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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Underfoot in Dubai: World Cup Hooves, Shoes and Farriers for Thoroughbred Racing’s Superstars

horseshoes at the Dubai World Cup Thorougbred races

When the world’s best racehorses pack their bags for a trip to the golden global hotspot of Dubai to race in the World Cup, what do they pack? These days, trainers are sending more than coolers, halters and haynets with their horses.

They’re sending farriers, who in turn are shipping in a surprisingly diverse assortment of raceplates and nails. The flip side of the coin is that several of the top racehorses now don their shoes only on the morning of the race--and have them promptly removed the day after it's over.

Travel to Dubai with us, as we check in on an international troop of farriers, hard at work in the desert on some of the world's most valuable horses. What comes out of the desert may be headed for you.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Hoofcare Holocaust History: Jan Liwacz, the Blacksmith of Auschwitz, and the Smell of Burning Hooves

blacksmith Jan Liwacz made arbeit macht free sign at Auschwitz
"Work will make you free" promises the sign above the gate at the entrance of Auschwitz in Poland, the site of one of the worst disasters in human history. It's one of the most famous signs, and symbols of suffering and evil, anywhere in the world. Did you ever wonder who forged it? Have you ever heard of Jan Liwacz, the blacksmith of Auschwitz? And did you know there is a touch of irony forged into the letters by a prisoner blacksmith? (Photo by "Neil" courtesy of Wikimedia.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Thinking Outside the Flip Flop Box: Florida Farriers Find Flex-Step Free-Heel Hoof Pad Aids Problems in Sport, Racehorse Feet

Polyflex Horseshoe flip flop on sport horse
Polyflex Flex-Step flip flop pad
Far from the racetrack, a warmblood show horse sports the new high-tech Flex Step free-heel pad. The shoe is cut to the widest part of the foot, and rabbit ear drainage holes have been opened to allow sand, footing and water to drain out. Attentive show grooms maintain the pads by inserting the hose nozzle between the pad and the heel bulbs to make sure the sole isn't packed. Two small holes in the heels accommodate studs for traction, if needed, on some models. Copper rivets on the inside of the shoe's web attach the pad to the unheeled shoe. Made by Polyflex, a company known for its glue-on shoes, the pad is designed to be partially attached to the foot with nails and requires no adhesive or hoof packing.

Sometimes you wonder where things came from. Who was that first Standardbred farrier in Europe who cut the heels off a horse’s shoe, put a plastic pad against the foot, and nailed it on? You can hear it now: the horse walking down the barn aisle with a clumsy sounding “flap flap flap flap” sound from the loose pad against the heels. The farrier probably never counted on the noise. The trainer took some teasing, without a doubt. But that horse must have won, because they’re still around.

And no one laughs at you when your horse is winning.

USDA's new Horse Protection Act rules withdrawn from federal enactment.

A Tennessee Walking horse wearing stacked pads and bands. This horse was shod for demonstration purposes at a vet-farrier education event. The pads and shoe bands would have been banned under the unpublished rule announced last week. (Fran Jurga photo)

The Hoof Blog is issuing an unexpected post script to a widely circulated story published here on January 13, announcing that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) was publishing its Executive Action rule changes to the Horse Protection Act with the Federal Register.

The article described the action as an 11th-hour "Hail Mary Pass" to stop Tennessee Walking horse soring abuse before the Obama administration's USDA appointees left office, to be replaced by Trump appointees.

And it almost worked.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Swedish research tests hoof sensor capable of predicting wall structural changes


An electronic sensor taped to a horse's hoof walls at Chalmers University in an earlier stage of research.
Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden is entering a public testing phase for a new sensor that gauges the structural integrity of the equine hoof wall, with a goal of pinpointing cracks and wall damage before they are visible to the human eye.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Lost to laminitis: UC Davis says good-bye to its famed and beloved breeding jack

laminitis x-ray donkey hoof
Action Jackson, the 29-year-old breeding jack at the University of California at Davis, suffered from laminitis. He was humanely euthanized last week. (UC Davis photo)

The Hoof Blog will often note the passing of a famous stallion, when laminitis claims a life. Those are sad stories to write.

Last week the world lost another famous breeding animal to laminitis, but he wasn't a horse. He didn't live behind white board fences in Kentucky. His offspring won't run in the Kentucky Derby. They (probably) won't compete in the Olympics, either (but you never know).