A spirited discussion focusing on veterinarian-farrier relationships reveals there still is much work to do on both sides.

Pat Reilly and Mark Silverman conducted a provocative, yet respectful conversation titled, “Destroying Roadblocks That Hamper The Veterinarian-Farrier Relationship,” on Thursday at the 13th annual International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Reilly is head farrier at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center. Silverman is an equine veterinarian and farrier at Sporthorse Veterinary Services in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. He also helped to spearhead the Veterinary Equine Podiatry Group (VEPG), a collection of equine veterinarians who are attempting to establish a college of specialty in hoof care.

“Specialization is a very tricky word,” Silverman says. “It’s actually a legal word, and it means you’ve gone through education, training, certification and testing to become a board certified specialist in an area. There is nothing like that in podiatry.”

The idea behind the group is to better educate equine veterinarians about footcare, he says. The formation of the group, though, has stirred skepticism and suspicions that equine vets have ulterior motives.

“If I’m going to call myself a podiatry expert, I’ve got to prove to somebody — a group — that I have the skills and the training to do that,” Silverman explains. “That’s our entire focus. There’s nothing about legislation, there’s nothing about controlling what farriers and vets can and can’t do. It’s a matter of bettering the veterinarians who claim to be experts in this field.”

Although Reilly doesn’t necessarily oppose VEPG, he has concerns.

“It’s really difficult to expect somebody to be an expert in veterinary medicine and also in the skills that farriers have,” he says. “If the Veterinary Equine Podiatry Group is about education and research, bring it on. I love it. I think it’s a great concept.

“I have a concern of having board certification of veterinary medicine for something that I don’t think falls under the guise of veterinary medicine. It’s a separate field and I think trying to combine them in a sense further convolutes the lines of what I’m supposed to do as a farrier and basically who the experts are.”

Evaluation For Static And Dynamic Balance

Silverman also presented a lecture titled, “Evaluation For Static And Dynamic Balance.”

“It’s almost impossible to come up with a consensus on how to go about addressing this issue,” Silverman says. “I’m not here to tell you how to balance feet. I’m not here to say there’s one answer into looking at static or dynamic balance.

“The biggest part of this is trying to come up with a systemic approach to doing this that can be repeatable. If you use this kind of approach, you can do a modification of the foot, assess what it does and know where you’re going from there, as opposed to just doing it randomly or based on your gut or feeling.”

Before one can balance the foot, it should be defined and understand it’s importance.

“The simple definition is it’s the harmonious function of the structures of the distal limb,” Silverman says. “It looks different on every horse. It looks different on every foot sometimes. Why is it important to have the distal phalanges — P1, P2 and P3 — in a straight line? The biggest reason is congruency in the joints — having the maximum amount of surface area in contact with the joints. It seems to be where things are the happiest. When you think about the horse in motion, it’s also when the joint will travel from extreme to extreme, meaning from maximum flexion to maximum extension.”

Hoof Mapping: Where Do We Go From Here?

Hoof mapping is a concept that many farriers employ. Some specifically draw the lines on the sole of the foot to indicate where the internal structures are. Drawing several lines, though, can get confusing.

Berthoud, Colo., farrier Steve Foxworth finds that the Equine Lameness Prevention Organization’s protocol is not only effective, but the simplest way to locate the internal structures externally.

“This method uses three lines to identify the widest part of the hoof, the tip of P3 and breakover,” he says. “It makes it easier to focus on the foot. By locating the widest part of the foot, you can assess distortions in the back and front half of the foot independently.”

It’s also critical to understand how the hoof grows.

“Being able to consistently assess distortions is key in balancing the foot,” Foxworth says. “Having a system is extremely helpful in communication and can start to define what balance is.”

Halls Of Fame

One of the most memorable moments of each Summit is the induction of farriers and equine veterinarians into their respective Halls Of Fame. Each group welcomed three new members into their midst Thursday afternoon.

Farriers Steve Bloom, Jim Blurton and Steve Kraus joined the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame, while Florian Buchner, Rustin Moore and Scott Pleasant were added to the International Equine Veterinarian Hall Of Fame.

Blurton of Forden, Wales, has been practicing farriery for nearly 4 decades and has been a member of the Welsh International Team for more than 30 years. He has won more than 200 competitions all over the world, including the World Champion Blacksmiths’ Competition in Calgary in 2005.

“Thank you very much for this award,” says the founder and owner of Jim Blurton Specialist Horseshoes. “One thing is missing today and that is my father, my mentor. If I’m to be totally honest, when I was 15 or 16, I was making bad choices. I was going the wrong way. He took me to the side and told me, ‘Jim, you’re going to go to jail.’ He said, ‘You need to do something to focus your energy.’ We started shoeing horses. I found the job challenging. I found it interesting. I found it focusing. Just shoe horses and do the best you can.”

Kraus is the head farrier at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, N.Y., where he educates students in the art and science of farriery and provides hoofcare at the university hospital.

“It’s a great industry and profession we have,” Kraus says. “I’m so proud to have spent the last 53 years of my life being involved with this. It’s been a long, but great ride. This is quite a moment for me. Getting into the Hall Of Fame is such a great thing for me, because so many of my good friends who have taught me and helped me are in the Hall Of Fame, and I’m standing on their shoulders. Some of them are no longer here, but I feel their presence today.”

Bloom was a renowned farrier and the founder and president of Grand Circuit Products, where he designed and manufactured innovative horseshoes. Bloom passed away Jan. 11, 2015. He was 70. Jan, Bloom’s wife, accepted the honor.

The International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame has a permanent home at the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville, Ky. The horseshoeing exhibit includes a display of farrier tools and shoes, photos and graphics depicting the history of the profession. It also includes the history behind the Hall, as well as many shoes that have been donated by Hall Of Fame members.

Moore is a professor and associate dean for clinical and outreach programs at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. His research has focused on finding a more complete understanding of the pathophysiology of acute laminitis.

“This is certainly unexpected recognition when I was contacted,” says the former president of the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians. “There is nothing more important than the relationship between a veterinarian, a farrier and the owner in providing footcare, particularly. I’m honored that this group would think that I’m worthy of this award. Thank you very much.”

Pleasant is the director of equine podiatry services at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg, Va.

He is an equine surgeon, clinician and farrier who emphasizes the importance of farriery in veterinary education at the school, where he helped establish the college’s farrier service in 2010.

“Being acknowledged by being inducted by a group such as this is an honor, but it’s also very humbling,” Pleasant says. “I feel truly privileged to be included.”

Buchner is a professor of clinical horse surgery at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria. His work focuses on seeking way to better explain how the horse moves when both sound and lame. Buchner has been a member of the ÖGT Sektion Pferd board for the past 8 years, as well as a scientific advisory board member of ICEL since 2007. Buchner was unable to attend the ceremony.

To nominate a farrier or equine vet, send a 1- to 3-page letter highlighting the candidate’s accomplishments to: American Farriers Journal, P.O. Box 624, Brookfield, WI 53008-0624. Nomination letters also may be faxed to (262) 782-1252 or emailed to lessitef@lessitermedia.com with Hall Of Fame Nomination in the subject line. The deadline to submit nominations is July 31, 2016.