There are two professions around the world who dedicate their life’s work to a better understanding of the horse, effective hoof care and the prevention and treatment of equine diseases and injuries.
The farrier is one—the equine veterinarian is the other. Both deserve special recognition.
In 1997, American Farriers Journal established the International Equine Veterinarians Hall Of Fame to honor individuals who have left a lasting impression on the horse industry and to complement the existing International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame. The goal is to honor individuals who have played a key role in furthering the knowledge of hoof care and the overall health care of horses.
Letters and testimonials flooded our mailbox nominating 27 equine veterinarians from all parts of the world for the 1999 class. The selection process was not an easy one and nominations for this award were divided into two critical areas:
- Practicing veterinarians who work closely with farriers on foot-care concerns in the field on a daily basis.
- University or industry veterinarians involved in teaching, research or another aspect of hoof care.
- American Farriers Journal proudly announces the 1999 of inductees into the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame are:
- Dr. David M. Hood, head of The Hoof Project at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.
- Dr. Carlos Rodriguez, a practicing equine veterinarian and farrier in Caracas, Venezuela.
Dr. David Hood
When it comes to unwavering dedication to the equine foot, Hood stands in a class by himself. His efforts to research, learn and provide new information to veterinarians and farriers have provided many opportunities for both professions to work together for the betterment of the horse.
Hood has shown his dedication by becoming the founder and leader of a unique research group called The Hoof Project at Texas A&M University. The project has provided in-depth research of the equine foot and has served as a highly valuable teaching mechanism for students interested in pursing careers in veterinary research.
“In addition to teaching students via the regular curriculum, Dr. Hood has developed a three-hour credit course that is focused on the anatomy and physiology of the equine foot,” says Ilka Wagner, a veterinarian and graduate student on the Texas A&M staff. “This class has been extremely well received and has also been made available to farriers interested in learning more about the equine foot.”
Even more important in promoting the education of farriers is Hood’s ability to learn from farriers. “His relationship with farriers is unique in that learning takes place in both directions,” explains Wagner. “He has a great respect for their knowledge and learns as much from them as they do from him.”
Earning a doctoral degree in veterinary physiology in 1984, Hood’s efforts began with his attention to the devastating disease of laminitis. He began publishing papers regarding the effects, prevention and treatment protocols for the veterinarian and farrier.
“Finally, Dr. Hood puts a great deal of effort into getting the results of his research out to the public, the farrier and veterinarian,” Wagner says.
Hood does this by speaking at various meetings such as the American Farrier’s Association convention, the American Association for Equine Practitioners annual meeting, the Texas Professional Farrier’s Association’s annual meeting and welcoming farriers to The Hoof Project.
The Hoof Project’s Home Page on the Internet (www.cvm. tamu.edu/hoof) also provides valuable information on various research projects, as well as basic information regarding laminitis for the horse owner and others through discussions and image presentations.
“Dr. Hood exemplifies what it means to be a caring veterinarian dedicated to improving the quality of life for the horse,” Wagner says.
Dr. Carlos Rodriguez
One of the luxuries of being a farrier or equine vet in the United States is that it’s easy to forget how difficult these positions are in other countries. One individual who knows these difficulties personally and has found unique ways to overcome them is Venezuela equine veterinarian Carlos Rodriguez.
A knowledgeable equine veterinarian and first-class farrier, Rodriguez promotes continuing learning opportunities. Even though education in the farrier industry is quite expensive in Venezuela, Rodriguez formed an American Farrier’s Association chapter in 1996 at his own expense to help farriers gain extra knowledge and experience.
A practicing equine veterinarian with a master’s degree in equine reproduction who does considerable equine embryo work, Rodriguez also has five farriers on his staff. They specialize in working on foot-care concerns with Paso Fino horses, jumpers, dressage horses and horses used in bulltailing, a popular rodeo-type sport in Venezuela.
“Actually, I got involved in the equine field through participating in bull-tailing and ended up going to the university to study veterinary medicine,” says Rodriguez. “A friend had a foundered horse and that problem got me interested in learning more about laminitis.
“Earlier, I wanted to go to Oklahoma for horseshoeing school, but decided instead to become an equine veterinarian.
“Then 10 years ago, I went to Bud Beaston’s Oklahoma Farrier’s College for two weeks and shod horses with Chris Bailey in Okeechobee, Fla., for three months.”
Rodriguez is frequently asked to train and teach veterinary students who have finished school.
“Not only does he give them the experience needed for veterinarian work, but he also trains them in farrier work and helps them find ways of sharing ideas to make their skills even more useful to their profession,” says Gene Ovnicek of Columbia Falls, Mont.
“Rodriguez employs five farriers to provide valuable apprentice opportunities. Along with vet students, these farriers gain extensive experience, including shoemaking and well-rounded practical farrier knowledge.”
Rodriguez frequently visits the United States for meetings and symposiums to keep abreast of the newest informative topics and lectures. These include the annual meeting of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the Bluegrass Laminitis Symposium and the American Farrier’s Association annual convention. Rodriguez always returns to Venezuela with new-found knowledge to pass along to farriers and students.
Each year, he also runs a foot-related educational conference in Venezuela that includes about 130 attending veterinarians, farriers, trainers and horse owners.
Rodriguez has had difficulty getting financial aid and speakers for this meeting. Last year, he had a dozen speakers from the United States.
“Many farriers and horse people in Venezuela don’t read or write,” he says. “So it’s very difficult to further their education. I also do foot-care clinics at the university for veterinary students.
“While we’re making progress, it hasn’t been easy.”
Model For The World
“I feel, as others who know Dr. Rodriguez do, that his efforts not only implement a basic learning environment for his country,” Ovnicek says, “but serve as a model of excellence for the rest of the equine hoof industry around the world.”