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New Bolton Center Kennett Square, PA
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Ryan Hospital Philadelphia, PA

Penn Vet’s Farrier Service at New Bolton Center is Pioneer in New Hoof-Care Technologies

By Louisa Shepard Published: Jul 11, 2014

[July 11, 2014; Kennett Square, PA] – Penn Vet’s Farrier Service at New Bolton Center is one of the oldest and well-respected programs in the country. Our farriers have created pioneering techniques using glue-on shoes and synthetic polymers for hoof reconstruction, and continue to conduct groundbreaking research on hoof care.

Farrier Pat Reilly shapes a horseshoe.In honor of National Farrier’s Week, Penn Vet is proud to highlight the Farrier Service, one of only a few working farrier programs in the country that is part of a veterinary school.

Since the soundness of the hoof is so critical to the overall health of a horse, our farrier partners with veterinarians in our Equine Sports Medicine Service as well as Surgery and Internal Medicine to diagnose and treat horses.

Chief of Farrier Services Pat Reilly today continues to explore new materials and techniques for the advancement of hoof care, with several important research studies underway:

  • Development of a protocol for in-shoe force measurement as a means of quantifying the effect of different shoes on the hoof.
  • Computer analysis of the hoof that can lead to a better understanding of deformation of the equine hoof.
  • Methods to treat and prevent laminitis, including development of orthotics to help horses distribute weight more evenly across their hooves. Laminitis – a life-threatening condition – occurs when structures that stabilize the foot become inflamed and painful, and can be caused by placing excess weight on one or more hooves.

Penn Vet is the only veterinary school with a laboratory to develop new technologies related to farrier science: the Applied Polymer Research Laboratory, born from the work of Reilly’s predecessor, Rob Sigafoos.

In the 1980s, Sigafoos fashioned a device that some consider the biggest breakthrough in the farrier industry in the last several hundred years: a glue-on horseshoe. Nailing a shoe into the hoof of a horse impairs the hoof’s integrity, but a glue-on shoe — which uses fabric to bond the orthotic to the outer surface of the hoof — actually reinforces and strengthens the hoof. Penn Vet holds the patent for the shoe’s design.

New Bolton Center is home to the unique Penn Vet Podological Museum, which has hundreds of horseshoes on display and provides an interesting view of horses and their care in the 19th century.

About Penn Vet
Penn Vet is a global leader in veterinary medicine education, research, and clinical care. Founded in 1884, Penn Vet is the only veterinary school developed in association with a medical school. The school is a proud member of the One Health Initiative, linking human, animal, and environmental health.

Penn Vet serves a diverse population of animals at its two campuses, which include extensive diagnostic and research laboratories. Ryan Hospital in Philadelphia provides care for dogs, cats, and other domestic/companion animals, seeing nearly 33,000 patients a year. New Bolton Center, Penn Vet’s large-animal hospital on nearly 700 acres in rural Kennett Square, PA, cares for horses and livestock/farm animals, treating 33,000 patients each year – 4,000 in the hospital and 29,000 at farms through the Field Service. In addition, New Bolton Center’s campus includes a swine center, working dairy, and poultry unit that provide valuable research for the agriculture industry.

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