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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Blacksmith Buddies: Vet school students and farriers work together in Florida

Blacksmith Buddies 2018 clinic

What is (or are) Blacksmith Buddies? A few years ago, University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine students and local farriers joined forces for mutual education and camaraderie. It was such a success that it has gained momentum and now has an extended program of both informal ridealong opportunities for students and multiple educational events for both students and farriers during the school year.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

WEGucation: Horse health lectures added to FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 schedule



Can you feel the "back to school" energy in the air? As calendars turn to September, it is obvious that the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 (WEG) at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) in North Carolina are just ten days away, and WEG organizers are capitalizing on the back to school mindset.

No, it won't be all competition, all the time in Tryon; an educational program will run throughout the event, which runs from September 11 to 23, 2018.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Burghley's best-shod horse 2018: Records broken and handicaps overcome with farrier's one-handed excellence



For the third time in five years, an Irish Sport horse named Coolys Luxury was won England's Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials' "Best Shod Horse" prize for rider Tom Crisp and his long-time farrier James Hayter.

And not just that: Ringwood Sky Boy, ridden by New Zealand's Tim Price had been judged best-shod back in 2015.

But the story doesn’t stop there. Have you ever heard farriers brag that they could shoe a horse with one armed tied behind their backs?

That’s pretty close to what happened when the day came to shoe this horse for Burghley 2018.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Gene therapy: Second stage of research documents further success for rehabilitation of tendon injuries in lame horses

Equine surgeon Milomir Kovac performs an ultrasound on a horse; ultrasound was used to monitor healing in tendon injuries in a group of race and sport horses treated with an experimental gene therapy designed to both speed healing and improve the quality of the healed injury site to prevent recurrence. (Image courtesy of University of Nottingham)

In October 2017, The Hoof Blog reported on experimental research looking into direct-injection gene therapy for soft tissue lameness injuries in horses. The authors of the 2017 paper had successfully cured lameness in two horses and published their results in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Dyson: Equine performance assessment tests veterinarians' ability to recognize pain-related behavior

equine physiotherapist evaluating horse
Before the study horses were ridden, Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Animal Therapy (ACPAT) physiotherapist Jo Spear assessed each one. (Saddle Research Trust photo)

Will veterinarians succeed in using Dr Sue Dyson's new "equine ethogram" system to identify behavioral signs of musculoskeletal pain in horses?

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Transitions: Hoof research innovator Renate Weller makes career move to corporate veterinary education

Renate Weller, RVC
Professor Renate Weller (center) of the Royal Veterinary College in the United Kingdom announced this week that she is leaving academia for a career in corporate veterinary education. Weller has been a magnet in the equine industry for her inclusive and inspiring dialogues with students, horse owners, farriers and the public. She is shown here during a demonstration for an equestrian group touring the RVC's Structure and Motion Laboratory where she conducts research. (RVC publicity photo)


Professor Renate Weller, Drvetmed, PhD, MScVetEd, ACVSMR, FHEA, NTF, ECVSMR, MRCVS, has announced her decision to leave her academic teaching role at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), University of London in the United Kingdom.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

HANDS OFF Safety Alert: US Food and Drug Administration reports potential health risks to people exposed to altrenogest products for horses




The following warning was issued today by the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine in Rockville, Maryland:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting veterinary medical professionals, as well as those who work with horses, that a synthetic progesterone product commonly used in these animals may cause reproductive system disorders and other adverse effects in people who become exposed to the drug. The FDA is providing this alert because of the nature of the adverse events, some of which have occurred in teenage girls.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Research overview: Preventing laminitis by studying insulin dynamics in older horses

Spillers Waltham equine research

Laminitis research comes in many forms. Recently, the emphasis has been on understanding the cause of the disease, and developing ways to prevent horses from ever knowing laminitic pain. The emphasis is on understanding how horse management and feeding can effect hormonal balances in older horses, and what recommendations might help horses live longer and healthier lives.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Australian research analyzes hoof nail holes after shoeing with steel or copper-coated horseshoe nails

Hampson hoof research
The complexity of studying horse nail hole morphology and pathology is well illustrated by this foot from the study. In one foot, nail holes with a range of pathology were documented. The study documented the front feet of 11 sport horses over several shoeing cycles. (Photo © Brian Hampson and John Wilson)

Copper-coated horseshoe nails took the farrier profession by storm in 2015 when “Liberty Cu” nails were introduced by Royal Kerckhaert in Europe. A novelty at first, the new nails gained favor with many farriers who claimed they observed an improvement in the quality of the nail hole or the hoof wall itself. The nails spread to farriers in many parts of the world.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Godolphin's Masar took the barefoot route to Epsom Derby; farriers detail stable's hoof protocol


The old joke goes something like this: A tourist on the street in New York City sees a tuxedo-clad musician getting out of a cab with his instrument. The tourist walks up and asks, “Can you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?”

Without missing a beat, the musician says, “Practice.” And walks on.

If only horseracing was so simple.

Monday, May 28, 2018

New York Governor Announces Funding for Veterinary College on Long Island

veterinary news long island university

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced last week that his state is investing $12 million in the establishment of a new veterinary college on the existing campus of Long Island University (LIU)  in Brookville, New York. According to Cuomo's news release, the $40 million project will "fill a void in the academic landscape, while generating new opportunities for medical research and jobs creation in the state."

Remembering the Dead: Custer's farriers at Little Big Horn


farriers with Custer at Little Big Horn

We know it as the Battle of Little Big Horn, or "Custer's Last Stand". Native Americans know it as the Battle of the Greasy Grass. It is quite possibly the most legendary military engagement in US history. Like the maiden voyage of the Titanic, everyone knows how this story ends.

Or do they?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Pro-active shoeing: Details on Kentucky Derby winner Justify's bruised hoof preparation for Preakness

horseshoe news from the Kentucky Derby


It should be part of the winner's circle ceremony. If you win the Kentucky Derby, they award you three things: First, a blanket of red roses to drape over your withers. Next, a gorgeous trophy for your owners to hoist in the air. And last but not least, there's a microscope, which you will live under for the next five weeks of your life.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Farm Bill amendment revives drive for Horse Protection Act revisions; Walking horse pad stacks, action devices would be outlawed by 2020

horse protection act amendment to farm bill


If an amendment to the Farm Bill in the US House of Representatives survives a Rules Committee review this week, the horse industry in the United States could see a much-anticipated end to Walking horse show shoeing practices connected to the illegal practice of “soring”.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Badminton's Best Shod Horse 2018: Liam Collins Wins Eventing's Farrier Prize

Dani Evans and Smart Time on cross-country at Badminton Horse Trials 2018
British rider Dani Evans and her horse Smart Time won the Farriers Prize at Badminton Horse Trials for 2018. Smart Time is shod by Liam Collins, a farrier in North Somerset, England.

If you think that the upcoming Royal Wedding in England sounds romantic, wait until you read this. The lightning-bolt connection between three-day event riders, horses and farriers is magical when it strikes and all three emerge from a top competition effort safe and sound and happy.

But what about when the relationship is more than professional? It happened again this weekend, and they all lived happily ever after.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Laminitis research: Even healthy older horses have increased insulin responses



New research, conducted in collaboration with the SPILLERS® horse feed company in Great Britain shows that even healthy older horses have increased insulin responses, compared to younger horses, in response to a starch-rich or starch- and sugar-rich meal.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

History on the Hoof: Who Shod Dan Patch?

Who was the farrier for harness legend Dan Patch?

It doesn’t seem like a holiday, but there it was, noted on the hoofprints.com calendar. “Dan Patch born this day, 1896.” I wondered, "How many people know who Dan Patch was?" And then I remembered that I've been meaning to write about his farrier.

Welcome to the story of the greatest horse you’ve probably never heard of.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Silent Anvil: Danny Ward, Horseshoeing Teacher and Friend to Farriers

Danny Ward and his hammer collection
Horseshoer Danny Ward circa 1990 with part of his impressive collection of hammers at his school in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo © Hoofcare Publishing)

Leading farrier Danny Ward of Martinsville, Virginia has died. An icon of the horseshoeing industry, he leaves an enigmatic legacy that is less about his many accomplishments, and more about what he gave, and the example he set. 

Danny Ward's death reminds me of a message you get when you try to fix some really great thing that you've had for a long time. All of a sudden, it's broken and you know you have to get it fixed because they just don't make them like they used to.

You finally reach the manufacturer online or on the phone, and get back the curt message, "Replacement parts unavailable."

You have to make your own. Or start over with a new one. 

That's the way it is when someone dies. Who'll replace them? More often than not, no replacement parts are to be found for so many of your favorite things. And people.


Danny Ward Horseshoeing School sign
The school didn't really need a sign. You couldn't mistake being there for being anywhere else in the world.

Perhaps there is someone reading this who doesn't immediately know who Danny Ward was, but if you are in the horse world, chances are you have been touched directly or indirectly by him. He taught horseshoeing at his school in Martinsville, Virginia and educated thousands of young and old horseshoers who went out into the world and touched many more thousands of horses and, in turn, taught others about horses and hooves (and hammers).

Danny ward, farrier
Danny Ward
For anyone who's keeping track of facts, remember that Danny didn't talk that much about his accomplishments, though there were many. He had turned 73 last month. He learned horseshoeing from his father, the legendary Smoky Ward, who started teaching horseshoeing in Martinsville in the 1960s. The Wards made national news when they officially opened the Eastern School of Horseshoeing in 1966 with engineering assistance from Virginia Polytechnic University and even federal funding. 

Smoky Ward was a character, and a visionary. He could see that there was a demand for horseshoers as the popularity of recreational riding boomed. And he believed he could teach people to shoe horses. According to records, it was the second private horseshoeing school to open in the United States, and became one of the most famous and well-attended.

Smoky's first student, no doubt, was his son Danny, who started working with his father as a teenager, and later his daughter, Jessie, as well. They later took over the school.

Smoky Ward and Danny Ward shoeing a horse
Danny Ward shoeing a horse while his father, Smoky Ward, works at the anvil, in the 1960s.

Danny has a list of honors and achievements in the farrier industry that is second to none, particularly through his roles in farrier competitions, as well as in the progress of the American Farrier's Association and the Virginia Horseshoers Association. He judged or won every contest, and both competed on and coached the North American Horseshoeing Team (later known as the American Farriers Team). He traveled to Ireland, England and Scotland to represent the United States in some of the toughest competitions in the world. He was a talented artist who could "forge" beautiful things from silver and copper, as well as steel. The American Farrier's Association honored him with their clinician-of-the-year award.

But the chances are that he won't be remembered for accomplishments, nor should he be. He'll be remembered for being Danny: an amiable and generous gentleman who punctuated every compliment or accolade with a self-deprecating chuckle. Just watch:



Blue Ridge Public Television made this short video about Danny and his school about ten years ago. It highlights Danny's signature self-effacing attitude toward his accomplishments.


Danny will be officially remembered as a teacher, and as a generous, easy-going, behind-the-scenes and even anonymous facilitator and benefactor.

He will unofficially be remembered as someone who threw a heck of a party. Every year in the first week of November, he would open his school for the farrier equivalent of a college homecoming. Former students, friends, friends of friends, manufacturers, and everyone else was welcome. 

Danny Ward, Diamond Horseshoes
Danny Ward at the American Farrier's 
Association Convention in 2009, manning the
Diamond Horseshoe booth for Cooper Tool
Group. (Photo © Hoofcare Publishing)
It was like Woodstock for farriers, an annual meeting of the tribe. During the day, it was nonstop education, trade show and fundraising for charity. At night, a band played traditional bluegrass and country classics. People danced and ate and imbibed exotic local concoctions. 

Once the sun went down, I put the camera away.

Outside, bonfires blazed. People played guitars and sang, pitched tents, howled at the moon, and got their trucks stuck in the mud. Many realized that they had no idea how to get back to town and their hotels. Cell reception was dodgy and there was no wifi code. But they didn't seem to care: they were where they wanted to be.

Danny never charged for any of it. He fed hundreds of people three meals during the day-long event, and raised thousands of dollars for charity, often the St Jude Hospital for Children or the Make-A-Wish Foundation, with colorful, comical and unforgettable auctions and entertainment.

One memory is of him telling the crowds that it was a "guaranteed raffle" with a prize for every ticket purchased. No one would go home empty-handed, to which he added with a chuckle, "And if we run out of prizes, we'll just go through a truck or two outside and find something for you."

And after he had given all that away, he would write thank you notes to everyone for coming.

American Farrier's Association Convention working farrier clinic
In the 1980s, Danny Ward, left, started a seminar called the "Working Farrier Demonstration" at the American Farrier's Association Convention, working with Scott Simpson, middle, and Walt Taylor, under the horse, and other senior AFA members to bring convention attendees some basic horseshoeing advice. It was sponsored by Diamond Horseshoes. (Photo © Hoofcare Publishing)


In his later years, Danny did celebrity marketing and demonstrations for the Cooper Tool Group and its subsidiary, Diamond Horseshoes. Everyone was always happy to see him. In recent years, he had been quiet; you wouldn't be likely to find Danny making comments on Facebook or posting his shoes on Instagram. 

Danny had been in ill health this winter and was in a hospital in Roanoke, Virginia. He died of kidney failure on Thursday. Danny was cared for unselfishly throughout his illness by his sister, Jessie. Her personal strength, plus her dedication and love for her brother have been remarkable to witness.

Jessie said that Danny will be cremated and that perhaps a fitting celebration of his life will be planned for sometime in the future.

vet school coal forge dedicated to Danny Ward
The forge at the veterinary college at Virginia Tech is dedicated to Danny Ward. (Photo © Travis Burns)



• • • • •

Travis Burns, president of the American Farrier's Association, sought Danny out when he became the resident farrier at Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Polytechnic University in Blacksburg, Virginia. He sent this statement on Danny's legacy:  

Danny Ward and another late Virginia
horseshoeing legend, Edgar Watson.
(Photo © Hoofcare Publishing)
"It is impossible to measure the impact that he has had on this industry. I just hope that as everyone thinks of a story, a moment, a lesson gained from him, that they will think to themselves 'How can I help someone else?'. For that I think is the true legacy of Danny, he was always trying to help the next person with anything. 

"Not only did he share farrier advice with me but he also gave me personal advice, which is what I’ll remember the most. His impact will live well beyond his lifetime through all of those that he has educated and influenced.  

"I am sure many years from now, you will still hear people say 'Danny Ward showed so and so how to do this and then he/she showed me'."

Danny Ward silver Jim Poor hammer
What do you give the man who has every hammer? On the occasion of Danny Ward's 25th open house/clinic/celebration, Colorado farrier Neil Miller presented Danny was a personalized commemorative Jim Poor hammer. (Photo © Hoofcare Publishing)

There's an old saying about how we are all "standing on the shoulders of giants" as we move forward in history, but in the case of Danny Ward's role in the horseshoeing profession, that is a literal fact.

I don't know where the farrier profession is headed, but I do know a bit about where it's been, and if you are looking at a map of the farriery profession, you'll be sure to notice that Martinsville, Virginia has a big bright star that is a little taller than the rest. 

As it should be. Shine on.

The sign above the blackboard at Danny Ward's Horseshoeing School takes on a new meaning now.


--Fran Jurga


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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, March 22, 2018

When less does more: New DE Hoof Taps unshoe the horse while tapping into a healthier future hoof

The yellow dotted lines outline a DE Hoof Tap, a stainless steel, zinc-coated barbed wall insert that sits flush with the trimmed wall in this severe heel wall separation. Taps can be difficult to see. This was the second installation of Hoof Taps in this separation. The same hoof is shown further down on this page after this cycle, when the tap was trimmed out of the foot, to show the improvement. (Doug Ehrmann photo)

And now for something completely different.

When a six-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare scored 80% at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Florida last month, people were impressed. That’s a great score, at any level. And she did it without shoes.

But she wasn’t barefoot. Her hooves were "tapped".

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Monday, March 05, 2018

Virginia Farrier Travis Burns Elected American Farrier's Association President

American Farrier's Association Past President Donnie Perkinson passes the symbolic presidential gavel to incoming president Travis Burns at last week's AFA Convention in Reno, Nevada.

Veterinary college farrier Travis Burns, CJF, TE, EE, FWCF of Virginia has been elected president of the American Farrier’s Association. The results of the 2018 election were announced on Friday during the AFA's 47th annual convention in Reno, Nevada.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

First All-Women Farrier Class Training at Cornell Vet School

Kerry Spain, right, and Kahlan Schramm shape horseshoes as part of the Cornell Farrier Program. (Photo by Lindsay France, University Photography)

In early January this year, three women walked through the farrier shop doors at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. They weren’t vet students checking on a lameness case or horse owners picking up a freshly shod horse. These women started up the forges and went to work at their anvils--without a male in sight.

Cornell announced this week that the farrier program’s 2018 class is the first to be comprised entirely of women. Paige Maxxam, Kahlan Schramm and Kerry Spain will complete the four-month program in April.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Racing Research: Can ultrasound predict whether an injured Thoroughbred will return to racing?

Arrogate during training at 2017 Dubai World Cup


"Will he race again, Doc?" That's the question you hear trainers ask their veterinarians when a racehorse is sidelined with a tendon injury.

Veterinarians don't carry crystal balls in their trucks. Advances in equine imaging have made it possible to be much more accurate in diagnosing the severity of an injury, but it's often a matter of wait-and-see.

But now, a new tendon injury scoring system utilizes diagnostic ultrasound technology to predict a racehorse’s likelihood to return to racing. It was developed by veterinarians at Great Britain's University of Nottingham and Oakham Veterinary Hospital in Leicestershire, England in conjunction with the Hong Kong Jockey Club in China.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Black History Month: Was Huntsman/Slave William Lee the Black Smith in George Washington's Forge?

"American Cincinnatus" by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris depicts George Washington at work at the anvil. But who is the smiling black man in the background?  The artist likely added Washington's slave valet, Will Lee, who rarely left the President's side.

Black History Month on The Hoof Blog begins with the father of our country, George Washington. As most readers already know, Washington owned more than 100 slaves. Sadly, many are only names on paper but several are well-documented and one who stood out.

Today we will meet William Lee. He probably wasn't a farrier or a blacksmith, but he was never far from Washington's side, and if Washington was working in the forge, Will would have been there, too. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Laminitis research: Feeding a high starch diet can influence PPID (Equine Cushings Disease) test results



Summary: New research, conducted in collaboration with the British horse feed company SPILLERS®, has shown that the equine diet, and more specifically, a starch rich food, can influence adrenocorticotropin hormone ,or ‘ACTH’, test results. This could potentially lead to an incorrect disease diagnosis in some horses when ACTH is used to test for Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID).

Key point: The threshold values for diagnosis of the disease currently vary dependent on the season, but these new findings suggest that diet should also be considered. 

Hoof Blog note: Laminitis in older horses is commonly blamed on PPID, but a definitive diagnosis by hormonal test results is required to determine if an underlying endocrine condition is the cause of laminitis. Some horses with PPID may lose weight, which might lead owners to increase feed or change to a higher-starch diet to counter weight loss. Horse owners and veterinarians should communicate about a horse's feed intake before testing; future research may reveal more specific guidelines about how feed type influences test results.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Hidden Anatomy: Researchers Make a Case that Modern Horses Have Five Toes--Even If We Can't See Them


One of the keys to the Solounias research is the leafy construction of the Eponychium hoof covering in the fetal horse. The researchers dissected fetal hooves and paid close attention to the construction of the Eponychium. From left: Medial view of fetal horse hoof;  Dorsal view of the fetal hoof, showing a smooth singular surface, representing the dominant digit III; Ventral view of a fetal horse specimen, showing four distinct infoldings that depict evidence of the Solounias paper's proposed digits I, II, IV and V.  (Detail from one of the many figures in the article.)


Scientists have long wondered how the horse evolved from an ancestor with five toes to the animal we know today. While it is largely believed that horses simply evolved with fewer digits, researchers at New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) pose a new theory suggesting that the remnants of all five toes are still present in the distal limb of the horse.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

USDA Invites Tennessee Walking Horse Owners, Trainers to Horseshoeing Clinic Aimed to Improve Horse Protection Act Compliance


This public announcement is provided by the US Department of Agriculture.


On February 3, 2018, USDA Animal Care and the S.H.O.W. horse industry organization will hold a shoeing clinic for trainers, exhibitors and owners who participate in events regulated under the Horse Protection Act to help these individuals better understand and follow the federal regulations.

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Copper Horseshoe Revival: Why modern farriery's quest for healthier hooves passes through a forgotten footnote from industrial history

      This story was sponsored by Stromsholm Farriers Supplies, UK.



Copper: Why is the warm, soft red metal suddenly showing up on horses’ hooves? First it was copper sulphate compounds added to hoof packing and even hoof wall adhesive. For years, pads have been fixed to shoes with copper rivets. During the past few years, farriers have experimented with new copper-shielded nails to improve hoof wall health. Copper-alloy horseshoes have been patented in Germany and South America.

Copper is suddenly part of the conversation.

It sounds like something new, but long ago copper was spelled out in a critical footnote in farrier materials history as well as in industrial safety. Copper is still the same metal but the newest uses of it are rewriting the script, putting the metal to use for reasons never dreamed of in the past. Here, we'll look at the past and present of copper in the hoofcare world, and leave it to all of you to decide whether it has a future or not.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Farrier "Teams" Will Be On Site for FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018




Edited from press release

The American and International Associations of Professional Farriers (AAPF/IAPF) have announced an agreement to provide emergency farrier services for the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI) World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 (WEG) at Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, North Carolina in September.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Researchers: Tennessee Walking Horse Shoeing and Chains Caused No Pain, Stress or Inflammation in University of Tennessee Study


When efforts to increase Horse Protection Act restrictions on how Tennessee Walking horses are shod failed at the end of 2016, the shows went on, under the pre-existing rules, throughout 2017. Walking horse inspections by USDA and industry groups continued, but there were few new headlines. But the year ended with announcement of new research results on hoof pad stacks and pastern chains, conducted at the University of Tennessee Knoxville's College of Veterinary Medicine. The paper will be in the January 2018 edition of the American Journal of Veterinary Research, published by the American Veterinary Medical Association.  The horse in this photo wears pad stacks and chains on its front feet, as currently allowed under the Horse Protection Act, and is not one of the horses in the study. (Marty Barr photo)


Eight veterinarians and animal science researchers at the University of Tennessee Knoxville have collaborated on a study testing the effects of hoof pad stacks and chains on a group of Tennessee Walking horses. In what would literally be the closing hours of the 2017 calendar year, the American Journal of Veterinary Research (AJVR) posted the new research paper online.