The membership of the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame and the International Equine Veterinarians Hall Of Fame increased by five during a ceremony at the International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio, on February 5.
The five members of the Class of 2009 were honored for their work on behalf of horses, horse owners and the hoof-care community.
Equine veterinarians who were honored included Donald Walsh, Michael Steward and Phil Edler, while farrier inductees were Allie Hayes, and Ray Legel.
Frank Lessiter, editor/publisher of the American Farriers Journal, which sponsors the International Hoof-Care Summit, congratulated this year’s inductees for careers he characterized as “inspirational and impassioned, and which have had a significant impact on elevating the level of hoof health, care and management.”
Here is a look at the members of the Class of 2009.
Donald Walsh, DVM, of Pacific, Mo.
Donald Walsh’s career changed when he encountered a series of particularly devastating laminitis cases after he’d already been operating the Homestead Equine Hospital for 14 years.
“As a doctor of veterinary medicine with a pledge to alleviate suffering, I felt helpless to ease the pain caused by this debilitating disease,” recalls the 1969 graduate of the University of Missouri School of Veterinary Medicine. “That’s when I became intent on discovering the underlying causes as a first step toward implementing an effective prevention and treatment protocol.”
Working closely with the farrier community, Walsh was convinced that one day there would be a scientific breakthrough on laminitis. His research, he says, “found a life of its own,” and led to a connection with renowned Australian hoof researcher, Christopher Pollitt, another member of the International Equine Veterinarians Hall Of Fame.
Eventually, Walsh’s work led to the establishment of the Animal Health Foundation in 1984.
The foundation is a non-profit, charitable organization that funds laminitis research, with 100% of public donations going toward this effort. The foundation also offers information to help owners prevent laminitis. The painful and crippling disease continues to strike thousands of horses ever year. While progress is steadily being made, Walsh notes, “We are still a long way off from making a difference to those horses that are suffering today.”
Walsh, who was raised on a farm where he developed a passion for Saddlebreds, is committed to continuing his work to conquer laminitis.
“Do what is right for the animal and the rest will turn out alright,” is how he describes his philosophy.
Michael Steward, DVM, of Shawnee, Okla.
Michael Steward says the old adage “Necessity is the mother of invention” best describes how he first came up with the concept of his wooden clog shoeing system 15 years ago.
“The farrier wasn’t around, and I was desperate,” recalls the veterinarian, who had been called in to treat a laminitic horse. “That’s when I saw some plywood lying on the ground. I grabbed it, shaped it to fit the foot and screwed it on.
“The truth is, I thought the horse was going to have to be put down, but 3 months later, he was racing around barrels.”
Steward originally intended to become a medical doctor. He grew up on a farm, primarily with cattle and pigs and says, “My love of horses didn’t come until late in my college life. In fact, my father, who had the misfortune to work with a number of renegades, didn’t have a very high regard for horses at all. It must have been a glitch in my DNA that I should become dedicated to their welfare.”
And dedicated he is. In addition to his daily rounds at the Shawnee Animal Hospital, he’s developed a specialty in treating horses that have foundered, with an emphasis on working closely with the farriery community.
During a stint as a Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred trainer, Steward came to realize that, “The horse will give 100 percent if you do.” He also subscribes to the belief, “Be ye not a horse whisperer; be ye a horse listener,” which he believes is at the heart of his having successfully treated over 300 cases of laminitis.
“If you pay attention to what the horse is telling you, you will see what makes him feel better,” he says.
Steward used the term, “selective stabilization,” to describe his technique of fitting his wooden clogs.
“Take as much pressure off the hoof wall as you can, and with the added 1 1/2 inches of height (provided by the clog), the horse will find his own ‘comfort zone,’ he explains. “This will help put him back into balance.”
The self-effacing Steward says farriers and horses are his two greatest teachers and are the motivation behind all his accomplishments.
Phil Edler, DVM, of Hudson, Iowa
Growing up on an Iowa farm with several beloved ponies “started it all,” says Phil Edler, a graduate of Iowa State University and a partner in the Hudson Veterinary Clinic in Iowa.
Edler is revered throughout the Cedar Valley community as the quintessential veterinarian for the common man, reminiscent of the old time country doctor who would make house calls at all hours of the day or night. He’s known for always doing what’s best for the patient and for the ability to bridge the gap between innovation and application.
Edler sees himself as, “a primary care provider having looked after second and third generations of people and horses.” Using modern technologies as an integral part of his practice, he is often able to perform a variety of procedures that would otherwise have to be referred on at considerable cost.
Edler attributes the majority of his success to his wife, Pat, who he met during a short term in Saskatoon, Canada in 1974, “without whose understanding, I could never have spent the many hours away that this work requires.”
He sees the practice of veterinary medicine as a never-ending journey and “both an art and a science.”
“I’ve never regretted the journey for a minute,” he says. “Even when things haven’t turned out the way I had hoped they would.”
Involved in lending a hand to local 4-H Clubs and Future Farmers of America programs, as a guest speaker and mentor for students aspiring to careers in veterinary medicine, Edler is known for selflessly donating money, time and energy as a matter of course. It is said that what sets him apart is his caring heart for the horse as well as the owner. Armed with faith, hope and trust, along with 37 years of veterinary experience, his commitment and dedication to the profession is reflected in all that he does.
“Owners and animals don’t care how much you know, they just know how much you care,” he says.
Allie Hayes of West Boxford, Mass.
“No one could have been more surprised than I was to receive this honor,” claims Allie Hayes, farrier and founder of Horse Science, her company known for its freeze-dried hoof and leg models. “I’ve just been doing what I love.”
Hayes, a consummate professional, respected educator and successful innovator is the first woman to be voted into the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame.
Hayes grew up in Iowa and her path to “finding her calling” was anything but linear. She holds a master’s degree in theater history and after moving to Massachusetts, picked up an extra job at a polo stable. She went along for the ride to Oklahoma Farrier College headed by another Hall Of Fame member, Bud Beaston. It was a life-changing trip.
“I was sitting on the bleachers at Oklahoma Farrier College one afternoon when it dawned on me,” she says. “Six years of higher education, and this was the most important classroom I’d ever been in, and the first time I’d learned something that would really matter.”
From that point, she never looked back. For 20 years, Hayes was a full-time farrier before her career took another turn in 1992.
“I started making hoof models for myself to help explain to my clients what was going on with their horse’s feet,” she recalls. “One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was participating in the marketplace at many farrier and veterinary conferences and conventions. Then schools and universities started placing orders.”
Her company’s name as evolved, starting out as Horse Sense, then became Horse Science-Horse Sense before the recent change to Horse Science. The backbone, however, remains her use of freeze-dried technologies to preserve the assorted specimens without the use of harmful chemicals. Horse Science models can be found around the world in colleges, universities and in the field where they are used by farriers and veterinarians.
Hayes is also known for running the popular anatomy labs during the American Farrier’s Association (AFA) conventions and was honored by the AFA with its Outstanding Educator Award in 2003.
“By transforming lifeless limbs into educational tools, I feel I’m able to do my part in helping to understand and treat many of the debilitating and painful equine hoof problems we unfortunately encounter every day,” she says.
Ray Legel of Waverly, Iowa
A 36- year veteran and the second AFA Certified Journeyman Farrier in the state of Iowa, Ray Legel is widely held to have set the standard for the high level of farriery practiced in the Cedar Valley area.
While revered by his peers as the ultimate craftsman, Legel says his entry into the profession began out of necessity. “My horse lost a shoe and the farrier was nowhere to be found,” he recalls, “So, I had to figure it out.”
Discovering that he enjoyed the process, he embarked on a journey to learn as much as he could. He traveled to the Upper Midwest Horseshoers Association’s meeting in Wisconsin every month to attend clinics and seminars, “grabbed a pizza with some of the guys,” and talked as much as possible about the finer points of horses and shoeing, He says the grueling 5 1/2-hour drive home to Iowa was “worth every minute.”
He developed his skills to the point of artistry and never once gave less than 100% to his work.
“Every horse and owner deserves the best that I have, from the highest level performance horse to the backyard companion pony,” he says.
With exemplary forging and corrective shoeing techniques, Legel is responsible for having helped countless horses throughout his career. He’s equally dedicated to helping young farriers, always making himself available because of his belief in giving back to the hoof-care community.
Having helped lay the ground work for the formation of the Iowa Professional Farriers Association in 1984, Legel continues to work on the behalf of members, offering suggestions, sharing the benefits of his experience and giving demonstrations with the goal of raising the bar on industry practices.
Humble and self-effacing, he says that he is only doing what is right for the horse. Legel also showed off his literary side when he penned Tales of a Horseshoer, his self-published memoir in 2002, which includes “wild, humorous, serious and educational stories compiled from 20 years behind the anvil.”
The deadline for nominating worthy individuals for the Internatiola Horseshoeing Hall of Fame of the International Equine Veterinarians hall of Fame is Aug. 31, 2009. The 2010 Halls of Fame members will be inducted in early February at the 7th annual International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati.
To nominate a farrier or equine veterinarian for these awards, send a 1- to 3-page letter highlighting the candidate’s career accomplishments to “Hall Of Fame Nomination,” American Farriers Journal, P.O. Box 624, Brookfield, WI 53008-0624. You can fax your nomination to (262) 782-1252 or e-mail it to email@example.com
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