I am a qualified Equine Podiotherapist (Dip) and I have been working as a trimmer - and continuing to educate myself - for nearly 20 years now. I am concentrating these days on rehabbing 'problem feet' and educating people. I am also a trained boot fitter.
Two of mine on their home range
I have had a lot of experience now not only with healthy, strong hooves, but with a variety of problems, including the dreaded laminitis and 'navicular syndrome'. I am confident I can treat and prevent well over 90% of hoof related lameness and problems, with the right management.
If you wish to read about how I came to this point in my career, read on...
Anya's Hoofcare Journey
I learned to trim and shoe, and had been looking after my own horse, pony and donkey for years before I learned about "Natural Hoofcare" in early 1999 and started on a new path.
At first skeptical, as the philosophy went against many vets & farriers advice, it was never the less logical, and the more I learned, the more I felt it was right. I decided there was nothing to lose in trying the technique on my already disabled pony and donkey. They had both been given no hope of change by the different vets and farriers I had consulted and my donkey was on permanent pain medication.
I bought the few books available at the time. I surfed the Net, learning all I could and I enlisted the help of experienced people to give me some hands on help wherever I could find them.
With a lot of conflicting opinions, I set about learning as much as I could of a range of different theories, to endeavor to make more informed and objective opinions. I found this was often very difficult, as there were many, on either side of the 'fence' that flatly denied the validity of conflicting opinions without providing evidence to verify their own.
I started trimming my donkey and pony’s hooves according to what I learned, and after a few months, with their rehabilitation successfully underway, decided to use the principles on my 3 other sound horses. Soon after this I was looking after other horses who lived in the same paddock for nothing. There were 13 different animals in all. Having that many horses to trim and watch at work and play taught me a lot!
2001; I started trimming or helping with other people’s horses, in the course of my other work, training and exercising horses. I noticed a difference almost immediately in the way some of these horses moved and they are obviously more comfortable. I have had success working on a number of horses with severe problems, including 'navicular syndrome', founder with rotation, chronic contraction, separation and cracks.
2002: I and my friends now ride our happy comfortable horses, using boots instead of metal shoes for protection when necessary. My last riding horse was only being ridden once or twice a week on average, but she could still travel happily on rough and stony or paved surfaces for 10km or so(probably far more, but I don’t push it) before I would put front boots on her to prevent excess wear.
Learning curves and Holistic management
In 2004 I moved my horses from 40 acres of half bush, half 'poor' native pasture, which was a rocky hill paddock where they ran with their large herd. I moved them to the Yarra Valley - lush, rich 'improved pasture', soft footing. More ideal environment for horses yeah?? Wrong! With a baby at home, I was also riding very little.
This is where I started scratching my head again & learning how important other factors, such as diet, environment & exercise were. From tough barefoot 'rock crunching' hooves, my horses feet went 'splat'!! I suddenly found my education fell a little short when it came to these considerations! I knuckled down to learn more & correct these problems. I have found that even with the trim 'perfect', it can be difficult or impossible to effect big positive changes when diet and environment especially, are working against the horse.
2010 After having kids, I got back into trimming professionally. Things had changed a bit and it became more 'normal' as people started seeing the results of this 'alternative' hoof care philosophy & practice. Along with that, it was recognised that there was far too little research into it and far to little objective sources of learning.
I met Andrew Bowe, a Master Farrier who had set up a very successful 'rehabilitation centre' at Yarck and teaches workshops around Australia. He had also just started running the Diploma in Equine Podiotherapy. I decided this was a course I wanted to do, being far & away more comprehensive than any other course available and with a strong basis in scientific research.
2011; I commenced the Diploma of Equine Podiotherapy. A year of formal study, assignments and prac, plus a year to complete extensive case studies. In late 2012 I was qualified.
2014; Qualified Equine Podiotherapist, enjoying my work as always, helping horses, enjoying getting to Master Classes with Dr Bowker & co, & all the opportunities there now are to continue furthering my learning!
I have been specialising in lameness and hoof problems. I have also started running lectures for horse owners. And late last year, we bought a 10 acre property near Broadford, Central Victoria. I am setting this place up to take on rehab cases.
I have encountered much resistance towards this philosophy and practice of Hoofcare, but just about all cases, of those people that have made the effort to learn about it and to really look at the examples in my horses and others I care for, their minds have been changed. You can lead a person to knowledge, but you can't make them think!
I believe we all do the best we can, with the knowledge that we have at the time. Therefore it's so important to keep striving to learn and have an open mind. Studying different philosophies & the principles behind them is the way to come to more informed, objective opinions!