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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
4 USA
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 blog@hoofcare.com.  
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,
of 
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 blog@hoofcare.com.  
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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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.

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.