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Kurt reminded me this week that Tuesday is the first day of the Jumper and Hunter show to benefit Duke Children’s Hospital.  This is one of the best shows we have in the area.  It runs all week ending Sunday11/11, and offers US Equestrian Federation “AA” rated hunter and show jumping competition each day.  The Grand Prix will begin at 8 pm Saturday.  The schedule is located at Show Brochure.  Take a look and plan to attend.  I plan to check things out daily, so send me a text and meet me there to take in some of the best of our equestrian sports here in Raleigh.  I hope to see you there…GM

Hmmm!  I just received a “VIP invitation” to the reception for the grand opening of the new Dover Saddlery at Brier Creek.  Of course I will attend.  This business serves my client base, and I suppose that there is reason to be excited that the executives of the Massachusetts based company saw the equestrian community here as significant enough to merit a retail store.  It does speak very favorably of our thriving equestrian world here in the greater Triangle area, and it will likely be good for those of us in the world of horses.

Then why the ambivalence?  Well, just a few years ago we had a fantastic independent saddlery, tack, and feed supply retailer here in Raleigh who had grown his business and expanded into a new facility near triangle town center.  Of course I am speaking of Triangle Horse Sports.  Gilles and Christine were a tremendous asset to our community.  Not only did they run a first rate retail store, providing jobs and contributing to the tax base here in Raleigh, but they were legitimate equestrians who understood what it means to live with our equine partners.  They did business with integrity and a smile.  One always had a sense that they cared about their customers and truly appreciated our business.  When their business suddenly closed, I was very shocked and saddened.

I suppose this is the way of the world now, and I should get with the program accepting the inevitable spread of national brand box store retailers at the expense of independent local entrepreneurs.  I am just not there yet.  Maybe its just sentiment or maybe its because I like Gilles and Christine, who can say?  I am sure the November 8th reception at the Brier Creek Retail super duper center will be a good event.  I hope they prove to be a good citizen and an asset to our equestrian community here, and I hope to see you there with me at Dover Saddlery on that Thursday evening at 6 pm.

“The amazing Dr. Pol,”  what a great show.  National Geographic Channel hit a homerun with this one.  As one who clearly falls outside the collective mainstream on television entertainment, I am not one who sees much entertainment value in reality TV.  This show however has made a believer out of me.  It is James Herriott meets Survivor.  I enjoy seeing the life of a country multispecies veterinarian.  Serving a farming community in Michigan, he sees it all; dogs cats, goats, cattle, and of course my favorite, horses.

If you have a chance, tune in to an episode or set your DVR.  Give it a try and see what you think.

The North Carolina State Climate Office website confirmed what I intuitively suspected.  Rainfall in the Tar, Neuse, and Cape Fear watersheds has been far in excess of annual averages.  In short, it has been wet as heck!  Great news for those of you managing pastures.  The grass has never been greener, and you have likely taken your supper on the seat of the tractor/mower more than once.    Regrettably, as with most any perceived blessing, there is a downside.  I won’t get into the suffering of shoeing horses in the oppressive heat and humidity.  That’s a jeremiad that no one cares to hear.  I did choose this line of work.

The subject of today’s thoughts is the implications of excessive moisture on the quality of the hoof wall of our horses.  I have never seen so many chipped, broken, and mashed out feet with nail clenches sticking 2-5mm above the hoof wall.  I am actually surprised that I haven’t had to replace more shoes, as these conditions don’t tend to hold the shoes on tightly.  What I have observed is the importance of the shortened shoeing interval.  Six weeks being the summer norm has proved to be the near maximum of time between shoeings.  In many cases, shortening the schedule to five weeks has meant the difference between retaining shoes and dealing with pulled/lost/thrown shoes.

“So,” you might ask,” what the devil is going on here?”  The hoof wall is keratinized epithelium, basically a specialized skin adaptation, very much like our human fingernail.  If you have ever spent hours at a time in the pool, lake, or ocean, or you simply like to indulge yourself in the hot tub when you go for your massage at the spa, then you know what that water does to your finger nails.  It makes them soft.  No problem for us, as they tend to lose that moisture within a few hours and they regain their firm consistency.  The hoof walls of our horses also absorb moisture from the environment.  Wet fields from dew or rain, mud , and excessive bathing can lead to a really wet and soft hoof.  With 1,000 plus pounds of force pushing down on that foot, the only direction that hoof wall can go is out, where the edges are exposed to wear and chipping and the nail clenches are left exposed.  Eventually the shoe tears free leaving a big mess where it once was firmly attached.

The answer to this conundrum is simple.  In as much as it is possible, try stalling the horse in dry shavings during the wettest parts of the day, early morning and during and immediately after storms.  Give them a chance to get out of that wet pasture.  Dry feet are solid feet, that resist chipping and breaking , and hold the clenched nails and therefore the shoes.  As it turns out rainfall, like everything is best in moderation.  Green tall fields carry a cost to our horses feet unless we are proactive in managing when and where they are turned out.

It is with great pride that I now serve the citizens of Raleigh and the officers of the Mounted Police Unit.  These horses proudly work carrying their officers to ensure our safety downtown.  You may have seen them at one of many places downtown including City Market, Moore Square, Fayetteville Street, or at Pullen Park.  These four majestic horses, Ike the Buckskin Hanoverian, Major, the Spotted Draft, WIlliow the black Percheron, and the enormous Zeus the Drum Horse work hard every day patrolling the streets of Raleigh.

This kind of work load requires that the horses be sound and comfortable in their shoes, and yes they do get special shoes.  Walking the streets is concussive.  The “Smooth Walker” brand shoes have an inch of urethane rubber under the steel shank of the shoe.  This provides support, protection, and shock absorption to keep these equine officers “on the beat.”  The officers of Raleigh have many choices of fine farriers here in the Triangle.  I am proud to have been selected for this public service.  Seeing these law enforcement equine/officer teams gives me a deep satisfaction.  In an age of budget crunches many municipalities have retired their equine units.  We citizens of Raleigh should be proud of our mounted unit and the work that they do .  When downtown, look for these officers and tell them thanks for keeping us safe.