The final day of the 12th annual International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio, was highlighted by a discussion about laminitis and dovetailed into the legal exposure that farriers potentially face.

Farriers are in a great position to head off laminitis cases and the best way to do that is through a team approach, James Gilchrist, a Wellington, Fla., farrier told attendees Friday.

“The bottom line for farriers is to recognize the beginning stages of laminitis and prevent severe cases,” he says. “You and your team can do everything right, but still end up with a severe case. It happens, but sometimes we drop the ball. You have to pay attention and look for the signs. We can’t always prevent it, but we can help maintain it.”

The signs to look for are:

  • Increased vital signs and body temperature.
  • Sweating, trembling, anxiety and/or flared nostrils.
  • A tendency to lie down and/or to shift weight from the affected foot.

“Farriers are mechanics of the horse’s foot,” Gilchrist says. “When you think you have a laminitis case, you better call a vet. It’s better to suggest a vet to look at it and have it turn out to be a false alarm. Any time it’s a lameness issue, it’s a vet issue.”

10 Things You Wish You Knew About The Law

Texas attorney Jamie Cooper gave farriers a lot to think about with her presentation on their potential exposure to legal issues.

“I meant to scare you a little bit,” she says, “but I don’t want you to lose sleep at night.”

Cooper shared the top 10 things that farriers should know about the law.

  • The law is not an exact science.
    “The law moves,” she says. “The law changes.”
  • The legal system works very slowly.
  • Never underestimate what people will do for sex, money or power.
  • Words are very important.
    Cooper suggests choosing the words that you use very carefully to limit liability.
    “James Gilchrist used the word mechanic when describing what a farrier does,” she says. “That’s a great word. If a farrier is in court and being sued, the word mechanic makes your liability very small.”
  • Location, location, location — the law varies greatly depending on where you are.
  • Never say, “That can’t happen” or “I’ve seen it all.”
    Cooper recounted a case in which an expensive horse was injured after a farrier struck a horse with a rasp when it wasn’t behaving. The horse backed into the tongue of a trailer, causing significant injuries to its hind end.
    “Pay attention to what you’re doing and where you’re doing it,” she says. “All of the aspirations that the owners had for that horse were ruined because of a farrier.”
  • The law isn’t about justice, it’s about what you can prove.
    “Document everything before and after,” Cooper says. “Record video, take a lot of pictures. Keep records. It only takes 10 seconds to take pictures.”
    If you don’t have enough pictures, Cooper charges clients $10,000 more to represent them.
  • Civil participation is the only way to change the law.
    Cooper suggests voting, serving on juries, running for office and lobbying politicians.
  • Take away alcohol and stupid and the world would need 90% fewer laws.
  • The stakes are high — get an attorney.
    “Don’t wait,” she says, “until you get sued before getting an attorney.”

Better Practices, Better Results Lecture, Presented By Kinetic Vet

In his presentation Improve The Effectiveness When Using Hospital Plates, Stuart Muir discussed when a hospital plate is necessary, how to make one and how to apply it.

Using loading forces to your advantage can increase your chances of getting the horse sound sooner, says the resident farrier at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital.

“It’s like throwing a rock in a bucket of water,” Muir says. “A hospital plate deflects forces from the ground.”

He suggests using a hospital plate when sole depth has been compromised, an abscess or diseases of the solar surface are present, after surgery to remove a foreign body, there’s a mechanical advantage and when a horse has laminitis.

Managing The Challenges Of Today’s Thoroughbred Horse

A panel of two farriers — Travis Burns of the Virginia-Maryland College Of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Va., and Tim Shannon of Moreno Valley, Calif., discussed the hoof-care concerns they frequently see in Thoroughbreds.

Burns shared a case involving a Thoroughbred that had a seedy-looking toe.

“When there’s damage on the outside,” he says, “it’s not uncommon for the damage to be two times or three times larger on the inside.”

After debriding the damaged area, Burns suggests telling owners to change the horse’s environment.

“Keep them away from areas that have tiny pieces of gravel that can get lodged in the damaged hoof wall,” he says.

Trimming The Foot And Its Effects Upon The Foot Tissues

There are many methods that farriers use to trim horses’ feet. While many believe that their protocol is the best to use, each time a hoof is trimmed the internal foot tissues, as well as the coffin bone, are affected.

Dr. Bob Bowker, retired Michigan State hoof researcher, shared data from his work that illustrates how changes to the outside of the foot contribute to internal problems.

“The foot is adaptable,” says the International Equine Veterinarian Hall Of Famer. “Horses are all different because they are products of their environment.

How Standard Traction Devices Placed At Different Positions Affect Deceleration

Can the varying positions of traction devices affect the performance of the horse you shoe?

Myerscough College farriery instructor Mark Caldwell relays a British pilot study in which traction devices were compared between three experimental sets of data. The study investigated whether the placement within the caudal third of the shoe made a difference in horizontal deceleration of the hoof.

“We hypothesized that the placement would have no difference in the deceleration,” says International Horseshoeing Hall Of Famer. “What surprised us was there was no difference of overall deceleration time in both the front and hind feet when the traction devices are place at 20% of the shoe. It would seem that traction device placement would be more optimal when placed farther down the shoe.”

Ready … Set … Go! Get Fired Up!

Coshocton, Ohio, farrier Dave Farley closed out the Summit with a pep talk to motivate farriers to use what they learned at the event.

“The information you received this week is a road map to being a better farrier,” says the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Famer. “All that knowledge and information is truly a road map. You simply need to follow it and put it into effect. If you do, you can do anything you want.”


Non-Standard Race Plates: Can Horses Win In Them?: Aluminum and steel are the preferred material on most tracks; however, material innovations have given farriers new options for shoeing the equine athletes.

Brad Porter, the former head farrier at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, reviewed how some of these new ideas are being used on the tracks in Japan and Hong Kong.

How And When To Use The Spring/Hinge Shoe: Stuart Muir, the resident farrier at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, discussed how to make and apply the glue-on hinge/spring shoe.

Muir’s presentation also included the management, as well as when and how to transition the horse out of the shoe.

Stem Cell Treatment: A Farrier’s Perspective: Jason RoTramel, a Sedgwick, Kan., farrier, has worked with horses that have been treated with stem-cell therapy through his work at Wichita Equine Sports and Medicine. RoTramel discussed what farriers need to know while a horse is rehabilitating from laminitis and other issues. He also focused on the farrier’s role in addressing the footcare needs of the horse after the veterinarian has treated it with stem cells.

Money, Marriage And Motivation — Texas Style: Jamie Cooper, a Texas attorney, and her farrier husband Matt shared their insights and experiences on how to balance their personal, professional and spiritual lives. The couple offered suggestions on how attendees can bring balance to their lives.

Please share with us your thoughts and experiences about the 12th annual International Hoof-Care Summit in the comments section below.