Gene Ovineck is coming back to the International Hoof-Care Summit, and there are some people who aren’t happy about that.

During the 2010 Summit, controversy arose after an Ovineck presentation. The Penrose, Colo., farrier who developed the Natural Balance shoeing method, showed a series of Power Point slides of the progress a particular hoof made while being treated by a trimming protocol.

However, one slide in that series was of a different hoof than that shown in the rest. Some of the attendees, notably Alabama farrier Mike Miller, called him on it.

Fraud Or Honest Mistake?

Miller, an orthopedic surgeon as well as an AFA Certified Journeyman Farrier and a Fellow of the Worshipful Company of Farriers of Great Britain, sees it as deliberate. He labels it an “academic fraud” on his Facebook profile.

Ovineck calls it an honest mistake or, perhaps more accurately, a sin of omission. In a written explanation to Summit attendees after the event, he admitted the slide in question was not from the same horse, but was used to represent how the hoof appeared at a particular phase that he didn’t have a picture for.

He wrote that he intended to inform the audience of this fact, but forgot to do so.

Our Response

American Farriers Journal asked Ovineck to respond to the charges, and he did so, as outlined above. Let’s make it clear that we were not happy about the use of the picture in question, and made this point clear to Ovineck. But we also accepted his explanation and apology. Clearly, others have not.

We did not ignore the situation. In addition to requiring Ovineck to apologize and explain the error to Summit attendees, we declined his request to be allowed to present at the 2011 Summit. (A speaker from Ovineck’s Equine Lameness Prevention Organization was included, however).

Why He’s Back

We have decided to let Ovineck return as a presenter for the 2012 Summit. In effect, he was suspended for a year. Miller — and no doubt others — seem to feel a lifetime ban would be more appropriate.

Then should we also ban any mention of Natural Balance shoeing, or any research conducted by the farriers and veterinarians of the Equine Lameness Prevention Organization? We won’t do that. The Summit was developed as an open forum where hoof-care professionals can gather to be exposed to all theories of trimming, shoeing and related topics; new as well as old, accepted as well as controversial. That’s not going to change. It’s one of the strengths of the event.

Ovineck will be on the 2012 program. Obviously, we’ll watch his presentations carefully. We have no doubt he’ll also be under the watchful eyes of attendees who won’t hesitate to call him on any other mistakes or sins of omission.

And that’s also a Summit strength.