A large number of Eric Nygaard's friends and colleagues gathered Friday, Dec. 12, in Hattiesburg, Miss., for the first of two days of lectures and demonstrations to raise money to help pay for the Sarasota, Fla., farrier's medical expenses.

All proceeds will go into a special fund solely dedicated to paying for heart transplant and rejection medication. None of the money raised will be used for any other purpose, Nygaard says.

"If anything happens to me before the heart transplant," he says, "I've instructed my wife to donate all of the money back to American Farrier's Association causes."

Veteran farriers and clinicians Tabb Pigg, Steve Sermersheim, Eric Gilleland, Robbie Hunziker, Dr. Mike Miller and Sam Gooding covered a wide range of topics from trimming and shoeing to forging.

Prepping The Foot For Pour-In Pads

Tab Pigg of Vettec kicked off the clinic with a lecture and demonstration on preparing the foot for a pour-in pad.

"You need to make sure," says the Azle, Texas, farrier, "you know where the foot is before pouring the pad."

Some farriers have complained to Pigg that pour-in pads caused abscesses in the feet of the horses they were caring for. However, after asking questions about the condition of the feet before the pads were used, he found that there was another culprit - the bars needed to be addressed.

"In moist environments, the bars will lay over and meld into the sole," Pigg explains. "If you can't distinctly see the bars, you have to find them."

When the bars meld into the sole, pressure begins to mount in the sole.

"We need to put the bars back to the point of origin," he says. "I'm not saying cut them out. There's a happy medium. We can leave too much or take too much."

It's not always moist environments that cause the problem, though. Arid climates can make the back half of the foot so hard that it makes it difficult to pare it with a hoof knife. As a result, sometimes they don't get the attention they need and the bars will respond similarly to the effects of a wet climate.


Steve Sermersheim, left, of Divernon, Ill., and Randy Luikart, right, of Ashland, Ohio, lead a discussion on conformation during a shoeing demonstration Friday, Dec. 12 at the Eric Nygaard Benefit Clinic in Hattiesburg, Miss.


Balancing The Frog

The environment theme continued into the next lecture when Steve Sermersheim discussed balancing the frog.

"Environment is huge with anything to do with the foot," says the Divernon, Ill., farrier. "It all depends on where you live. I live in an area where it's wet most of the time and then it's dry for 3 straight months."

To properly balance the frog, the widest, highest point of a healthy frog must be identified and it must be trimmed to find the true sole depth. Yet, it's not always easy.

"You need to get the frog as balanced as you can," Sermersheim says. "Sometimes you can't."

Fitting The Coronary Band

Robbie Hunziker began his lecture on fitting to the coronary band with a straightforward question.

"What's form?" he asks the attendees. "Does the shoe look like the foot? It's very important that you fit what you trim."

The Seminole, Fla., bucks convention with respect to disciplines.

"I don't care what discipline it does," Hunziker says. "I don't do titles. I try to shoe to the coffin bone by fitting to the coronary band."

Nailing The White Line

When applying a shoe, the ideal place for the nail to enter the hoof is the white line, Eric Gilleland says during his lecture focusing on nailing the white line.

Nailing the white line will preserve the integrity of the hoof wall and, more importantly, ensure the sensitive structures are not invaded.

"The white line is the farrier's guide when driving nails and dressing the hoof wall," says Social Circle, Ga., farrier. "Nails are tapered and get thinner away from the head. So the farther from the head, or higher, that it exits the hoof wall, the smaller the exit hole. The smaller the exit hole, the less splintering of the hoof wall."

The day concluded with a lecture by Dr. Michael Miller of Harvest, Ala., lecturing on breaking away from breakover; a tong making demonstration by Sam Gooding of Lexington, Ky.; and an auction.

"I want to say thank you to everyone who has been a part of this," Nygaard says. "Words are not enough to express my gratitude for everything they have done for me and my family."

The second and final day of the clinic will feature a number of lectures and demonstrations including those by Dan Bradley, a GE Forge & Tool clinician from Lucedale, Miss.; Randy Luikart of Ashland, Ohio; and Paul Dorris of Dardanelle, Ark.