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Jonathan

Jonathan OEHM

Year of Award: 2006 Award State: Queensland Animals > General
None > Trades
The James Love Churchill Fellowship to study advanced techniques in therapeutic and remedial shoeing (farriery) - U.K.
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Jonathan Oehm from Queensland travelled on a James Love Churchill Fellowship (2006) to study advanced techniques in therapeutic and remedial farriery. His journey took him to the United Kingdom. In Jonathan’s informative report he tells us that farriers work in hot or cold metal, usually steel or alloys, or sometimes plastics and resins – to shape a shoe to the horse’s foot. ‘Ideally, a farrier will also be a horseman and able to interpret a horse’s reactions and adapt to them.’

‘Horses are a study in improbability.’ Jonathan quotes from an article in American Farriers Journal (volume 25, 1994) stating that ‘A horse puts nine times its body weight on each limb as it goes from walk to canter; four tonnes of pressure per limb on an average-sized horse at a gallop.’ From the knee down, a horse has no muscle, and everything works on a system of tendons and levers. ‘If a farrier is out by as little as three millimetres in judging hoof preparation, he can cause joints to shatter, ligaments to break, and tendons to rupture…’

He timed his Fellowship to coincide with the peak foaling time for thoroughbred horses in the United Kingdom: April to June. During his travels, Jonathan met a supporter of farriers and an admirer of their skills: Princess Anne, who expressed her opinion that ‘The Churchill Trust is a great institution.’

Jonathan and the Princess discussed the differences in distances that farriers must travel in the United Kingdom, where they might travel 20 kilometres, compared with Australia where they might have to do 300 kilometres a day.

Developmental disease in horses is from outside influences and is not congenital, and Jonathan observed the high standards in farrier training in the United Kingdom compared with Australia. A statistic that perhaps he did not share with the Princess is that 60 per cent of all thoroughbreds in Australia have some degree of orthopaedic developmental disease, while in the United Kingdom, he discovered, it is only 17 per cent.

Jonathan returned from England with the aim of improving Australian standards associated with the welfare of horses. He recommended increased education for owners, vets, breeders and trainers, which would go hand in hand with improved farrier training. At the time of his Fellowship, contrasting with the United Kingdom, anyone in Australia could hang out his shingle and be a farrier. He saw an urgent need for standardised training and registration in this country.

In a recent email, Jonathan stated that since he returned from his Churchill Fellowship the situation here is gradually improving, either as a direct or indirect result of his recommendations and efforts.

 Excerpt from “Inspiring Australians” written by Penny Hanley (2015)

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