Sparks Fly at 2011 Cornell Farrier Conference

Sparks flew amid a chorus of clangs and the smell of horses as farriers, metalworkers, and equine enthusiasts converged from near and far for the 2011 Cornell Farrier Conference on the weekend of November 12-13. Organized and hosted by the College of Veterinary Medicine since 1983, the renowned conference garnered 91 attendees in its 27th year.

"We updated the format this year to include more live and hands-on opportunities," said conference organizer Steve Kraus, a Cornell alum and the College's newly appointed farrier. "Registrants took advantage of three hands-on metalworking sessions, an extensive vendor showcase, live demonstrations, and a full day of lectures on Sunday."

Certified farriers from New York, Nebraska, Utah, and Kentucky offered hands-on instruction in blacksmithing, tool-making, and horseshoe preparation while professional horse trainer Rick Wheat conducted live demonstrations on horseback showing how his invention, the Noavel Headstall, can be used to train horses for shoeing.

On Saturday afternoon participants had a chance to witness a leg dissection demonstration conducted by Mitchell Taylor, CJF, owner and director of the Kentucky Horseshoeing School in Richmond. In the shoeing demonstration that followed, Dave Richards, president of Equicast, Inc., and Mike Steward, DVM, showed how clog shoes can be applied using Equicast, a product offering extra support to feet with structural-wall or sole failure. Other presentations included domosidan gel administration for sedating horses, advice for passing the AFA certification, metallurgy for farriers, and more.

Sunday's lecture series focused on treatment options for problems ranging from lameness to support needs, including a lecture on new treatments in soft tissue injuries by the College's own Lisa Fortier, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Cornell University.

"Cornell's conference is one of the most respected educational events for farriers in the country," said a professional farrier who traveled from Maryland to attend. "Opportunities for advanced training are limited, and usually involve meeting up with one guy showing you his favorite hammer. At Cornell's conference you get peers and experts from around the country coming in, and not just farriers but veterinarians, horse trainers, and other professionals who teach from different angles. It all adds up to learning how best to help the horses, and when that happens everybody wins."

The Cornell Farrier Conference is held every fall at the College of Veterinary Medicine. In addition, the College offers courses in general and advanced farriery at different times throughout the year. To learn more, visit

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