The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine recently announced that it is in the process of acquiring both Middlefork Forge, a farrier practice formerly located in Collison, Illinois, and the Midwest Horseshoeing School, located in Divernon, Illinois.

“Advanced therapeutic shoeing will complement the exceptional medical and surgical lameness services already available to equine patients at the college’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital,” said Scott Austin, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, who heads the Equine Medicine and Surgery Section at the hospital.

“In addition, the Midwest Horseshoeing School, which shoes thousands of well horses each year, will provide fourth-year veterinary students with opportunities to deliver routine horse health care, when requested by horse owners,” he said. “Performing wellness examinations gives students valuable experience to complement their involvement with providing specialized care for our hospital’s ill and injured equine patients.”

Four Farriers Join College Staff

The farrier practice will begin shoeing horses as part of the College of Veterinary Medicine on Feb. 17. Its name will be changed to Middlefork Forge at Illinois. Farrier services will be offered at the college’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana on Fridays, and they will see horses primarily at farms/stables throughout west-central Indiana and east-central Illinois on other days.

Steve Sermersheim, who formerly owned Middlefork Forge, will be joining the faculty of the College of Veterinary Medicine. Diego Almeida, who formerly co-owned the school with Sermersheim, will continue to manage instruction for the school, but as a program coordinator within the college’s Office of Public Engagement. Two apprentices formerly with Middlefork Forge, Ian Zollars and Jessica Byrne, both American Farrier’s Association (AFA)-certified farriers, will also be hired by the college.

The Midwest Horseshoeing School will become a program of the College of Veterinary Medicine, but will continue at its current location in Divernon.

Education for Horse Owners and Farriers

The Midwest Horseshoeing School attracts students from across the U.S. and abroad. Courses range from two- and four-week classes aimed at horse owners who wish to learn to trim their own animal’s hooves and apply factory-made shoes, to a 20-week course for farriers preparing for AFA certification. Around 5,600 horses are shod each year at the school.

“Our rigorous educational program for farriers will gain exposure and prestige through affiliation with the University of Illinois,” said Almeida. “We are currently enrolling students in courses that will begin on Feb. 27.”

Leaders in the Farrier World

Sermersheim brings to the college a demonstrated commitment to excellence and education. He is a Certified Journeyman Farrier with a Therapeutic Endorsement from the AFA as well as an Associate of Great Britain’s Worshipful Company of Farriers. He has twice been named AFA’s Clinician of the Year, has served eight times as an official farrier at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, and has been a supervisor for the official farriers at the World Equestrian Games.

Almeida is a Certified Journeyman Farrier and is internationally active in farrier certifications. He has been recognized with the International Hoof Care Summit’s Rising Star Award in 2014 and the AFA’s J. Scott Simpson Outstanding Educator Award in 2015 and 2016.

Health Solutions for Horse Owners

These farriers add a new dimension to the horse health team at Illinois. The equine faculty includes four veterinarians with board certification in large animal internal medicine—Austin; Jonathan Foreman, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM; Kara Lascola, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM; and Pamela Wilkins, DVM, MS, PhD , Dipl. ACVIM, ACVECC—and three who are boarded in equine surgery—Santiago Gutierrez Nibeyro, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, ACVSMR; Annette McCoy, DVM, MS, PhD, Dipl. ACVS; and Matthew Stewart, MVet, PhD, BVSc, Fellow Australian CVS (Equine). Additional certifications are held by Gutierrez in sports medicine and rehabilitation, by Wilkins in veterinary emergency and critical care, and by Lascola in veterinary acupuncture.

In November 2016, the Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital became one of only a handful of U.S. veterinary hospitals to have a 3-Tesla MRI system capable of imaging horses’ heads, necks, and lower extremities. Other advanced technology for equine patients at the hospital includes high-speed treadmill examinations, shock wave therapy, minimally invasive arthroscopy and laparoscopy, and a lameness locator system.