JANUARY 1995 BACK ISSUE
Part of Horse Previews Magazine website. Posted on 1/1/95; 10:00:00 AM.
HoofTalk The Hairline Tells It All - Book Review
HoofTalk The Hairline
Tells It All
by Lyle E. "Bergy" Bergeleen© 1993 Bergy's HoofTalk Publishing, Mead, Wa 99021
ISBN: 1-883363-00-4. HoofTalk, Inc. P.O. Box 1685 Mead, Wa - 60 pgs, 55
photos, 16 illustrations, softbound, $15 - (509) 467-3455 or 1-800-826-2651
First time I saw Bergy's book was on a demo string from the counter at Big R Supply. The cover attracted me because we own horses, or rather, they own us. Lucky I didn't buy it since the next time I saw it was on our kitchen table. The wife's a buyer. At 25 cents a page I had to read it right away and keep it from her for awhile. I read slow and it was hard.
I've known Bergy the Horseshoer and of him for over 15 years. I wasn't a student of his horseshoeing classes, I'm not a Bergy Groupie, and he doesn't shoe our horses. (Roger Wigen is our farrier). We've done business and he told me he was making up a book about his trade, so it was great to see the result of his obviously extensive labors. He really knows his hooves and he wants to share that with readers. Anybody who knows the shear number of farriers in our region can guess the competition to make a living at this enigmatic trade. His book sets a great example for his peers because nobody else around here has produced such a link to understanding what it takes to keep a horse sound.
Who knows if this book is much different than any other horseshoeing book? It's my first on the subject. Thanks to Bergy, it won't be my last. Everybody knows somebody whose horse has gone down due to bad feet. Nobody doubts better hoof care makes a healthier horse. Hooftalk quickened my interest in the preventative nature of careful trimming and shoeing. Plus, it convinced me the way it's done either improves or worsens the foot's condition. The real kick I get from printing this review comes from realizing the verve he had to have to tackle an explanation of the artful trade which brought him a living all these years. This isn't actor Paul Newman writing a book about making salad dressing here. Bergy's book is packed with horse lore not easily comprehended. To uncap this bottle takes a good, hard twist.
Let me give you three good tips on the twist. First off, don't get frazzled by the peculiar scattering of terms. Vet terms of anatomy (corneum, deep digital flexor tendon - DDFT) mix into farrier terms (toe-wide, sheared heel, quarter cracks, etc.), giving way to horse owner terms (cow-hocked, pigeon-toed, founder, etc). These frazzle relation to the teacher - student nomenclature of Bergy's trademarked terms, like "one-plane symmetry of the hairline™." or "basal shadow™." The robust term encounter of the worst kind has to be "LOTech™" (Locomotion-Oriented Technique of Medial-Lateral Balance™). The book has plenty of clear pictures and great illustrations. I would rather have seen the Appendix of these replaced or complemented by a glossary of terms. You won't absorb the good in the book if you concentrate on simplifying them.
Second, don't look for science when you read Bergy's book. His is an empirical method based on long practical experience and observation rather than theory or scientific principles. His mathematical use of the principles of geometry falls gradually short as a tool of wide application. Bergy's geometry begins pure and then fizzles. From the beautifully explicit, diagrammatic explanation of Hoof Anatomy on the first pages, plane geometry is good enough to establish the concept of the base of support for a straight hairline (coronet band). However, I did not find solid geometry simple or fascinating enough as a tool of explanation for the Natural Balance concept of Chapter Three. To reveal the balanced motion of a horse's hoof would require a reader with more than a rudimentary understanding of physics and a lot more space than Bergy had in his packed 60 pages. Close reading divulges that he grappled with and declined the mathematics of statics and dynamics beyond geometry. I found myself after what it was instead of how it was, and turned toward the juicier parts of the book.
Third, don't look for a quick read just because it's a short book. Read it slowly and methodically. Bergy is a farrier, teacher and writer, in that order. Some thought and study is required, otherwise you will just get the opinion it is too difficult, you will balk, and you will learn nothing. Veterinarian readers will connect the math better than I did. Farrier readers will connect the nomenclature better than I did, and I'll bet all tradesmen who read it are given pause for deeper consideration.
I read it as a horseowner and pleasure rider and I liked it. Who cares if taut terms and geometric models won't evidence the physics of how it really works? I wasn't looking for a video either. I read Hooftalk critically to get to the good of the matter of proper hoof care. His case for a straight hairline makes good sense to me. Especially since our mares Venus and Jewel have great balanced gaits and have never experienced foot problems. Roger keeps their hairlines perfectly straight!
I questioned why the length of the basal shadow™ must be less than 1/5 the base of support. I questioned how Bergy could tell the balance point™ is 1/3 the distance aft from the apex of the frog to the bulbline. I questioned how he could superimpose his geometry over other geometry which he labels "artificial". I turn up Venus' hoof and there it is! It's not science, it's artful experience. The key to his method appears amid Chapter Two where he writes: "It wasn't possible for me to establish and maintain one-plane symmetry of the hairline on a working horse until I grasped the principle of front-to-back positioning of the hoof capsule." I recommend everyone who reads Hooftalk turn to this sentence first.
The book helped me understand where the hoof capsule distributes the forces of concussion and how it springs back best from shock. I was happy to read that he advocates the farrier watch the travel of the horse before he helps establish natural balance around an unwobbly pivot. Finally, Bergy's book convinced me to monitor the hairline as a good indicator of the potential onset of lameness. Who said learning would be easy?
-Bob Howdy Exchange Publishing