with Burney Chapman Part I
in the September 1989 Issue of Anvil Magazine
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Burney, the introduction of you as a personality within
the farrier industry would be almost redundant. Most farriers
are aware of your efforts to upgrade the farrier industry within
the horse community, particularly the area in which farriers work
with veterinarians. But, a little background might be in order.
BURNEY: I have a Bachelor's Degree in Animal
Science from what is now Texas Tech University, and have been
involved in a lot of extracurricular studies such as history.
I also took all the pre-veterinary courses -- chemistry and physics.
At one time I aspired to go on to veterinary school.
ANVIL: Speaking of history, it used to be that
the farrier took care of the only animal worth taking care of
-- the horse. Then somehow the veterinarian emerged from the farriery
profession and the two professions split up. It seems to me that
you've actually brought the farrier back into the forefront of
therapeutically working on
the horses' feet.
BURNEY: After World War II (I was born about
the time the Japanese dropped the bomb on Pearl Harbor), the horse
was basically a "dead" figure in the United States.
The Thoroughbred horse in Kentucky was still a viable, economic
situation, but the farm horse was gone. He had been replaced by
the tractor, and the city draft horse had been replaced by the
truck. But in West Texas we had huge ranches and we still had
the horse; that was the main form of transportation for cowboys
in those days. We made $125 a month and our board and room. And
you didn't learn the great, scientific method of horseshoeing
because you didn't have blacksmith teachers or mentors as we have
today. There were no horseshoeing schools that I know of, maybe
Cal Poly or Oregon State. When we were growing up as kids on the
ranch, we had to shoe our own horses. We had a claw hammer; that
was the driving hammer and the rounding hammer. The wagon hub
was the anvil. We had Phoenix EEL shoes or Diamond shoes -- all
of them were rusty -- and we had a set of bolt cutters.
ANVIL: Were the bolt cutters for cutting the
BURNEY: Yes, bolt cutters were used for everything.
That was the portable hardie. I didn't know there was a hardie
in those days. And we had a box of No. 5 City Head, rusty Capewell
nails; that was the only nail in existence at that time. We had
this old double-bitted rasp that was dull on both ends, dull in
the middle, and didn't have a tang on it like our modern rasp.
It was about a half-inch thick, and it weighed about three pounds.
It would worry you to death if it had been sharp. Cowboys hated
horseshoeing. But you knew one thing -- when you shod that horse,
you had to ride him from point a to point b. And he had to get
you back from point b to point a. If you crippled your horse,
you were just afoot so you didn't cripple your horse. The old-timers
would help you shoe. In re-turn you shod their horses because
they were too old and decrepit to do it anymore. That's how I
learned. Then I went off to college.
ANVIL: How long ago did you start this learning
process of shoeing horses?
BURNEY: First, from 1956 to 1958 working on ranches
like the Four Sixes, and on a dude ranch in Colorado up by South
Fork. Then in high school we only had one or two horseshoers in
Wichita Falls. Sam Cates was one of them. He was an Army horseshoer
before he mustered out of the service. In fact, he gave me my
first set of nippers. When I got to college, I worked for a horse
outfit and we couldn't get a good farrier. Somebody said, "We
can't get a farrier." And I said, "We don't need a farrier
just to trim broodmares. I can trim broodmares and put a couple
of pairs of shoes on." So I started shoeing the horses on
the Appaloosa farm where I worked when I was going to college.
ANVIL: You worked your way through school shoeing
BURNEY: Yes. I realized there were people I didn't
even know pulling up at the farm with horseshoes and handfuls
of nails. So I thought this is stupid; I'm only making a dollar
an hour working on this farm. So I started charging them -- maybe
$6 a head, which was a lot of money, if they furnished all the
shoes. There wasn't any minimum wage in the early sixties. A dollar
an hour is what a college student made. Shoe one horse; it would
take you 45 minutes and you'd make $6.00. That was a lot of money.
ANVIL: You have been able to converse with veterinarians
better than any other farrier I know of. I would like to know
if this ability of yours to converse in the veter-inarian's lingo
was because of your schooling or on-the-job training or just the
extracurricular activity of studying manuals.
BURNEY: One of my college professors was Dr.
Fred Harbaugh who, in my opinion, was one of the great veterinarians
who first came to the south plains of Lubbock. He taught anatomy
and physiology about the sheep, cow, goat, pig, and the horse,
but his main love was the horse. He taught comparative anatomy
by using the horse. And the man was a real artist. He would draw
with colored chalk on the blackboard. He could draw the mare's
uterus, he could draw the foot, he could draw the ear, he could
draw the Fallopian tubes going to the ovary, with all different
kinds of colors. He was a great teacher. And I also liked horses.
I was working at the Appaloosa farm, and when the old man sold
out, I went to work for a veterinarian, Dr. Cox, who at that time
had the biggest veterinary practice on the South Plains. We didn't
have a farrier, and when someone brought a crippled horse in,
Dr. Cox would say, "Put a pad on the horse." And I'd
say, "Dr. Cox, we put a pad on those last two horses that
came in, and you know those horses are kind of history; we shot
them." (Back then we didn't call it euthanasia, we just kind
of shot the beast.) And he'd say, "Well, if you have any
other idea, just try it." So, that's how it all evolved.
There wasn't any conflict -- you worked with the veterinarian
and the veterinarian worked with you. I owe a lot of credit to
Dr. Harbaugh because he was such a great anatomy and physiology
teacher. That's how I got really interested in lameness and correcting
that lameness. I became the horseshoer for the university. We
had different lameness problems, and a lot of people brought horses
to the university for Dr. Harbaugh to treat. He was a very open-minded
fellow and he'd let you do what you wanted, but we'd work together.
We combined ideas and we used Dr. O.R. Adams' first book on lameness,
and Dr. Harbaugh thought some of those ideas such as a half-bar
shoe were eccentric, but they worked. And he'd let me do some
ANVIL: So you started by working with a veterinarian.
It never was part of your practice to not have the veterinarian
BURNEY: It was never a part of my practice, but
it was never my intention to ever be a horseshoer. It was the
means to an end so I could get a college education and go on to
vet school. When I got out of school at Texas Tech in Lubbock,
I had a good business and a good practice. I graduated in 1966
and couldn't afford to go to vet school and couldn't afford to
go to work for somebody else. In 1968 I built my own vet clinic.
I had a vet-erinarian friend there, Dr. Dave Coleman, who had
a mobile practice but wanted a permanent veterinary clinic. He
approached me about building the clinic, and I said, "Sure,
Dave, I need a veterinarian." When he had a foot lameness
problem, he said, "Well, what do we need to do?" And
so we did it together. And when I'd have a problem, I'd say, "Call
Dr. Coleman and we'll work together on it, or call Dr. Ed Murray
in Spur, Texas" who, by the way, is the president-elect this
year of the American Association of Equine Practitioners. Dr.
Coleman bought Dr. Platt out, and after Dr. Coleman left the clinic,
Dr. Ronny Lee was there. I was probably the only crazy horseshoer
in the world who ever owned a veterinary clinic. Back in those
days both professions tried to complement each other.
ANVIL: You don't think that's presently happening?
BURNEY: I think it should be happening now, and
I think it still is in 99 percent of the cases. I don't have any
problem with it, but I hear other farriers talking about problems
they have with vets, and veterinarians talking about their problems
with farriers, too. Farriers are not veterinarians. Many can't
spell "phalanx" and most veterinarians can't spell "shoe."
The two professions should complement each other when it comes
to lameness problems. For instance, the farrier accidentally quicks
the horse or pricks the horse with a nail. He should tell the
client immediately. Let's not make a mistake because
that horse is liable to get sore. Don't try to hide it; it's going
to show up in a few days, and the vet is going to say, "Well,
a guy with a strong back and a weak mind quicked your horse."
If we work together as a team, the ones who will realize the end
benefits will be the horse and the owner. Now there is some controversy
about whether a horseshoer should repair quarter cracks and do
hoof resections. Some veterin-arians say that the horseshoers
shouldn't even put a bar shoe on without the overseeing auspices
of a veterinarian. That works both ways. Don't guess at a lameness
problem. Maybe the horseshoer thinks it's lame in the foot when
it has a knee lameness. Work together with your veterinarian,
that's the name of the game.
ANVIL: You were initially rejected by the vets,
though. You'd be called out on a job and there wouldn't be a farrier
or a veterinarian there, even though they had been asked. Do you
feel a resentment toward that initial approach with those professionals?
BURNEY: No, I don't feel a resentment. For example,
you're the farrier and you're working with a "Dr. Jones."
You both have worked really hard and diligently, exhausting all
of your resources to help this horse. Mean-while, the owner reads
about a case history similar to the problem with his horse. The
case history had a successful outcome thanks to a particular horseshoer,
and now the owner wants to call him in on his horse's case. You
and Dr. Jones "determine" that this guy doesn't know
as much as you do, and you don't even know who he is! Who in the
heck is this guy? He's Burney Chapman. Even though they had never
heard of him, the owner says that he's getting him anyway. And
I'm on the phone saying, "Please get the vet and the farrier
there," or "please have the x-rays there." When
I get to the farm, I ask about the x-rays, and he says, "Yes,
the x-rays are over there on the table." So, I look at the
radiographs, work on the horse, and if I'm lucky, the horse gets
a little better. The farrier and the veterinarian show up a week
later: "You mean that's all that guy did to that horse was
put that funny-looking shoe on and chop the front of his foot
off, and charge you all that money? We could have done that."
The problem is -- they didn't do it. I wasn't there to criticize
that farrier or veterinarian, and I never have done that. But
nowadays things have changed. The vet and the farrier will be
there. They may not agree. But I think the American public expects
too much from veterinarians. The vet basically has eight years'
education. He goes to college; he's supposed to know something
about a sheep, cat, dog, goat, snake, horse, cow, and a pig. No
one human being can know all the answers. It's the same with the
horse. The American public thinks the veterinarian ought to know
ALL of it, and that's impossible. There are equine reproduction
experts, general practitioners, and there are practices with 50
percent small animals, 25 percent horses, 25 percent cattle practice.
The vet-erinarian has to know all about radiology. In human medicine
that's not the way it is. The world is becoming pretty specialized.
ANVIL: Actually, we're developing a cadre of
farriers, like yourself, who work exclusively on crippled horses.
BURNEY: I agree but here's the reason. If somebody
came to me with a stable of Saddlebreds and asked me to shoe them
at any price, I would say, "No, I'm not qualified to shoe
that Saddlebred show horse." It doesn't make any difference
whether you're shoeing a Quarter Horse, a Thor-oughbred, an Arabian,
a Standardbred, a Hackney pony. All of these horses develop the
same basic kind of lameness problems, perhaps one breed more than
another. But when it comes to some of the problems like quarter
cracks, bowed tendons, shinbucks, laminitis, and pedal osteosis,
then that's a whole different field. Maybe you're specializing
in shoeing Hackney ponies or like Palmer Wilson and Seamus Brady,
specializing in hunter-jumpers. If they come up with a tremendous
lameness problem, they would probably be smart if they recommended
that to somebody who just specialized in lameness. The same with
the veterinarian. If he's an equine reproduction person, he should
call a veterinarian who specializes in lameness problems.
ANVIL: How many veterinarians are beginning to
specialize in lameness problems? What percentage of AAEP members?
BURNEY: That would be hard for me to answer.
But for lower-leg lameness problems, there are probably a dozen
at the most. Out of that dozen who really specialize, most of
the farriers know them -- Dr. Ric Redden, Dr. Jan Young, Dr. Carl
Gubert, Dr. George Platt, and Dr. William Moyer.
ANVIL: I'd like nothing better than to have a
specialist in this area on lower-leg lameness that I could call
BURNEY: A lot of problems in the farriery profession,
and maybe in law, medical, veterinary -- maybe all professions
-- occur because egos sometime get in the way, and the long-term
patient is the one who suffers. For instance, years ago I would
call somebody -- a veterinarian, a farrier -- and they'd say,
"Euthanasia is the answer for that." Well, that's the
easy way out; just kill them. The specialist is just now coming
into the equine field. We've had equine reproduction specialists
who have really come into the forefront in the last ten years.
They have PhDs in equine reproduction; they are not veterinarians.
They have been trained just for that one purpose. The public,
and I'm saying this in defense of the veterinarians, thinks that
the veterinarian should know everything there is to know about
a foot, reproduction, an equine eye, colic -- he should be able
to do colic, carpal, fetlock, orthoscopic -- any kind of surgery
that's known. The public doesn't realize the overwhelming magnitude
of that. And the farrier is not trying to encroach upon the equine
veterinarian's world. We're trying to work with them.
ANVIL: I think some of the young veterinarians
don't seem to realize that they have certain limitations and that
there's an expertise involved with years of practice as a farrier
that could be beneficial to them. Instead they seem to think that
they have to come up with an answer regardless of whether or not
they have a backlog of experience in that particular area.
BURNEY: I agree with that. A lot of the answer
is just experience. "Experience is an accumulation of one
man's many mistakes." That's a quote from an old friend of
mine, Dr. George Platt. You make the same three mistakes, and
somebody tells you to do the same thing the fourth time. You say,
"Listen, I've already killed three horses doing that. I'm
not going to do that again. I'm not going to nail the shoe on
backwards on the first day. If you want somebody else to do it
that way, let him do it."
ANVIL: Speaking of Dr. George Platt, you made
a presentation to the AAEP Convention that was the first presentation
ever made by a non-veterinarian. It was based on research that
you did with Dr. Platt.
BURNEY: Basically, it was based on research that
I had done, and Dr. Platt will concur with that because he was
basically in equine reproduction for about 18 years. For six or
seven months out of the year he bred stallions and palpated mares.
His business card used to have a picture on it with his arm up
in a mare palpating it. He could tell whether a mare was bred
in about 18 to 20 days; he was very good at it. At that time I
worked on all of his crippled horses and flew to Ft. Worth, sometimes
four times a month. George and I had been good friends in Lubbock
and then he moved to Ft. Worth. I said, "George, we really
need some help on these crippled horses," and he said, "Oh,
Burney, there can't be that many crippled horses in the world."
And he has his arm up this mare. I said, "George, this mare's
got feet this long, and they're curled up on the front and she
just barely can get in the chute." And he said, "She
does. She has a problem, doesn't she?" During the off-season
I'd go to Ft. Worth and say, "Dr. George, what are you doing
tomorrow?" "Ah, nothing, it's dead down there; all the
mares are bred, nothing going on." He'd pick me up and we'd
go and work on crippled horses all day; two days in a row, twice
a month we'd do that. Then we got to where that's what he wanted
to do. Then we came up with the heartbar shoe. That wasn't George's
idea, the hoof resection wasn't George's idea. But we came up
with the radiographic techniques while driving down the highway.
He drives down the highway and he's answering the phone with this
hand and he's drawing on a napkin and saying, "Well, what
about this? Look at this x-ray." But that's where we came
up with a wire on the front of the foot, the thumbtack in the
foot, and the wire on the bottom of the foot. George Platt came
up with a lot of those ideas, and we worked together on the paper
for the AAEP. That was a juried paper. We ought to have more juried
papers in horseshoeing. George and I, Dr. Harbaugh, and Dr. Gene
Snyder, who is now at Kansas State University, sat around many
a night cutting dead feet apart in the garage when I was in college.
The wives didn't like it at all because all we did was drink cold
beer and cut dead feet apart. That's how it all started. We'd
sit around and have intelligent discussions -- not a fight, not
an argument, not saying one guy was practicing medicine, and not
one guy trying to be bigger than the other. But we would make
three mistakes and then we'd have to admit: "Hey, that didn't
work, let's go back to the drawing board." And that's how
it all got started.
So your current theories are based on years of experience,
you and Dr. Platt doing a lot of theoretical analysis, and working
with lots of live and dead feet.
BURNEY: The first hoof resection I did was at
Dr. Ed Murray's clinic in 1964 in Spur, Texas, on a guy's roping
mare. I'll never forget Dr. Murray saying, "When are you
going to quit cutting?" We didn't know about heartbar shoes
then. In the early 60s, Dr. Jacques Denny from Penn State was
our hero when it came to foot problems. He was the first guy who
really went into acrylics -- building the foot back with acrylic,
getting everything back in alignment and then filling the bottom
of the foot up with acrylic. That was in 1959. He gave that paper
at the 9th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Equine
Practitioners. This guy was our hero -- all the veterinarians
who were fresh out of school when I was still in school. I'd try
anything and these guys didn't know anything about the foot so
they'd let me try. You know, they knew they were going to lose
so we just tried together. I'll always remember Dr. Murray saying,
"God, when are you going to quit cutting on that thing?"
I never did get any blood up and I said, "Doc, what about
all this old black stuff and see this green stuff? That looks
like some piece of horse manure that's been in there for months."
We cut in there, way back into that foot. Then we got it
all cleaned up and then filled it up with acrylic. We took the
hoof wall off so we could get to all this necrotic, dead material.
But then we thought we had to put something back on there so it
would look like a hoof. Well, we defeated our purpose. We took
the hoof wall out and we got all the rotten stuff out from under
it and then we filled it right back up with an acrylic that heated
up to a couple of hundred degrees Fahrenheit while it was curing.
And within a matter of 15 or 20 days we had another major abscess
blow up. In 1966 there was a horse called "Scooper Chick."
He was one of the first big stars of the American Quarter Horse
racing industry. He made a lot of money and was a very popular
breeding horse. And he came up with a case of laminitis; they
put a shoe on him with a reverse wedge pad. Then he got to laying
down so somebody came in and they cut the center out. They left
the shoe in the reverse position but they cut the center of the
pad out. They x-rayed him again and everything had fallen down
a little bit farther. So the next guy came along and said, "Well,
the reason is they haven't lowered the heel enough so the bone's
not even over the ground; we need to lower the heel some more.
You couldn't lower the heel anymore so they raised the toe a little
more until they had the bone, the whole thing sticking out the
bottom of the foot, maybe an inch. I'll never forget, it was in
November of 1966, and I was at the Four Sixes Ranch. They had
a horse sale and the guy who owned the horse called me on the
phone. I didn't know this guy. The horse was in Norman, Oklahoma.
They had a big landing strip at the Four Sixes and I had a friend
who had a plane and so I said, "Well, I'll be back. I'll
see you guys later," and this guy flew me to Norman, Oklahoma.
We landed and we went to work on this horse. The horse had been
laying down for a long time. Dr. Jenny had worked on the horse,
and Dr. Jenny and Dr. Adams were my heroes. It's a shame that
they both aren't still alive because I'm sure they would verify
this story. By then I had figured out that you can't take the
foot off and then plug it back up. If you take the stopper out
of the bathtub to drain the water out and you put the stopper
back in the tub before you drain the water out, the water doesn't
leave the bathtub. So, we were taking the foot off so we could
get to this rotten stuff, and then we covered it right back up,
which worked real good for a few days and then blew back up on
us. Dr. Jenny worked on the horse with me one time, the second
trip I went up there. He said, "You know, if we could ever
figure out how to stop these abscesses, we might fix one of these
foundered horses." And I said, "Well, maybe we're plugging
up the bathtub before we get all the water drained out of it."
That was my simple-minded, kindergarten brain thinking. And Dr.
Jenny said, "You may be right." The horse lived for
a couple of years, but he lived a miserable existence. He left
there and went down to S. W. Stallion Station. The horse was insured
at that time, I think, for $75,000, and that was a lot of money.
The insurance ran out. When the guy ran out of money, he couldn't
put any more money into the horse. That was really the first expensive
horse that I ever worked on, but we learned a lot from that horse.
He didn't die in vain.
ANVIL: I think a lot of us, being in the practice
of farriery or veterinary medicine, owe a lot of our education
to certain horses that we have failed with, but we always keep
in mind that that horse didn't die in vain, that it taught us
something. Then I think we can proceed with a better outlook.
BURNEY: Not only the horse, but the owner who
was willing to spend the money, which at that time was a lot of
money. But some of us working on those kind of horses worked for
nothing, basically. We could stay home and shoe horses or the
veterinarian could stay home and worm horses and give dogs their
rabies shots and make more money than we could working on those
horses in those days. So some of us paid our dues. It was like
going to college. We documented all of this material, and we said
we failed and asked, why did we fail? Go back to the drawing board
and cut apart more dead feet. And you had to have a wife who understood
why you were in the barn every night cutting dead feet apart.
If you didn't have a good woman behind you, you were sunk.
ANVIL: Speaking of a good woman, you have four
boys I understand.
BURNEY: Yes. Somebody said, "How did you
have four boys when you were never at home?" Well, they all
look just like me. The youngest will be a college freshman next
ANVIL: And three out of the four are working
as horseshoers to pay their way.
BURNEY: Two of the three work shoeing horses.
The oldest son is mentally handicapped, but he's probably the
only sane one in the whole bunch. He doesn't care whether the
Chinese are rioting. He doesn't care whether somebody's horse
is crippled. He just has a good time. He comes home on the weekends
and he has a good time and he's ready to go back to his state
school on Monday morning.
ANVIL: Have you ever had any affiliation with
the handicapped riding program?
BURNEY: In many ways, indirectly, yes. The three
younger boys are all Eagle Scouts, and we have what we call in
the Scout pro-gram, "Handicapped Awareness Week," and
these boys all have to go and work with the handicapped. They
have to tie their legs in a wheelchair or they have to tie one
leg up and work on crutches for a week with these kids who are
handicapped, both mentally and physically. Livestock and people
who are handicapped go hand-in-hand because the livestock, even
mean horses, won't hardly hurt a kid who is mentally handicapped.
They just won't do it. It's amazing how smart the horse is if
they know that the individual is not a threat to them. A mentally
handicapped child, if he doesn't feel that you're a threat to
him, is going to be your friend. Brandon, our oldest son, used
to stick his hands in a bad horse's mouth and the horse would
never bite him. He could go in a pen with a horse that would kill
anybody else. Everybody was worried about him, but the horse never
hurt him and he never hurt the horse.
ANVIL: Does he really like horses?
BURNEY: He likes everything. He likes a tree,
he likes a horse, he likes an eagle, he likes the fish. He likes
everything. He's happy and he just goes along. And now that his
brothers are older and they've been through the handicapped horse
program, they accept him for what he is. They have fun, they laugh
together. He remembers faces, he remembers names, he can sing,
he can do a lot of things that some of us can't do. But the handicapped
horse program is really something if you have the right horses.
A lot of the crippled horses that can't be athletically sound
can help those kids. These horses for the handicapped awareness
programs have helped hundreds and hundreds of people.
ANVIL: I think what you started to touch on was
really important. If we can keep these older athletes going, and
working with handicapped people, we will be doing an incredible
service to humanity. I would like to see the American Farriers
Association get behind the different handicapped programs in supplying
shoeing for these horses.
BURNEY: Let me give you an example of that. For
instance, we have the Texas Boys Ranch, we have the West Texas
Boys Ranch, we have Cal Farley's Boys Ranch. Cal Farley had the
first rehabilitation (not for the mentally handicapped) boys'
ranch in the whole history of the world, I think. And now we have
boys ranches in other places, and the ranches have these old kind
of horses we're talking about donated. They're real gentle. They
were either old roping horses or racehorses that had gone into
the jumping horse field, and they're 18 or 19 years old. They
are still sound, but they can't compete.
So, many years ago we'd go and shoe those horses for free. We
charged the regular price, it's just that no money changed hands.
We would go out to the Texas Boys Ranch in Lubbock and we'd shoe,
say five head of horses and trim five head of horses, and the
bill, just a guess -- $150 or $200. Instead of charging actual
money for that, we donated all of our services. All it does is
make the farrier and the veterinarian money when they donate their
services to a worthy cause such as handicapped riding or boys'
ANVIL: Speaking of sharing knowledge and services,
is it true that you traveled one million miles last year?
BURNEY: Not last year, but on one airline in
the last couple of years I went one million miles. I go about
700,000 a year on an average. In the last two or three years prob-ably
50 percent of them are just for clinics.
ANVIL: Are you trying to get other people knowledgeable
in attending to laminitic horses to the point where you can spend
a little more time at home?
BURNEY: Let's go back to 1981 with Dr. Bill McMullan
from Texas A & M University and Jack Miller. I didn't know
Jack Miller any more than I knew a pine tree in the Rocky Mountains,
and Jack Miller never heard of Burney Chapman. I went to Houston
to do this clinic. Jack Miller called me and I said, "Sure."
And he said, "I understand you have some foundered horses
down there." And I told him we had several. Jack asked if
I could get one there and I told him I doubted if anyone would
haul one of those expensive horses over to wherever this thing
was. So I went down there with a bunch of x-rays, antiquated x-rays,
and no viewer. These horseshoers had never seen an x-ray. That's
how it started. "How can we get an x-ray? We work on foundered
horses everyday." Dr. McMullan was there. That was the original
clinic in 1981 or whenever it was. So I'm up there talking and
showing a zero radiograph. They come out like a picture instead
of a negative. They are beautiful. I'm standing up there and finally
somebody says, "Well, when are you going to work on this
crippled horse? When are you going to show us what you can do?"
And I said, "Gee, guys, I didn't . . . ." A guy named
Adolph Stricker said, "Don't worry, I've got a laminitis
case here, got it right out in the trailer." And I said,
"Well, let's unload her and get on with the program."
Well, she's laying down on her side, she can't even stand up.
When they drag her out of the trailer, she has sores on both sides
of her. Jack Miller is videoing all of this. We had the guys holding
her up, and we have a board under her belly.
Well, there were 4,000 dogs and a bunch of horseshoers in a big
arena out in Houston, Texas. The dogs are fighting underneath
the horse because we're digging maggots out of the feet. So all
of the dogs have congregated, and we have all of these people
standing around. These dogs smack everything down -- they wrecked
the first video cassette,
and they wrecked the second one, and they wrecked the camera.
Well, we get the first heartbar put on the horse, and everybody
sits her down from holding her up, and she stands on this foot.
Those guys didn't come to watch me win. They came to watch me
fail. And you ought to see the shoe the farrier had on the horse.
He had a hinge on the front so he could jack the coffin bone back
up. And the next morning it would be down so he'd jack it up again
until he just pulled everything off. But that's the way we were
taught. Raise the toe or lower the heel if the bone's not parallel
with the ground, get it back parallel to the ground and rasp the
front of the foot off. Then take another x-ray to show you did
ANVIL: So the philosophy at that time was to
jam the coffin bone back up into the foot.
BURNEY: Yes, but you forgot you had a fingernail.
Hold the bone in place and give the horse something to walk on.
I mean it's a real shame that we don't have this first case recorded
ANVIL: What was the next milestone?
BURNEY: The next year was when they asked me
to speak at the AFA in 1981 and then 1982, and I believe it was
1983 when we had it in Houston. The first clinic that I ever did
was the one I just talked about in Houston, the one where the
dogs tore up the tape, and you had 100 guys standing around trying
to watch you do this. It doesn't make any difference if you're
demonstrating how to build just a simple horseshoe; 100 people
can't stand around and watch that. So somebody suggested that
we put this on a video screen, so that if there were 800 people
in the audience, those people could sit in relative comfort in
an air-conditioned building and watch it on a 24 x 24 foot screen.
The night before we did this, somebody said, "You'd better
go down and check your slides." So Don Weiland, my wife and
I went through my presentation. I put my anatomy slides up on
the screen; they were simple anatomy slides -- this is the third
phalanx, second phalanx, first phalanx, this is the lamina, this
is the hoof -- anatomy we all could understand. Then I went into
a little more complicated anatomy. My wife said, "Burney,
if you use those terms, you're going to lose 90 percent of the
people." The night before she had heard some guys say, "We
don't give a damn what the guy is going to say because we've fixed
foundered horses before." And it really upset my wife, and
she said, "If you use big words like 'necrosis,' you're going
to lose everybody!" The night before my presentation Don
Weiland and I put these slides through the projector and showed
them on this great big movie screen, and I'm talking. I have this
electronic pointer -- I had never seen one of those dudes before;
I always used a broken old car aerial or something similar. The
next morning I go down there and Walt Taylor says,"Oh, we're
going to make you famous.""I was more nervous than a
whore in church. We brought this crippled mare up into the convention
room. This is downtown Houston. We brought the mare up the service
elevator through the kitchen of the Sheraton Hotel! This is the
truth. I get up there and give my little presentation and it's
on video. Some of you have probably seen the video; it's very
crude, it's very common, but at that time it was the best we had.
ANVIL: That was a real breakthrough. There you
were on stage, a non-veterinarian, doing what a lot of people
would have considered a surgical procedure.
BURNEY: There wasn't any blood, was there?
ANVIL: Nonetheless, it's considered surgery in
a lot of cases, but Dr. Platt, who had worked with you, was also
BURNEY: But he didn't go to that one; that was
the next year. George didn't even bother to come to that one.
My friend Dr. Platt and my friend Dr. Murray and all the veterinarians
who had backed me said at the 1983 AFA Convention, "Burney,
all you're going to do is stir up a can of worms if you get up
there and do this." Right wrong, or indifferent, whatever
anybody says about me, I got up there and I did what I thought
was right. Whether the heartbar shoe is right or wrong, whether
hoof resection is right or wrong, it did one thing for both professions:
it got their behinds off the middle of the fence. And there would
have been a lot of horses that would have been dead today if it
weren't for the heartbar shoe. You'd have a lot of horses dead
today if it weren't for the hoof resection. It is not my fault
because I cannot control what somebody does later, and lots of
other people have done it successfully since. But I did open up
a can of worms.
with Burney Chapman Part I
by Rob Edwards
in the September 1989 Issue of Anvil Magazine