Steve Kraus ’70 was named Cornell’s head farrier, effective Nov. 1, replacing Michael Wildenstein, who has served in that capacity since 1991. Kraus will be in charge of maintaining the health of the hooves of horses used on campus at the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Large-Animal Hospital.
Kraus brings over 40 years of experience to the job, having become a private farrier for the Department of Athletics and Physical Education in 1968 when he was an undergraduate. He is a Certified Journeyman Farrier, the highest level of accreditation afforded by the American Farrier’s Association. Since 1976 he has been a consultant for Mustad Hoofcare, a position which he says has broadened his views on the profession and kept him up-to-date with changes.
Danvers Child, who is the editorial director of the American Farrier’s Association, noted that the farrier’s job is critical to horse’s performance, whether it is on the polo field, in the arena at a dressage show, or just in bearing the weight of students enrolled in P.E. equestrian courses. He said that maintaining a horse’s hooves is akin to trimming one’s fingernails. And if not cared for the hoof grows forward and downward, which alters its trot.
“Unlike us, these horses are standing on their fingernails and toenails,” Child said, and a rough trim would be painful to the horse.
Child characterized the farrier’s job as one of routine maintenance. “[The] average farrier is working with the same horses on a regular basis,” he said. He added that this helps ward off problems before they happen.
Although his title is “head farrier,” Kraus calls this a misnomer.
“I think it should be ‘head of farrier services,’” he said. He cited the several private farriers who work for Cornell on a contractual basis. Although they are independent, these farriers might come to him for help, he noted.
According to Kraus, his responsibilities will include shoeing horses from the Athletics Department’s equine programs and the veterinary hospital, as well as teaching students enrolled in an intensive 16-week farrier-training course. These students are not enrolled at Cornell, he said, but are preparing to be professional farriers. However, he will oversee Cornell veterinary students, who wish to observe a farrier’s work, as well as lecture on topics, such as hoofcare.
“The profession has gotten more savvy,” he said. As in almost every field, labor-saving devices have been implemented. For instance, instead of having to make horseshoes by hand, Kraus has time to teach and travel to conferences.
He noted that there has recently been shuffling of resources and responsibilities with regards to the equine programs.
He called the decision to make the horses at the Oxley Equestrian Center available for farrier students a “major” move and said he has future plans to perhaps alter the syllabus of the 16-week Equestrian course or make it more comprehensive. He added though that “right now it’s too soon to know.”