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Bomac Lecture Series offers valuable information on laminitis

The combined expertise of veterinarian Professor Chris Pollitt and farrier Richard Hansen will shed valuable light on the serious topic of laminitis in horses when they head this month's 2007 Bomac Lecture series on behalf of the New Zealand Equine Research Foundation.

The impact of laminitis, an inflammatory condition of the hoof, was brought home graphically by the dire predicament of last year's Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro. The hugely talented colt made an initially encouraging recovery from a severe hind leg fracture, only to eventually succumb to laminitis some eight months after his original injury.

Laminitis remains a condition with many unanswered questions surrounding it and the upcoming Bomac Lecture series offers an ideal opportunity for a better understanding. Professor Pollitt is a New Zealander now based at the University of Queensland, where he established the Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit.

His eminence in the study of laminitis includes admission to the American Farriers' International Hall of Fame and he has earned various research awards, while his textbook "Colour Atlas of the Horse's Foot" has been published in four languages.

Richard Hansen, also Queensland-based, specialises in therapeutic hoof care and the development of mechanical support for horses affected by laminitis. He is a member of the American Farriers' Association and is currently President of the Australian Farriers' and Blacksmiths' Association.

He has been very successful in his trade's competitive ranks, with championships in every state of Australia and an overall national High Point Championship, while he has also placed in the top 10 at the World Blacksmithing Championship in Calgary.

The one-day lectures provided by Professor Pollitt and Richard Hansen in Hamilton on May 20, Palmerston North on May 23 and Christchurch on May 27 will cover a wide range of subjects concerned with the horse's foot.

That will begin with an analysis of the foot's structure, followed by the theory on laminitis, laminitis prevention, a farrier's view of responsibility in caring for the laminitic horse, chronic laminitis case studies, and caring for the laminitic horse with support shoeing.

"Chris and Richard have the combined skills and knowledge to make them a perfect pairing to present as full a picture as possible of laminitis," says Equine Research Foundation Chairman Dr John O'Flaherty.

"That and other conditions of the hoof can affect any horse and become serious welfare issues. The ERF, with the support of Bomac Laboratories, offers this opportunity to make the most up-to-date knowledge available to the equine community."

Registrations, at a fee of $40, are now being taken with the ERF, C/- Manawatu Racing Centre, P O Box 52, Palmerston North.

- Dennis Ryan