BURNEY CHAPMAN - Truly a Legend

by Fran Jurga

Published in the December 1999 Issue of Anvil Magazine

Whether you knew him or not, a friend has died. Farrier Burney Chapman of Lubbock, Texas, lost his valiant battle with brain cancer. He was 57 years old.

Burney is best known as the farrier who re-introduced the heart bar shoe as a therapeutic shoe. For years, his consulting practice was limited to the shoeing of foundered horses. His realm of influence spread from the ranches of his home state of Texas to the sheikdoms of the Middle East. For years, he flew himself from horse to horse in his twin-engine plane.

The high point of Burney's career was his laminitis presentation with Dr. George Platt at the American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention in Dallas in 1984. This led to many close associations between Burney and countless veterinarians and researchers around the world. He took particular pride in his professional friendship with Australian researcher Chris Pollitt, who traveled to Lubbock to meet Burney; Chris included the heart bar shoe in his writings on laminitis. In England, the Laminitis Clinic and Laminitis Trust charity work are based on treating laminitis according to principles modeled after Burney's approach to laminitis.

As much as Burney is identified with "rehabbing" lame horses, he is equally well known for his ability to empower and inspire people, especially farriers. Working side by side with the matter-of-fact Texan, local farriers learned to take special pride in their work and in their profession.

For Burney, who seemed to his peers to be at the pinnacle of his profession, life was a struggle for respect and credibility, not just for himself but for all farriers -- and not just for all farriers, but for all independent thinkers who work hard enough to back up their claims with hard-won results.

Anyone who owns or who works on a laminitic horse can thank this man for his tireless zeal in sharing his information about foundered horses.

Burney Chapman blazed a trail that many today stroll down with ease, not knowing how hard fought each step of that trail was. Today, it is easy to reach for a heart bar shoe; they are even manufactured in different sizes and materials. Likewise, nutritional supplements to help foundered horses, particularly methionine, first gained widespread acceptance when their use was recommended by Burney. He was an early consultant to Farriers Formula/Life Data Labs and Glu-Strider/Mustad, and in recent years had dedicated his efforts to treating white line disease with great success.

Twenty years ago, independent thinkers like Burney Chapman had no platform, no publicity, and no respect. They were the "ultimate outsiders." Unlike the others, Burney fused intelligence, humor, character, and skill to attract attention to his work on laminitis. He threw himself out into the fray and looked for allies, not victims or followers. From the top of his profession, he used that position to encourage other farriers up the rungs of the ladder, and seemed to enjoy more than anything sharing his success with his friends, before heading home to Texas.

You did it, Burney; you did it all. As only you could.

You can write to Burney's family or his friend Rhonda through Chapman Horseshoeing, Box 6171, Lubbock, TX, 79464, fax: 806/745-6109.

Anvil Interview with Burney Chapman Part I

Anvil Interview with Burney Chapman Part II

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