With better hoof care on their minds and learning as their goal, almost 800 people gathered in Cincinnati, Ohio, from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2 for the 4th annual International Hoof-Care Summit. They didn’t leave disappointed.

A wide-ranging educational program that included presentations on complex theories to practical suggestions for daily work helped attendees fill up the classroom hours and generated plenty of enthusiastic — and sometimes heated — hallway discussion between sessions. The man who founded the Summit says that kind of enthusiasm has become a trademark of the event, and is one of the reasons it continues to grow.

“When we first came up with the idea for the Summit, we told everyone in the hoof-care world we wanted them to take ownership of it,” says Frank Lessiter, Editor and Publisher of American Farriers Journal, the event’s sponsor. “And every year, more and more people invest in that ownership.”

Lessiter pointed out that the core of each Summit’s educational program comes from suggestions gathered through surveys filled out by the previous year’s attendees.

“We make a real effort to find out what kind of topics farriers and veterinarians are interested in,” he said. “We’re convinced that’s one of the big reasons people are so enthusiastic and keep coming back.”

Meike van Heel, the Dutch researcher who presented some ground-breaking findings on the importance of short shoeing intervals as well as hoof care for foals, found herself surrounded by attendees who wanted even more information from her throughout the event.

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ABSCESS ROUNDTABLE. Sean Archibald, a Canadian veterinarian, leads a roundtable discussion on identifying and treating abscesses at the International Hoof-Care Summit.

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HALL OF FAMERS MEET. Danny Ward, left, a member of the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame, shares a moment with George Platt, a member of the International Equine Veterinarians Hall Of Fame. Both made presentations at the International Hoof-Care Summit.

“I really enjoyed the Hoof-Care Summit and was absolutely amazed about all the very interested farriers who attended,” said the researcher from the Equine Performance Laboratory at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. “I’ve never seen anything like it and it was a great experience for me.”

The completion of remodeling to the Duke Energy Center meant additional rooms for booths at the Summit Trade Show, which featured 128 booths, an increase of almost 25 percent over the previous high.

Alice Musser, American Farriers Journal advertising manager, said the exhibitors contributed to the overall quality of the Summit.

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DRAWING A CROWD. Dutch researcher Meike van Heel responds to questions from attendees following one of her presentations at the International Hoof-Care Summit.

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SUMMIT SOUVENIR. Five-Star Forge Farrier Supply held a drawing for this Jim Poor customized driving hammer, inscribed with the name of the International Hoof-Care Summit.

“The IHCS was another success thanks to everyone who participated. Farriers and veterinarians alike expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to hear the top-notch speakers and great topics and to visit the wide variety of exhibitors,” she said.

One first-time attendee was surprised by the quality of the event, especially given its relatively new status.

“I can’t believe that you folks have only been doing this for 4 years because the educational level is so high,” said Walter Varco of Port Jarvis, N.Y. “This is the most intensive hoof-learning opportunity that I’ve ever seen. You leave everyone else in the dust.”

The Summit’s educational program once again was set up in three primary formats:

  1. Large group presentations, in which the presenter was the sole speaker in that time period.
  2. Hoof-care classrooms, in which attendees chose among one of several presentations taking place at the same time.
  3. Hoof-care roundtables, which are evening discussions groups, with a moderator leading a free-wheeling discussion on attendees’ thoughts and ideas about a particular topic or problem. Farriers and veterinarians were free to choose from a variety of roundtable topics, and moved freely from one to another.

For the second year in a row, the first afternoon of the program was highlighted by the presentation of individual case studies in which four selected farriers and veterinarians shared how they had diagnosed and treated one particular case. Esco Buff’s account of a miniature donkey that continues to thrive even after losing its coffin bone appeared to have delighted the audience as much as it did when the Webster, N.Y., farrier’s story was first presented in the May/June, 2006 issue of American Farriers Journal.

Among other well-received presentations were:

  • Deb Bennett’s presentations on whole-horse movement strategies, which she covered in a general session and a classroom as well as a roundtable. Bennett brought along “Woody,” a seemingly simple but innovative model used for demonstrating the interaction of movement and equine anatomy. British veterinarian John Stewart, himself a well-received Summit presenter, said Bennett’s presentation alone was worth the time and effort he spent in attending the event.
  • Rick Cornwell’s presentation on dealing with the troublesome horse, in which the veteran farrier from Cornell, Mich., emphasized that while it should be the horseowner’s responsibility to train the horse to stand for the farrier, shoers need to develop an approach that will enable them to work safety.
  • A Q & A session featuring veteran farriers Mike DeLeonardo of Salinas, Calif., and Russ Vanderlei, of North Woods, Ill., answering rapid-fire questions in a “beat-the-clock” format that proved as entertaining as it was informative.
  • Scott Lampert’s show-stopping high-speed videos that illustrate that the hooves of even the best trimmed and shod horses are subject to immense forces during use — forces that can lead to injuries that are sometimes incorrectly blamed on shoers.
  • Lee and Portor Green’s double-team effort on shoeing mules. The father-son team from Yucaipa, Calif., stressed that there is good money to be made shoeing mules and that most horseshoers should be able to do the job, given a little training and learning to take some care.
  • A thought-provoking presentation by Andrew Elsbree of Greenville, N.Y., who shared his thoughts not only on how to deal with educated horseowners, but discussed what the Internet can mean for farriers, both as a tool and as a potential problem. He cautioned farriers about putting information out on the Internet that can too easily be misapplied.   
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PAYING CLOSE ATTENTION. Two attendees take notes during a presentation at the International Hoof-Care Summit.

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LEARNING OVER LUNCH. Even during a lunch break, these attendees at the International Hoof-Care Summit broke out laptops and continued their hoof-care discussions.

While attendees were disappointed to learn that scheduled presenter Bob Pethick was unable to attend because of an illness. Hall Of Fame veterinarian Stephen O’Grady and Mitch Taylor, owner of the Kentucky Horseshoeing School, ably stepped into the breach with a pair of excellent presentations at very short notice.

For the third straight year, a highlight of the event was the recognition and induction of new members into the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame and the International Equine Veterinarians Hall Of Fame. (To read about this year’s inductee’s turn to “Honors For The Innovators,” beginning on Page 25 in this issue). More than a score of members of both Halls were on hand to help make the Summit a success.

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SHOE DISCUSSION. Mequon, Wis., farrier Red Renchin, (center) talks with Steve Bloom (right) at the Grand Circuit booth at the Summit trade show.

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LESSONS FROM A WOODEN HORSE. Deb Bennett uses “Woody,” a horse model, to help demonstrate what she’s observed in her studies of equine movement.