It was while hanging around the barns with a friend who trained horses that Rusty Freeman quickly gained an appreciation for the old adage, "no hoof, no horse."Rusty Freeman's friend had a horse with cracked hooves. Young and curious, Rusty Freeman went off in search of wonder putty to patch the hoof back together. Today, 22 years later, Rusty's talents are requested by horse people working with horses of various breeds and performance levels--Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds which race, horses trained for dressage and other competitions, and horses owned strictly for riding pleasure.
Rusty's Freeman's experience with horses was minimal at the time he saw his first cracked hoof. He was working as an apprentice machinist at the time, and his natural inclination to solve mechanical problems was quickly transferred to the hoof of the horse. He barn-stormed the country, contacting almost every adhesive manufacturer to learn about epoxies, urethanes, fiberglass and acrylics used in hoof repair. He also hunted down hoof repair experts to see if they would share any knowledge. When it became apparent to Rusty that virtually all of the hoof repair specialists he met had their own individual techniques, he decided to research and develop his own application technique.
"So off I went in search of horses with cracked hooves to try to master the art of hoof repair," says Rusty Freeman, a native of the Buffalo, N.Y., area. "Fortunately, many trainers gave me the opportunity to work on their injured horses, because the last resort back then was time off."
After applying patches and realizing mixed results, Rusty Freeman began studying the anatomy of the hoof. " I learned that to repair the hoof, it is necessary to understand hoof anatomy and the dynamics of the hoof, not just to know which adhesive to use to patch the hoof together," he says. "Now my evaluations are not just about what I need to reconstruct, but what type of injury we are evaluating, the cause and extent of the damage, and what part concussion will play at the injured site.
"You evaluate, identify the cause, open up the hoof, correct the damage and reconstruct the hoof, and drive on!" That's become Rusty Freeman's motto.
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