|Published in the October 1989 Issue of Anvil Magazine
This is the concluding part of a two-part interview with Burney Chapman.
Part one appeared in the September 1989 issue.
ANVIL: You mentioned earlier that laminitis is often like polio
in that the disease comes, creates a problem, and then it leaves.
BURNEY: That is correct. For instance, a lot of people died of polio.
They just died and they buried them, and other people survived polio.
The polio maimed and crippled. It made their hands crippled, it made
it so they couldn't walk, it made it where they couldn't hardly eat.
Some of them it made so they couldn't breathe without an iron lung.
Laminitis is a whole lot similar to that. The horse gets laminitis
and we've never distinguished between laminitis and chronic laminitis
where the fingernail tears loose, the bone rotates or prolapses through
the sole or kills the horse. We never realized that there was something
we could do mechanically. For instance, the horses that are chronic
founders -- Rob and I witnessed one today. The guy had a shoe nailed
on backwards. This thing had been crippled for 15 years. Nobody bothered
to x-ray it, it periodically had an abscess problem and got tremendously
lame. Nobody bothered to take an x-ray. If the shoe's nailed on backwards,
it's going to abscess again in another month. It had been doing this
the last 48 months probably, according to the history.
Why not fix that? Why not mechanically fix that problem with something
like a frog-support shoe, a heartbar shoe, whatever anybody wants
to call it.
The mare will lead a normal and happy life and not have all those
problems. It's just like polio. The mare survived the laminitis, she
lived, and now she's suffering from pedal osteosis, from lamella wedge.
Nobody has ever given her any arch support. She has these periodic
The farrier who works that ranch didn't even know the AFA existed.
He has been shoeing horses for 22 years. He did not know they had
a Western States Farriers Association. He's too busy for all that
anyway. He was there at the owner's expense yesterday, and he's wanting
to know how much pressure you give to the heartbar, and he doesn't
know what a heartbar shoe looks like except the one he saw on this
horse. He's the guy who put the shoe on backwards. He's telling me
how many hundreds he has fixed with a backward horseshoe.
ANVIL: We're looking at some really basic questions here. Why does
the owner of a reputable breeding place use a farrier who has such
antiquated ways and ideas, doesn't know what's current in the industry,
and doesn't know who you are or what you do? The bottom line is we
have horses out there that need to be helped, and they're not being
helped. And that's a sad commentary.
BURNEY: It makes me cry because this man who owns this horse has
a real good veterinarian, but he doesn't know anything about foot
problems. This veterinarian has seen heartbar shoes applied wrong,
hoof resections done totally ridiculous, not only by farriers but
by his own profession, and those horses are history, they are dead.
They're buried in the bay out there.
ANVIL: Burney, what are your thoughts about the high heel or club
BURNEY: I've always maintained that the right front foot was the
high heel in the club foot of the horse. Now then, some of our friends
south of the equator say, "No, it's the left front foot." Over the
years we've compared notes. Now Dr. Pollit from Australia is saying
that they're seeing about the same in the right front as the left
front, but most of them are right front. Ninety percent in the United
States, regardless of the breed, are right front -- the high heel
ANVIL: What common denominator do you see in these club-footed horses?
BURNEY: The only common denominator that I see is nutrition. I cannot
buy this grazing theory that a horse grazes in a scissor stance because
he's short-necked and he's doing this or he's doing that. On the Four
Sixes Ranch there are 325 sections, that's 325 square miles. On the
Waggoner Ranch there are 990,000 acres, on the King Ranch there are
another 900,000 acres, on the Pitchfork Ranch there are 150,000 acres.
For example, they take 25 mares and they turn them out in this 10-section
pasture. These 25 mares and this one stud, they're turned out in February
and they leave the stud out February, March, April and May. They pick
the stud up and then the stud goes back with the geldings. The geldings
taught the stud manners. These 25 mares had 20 to 24 babies. These
mares were never fed anything but grass, like a horse that's put in
the wild. The stud ate the same grass the mares did. The baby was
conceived, carried, and he or she was born in that pasture. It might
have been cold, 20 below zero, and the mare took care of that baby.
And that baby nursed that mother and he ate the same grass his mother
did, and we didn't see club feet. We still don't to this day, in any
I think that Dr. Redden will agree with this -- we never saw club
feet in Thoroughbreds until the last six or seven years. The common
denominator I see is that we're trying to feed the mare too much.
We baby the horse too much. We've forgotten that he's kind of like
the American Indian. In less than 100 years we've taken him out of
his natural environment and put him in a boxed stall, overfed him,
and underworked him.
ANVIL: So you think maybe there are three ways of looking at these
club feet -- one, the grazing theory; two, genetic factors; and three,
nutrition. Do you agree with that?
BURNEY: I definitely think that foot problems are highly hereditary,
but with the club foot, it's not the foot, it's a tendon problem.
ANVIL: Let's get to the tendon problem in a minute. The third situation
would be the one where there's obviously a food imbalance. Do you
think that in the nutritional imbalance that it's due to a mineral
BURNEY: They researched copper deficiency on a few farms. They analyzed
the soil and analyzed the trace mineral intake -- zinc, copper, calcium
and phosporous -- but the only common denominator I can see in all
those farms is that they just overfed -- an over-intake of nutrition,
not one or two of those minerals.
ANVIL: On the club foot situation, have you found the most effective
therapy to be a tendon cut?
BURNEY: If they're contracted enough. If the horse has a real true
tendon deformity, a farrier will never stretch the tendon with a horseshoe
because the tendon is much stronger than the bond between the fingernail
and the anterior surface of the third phalanx. You actually pry the
fingernail of the hoof wall loose from the anterior surface of the
third phalanx with an extended toe shoe. I don't know anybody who
has ever really stretched a tendon.
ANVIL: What do you think about casting the leg for a period of time
and then pulling the cast off with the expectation that the muscles
would weaken enough to stretch that?
BURNEY: I think that's good if you do it when the baby is young
enough, but after he's 90 to 120 days old, you can put a splint on
him, a cast on him, you can stall rest, whatever, but I think it's
history by then, in my opinion. And I'd like to see some real proof
radiographically and photographically or videotape or anything else
where after a baby six or eight months old, has had a cast or the
leg splinted and made it to any kind of a normal configuration.
ANVIL: In dealing with foals, when there's a certain amount of deviation
in the foot and the leg, how effective do you think the medial or
lateral extension shoes are?
BURNEY: In the early stages of the baby, I think that they are very
effective, but not after the baby is 120 days old.
ANVIL: Burney, what about the time you have spent demonstrating
and experimenting with the Glu-Strider shoes?
BURNEY: Mustad basically subsidized the clinics. They spent thousands
and thousands of dollars in educating farriers. Mustad didn't say
that we had to say that this nail or this horseshoe was the ultimate.
We went into that with an open mind. We never told anybody that the
glue-on shoe would do something that it wouldn't do.
Ethics are critically important. If you believe in a glue-on shoe
for certain reasons, then use that to its fullest extent, but don't
abuse it. If it's a heartbar shoe and if you believe in it, use it.
If you believe in an egg bar shoe, use it, but don't abuse it. It's
like a good horse, a good dog, or a good woman. Use the hell out of
them, but don't ever abuse them.
But, you know, money couldn't buy me, and I don't think it could buy
Myron McLane, to sell Hoof Bond. I don't care how much money Hoof
Bond has. I mean even half a million dollars isn't going to make me
lie about that.
ANVIL: You put on a couple of Seattle Shoes on the hind feet of
a horse at the Northern California Classic. How did you ever come
to do that?
BURNEY: That was the first time I ever put a Seattle Shoe on the
back feet. Let me tell you about my introduction to the Seattle Shoe.
One day Ed Kinney brought this Seattle Shoe to me and said, "Guess
what I have!" And I asked him if it was an ashtray or a speaker out
of a radio. "Well," he said, "this is the Seattle Shoe. Haven't you
heard about it?" And I said, "I know where Seattle is and I know who
Seattle Slew is, but I don't know about the Seattle Shoe." I thought
it was some kind of joke. He said, "I'm serious." And I said, "You
can't tell me you nail this darn thing on a horse's foot. It will
make him fall down, trip, and stumble." He said, "No, it really will
work." I said, "Well, I'll try anything once. Send me a set of them."
And so Ed Kinney sent me a pair of those things.
Those shoes had been in my office about two days, and there was a
group of farriers at my place, including Jim Poor. I said, "Jim, we're
going to put these shoes on." And Jim says, "What? We're not going
to do this." And so I said, "Yeah, we're going to have fun." This
was right after the dude sitting on the milk carton was on the front
of the American Farriers Journal.We put the Seattle shoe on
my kid's roping horse. All of us are there with the Seattle Shoe,
sitting on a milk carton with our hats turned sideways.
We've used these shoes on a stallion . . . with fused pasterns.
It seems to work like an added joint and helped the horse.
My son is bareback on his horse with the Seattle shoes on the front
and he goes clippety-clop off down the road. And I mean it was really
a big deal. People came from miles around to see these weird shoes.
That was two years ago. We kept records for Ed, and my kid rode the
horse so many miles everyday. Then we sent the shoes back and then
they sent more shoes.
We've used these shoes on a stallion that belongs to Texas Tech University
with fused pasterns. It seems to work like an added joint and helped
the horse. Another horse we put the Seattle Shoes on is a 19-year-old
pleasure horse with some front leg problems and some pedal osteitis.
It really helped him.
ANVIL: Burney, let's propose a hypothetical case. The situation
is that the horse got into the grain the night before, and you and
a veterinarian are on the scene the next morning. What are you going
BURNEY: The horse is colicky, he's a little bit sore, he's reluctant
to move, and he's standing a little tense out in front. The first
thing the veterinarian is going to do is administer whatever medication
he feels the horse needs. He checks the feet, he takes the pulse,
he does a lot of things. He may give him mineral oil, Bute, or whatever.
We don't think the horse has any rotation, any edema, no sinking,
no anything else, but we'll take x-rays anyway.
ANVIL: First of all, the vet gives him Bute (an anti-inflammatory)
to make sure the horse is relaxed. Is it because you want to get rid
of that pain syndrome that complicates matters?
BURNEY: Yes, we want to get rid of the pain, but the first day the
veterinarian will take an x-ray, a lateral at least. We don't know
whether this thing is going to get worse or if it's going to get better.
He has laminitis, everybody agrees with that. He has a pounding digital
pulse, he's glued to the ground. After reviewing the x-rays, we determine
that there is no pathological change inside the hoof capsule. The
bone is perfect and there is no change in the hoof wall in relation
to the bone.
After we take the radiograph, we normally put a heartbar shoe on that
same morning, with maybe a millimeter of support, no more.
ANVIL: Are you in favor of a heartbar/egg bar or just a heartbar?
BURNEY: That depends upon the foot conformation. In an upright situation,
like most Quarter Horses, you're basically going to have a heartbar
that's going to be open, maybe a half-inch at the heel. You leave
plenty of room at the heel with a heartbar.
ANVIL: So, in this case you decided that the heartbar shoe is probably
as much a therapeutic device as a preventative device for rotation.
What do you and the veterinarian see as typical symptoms and what
do you decide as far as blood panels and/or x-rays are concerned?
BURNEY: The horse is reluctant to move because everytime it moves
it hurts like heck. Every book that you ever picked up describing
laminitis has a horse standing there with a characteristic laminitic
stance -- front feet way out in front of him and camped under behind,
correct? The day that you get to Old Dobbin eating the grain, he may
not have the characteristic camped-out in front, underslung feet.
He just may be reluctant to move, but he has a pounding pulse and
he has a heart rate that's higher than normal. Respiration may be
elevated, he may or may not have a temperature. He may have 102.5
temperature, which seems to be a kickoff point for severe founder
or severe laminitis, we don't know why, but those are just some statistics
we've gathered together. The veterinarian takes the temperature. He
calls back and says, "It's 102.3 or 102.5, nothing to be worried about."
But that is something to worry about, that particular temperature
If the farrier is not there, you say "Leave the shoe on, take the
shoe off, but put some frog support on him." Dr. Redden has a Lily
pad you can tape on. Or you can take outdoor carpet, cut it out to
fit the frog and stack it up so that you have about 3/8 of an inch
of frog support below the bearing surface of the wall, and tape it
to the frog until the farrier can get there.
We put heartbars on them that day if we can get to them, or the next
day. Take x-rays -- we seem to have good luck with that.
ANVIL: Do you draw blood and take a panel at the same time?
BURNEY: If we think the horse is real sick and he has 102.5 fever
then we try to run a blood chemistry on him which is called an SMA-20.
In the past it has been my experience that the veterinarian went out,
saw the horse, and he called it a foundered horse. He gave it Bute
and things went along pretty good for 15 or 20 days and then the horse
blew up. When he blew up, they said it refoundered; it didn't refounder.
That's when it did founder, that's when everything turned loose, when
the abscess started. And then they tend to say, "It's not bad enough
to put frog support on or a heartbar shoe." Well, why not put it on?
It's certainly bad enough when it gets to laying down to put on a
heartbar shoe or frog support. Why don't you put it on before then
to try to keep it from happening?
ANVIL: In the case that you worked on this morning I noticed that
you had a heartbar shoe on that horse but you also had a protection
plate, or hospital plate. And you also were instructing the people
in the use of certain chemicals in the process. The first thing you
did was pick up the foot and unscrew the hospital plate, take out
the gauze packing, and then scrape away the proliferation of necrotic
BURNEY: What we had was a prolapse of the solar corium. This would
be approximately five days old from that solar corium when the old
horny sole just fell out of the foot. It was loose the 15th of last
month, according to the radiographs. We took radiographs before. You
do all of this radiographically so that you know where you are because
the veterinarian, the owner, or the farrier can't tell what is going
on inside of that hoof capsule.
So we took x-rays 30 days ago, 15 days ago, and then again this morning.
Yesterday when we worked on this horse, he had a prolapse of the solar
corium. The old sole had fallen out and part of the solar corium had
protruded through the horny sole. Here it is sticking down about 1/2
inch. If you put any pressure on that, it's very painful to the horse,
and he's going to lay down. He can't stand on it. Or if you put too
much pressure on it right in that area, you're really going to compromise
the blood supply to the circumflex vein and artery. So what we do
is try to reduce this swelling of the solar corium, and the reason
for the hospital plate is so that nothing will push against that area
and cause pain. The vet keeps the horse on medication to guard against
infection and dirt. The bedding can't push the bandage up against
that area and cause pain. That's why the hospital plate is on.
ANVIL: I noticed that the horse traveled real well afterwards. One
thing I was curious about, though, is the caustic powder. Could you
explain the process that you went through.
BURNEY: Copper sulphate powder is the basic ingredient in all caustic
powders. You have some that are more wicked or stronger. You can use
100% copper sulphate, and it's very caustic. I mean it will really
burn, especially if it's moist. But this is probably 60% copper sulphate
that we used this morning. We're trying to reduce the swelling or
the exuberant granulation tissue, to reduce that to where it gets
back down below the epithelial cell line of the normal solar corium
because with proud flesh or exuberant granulation tissue anywhere
in the body, the epithelial cell will grow up against the exuberent
tissues, but the skin won't grow over that so you have to cut that
off. The same in the bottom of a horse's foot. If it has protruded
below that epithelial cell development line with the horny sole, the
horny sole will never cover it again. So you have to reduce it back.
ANVIL: That's why you use the copper sulphate.
BURNEY: We could have cauterized it with a hot cautery, we could
have frozen it back with a liquid nitrogen, or we could have used
a surgical device, which is a blade that cuts and cauterizes behind
it because all that tissue is very vascular and bleeds very prolifically.
If you can reduce it without a lot of hemorrhage, you're better off
because you have an owner standing there. Just get it reduced in the
least painful way that you can without letting a lot of hemorrhage
or blood out because people panic at the sight of blood.
ANVIL: In the particular case that we witnessed today, you had already
doctored the horse the day before and so we brought the horse up and
took the hospital plate off and you scraped away . . .
BURNEY: What we would call the scab, like peeling the scab off of
a wound. What you have done is cauterized it so a part of that tissue
ANVIL: And this tissue that you're talking about is actually an
extension of the solar corium.
BURNEY: Solar corium comes from the third phalanx, it's grown off
the third phalanx, but the bone itself did not protrude through the
sole. Radiographically P3 is basically where it's going to be and
is supposed to be under normal conditions. But due to the swelling
and the horny sole all of a sudden being opened, then that swollen
solar corium protrudes through that. Then it can become exuberant
like proud flesh.
We cauterized it yesterday with a caustic powder and it formed a scab,
and we peeled the scab off today, that made it a millimeter or half
a millimeter less sticking through so we reduced it one millimeter
by scraping the scab off. Then we put more caustic powder on it and
tomorrow morning or this evening, when we take it off, hopefully it
reduces it another half to one millimeter until we get it back down
flush -- like a normal horse's foot. It will be smooth or basically
concave, not convex like it was today.
ANVIL: At that point do you use betadine or sugardine?
BURNEY: I would recommend using sugardine then, which some people
call a quack remedy but it's not. It's used extensively in human medicine.
I've written a paper on sugardine and it's documented in human medicine
in scientific journals. It's just a mixture of plain, white granulated
table sugar and a good quality betadine solution or betadine scrub.
It won't blister or anything. We have raw tissue and we want something
that's very compatible to infantile tissue. With some antibiotics,
bacteria won't live in them, but they are also anti-healing. In other
words, infantile tissue won't heal very fast with it. The sugar is
hydroscopic; it draws fluids to it. There are very few bacteria that
can live in the pH medium of sugar, and also the sugar is very compatible
with infantile tissue, which is raw flesh. The betadine is just kind
of a mild, carrying agent to keep the sugar in place. That's why we
use sugardine. We used to use something like 7% or 10-20% iodine.
ANVIL: Twenty percent! That would eat the bottle!
BURNEY: Oh, yes, it does. It will eat the lid off of the bottle,
but we did use that years ago. And some of those horses made it. We
didn't realize it, but it killed some of them. We'd say, "Boy, we
dried that up right quick," but we dried it up on the outside, and
every wound has to heal from the inside to the outside.
ANVIL: So 7% would kill it on the outside only.
BURNEY: Then you end up with all of these abscess problems. You
just kept having abscesses because you seared it over on the outside.
ANVIL: Burney, what do you think about the international relationship
of farriers around the world?
BURNEY: I think it's the greatest thing that has happened in many
years. The English/European influence on America is wonderful, but
I think that the American influence on Europe and England is also
wonderful. The world has gotten smaller with the exchange of knowledge
from England and Europe -- France, Germany and so forth, and say Texas,
California, New York -- it has brought about progress in many areas
between many cultures.
ANVIL: Yes, but is it really happening?
BURNEY: Certainly it's happening. How many years has it been since
the first American Farriers contest that you went to at a convention?
ANVIL: Well, Frank Pickell and I went to Denver in 1977.
BURNEY: How many coal forges were in Denver?
ANVIL: Actually there weren't that many competitors, but the majority
were coal forges -- they smoked us out!
BURNEY: Let's just talk about knowledge, progress, and tradition.
Ten years ago, let's go back to Albuquerque in 1979, 80 percent of
the people there had a coal forge. When was the convention in Valley
Forge? It was after Albuquerque. It was colder than a witch's tit.
It was dry outside and they had this thing in a big old coliseum.
The smoke was so thick that if you were more than two feet high, you
were going to get asphyxiated, so you crawled around on your knees.
And gas forges -- well, you couldn't do anything with a gas forge.
Now you go somewhere where there used to be 80 percent coal forges
and now there are 80 percent gas forges. We have a few diehards who
still have coal forges.
The neatest form of energy, other than nuclear energy, is natural
gas. When I was a kid, living on a ranch in west Texas in the middle
of an oil field, we flared natural gas. The whole world was lit up
with fire every night and all day. We flared the natural gas because
we had no market. It's the cleanest-burning fossil fuel known to man.
We had butane branding-iron fires that replaced wood fires. You could
get a piece of metal red hot. I had a butane branding-iron kind of
a forge, and I could melt any piece of steel, but it was made out
of firebrick. We made it at the engineering department at Texas Tech.
But it wouldn't stay together in the back of a truck because firebrick
would fall apart, so I just finally "canned it." But coal is history.
I think every farrier ought to know how to build handmade shoes, but
I think it's antiquated if you're going to make a living at it. Davy
Duckett doesn't make all his shoes by hand. You can buy all kinds
of shoes. We have Diamond shoes, St. Croix shoes, Breckenridge shoes,
Kerckhaert shoes, Dallmer shoes, Japanese shoes, and many more.
If it's 110 degrees, a farrier is stupid to take a 1/4-inch piece
of bar stock, 3/8 of an inch wide and turn a horseshoe by hand and
try to shoe the Four Sixes ranch horses because you'll never get the
first one shod before it's time to shoe the last one. I don't care
how fast you are. It's stupid because once that shoe goes on the bottom
of that horse's foot, if it fits, it fits -- if you haven't short-shod
or overshod him. We have machines that build 1,000 shoes better than
one man can build 1,000 shoes exactly alike. And no horse's foot is
exactly alike, but the pattern is basically the same. You need to
know how to modify. But I don't know of anybody who still makes all
handmade shoes. Diamond presented the Working Farrier Demonstration
to show the versatility of the keg shoe, and the F.I.A. did a shoe
size comparison of 38 different companies.
ANVIL: Burney, let me touch on one other subject, and I know this
is going to be covered very well at the 1990 convention in Lubbock,
Texas. I want you to tell me about the ava shunts in the horse's foot.
BURNEY: You're talking about the arteriovenous anastomosis. What
I could tell you about the arteriovenous anastomosis I want to leave
to a truly wonderful man I really respect who taught me about the
ava's -- Dr. Chris Pollit. But I'll tell you a little bit to
"whet your appetite," and I'll leave the rest to Dr. Chris Pollit
to explain when he speaks at the convention.
Did you ever wonder why a duck's foot did not freeze solid when he
was walking or swimming in ice water? Did you ever wonder why your
fingers get colder than the rest of your body? How about a rabbit's
ear -- why doesn't it freeze off in the wintertime? Because of the
arteriovenous anastomosis. But anyhow, the ava shunts -- all mammals
have them in their extremities; in their ears, fingers, toes. Horses
have them in their feet, ducks have them in their feet; that's Mother
Nature's mechanism to control the blood supply. It works like a radiator
thermostat in a car. When the water in the engine gets so hot, the
thermostat opens and lets cool water in from the radiator and hot
water circuits that back to the radiator.
There is a study that was done in Egypt but nobody knew why it happened.
They use a horse in Egypt like he's a beast of burden. They took 25
or 30 beasts of burden, burros and horses. Nothing wrong with them,
they just nerved them so they didn't have any feeling in the front
feet. And it seems to me in the study that about 35-40 percent of
the feet just came off in a month. They just sloughed their feet because
they nerved them high so there was no nerve feeling in the foot at
all. We're not talking about freezing weather, we're talking about
hot weather in Egypt.
So, by that study it was determined these ava shunts had to have a
nerve supply or they wouldn't work correctly. How many times in your
career, Rob, have you heard somebody say, "Well, we nerved the horse
and his foot came off." Have you ever heard that?
ANVIL: Unfortunately I advocated that at one point, and the vet
did it, and the foot came off. So, yes, I'm guilty.
BURNEY: Probably a lot of us have done that, nobody's pointing a
finger, but what we're saying about the blood supply to the extremities
is that it has to have a nerve to control the avas, or what we call
the arteriovenous anastomosis. "Anastomosis" means come together.
Two rivers, one river comes and runs into another river. Those two
rivers anastomose. "Arterio" means artery; venous means veins, so
arterio-venous anastomosis means that the artery as a vein basically
kind of comes together and then kind of goes apart again. That's where
the terminology comes from.
I would rather that somebody who has really done a lot more study
than I have speak on this problem, and that's Dr. Pollit who's coming
to Lubbock in 1990. If you want to see something new and something
that's basically simple and scientific (he has some slides that will
"blow the simplest person's mind and also the greatest scientific
minds"), you ought to come and listen to him.
ANVIL: So you think his dissertation is going to reveal a lot of
things we've been thinking about but we haven't really been able to
document up to this point.
BURNEY: I think that Dr. Leach in Canada and also Dr. Hood from
Texas A & M have done a lot on this subject, but they don't talk about
it very much -- only about Dr. Hood's studies. Dr. Leach lectures
to some farriers, and I think he has done some really remarkable work.
If we get Dr. Pollit, Dr. Hood, Dr. Leach together, along with some
innovative farriers and some other veterinarians, I think we'll go
ANVIL: Burney, you and I talked earlier today about the fact that
farriers and veterinarians are trying to work together on therapeutic
cases. Do you think this is mandatory to get the horse back into a
BURNEY: In my opinion, yes. Dr. Bill Moyers and Dr. Ric Redden are
very knowledgeable in farriery science and veterinary medicine. They
are the ultimate. On the other hand, we have a few farriers who are
knowledgeable also. In the medium between the real knowledgeable
vet-erinarian and the farrier we have the intermediate farrier and the
Here's a hypothetical example: Let's take a veterinarian who's in
Northwestern Kansas, and he has a practice that's partly cattle, mainly
dogs and cats, small animals -- say 50-75 percent small animals. In
the wintertime he basically has a cattle practice, maybe 25 percent;
then he has maybe a 25 percent "equine practice." Now this guy doesn't
even own an x-ray machine that's portable. He doesn't even own an
x-ray machine in his small animal clinic. If somebody's dog gets run
over by a John Deere tractor, the farmer just shoots the dog. He doesn't
bring him in to fix the broken leg.
This veterinarian doesn't know who Bill Moyer, George Platt, Ric Redden,
Burney Chapman, Myron McLane, or Richard Sheehan are. You arrive in
Northwestern Kansas, you're the farrier, and you say, "Where are the
x-rays?" And the answer is "Why I ain't x-rayed a horse's foot since
I got out of college, and I don't own an x-ray machine." "Doc, what
are we going to do about this horse?" "Well, I don't know, but I'll
put a shoe on him backwards, that's what I learned." I said, "Well,
that's what you already have on him and we're in trouble."
Dr. Redden wouldn't do that. Dr. Redden carries his x-ray machine,
but, hypothetically, if Burney Chapman came up there with his own
portable x-ray machine, this guy who called me doesn't care. The vet
is glad to see somebody with an x-ray machine. I take the pictures
and tell the veterinarian to read the radiograph and he says, "Well,
you know, that toe bone looks like it's falling out of the bottom
of the foot." That's just really what happens. The people that you
and I are associated with and the veterinary profession that goes
to these meetings, they really don't get associated with those kind
of people too much. I don't either, but they're out there.
ANVIL: The thing is that we pawn them off on our protegees, our
apprentices, and so it perpetuates the situation. We should cut it
off right at that point and say, "Look, folks, either you cater to
the horse's best benefit as we see it or we are not going to continue
to service you."
BURNEY: I'll tell you what's going to happen next. Someone will
say, "These good kind of horses don't end up in Northwestern Kansas."
Well, let me give you a story; the names will be changed to protect
the innocent. We're going to talk about a great Quarter Horse mare that
ended upat a small Western town horse show. And at this show the horse came
up desperately lame -- laying down, dying lame. The vet came out with
his horseshoer. They nailed four horseshoes on this horse backwards,
and the horse laid down and wouldn't stand up. After 60 days, the
phone rings, and it's a friend of mine. He called and he needed some
help. He was in over his head. He asked if we could come and help.
So I talked with the people who owned the horse, and they said, "Please
come, money is no object."
So I go up there. I fly all day, and I get into this little Western
country town. I get there with my friend. The weather is bad, dead
of winter, and it's in the mountains. The veterinarian is there and
says, "I know more about laminitis and I know more about this and
I know more about that," and I said, "Well, sir, maybe you just haven't
been back to school lately." And he says, "Well, I went to school
under the guy who wrote the book on this." And I said, "Who was it?"
And he told me. This went on for about two hours of arguing, and the
horse is laying down there dying. And so I said, "Why don't you call
this veterinarian that you went to school with that you learned all
this from." So he says he will.
I'm tired, I go to the motel and go to bed. When we came back the
next morning, they had the coffee on, they had doughnuts, milk, anything
we wanted, and asked if we needed anything else.
We went out to the stall. The mare was laying there and we started
working on her feet. The vet had x-rays, new ones. His farrier was
sitting over in the corner and everybody was quiet. My friend and
I were working on the mare. The farrier's wife is taking pictures.
The farrier says, "Boy, a bad case, a bad case -- all four feet."
And you just reach in there and grab a handful of . . . out of its
feet. I mean this is recorded on film! And so this vet's farrier says,
"May I help you?" And I said, "Sure, could you hold this leg?" Then
everybody kind of walked off and left and he said, "Gee, this is kind
of interesting." And I said, "Well, God darn, what happened? Last
night you and your vet were vehemently against this." And he said,
"Well, we called Dr. so-and-so and he told us to 'Sit down, shut up,
and we might learn something.'"
The mare grew four new feet, gained weight and went home, even though
she was never again 100% sound.
ANVIL: Well, Burney, this lesson about learning from one another
is certainly a proper note to end this interview. Thank you -- not
only for this exchange, but for all you have given to fellow farriers,
veterinarians, owners, and especially to the horse.