High-Performance Hoof Care Meets Research at New Hampshire Farrier-Veterinarian Conference

The Rochester (NH) Equine Clinic cleverly wed research to practice in its 14th Annual Farrier-Veterinarian Conference, held Dec. 13-14, 2001 and sponsored by Hoofcare & Lameness Magazine.

Washington veterinarian/researcher Olin Balch, DVM, PhD, presented straightforward lectures on the known and unknown parameters of the equine hoof, according to gait and locomotion research. Balch is widely published on the subject of hoof balance and how changes in angle, weight, or pads affect hoof flight and landing.

Between Balch's lectures, two of the world's leading farriers shared slides of cases that were all FEI-level dressage, eventing, and show-jumping horses. Solutions varied from horse to horse, and sometimes even from hoof to hoof, but the goals of farriers from both sides of the Atlantic were remarkably similar: Prevent the hooves from collapsing under stress and strive to enhance performance.

Lameness specialist Dieter Krohnert has been a farrier for the German equestrian teams through several Olympics and World Equestrian Games. Steve Teichman, Certified Journeyman Farrier, heads America's leading "corporate" farrier service, Chester County Farrier Associates in Unionville, Pennsylvania. Teichman was the sole U.S. farrier at the 2000 Olympics.

Both farriers smirked at the widespread use of egg bar shoes for dressage. Krohnert explained, "A short (open) shoe goes too deep into the ground. But with an egg bar, the hoof sits on top of the ground, especially for the piaffe. Riders like that." He grinned. "When they ask for egg bars on a horse, I tell them, 'Save the shoes for when the horse needs them, not you.' "

Teichman concurred. "If I'm asked to look at a $10,000 horse for pre-purchase, the client will ask, 'Now, why would this horse need those egg bars?' But if it's a $100,000 horse, they ask, 'Why isn't this horse wearing egg bars?'"

A fast-moving day of evaluations and shoeing followed. Teichman set up a very large horse by combining his signature "full plate" heart bar shoe with pour-in support for a chronic quarter crack.

A barn aisle away, Krohnert injected a soft, supportive impression material into the sole cavity, covered by a new keyholed plastic mesh pad. He then sculpted an artificial bridge between the heels of open-heeled shoes with a high-density compound, simulating an egg-bar shoe that could be modified without removal. On a dressage horse, he "thumbprinted" the heels for enhanced support.

In the lab, Balch dissected hooves and discussed anatomy; in the clinic's imaging center, digital radiography and hoof care record-keeping systems were explained in a computer-assisted hands-on session.

About the Author

Fran Jurga

Fran Jurga is the publisher of Hoofcare & Lameness, The Journal of Equine Foot Science, based in Gloucester, Mass., and Hoofcare Online, an electronic newsletter accessible at www.hoofcare.com. Her work also includes promoting lameness-related research and information for practical use by farriers, veterinarians, and horse owners. Jurga authored Understanding The Equine Foot, published by Eclipse Press and available at www.exclusivelyequine.com or by calling 800/582-5604.

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