing statistics over two different surfaces in recent years. Here, a horse trains on the Polytrack surface, which was removed in the summer of 2014 in favor of a new dirt main track. (David Paul Ohmer photo)

There's nothing like a beautiful day of fall horseracing at Keeneland outside Lexington, Kentucky. Unless it's the dark flip side of that coin: the sickening news that another racehorse has broken down. In the first week of the Keeneland fall meet this year, three horses suffered varying injuries classified as catastrophic breakdowns– one during racing and two during training, ending their lives.

The recent tragedies at Keeneland are magnified by attention on the track as the host of the Breeders Cup at the end of the this month, which will be held at Keeneland for the first time. To accommodate the championship, Keeneland ripped up its all-weather Polytrack surface on the main track and replaced it with a dirt surface, which was used for the fall 2014 and spring 2015 meets.

One of the horses lost was Stonestreet's Rock Fall, a highly-regarded contender for the upcoming Breeders Cup trained by Todd Pletcher. 

Special testing of the racetrack surface has revealed no irregularity, according to a press release issued today by the racetrack. 

Keeneland shared news that Dr. Mick Peterson, University of Maine Professor and executive director of the school's Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory, was on site this weekend, working with track officials to review testing and daily measuring procedures to ensure the safety of the dirt track. The review found that Keeneland’s dirt surface met all of the pre-meet test criteria and all maintenance had been performed in accordance with protocols developed for the track. 

The findings were similar to those reported in Dr. Peterson’s Composition and Performance Testing review, conducted just before the start of Keeneland’s 2015 Fall Meet. 

Dr. Peterson performs a review of Keeneland’s dirt and turf surfaces prior to the start of every race meet. In addition to the pre-meet testing, daily measurements are taken on both racing surfaces every race day by Keeneland officials and complete electronic records are maintained and reviewed by Dr. Peterson. 

“Keeneland, along with a small group of industry leaders, has made a commitment to advancing knowledge and providing the most consistent surfaces in the industry,” Peterson 
said. “By participating in the maintenance tracking system to measure and monitor the surface performance, Keeneland both defines the state of the art and is helping to advance our understanding of racing surfaces. When questions arise these records allow us to review all of the maintenance and operating conditions as well as the daily surface inspections, that help to ensure that the most consistent possible surface is provided. Because the racing surface is a critical safety system, all of the maintenance must be performed in accordance with best practices in the industry.” 

Keeneland’s 1 1/16-mile main track was converted from an all-weather Polytrack surface to a dirt surface during the summer of 2014, and racing first was held over the new track during the 2014 Fall Meet. Today, the dirt surface is among the most extensively researched and most sophisticated in North America, with data collected and monitored by state-of-the-art technology and equipment. 

“The safety of our horses and riders is priority No. 1, and we remain confident in the performance of our race track,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing W.B. Rogers Beasley said. 
“Our team works very hard every day to carefully maintain and monitor the race track.”

“The status quo is unacceptable to Keeneland when it comes to safety and other issues critically important to the future of our industry,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “We want everything we do here to be shared with the industry in an effort to benefit racing as a whole.”

“These equine injuries are complicated, multi-factorial events,” Dr. Mary Scollay, equine medical director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, said. “The Commission conducts a mortality review for every exercise-related fatality. Information is currently being acquired and compiled for these case reviews.”

Portions of this article were extracted from a news release provided by Keeneland.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is the news service for Hoofcare and Lameness Publishing. 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 headlines-link email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to  
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Disclosure of Material Connection: The Hoof Blog (Hoofcare Publishing) has not received any direct compensation for writing this post. Hoofcare Publishing has no material connection to the brands, products, or services mentioned, other than products and services of 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 11, 2015

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Scotland Wins 36th International Team Farrier Competition at Stoneleigh

It takes teamwork, as well as superb skill, to shoe horses all day in the world's stiffest team competition and emerge the winners. But the Scottish team did that this weekend at the 36th International Team Competition at the showgrounds in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, England. From left: Wayne Balfour (alternate), Lewis Balfour, David Varini, Team Manager (and proud father) James Balfour holds the trophy, Derek Gardner, Devin Crerar. (Thanks to Steve Cave photography and Jonathan Nunn for this photo, used with permission)

The early report from England is that the fires are cooling in the massive forges on the showgrounds in Stoneleigh, England tonight. Now, instead of hammers on anvils, you might hear bagpipes fading into the distance.

The grounds were the setting of one of the most legendary events in farrier competition. The 36th International Team Championships attracts teams from as far away as the United States and Canada. Climbing up a mere place on the ladder from one year to the next can be a victory for some nations, who watch the teams representing the home soil of the British Isles fending off challengers at the top of the scoreboard, year after year.

England won in 2012, 2013, and 2014. British farrier Jonathan Nunn sent over the photo from Stoneleigh and quoted Scottish team manager Jim Balfour as saying that this was Scotland's first win since 1997.

Team Scotland was followed by the English, with Ireland in third place, and the USA in fourth, followed by Sweden. Other nations' placings are not known at this early date.

US readers will be happy to know that the "Best Shod Foot" on Sunday was won by Victor Frisco of Team USA. This is second-hand information via British Farriers and Blacksmiths Association President Cliff Barnes.

Top five team placings: 

1 Scotland
2 England
3 Ireland
5 Sweden

In 2014, Scotland was fourth.

It was a big day for the Balfour family of Dundee, Scotland. It wasn't long ago that Jim, now the manager, was competing at Stoneleigh himself, and now there's a new generation of his family. But the farrier world is like that: you blink and it's all changed, but you look closer and some of the faces look familiar...

Competing at Stoneleigh is one of the most unforgettable experiences a competition farrier can have. Just getting there is a superb accomplishment. Safe home to all, and enjoy your memories from the top of the world.

Many thanks to Gill Harris and Jonathan Nunn for their assistance with details today. 

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© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is the news service for Hoofcare and Lameness Publishing. 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 headlines-link email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to  
Follow Hoofcare + Lameness on Twitter: @HoofcareJournal
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Disclosure of Material Connection: The Hoof Blog (Hoofcare Publishing) has not received any direct compensation for writing this post. Hoofcare Publishing has no material connection to the brands, products, or services mentioned, other than products and services of 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.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Rolex Grand Slam Hoofcare: Hello Sanctos Made History on These Hooves!

This horse and rider attempted to do something no other horse and rider had even come close to doing: win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. And they did it. Was there a hoof angle to the story of the world's best show jumper, Hello Sanctos? The Hoof Blog wanted to know. (photo by Kit Houghton courtesy of Rolex Grand Slam)

The whole world was watching on Sunday, September 13, as an unpretentious rider from Scotland rode his high-jumping horse into history. World #1 ranked rider Scott Brash and World #1 show jumping horse Hello Sanctos have done it before: They won a gold medal at the Olympics in 2012, the European Championship in 2013 and almost everything else in bdetween.

In December 2014, they won the tight-cornered indoor grand prix in Geneva, Switzerland and in May the expansive grass-field grand prix at CHIO Aachen in Germany, two of the most difficult jumping events in the world. That made Scott Brash and Hello Sanctos the first horse and rider to win the two consecutive legs of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. Think of it as winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

And on Sunday, the test was to see if they could become the American Pharoah and Victor Espinoza of show jumping by winning the third leg at Spruce Meadows in Canada. The thrill of it all? Not only has no one ever done it, no one has even come close!

Hello Sanctos and Scott Brash have already made history by becoming the first to ever win two consecutive legs of the Rolex Grand Slam. They are blazing a new trail in equestrian sport. No one has ever even attempted to do what they did on Sunday, September 13 at the Spruce Meadows Masters in Calgary, Alberta.

Rolex added an extra $1 million or so to the bonus, if they could win the CP International Grand Prix at the 2015 Spruce Meadows Masters CSIO 5*. The only problem was that many of the world's top show jumpers also showed up. But with two double clear rounds, Hello Sanctos was unbeatable.

“Winning one of the equestrian Majors was an incredible achievement, to win two was a dream come true, but to go on and complete the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is beyond belief," Brash said after the event. "I have a very special horse in Hello Sanctos, and some amazingly supportive owners in Lord & Lady Harris, and Lord & Lady Kirkham. This close partnership has enabled Hello Sanctos and myself to achieve success that will never be forgotten, and I would like to thank all those who have played a part in making this happen.”
This horse is so impressive and is so much fun to watch, it seemed imperative that his hoof story be investigated. But tracking down a rider who is in a different country every week isn't easy.

These are the four hooves that cleared the rails at Spruce Meadows. Hinds are at the top, fronts beneath; all are Mustad Continentals. Note the difference between left and right front. (Look at the diameter of the sole of the foot, or at the inside web of the shoe.) Photos © Gary Hood.

When finally tracked to his lair, Scott Brash, MBE,  was happy to talk about his farrier. "I have had him shoe Sanctos since the day he came into my stables and I wouldn't use anyone else. He is a fantastic farrier and I'm privileged to have such a man shoe my horses.

"(Gary) is an enormous key in our success and I would be lost without him. I moved to England near London and I still fly Gary down (from Scotland) every time my horses need to be shoed."

Scott Brash, MBE
Gary Hood, FWCF, is originally from Ayrshire, Scotland but now lives in Fife. He moved there to do his farrier apprenticeship as a teenager and never left.

In a phone interview, Gary Hood said he has been shoeing for Scott Brash for about ten years. He received a call one day in 2005 to consult on one of Scott's jumpers, and has been doing his horses ever since. He only travels to the major championships; a trip to Kentucky for the World Equestrian Games in 2010 was the first big international trip for Gary.

Hello Sanctos joined Scott Brash's string in December 2011; Gary went south to London for the Olympia show at Christmastime to shoe him for the first time. "He's a true star and an absolute gentleman," Gary said of the 13-year-old Belgian-bred warmblood gelding, who is owned by Lord and Lady Harris and Lady Kirkham.

Farrier Gary Hood, FWCF,
Fife, Scotland
The first thing you'll notice about  the shoeing scheme for Hello Sanctos is that it appears completely uncomplicated. The shoes could have leapt out of the box and onto the horse's hooves.

But as with most high level athletes, the horse is tuned as much as he is shod. Simple shoeing rarely is on horses at this level. It is something that the best farriers aspire to reach, shoeing by shoeing, to get things out from under the horse and simplify each and every phase of the stride until or unless support or relief changes are needed as injury or conformation dictate.

Side clips were about the only embellishments that Gary Hood could list for this horse's feet, and that they are "set under the foot with enhanced breakover". If you look closely, you will see some subtle variations between the feet, such as the fact that the left front only has four nails. The e-head nails are either Derby or Maddox slims.

Look a little closer and notice the difference in shape between the two front feet, which is somewhat camouflaged by the (at first glance) symmetric shoes.

Video highlights from Spruce Meadows on Grand Slam Day

An interesting part of Gary Hood's shoeing process is the use of slow motion video on every horse he shoes. "I like to know if there are any wee changes or changes in landing," he said. Gary keeps notes on each horse, recording if they are landing high on the inside or some other change that might indicate either an injury or strain to the lower limb or a compensation in landing from soreness or injury elsewhere. Farriers of high-level horses are also acutely aware that any changes in stride characteristics or even posture can relate to injury or strain impacting the limb where the change is seen, or that that limb is compensating for a condition in another limb.

Gary has been shoeing Hello Sanctos for almost five years now, but many jumpers change hands often, and they rarely come with hoofcare histories documented. These farriers, whether they are aware of it or not, become practitioners of what Sherlock Holmes calls "the science of deduction"; they are acute observers of small events and changes.
"In solving a problem of this sort, the grand thing is to be able to reason backwards...Most people, if you describe a train of events to them, will tell you what the result would be. They can put those events together in their minds, and argue from them that something will come to pass. There are few people, however, who, if you told them a result, would be able to evolve from their own inner consciousness what the steps were which led up to that result. This power is what I mean when I talk of reasoning backwards, or analytically."
--Sherlock Holmes, from A Study in Scarlet, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 
A farrier taking on a new horse has to try to read the mind of a previous shoer who is often half a world away, doesn't speak the same language or whose clients now have to compete against the horse they once owned. The demanding schedule and travel requirements adds more pressure.

"I've learned over the years that my eyes can deceive me," Gary admitted. "At the walk you can just about see (the landing) but at the trot, it's impossible." Gary lectured on slow motion video analysis at the 6th Scottish Farrier / Veterinary Conference at the University of Glasgow veterinary college last year.

This short video from Longines is a biography of Hello Sanctos, as told by Scott Brash, and fits well with the excitement surrounding today's Spruce Meadows Masters.

Gary recalled removing the shoes from Hello Sanctos after he won the Olympic gold medal. "I had each of them framed...both owners, Scott and myself have one each."

The story ends here, for now. Gary and his wife are in Calgary with Hello Sanctos and Scott today. Gary said he wasn't planning to do anything to Hello Sanctos but wanted to be there. He had a front row seat, while the rest of us watched around the world.

Congratulations to Gary, Scott, Hello Sanctos, and the entire horsecare and ownership system that supports this horse. Thanks for the thrill and for the care taken to insure this extraordinary horse does his job so well.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is the news service for Hoofcare and Lameness Publishing. 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 headlines-link email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to  
Follow Hoofcare + Lameness on Twitter: @HoofcareJournal
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Disclosure of Material Connection: The Hoof Blog (Hoofcare Publishing) has not received any direct compensation for writing this post. Hoofcare Publishing has no material connection to the brands, products, or services mentioned, other than products and services of 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, September 10, 2015

Kiwi Farrier Finesse: What's Underneath the Burghley Horse Trials Best Shod Horse?

Tool and fullered front horseshoe on Best Shod Horse at 2015 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials
When is a horseshoe more than a horseshoe? When this much work goes into it. This shoe looks like other British-style shoes nailed onto event horses, but it was specially crafted for the winner of the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials last week. Ringwood Sky Boy, ridden by Tim Price, and shod by Andrew Nickalls, won the Best Shod Award from the Worshipful Company of Farriers. This article describes how this horse's shoes were different from the other 60 horses who competed. (photo of Ringwood Sky Boy's front foot courtesy of Andrew Nickalls)
As is becoming a custom, the Hoof Blog's articles about a "best shod" winner at a major three-day event is split into two parts. First comes the announcement, and the inevitable curiosity about whether the best shod horse is also one of the top-finishing horses. That's the easy part, once the winner is announced.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The Last Set: Bob Agne, DVM, Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital Podiatry Veterinarian, Killed

Dr. Robert Agne veterinarian at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, Saratoga

If you live in New England and turned on the news today, you heard about a cyclist killed by a car on a Vermont road yesterday. You might not pay much attention, it's one of so many accidents that happened over Labor Day weekend.

But that one news story was different. The victim was Bob Agne, DVM, an equine podiatry veterinarian at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital's new satellite hospital in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Dr Bob Agne Saratoga Rood and Riddle equine podiatry
Rood and Riddle equine podiatry veterinarian Bob Agne, DVM was killed on Monday, September 7 in Vermont

Bob was cycling on a Vermont highway on Labor Day afternoon when a motorist driving in the opposite direction fell asleep and lost control at the wheel, according to news reports, which added that Bob was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

Bob loved his work with horses and was dedicated to improving care for horses with hoof problems, especially with respect to laminitis prevention and treatment.

Rood and Riddle's Scott Morrison, DVM, shared his thoughts on the loss of his colleague and friend on Tuesday:

"On September 7, 2015, the equine community lost a most valuable, skilled and compassionate equine podiatry veterinarian. Dr Robert Agne was the first podiatry intern at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital's podiatry center in 2003 and was then hired on afterwards as a podiatry clinician.

"He was a valued and much-appreciated colleague, who was adored and respected by his clients, colleagues and the Rood and Riddle staff. He cared for many cases with unyielding commitment, patience and integrity. 
"Dr Agne was a dear and true friend to all those who had the privilege to know him."

Dr. Bob Agne graduated from both the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine's Farrier Program, where he studied under Michael Wildenstein, FWCF (Hons), and the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, where he received his DVM degree. In 2003, he moved to Lexington, Kentucky and became the first staff member to augment Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital's fledgling but growing podiatry clinic's original staff of farrier Manfred Ecker, now retired, and veterinarian Scott Morrison.

Twelve years later, Dr. Agne and his wife, Carrie Crowley Agne, moved to the Saratoga, New York area, where he headed the satellite Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital's equine podiatry services. Included in his recent clients was the undefeated three-year-old Thoroughbred filly Lady Eli, who suffered from laminitis following a foot puncture wound this spring at New York's Belmont Park. 

On Thursday, the Daily Racing Form published an unusual article (for that publication). It reported Bob's death from the point of view of his work helping Lady Eli with her laminitis, and included an update on her condition.

The Form interviewed Lady Eli's trainer, Chad Brown, about his relationship with Bob, who would drive all the way from Saratoga down to Long Island's Belmont Park for the filly. This is what Brown said:
“For him to drop what he’s doing and come down and try to first save this filly and then continue to check on her and be available whenever you needed him to come down, I can just tell for a guy like him it was never about the accolades or the money, it was about trying to help this horse,” Brown said. “For the short time I knew him, it seemed like that’s what he was all about, the horse.”

Dr. Agne spoke at many conferences and his writing on laminitis and foot infections was published in journals and books in the United States and Japan. He was especially devoted to following laminitis innovations and research and in 2014 was a founder of the Veterinary Equine Podiatry Group.

The wonderful poem, "The Hoofs of the Horses", is posted here in Bob's memory.

I often share the poem "The Hoofs of the Horses" at times like this. I think horseman/poet Will Ogilvie wrote these words long ago because he knew we'd need something like it for a new generation of people who are stirred by hoofs. Bob Agne is quietly, and with his characteristically understated dignity, at the head of that line. If you can ever get your hands on a book of Will Ogilvie's poems, do it. And don't ever let it go. The same goes for knowing people like Bob Agne.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing 2015.  
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Friday, September 04, 2015

Burghley Best Shod Horse: Who Won the Worshipful Company of Farriers Eventing Prize?

New Zealand rider Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy are in fifth place after dressage at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in England. But they have already won one event: the Worshipful Company of Farriers' Best Shod Horse Award. Photo © Libby Law.

File this under "breaking news", with more details to follow.

New Zealand rider Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy are tied for fifth place after dressage at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in England. Tomorrow they will face one of the world's most formidable cross-country courses. But they have already won one event: the Worshipful Company of Farriers' Best Shod Horse Award.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

AAEP Convention 2015 Podiatry Workshop Announcement

When they talk about hoofing it on the Vegas Strip, the AAEP wants to make sure it's done right.

The 61st Convention of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) is planned for December 5-9, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. This year, the convention kicks off with a full-day podiatry workshop on Saturday, December 5. The schedule and registration details are shared here but you should check the AAEP convention website for updates and changes that may be made.

This event is sponsored by Vetel Diagnostics, Akorn Animal Health, and SmartPak.

Silent Anvil: Red Renchin

Today the American Farrier's Association (AFA) and the American Association of Professional Farriers (AAPF) reported on their Facebook pages that popular farrier Red Renchin has died.

There are no other official reports, since it is a weekend, but more information will surely be available soon. Red is married to Kate Renchin; they live in Wisconsin and Florida. A more complete or factual obituary may be available elsewhere or later. This is more about what he meant than the facts of what he did, although he did a lot.

Red Renchin was a member of the AFA for decades and had been distinguished as an honorary lifetime member of the AAPF after his retirement from practice in 2011. His accomplishments as a farrier at the international level in the hunter/jumper world were well-known, and he also easily made the transition to lameness-specialty work as long-time horseshoeing consultant to Wisconsin Equine Clinic. He was interested in business management and at one time successfully managed a multi-farrier practice and trained many apprentices. He was a horseman as well as a farrier; he knew what his clients were talking about.

Red was easily at the top of his profession in terms of accomplishment and respect earned for his ability to shoe horses; he's even in the "Hall of Fame". But he will always be remembered and missed for his kindness and manners both at and away from the anvil. That's a very different hall of fame. His friendliness and attentive way of listening to others made everyone feel special and important.

Improving the farrier profession was a burning desire for Red Renchin, who could have taken it easy these past few years but chose to give back to his profession instead. He suffered through a major life-threatening health crisis in 2011 and came back to re-join the farrier world with a renewed sense of purpose. He made himself accessible at horseshoer events, supported fundraisers, and worked to improve continuing education quality and opportunities for farriers. He often shared his wider vision, that it takes more to be successful as a farrier than just an impressive number of horses shod in a day or the ability to excel at the anvil, and left a legacy in print and on video through his work as technical editor for the American Farriers Journal.

I never met anyone more interested in what was going on at an AFA Convention in the old days than Red Renchin, and he genuinely felt offended when a speaker didn't deliver a quality presentation. "That could have been so much better," he'd often moan, but sometimes he'd meet up with me outside the lecture hall and his eyes would be sparkling. "That was fantastic!" he'd say. "Let's go talk about it!" 

I don't know how many hours Red and I spent over coffee or cocktails, trying to sort things out, drawing on napkins and asking the opinions of others. On a higher level, or when it came to politics, we'd mourn that people couldn't get along and wish that things would get better for farriers.

Somewhere along the way, it did get better, thanks to Red and the too-few people like him. The improvements they made for the farriers that came behind them are everywhere, if the new people are motivated enough to take advantage of them, and don't take them for granted.

I hope Red won't be forgotten. Everyone who is hosting a farrier education event for the next year should take one seat in the audience and tape it off. Make it Red's seat. Remember him, because he probably would have been there, or wanted to be. 

Make your educational event good enough that Red's eyes would have sparkled and he would have chirped, "That was fantastic!" Aim to make everyone in the room want to talk it over with their friends late into the night, because that's really why they came. That's what Red Renchin would have done, and loved every minute of it.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing 
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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Shoeless Tahoe Warrior Scores Another Victory in His 102nd Start; Gelding Is Now 12

racehorse wins age 12 without shoes

Remember Tahoe Warrior? A lot of people do, because he's crossed a lot of paths in the last 12 years. The still-got-game Thoroughbred gelding chalked up his 19th career win on Thursday, in his 102nd career start.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Dave Duckett Downunder: Hoofcare Education and Farrier Competition in Australia

Special report from Australia by Betsy Lordan, DVM

The Professional Farriers’ Association of New South Wales, Australia recently hosted farrier legend, Dave Duckett, FWCF for a series of educational clinics and a horseshoeing contest.

Monday, July 06, 2015

California Chrome’s Newmarket Souvenirs: Aluminum Bar Shoes with HammerHead Nails

California Chrome hoofcare farrier vet interview

Do racehorses have to go through customs and fill out those little declaration forms? If so, reigning Horse of the Year California Chrome had better think twice when he lands in Chicago on Tuesday, should he check off the “nothing to declare” box.

He’d better hope the customs agents don’t look at the bottom of his feet.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Hoofcare Confidential: American Pharoah’s Subtle Triple Crown Horseshoe by Wes Champagne

Wes Champagne explains hoofcare for racehorse American Pharoah in 2015 Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont.
Suds stream down the hooves of American Pharoah's legs during a bath at Belmont Park last week. How can such an extraordinary horse run so brilliantly on ordinary horseshoes, you ask. Maybe they only look ordinary, is the answer. (© Associated Press photo by Julie Jacobsen, used with permission)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Badminton Horse Trials Farriers Prize 2015: Instant Replay for Best-Shod Four-Star Eventer Hooves

If you think you've heard this one before, stop me. But some things are worth repeating, and history has repeated itself. So have a farrier, a horse, a rider, an owner, and a judge at the world's premier three-day event. Re-meet the winner of the 2015 Badminton Horse Trials Farriers Prize.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Lost Shoes, Caught Shoes and Twisted Shoes: Drama on the Hoof

It happens. But it rarely happens when you are pointing a camera at a horse. This image begs the question: Did one of these horses lose the shoe a second before the photo was taken, or was the shoe buried in the arena footing and springboarded into the air when one of them stepped on it? Definitely one for the Lost Shoe Hall of Fame by Santa Cruz, California photographer Eleanor Anderson. (Image © Eleanor Anderson)

Lost shoes were in the news this week, and it turns out that the tribunal in Ireland didn't feature the only lost shoes in the news.  Each of us has a favorite lost shoe photo, video or story.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

All for Want of a Shoe: Lost Horseshoes Subject of Nine-Hour Irish Turf Tribunal and Australian Rule Change

One of horse sports' great wild cards has always been the lost shoe. Some horses lose a shoe and stop in their tracks. Some keep running and jumping--even winning. Sometimes the shoe sparkles in the sun. Sometimes it's never found.

Some people just shrug it off. Some people want to do something about it. And sometimes it's just a mystery. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Case Notes: Inside Bal a Bali’s Laminitis Recovery

An earlier report on the successful return to racing for Brazilian champion colt Bal a Bali regretted the lack of details about the horse’s fight against laminitis and what types of therapy had been utilized to aid his recovery after he arrived in the United States in July 2014.

Thanks to an interview today with Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital’s Vernon Dryden, DVM, some of the details of Bal a Bali’s nine-month ordeal can now be shared. Dr. Dryden acknowledges the willingness of the colt’s owners, Sienna Farm and Foxhill Farm, to share information that might benefit another horse suffering from a similar problem.

Brazil's Bal a Bali Comes Back from Laminitis to Win Santa Anita Stakes Race

Every once in a while, a bad news story takes a turn for the good. This one took a turn for the great.

Yesterday in California, a horse from Brazil made his first start in the United States. Bal a Bali holds a world record and won Brazil's Triple Crown. He was purchased by American investors, and flown north to join trainer Richard Mandella's stable at Santa Anita Park in California.

But that was almost a year ago. This horse's health took a detour when something went wrong. Very wrong. Laminitis-level wrong.

Finally, yesterday he showed what he can do. And what he can overcome to do it.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Why They Run: The Hoof of Fire Horse Number 12

A team of fire horses speeding to the famous Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in New York City in 1911. When they got there, the firemen could do little, as the employees had been locked into their work stations on the upper floors of the building. Many seamstresses jumped out windows to their deaths; 146 employees, mostly women, died that day. Ladders couldn't reach them. Notice theses horses wear no blinders on their bridles; this was customary for fire horses.

Not all running by horses is done on the racetrack. It's not always done for prize money or glory in front of a cheering crowd. Sometimes horses run because they know that is what they are supposed to do. 

And that's exactly what Horse Number 12 did.

Shoeing for the Roses: Shoe-Shy Mubtaahij's Barefoot Hoofcare for Kentucky Derby

Not every horse's journey to the Kentucky Derby​ left a trail of classic hoofprints in the dirt. One horse's prints probably show a distinct frog, the imprint of his sole...and no sign of a shoe.

That's because Mubtaahij​​, the highly-regarded invader from Dubai, is a little different.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Dr. William Moyer Retires from Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. William Moyer retired last month after 22 years of service to the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine. His writing and speaking on the subject of equine lameness in sport and racehorses, and in particular his interest in the equine foot have made him a frequent subject of Hoofcare and Lameness articles since early days. (TAMU photo)

Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas recently honored William Moyer, DVM with a retirement party. The Hoof Blog pairs some photos from the party with the University's official farewell to Dr. Moyer, who also recently served as president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners and is a popular lecturer on equine lameness.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Ageless Tahoe Warrior Runs Again: In Shoes, This Time, for Keeneland's New Dirt Track

At some point today, someone in the stands at Keeneland Racecourse is sure to read the fine print in the program and notice that in the second race, there's a 12-year-old horse running in his 96th lifetime start. And if he or she is a savvy horseplayer, they'll put a few dollars on Tahoe Warrior, and cheer him home.

Today is opening day at Lexington, Kentucky's magnificent Keeneland Racecourse. It's raining, and 61 degrees. The track is listed as sloppy and at least some of the turf races are moved to the dirt track.

Yes, to the dirt track.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Dubai World Cup: Will the Dirt Track Renaissance Affect the Shoeing for the World's Richest Race?

It's early morning in Dubai. Meydan Racecourse is preparing for a big day culminating in the world's very richest race. And the favorite is an American horse.

Normally, there wouldn't be anything unusual about that. The race has been won by American stars like Cigar, Silver Charm and Animal Kingdom. But last year, no American contenders were in the race.

Many people believe California Chrome is the favorite because his feet are used to flying through dirt. The other horses' hooves haven't done it, nor have the horses had dirt kicked in their faces. Could they be right?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Michael Wildenstein All-Day Lecture in Vermont on Saturday, March 28

The Vermont Farriers Association invites you to an all-day lecture with farrier educator Michael Wildenstein, CJF, FWCF (Hons) on Saturday, March 28 in the Old Chapel at Castleton State College in Castleton, Vermont.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Chain Reaction Traction: Anti-slip Horsshoe Chains Took the Farrier Out of the Equation 100 Years Ago

chain overshoes for hoof traction 1920

This is the latest chapter in the Hoof Blog's series on the history of hooves vs. snow and ice. To read other articles in this series, scroll to the bottom of this article for links.

When Harry Weed invented snow chains for automobile tires in 1904, he was just following a trend. He had seen people wrap grapevines and ropes around their tires. There was a lot of snow where he lived in Canastota, New York and Harry understood that for people to use cars year round there, they needed more traction. He patented his invention and, as they say, the rest is history. Steel tire chains based on his principles are still in use today.

And when horsemen saw automobile owners wrap Harry's steel chains around their car tires, they thought it should work if they wrapped smaller chains around their horses' hooves on snowy, icy roads. A clever Massachusetts veterinarian was waiting in the wings with a hoof strap that held chain links to the bottom of a hoof. You could strap it on and take it off without removing the shoe. It promised to keep horses on their feet and working, no matter the weather.

But would it? And what would horseshoers think of it?