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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

FEI hosts new Grooms Working Group; will support their role in sport horse welfare

Grooms are gaining recognition for the role they play in equine welfare within equestrian sport. The FEI's new Grooms Working Group is expanding into a more formal registration program for international sport horse grooms. (Fran Jurga photo/©Hoof Blog)


The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) hosted the inaugural meeting of its new Grooms Working Group at the Federation's headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland this week.

It was the first meeting of its kind. 

The working group was created following a recent survey among national equestrian federations to determine the best way to improve communications and interaction with grooms and what the FEI can do to help them.

As part of a day of very positive discussion, it was agreed by the working group that there was a need to establish a more formal relationship, with grooms being officially welcomed into the FEI family through being registered with the FEI. Registration would facilitate further development of education systems, and create a more structured framework for cooperation between the FEI and grooms.

In addition, the FEI is taking significant steps towards producing applications and other tools which will best serve the grooms, allowing them to streamline preparation for upcoming events.

“Grooms play an absolutely vital role in our sport, especially in preserving the welfare of our horses, but often they go unnoticed and unrecognized, so this new working group has been set up to change that and establish an official relationship with these very important members of our community,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said after the meeting.

The new Grooms Working Group had its first meeting at FEI Headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland this week. (L-R): Nanna-Riikka Nieminen (Finland) and Brent Kuylen (Belgium) representing Jumping; Jackie Potts (Great Britain) representing Eventing; FEI President Ingmar De Vos; and Alan Davies (Great Britain) representing Dressage. (FEI photo)


“It is vital for the sport and for the development of our global equestrian community to have a solid support network, and for the FEI to offer assistance and education where necessary. Grooms are truly worth their weight in gold, and we want to provide the finest resources and tools that will help increase knowledge of best practices and standards. Forging better relationships with our grooms is only the beginning. We want to help them share their knowledge with the wider community for the benefit of the sport globally.”

“I felt very honored to be invited by the FEI to talk about the future of the grooms,” said dressage groom Alan Davies, who works with British Olympic stars Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin.

“I am super excited about the fact that the FEI want to do things to help the grooms and improve everything, which at the end of the day is for the welfare of the horse as well. It was a great meeting, we talked a lot about amazing new features and things which can be developed. It won’t be easy and it is going to take some time to put in place but it will be a fantastic project.”

Belgium's Brent Kuylen, who has worked with Dutch Jumping world champion Jeroen Dubbeldam, and Finland's Nanna-Riikka Nieminen, who previously groomed for two-time Olympian Henrik von Eckermann of Sweden, both agreed that the day had been a “great experience” and were looking forward to future initiatives.

“I think this is a real step forward,” said British Eventing legend William Fox-Pitt’s groom Jackie Potts. “It’s good to try and keep the standards up, and use the experience and the knowledge that some of us have gained over the years, in keeping welfare a priority and keeping grooms in the industry as well.”

Following this initial meeting, the FEI will now focus on the key components of integration, registration, education and communication. Membership in the Grooms Working Group will be expanded to include grooms from other disciplines, with the next meeting planned for 2018, ahead of the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon, North Carolina (USA).

Information for this article was provided by the FEI. 


© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is the news service for Hoofcare and Lameness Publishing. Please, no re-use of text or images on other sites or social media without permission--please link instead. (Please ask if you need help.) The Hoof 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). Use the little envelope symbol below to email this article to others. The "translator" tool in the right sidebar will convert this article (roughly) to the language of your choice. To share this article on Facebook and other social media, click on the small symbols below the labels. Be sure to "like" the Hoofcare and Lameness Facebook page and click on "get notifications" under the page's "like" button to keep up with the hoof news on Facebook.
  
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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.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Happy Fourth of July: A look back to when Uncle Sam was at the anvil, sharpening an ominous sword

Uncle Sam blacksmith World War II
In mid-1941, the United States was still politically neutral as war erupted in Europe, North Africa, and Asia. The Atlantic wasn't safe for US ships anymore. So the popular Liberty magazine cover became a billboard for one side of the debate. Artist Arnold Freberg had Uncle Sam take off his long-tailed jacket, and roll up his sleeves. He's forging a sword blade perhaps from a ploughshare, reversing the words of Isaiah in the Old Testament. 

It's the Fourth of July. So, why, back in 1941, did Liberty Magazine have this blacksmith forging a sword on its cover?

Just for background, Liberty was a very popular magazine back in its day. It was published until 1950 and came in second only to the Saturday Evening Post in the hearts of Americans. Its subtitle was "A weekly for everybody." In the upper left of this cover art, you can see a tiny Statue of Liberty and the words "The American Way of Life".

The Fourth of July in 1941 was the last one before thousands of Americans were drafted into the military. For the next four years, the nation technically battled two wars, one in the Pacific and one in Europe and North Africa. Yet this cover doesn't reflect any innocence of pre-war days. It's calling for a fight.

When this issue of the magazine was published, the United States was still pleading neutrality as its Allies fell beneath Axis powers in Europe, Asia and North Africa. Winston Churchill was begging for help as London crumbled beneath the blitzkrieg. Jewish refugees continued to plead for rescue. British and Soviet forces invaded Iran to protect access to oilfields needed to fuel their armies and air forces. Japan occupied Saigon and it looked like Thailand would be next.

This cover makes it obvious that Liberty Magazine's point of view called for the United States to enter the war. Pearl Harbor was still five months away, although no one knew it was coming.

The week before this magazine appeared on newsstands, a German U-boat attacked an American warship in the Atlantic for the first time. President Roosevelt gave the Navy permission in the future to fire back, if fired upon first...if that wasn't too late.

In the age before television and the Internet, magazine covers were powerful billboards, whether they reassured Americans of a peaceful way of life on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post, or called for political or military action--without saying a word--like this striking cover of Liberty.

What's going on here? Uncle Sam has taken off his jacket and rolled up his sleeves. He's pounding on a sword--no peaceful Biblical plowshare conversions for him. He is intent on his job, fully focused on the accuracy of his blow; one eye is even closed to sharpen his aim. The veins in his arms are visible. His suspenders are taut. An invisible wind is blowing his long hair back. He's not smiling.

Behind him, you can see a factory bellowing smoke, symbolizing rearmament of the US military and general preparation for war. And the eagle? He looks pretty angry, too, underneath those super-sized wings.

Uncle Sam the blacksmith

The blond-haired, blue-eyed Uncle Sam--which the editors must have thought personified America's vision of itself better than the usual elderly, gray-haired one--was fine-tuning his sword blade to go out into the world and wage war, as well as to liberate Asians and Europeans and Africans who looked nothing like him.

Likewise, most of the young men drafted to do the job would look nothing at all like this Uncle Sam.

This is one of the most politically charged magazine covers in history, yet it is rarely shown and its artist is uncelebrated. Maybe it's buried in our grandparents' attics for a reason, or maybe it needs to be dusted off, looked at, and discussed, as if we're seeing it for the first time.

To learn more:

If you watch Ebay or haunt flea markets, you can find a copy of this edition of Liberty, or sometimes just the cover, framed. It obviously inspired people.

Hoof Blog
© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is the news service for Hoofcare and Lameness Publishing. Please, no re-use of text or images on other sites or social media without permission--please link instead. (Please ask if you need help.) The Hoof 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). Use the little envelope symbol below to email this article to others. The "translator" tool in the right sidebar will convert this article (roughly) to the language of your choice. To share this article on Facebook and other social media, click on the small symbols below the labels. Be sure to "like" the Hoofcare and Lameness Facebook page and click on "get notifications" under the page's "like" button to keep up with the hoof news on Facebook.  
Follow Hoofcare + Lameness on Twitter: @HoofBlog
Read this blog's headlines on the Hoofcare + Lameness Facebook Page
 
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, June 29, 2017

New HoofSearch documents give busy equine professionals a one-stop lifeline to newly-published global research

horse foot science farriery

The time has come: After almost two years in the incubator (and the library), a new service is finally available to all. HoofSearch is a little on the nerdy side; it is designed for those of you interested in research--and eager to keep up with it. The press release below explains all you need to know about this new project. If you are truly interested in the science side of hoofcare and lameness, I hope you will subscribe. If you decide not to, you'll still have The Hoof Blog, and I'll always be here for you.
--Fran Jurga

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Sue Dyson: Double video explanation of equine ethogram for recognizing lameness and pain


Bad behavior or signs of pain? All the facial expressions shown here are part of the ethogram developed by Dr. Sue Dyson's research team at the Animal Health Trust in England. In a continuation of the research, recognition of facial expressions in both ridden and unridden horses has been recommended as a way to identify potential lameness, not just "naughty" behavior, with larger welfare implications. (Photos courtesy of Sue Dyson)


Researchers at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) Centre for Equine Studies in England have produced a practical tool to help owners, riders, and professionals recognize signs of pain by observing a horse’s facial expressions. The second part of the study was published recently, along with a new video, with a focus on facial expressions relationship to lameness. Both videos are included in this article.

The High Tech Vet Tech: Designing a Carbon Fiber CT Table for Horses at UC Davis Vet School

There's a table under those mattresses. Did you ever wonder what structure supports an anesthetized, recumbent 1,200-pound horse when its limbs are inside a CT scanner? (UC Davis photo)
Did you ever wonder what structure supports an anesthetized, recumbent 1,200-pound horse when its limbs are inside a CT scanner? At the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, a staff veterinary technician used high tech materials to engineer a lightweight table capable of holding heavyweight animals while their lower limbs are in the CT scanner.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Royal Veterinary College studies elastic resistance bands for equine rehabilitation and training

equine rehabilitation and training with elastic resistance band
Horse wearing the modified saddle pad with abdominal resistance band attached; the clip for the hindquarters band can also be seen.

Core strength training for horses has been a key criteria for developing equine athletes with the necessary condition and muscle develop to sustain advanced gaits and collected movements. Even if a horse has great conformation and appears to have the natural talent to excel, sufficient core body strength is required for sustained collected work.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

What's on your screen? Update on Professor Chris Pollitt's Illustrated Horse's Foot Web Site and Book


animation on Dr Pollitt's website


There's been a secret in the hoof world for the past year, and it's time to make sure that you know about it.

When Professor Chris Pollitt's new reference book, The Illustrated Horse's Foot, debuted in 2016, the detailed illustrations stole the show--and all the publicity. But was some of the message lost?

New Horseracing Integrity Act Introduced in US House of Representatives


The establishment of a single federal authority to oversee horseracing would give the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency jurisdiction over racehorse medication testing under the tenets of new legislation filed in Congress. Congressmen Andy Barr (R-KY) and Paul Tonko (D-NY), the Co-Chairmen of the Congressional Horse Caucus, introduced H.R. 2651, the Horseracing Integrity Act in the United States House of Representatives on May 25, 2017.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

HoofMarks: The unfinished story of a maharaja's hoof-themed jockey scale

Image ©SujithPhotography - Sujith Nair

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far away, horseracing was as full of beauty and tradition and artistry as it was at the finest racetracks of Europe. Racing truly is the sport of kings...and sheikhs and shahs and sultans.

Not to mention maharajas.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Badminton Horse Trials 2017 Farriers Prize: The quest for the best shod eventer

These hooves were under British eventer Arctic Soul, the horse that finished seventh at last week's Badminton Horse Trials, one of the world's most famous horse events. They also won recognition of Great Britain's Worshipful Company of Farriers through its prestigious "Farriers Prize", awarded to Sussex, England farrier Jimmy Cooper, DipWCF.


Forget everything that comes to mind when you hear the words "farrier competition": Hoof smoke? Not a wisp. Deafening cacaphony of hammers? Near silence. Stalwart anvils and precision-crafted hand tools? None in sight. Sweaty apron-clad farriers with rolled up sleeves? Well...

Only one farrier showed up last weekend for one of the world's most prestigious horseshoeing contests. He wasn't stripped down to shoe a horse against the clock. He was challenged instead by an entry list of some of the world's most outstanding equine athletes at the world's foremost equestrian eventing competition. And he wasn't even competing; he was the judge.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Shoeing for the Roses: Girvin's Kentucky Derby Quarter Crack and New Horseshoe Details



Photos and text © Fran Jurga and Dr. Raul Bras

Note: This story was updated to reflect the latest changes made on May 3.

There can be speed bumps on the road to the Kentucky Derby. There can be detours. And there can be road blocks.

The trick is being able to tell which one you're facing when a problem threatens to disrupt your colt's chances to run for glory on the first Saturday in May.


Sometimes a little detour can actually pay off, and one of this year's runners is out to prove that it pays off to take the scenic route.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

News: Priceless Fossil Rocking Horse, Once a Childhood Toy, Restored in Minnesota



GLOUCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS | 1 April 2017:
   The evolution of the horse (Order Perissodactyla) included modification of the foot from five distinct narrow hooves, decreasing temporarily to three and presently to what we consider the remaining "middle toe". The study of that evolution has many chapters, and if you read between the lines and follow the footnotes, many colorful characters.

An early ancestor of the modern horse, known as Mesohippus, stood about six hands high and roamed the Great Plains of North America. While it did have three toes, the middle toe was somewhat dominant and looks somewhat similar to the coffin bone in today's Equus caballus.

The evolution of the horse has been the center of controversy for centuries. While many once (and some still) insist on describing the horse's evolution by counting toes in reserve order, the pre-history of the horse is described to be more like a bush than as a straight-limbed tree. The late American evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould warned his readers not to celebrate the evolution of the horse as the perfection of evolution; he likened the modern horse to a mere twig on a very non-linear bush.

Last year a museum in Minnesota unveiled an exhibit that will make you smile, and hopefully want to learn more about the evolution of the horse's foot. It is called Mesohippus Mirabilis, and it makes child's play of the serious and often misinterpreted subject of equine evolution.

British paleontologist Sir Richard Owen,
who was the first to group equidae with
the rhinoceros and tapir, based on foot
anatomy. He named the order 
Perissodactyla, otherwise known 
as the "odd-toed ungulates".
Minnesota sculptor Michael Bahl, credited with restoration of this amazing children's toy, described its origin:

"This specimen was transformed in Great Britain circa 1857 by Emily David, a protegee of Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, one of the early sculptors of life-sized prehistoric statuary. It is believed to have been made for a grandson of Sir Richard Owen, the foremost paleontologist of the period. 

"The rocking horse was kept at the family home in Sussex until 1914 when its history becomes clouded by the storms of The Great War. When, in 1933, the grandson passed away in Paris, no mention was made of the piece.

"Following World War II as new construction forced the relocation of many cemeteries throughout Europe, the horse was discovered in a private mausoleum near Warsaw. In the chaos and secrecy of the Cold War, it vanished once more, only to resurface in rural North Carolina where it was purchased for restoration."

But it is alive in our imaginations, thanks to the artist whose expertise at anatomy extends to knowing the exact location of the often-elusive human funny bone.

Mesohippus mirabilis is currently on display at the The Museum of Paleo-Osteological Interpretation in St. Paul, Minnesota, where artist Michael Bahl invites observers to exercise their own imaginations as they consider that these forms that they have always viewed as science might also be seen as works of art that can be enjoyed with unanticipated and even playful enthusiasm.

And perhaps they even were.

Thanks to photographer Lorie Shaul for the remarkable image of Michael Bahl's creative masterpiece.

Learn more about mesohippus (and its toes) at the website of the Florida Museum of Natural History. Also, Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins is worth googling; he once held a dinner party inside the mold of one of his dinosaur skeletons in London's Crystal Palace. He really did work with Owen but moved to America to do extensive work for both the Smithsonian and Princeton University. His most famous work is believed to have been the victim of the notorious Mayor Tweed of New York City, who cancelled construction on a paleo museum; Hawkins' dinosaurs-in-progress are believed to still be buried in Central Park

And that's no joke.

(For international readers: April 1 is a special holiday in America, I hope you understand this article's intent!)



© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is the news service for Hoofcare and Lameness Publishing. Please, no re-use of text or images on other sites or social media without permission--please link instead. (Please ask if you need help.) The Hoof 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). Use the little envelope symbol below to email this article to others. The "translator" tool in the right sidebar will convert this article (roughly) to the language of your choice. To share this article on Facebook and other social media, click on the small symbols below the labels. Be sure to "like" the Hoofcare and Lameness Facebook page and click on "get notifications" under the page's "like" button to keep up with the hoof news on Facebook. Questions or problems with the Hoof Blog? Send email to The Hoof Blog. 
 
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, 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).

Friday, January 13, 2017

Hail Mary: USDA proceeds with last-ditch effort to end soring by imposing bans on Walking horse pads, action devices

USDA Soring Rule Change Bans Hoof Pads on Walking Horses

It's fourth down at the end of the fourth quarter. The clock is counting down. Do you punt or pass? The game's at stake. It's time to pull off a play they'll never forget. It's time to throw that Hail Mary pass. 
In the waning hours of President Obama’s administration’s days in Washington, his out-bound US Department of Agriculture says they are ready to drop a bombshell in the middle of the horse world.

The bombshell may well devastate a sector of the show horse industry, but there will be cheers, as well. It just depends which side you're on, and if you're willing to take the time to read the fine print.