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From horse owner to hoofologist. How I became an Equine Podiatrist

 

This link details my training and other notable events in my career. 

 

About Me 

 

Although I’ve always been a keen horsewoman, I came upon this new career in my late thirties quite by chance.  My beautiful, elderly thoroughbred, Casper, was slowing down. At first I put it down to old age, but his intermittent lamenesses become more and more evident and I slowly became aware that, in spite of some excellent and sympathetic farriery, his hooves were hurting. 

 

During my quest to find answers I began to study hooves and quickly became fascinated.  Following a 5-day course in Applied Equine Podiatry I removed my horses’ shoes and began the long, slow process of returning his hooves to health.

 

With hindsight, this was a very daft thing to do.  I was way out of my depth and Casper’s recovery was much slower than it should have been.  However, in those days, with only 4 EPs in the country, there was little choice.  Following shoe removal, Casper’s health steadily improved.  Even though the hooves were in very poor health, and in spite of his old age, they slowly became stronger, particularly as I began to understand the connection between nutrition, biomechanics, metabolism and how they all affected hooves.

 

Within months, his health and posture improved hugely and he enjoyed a few more years as a riding horse (although he always needed boots for ridden work) before retiring and eventually passing away at the ripe old age of 32.

 

 

 

 

I originally qualified in Equine Podiatry because I wanted to know as much as possible to help Casper.  However, word got out and I found myself helping other horses too.  I found the work so rewarding that I eventually decided to make a career out of it and in 2005 became a full time Equine Podiatrist.

 

I now have another horse, Magda.  She too is a rehab case who originally had such bad hoof infections that previous hoofcare professionals had removed large portions of wall and sole until they bled.  She also had such severe stomach problems (which were causing the hoof infections) that if you even looked at her stomach she would kick out at you.  She is now a happy, healthy, sound, barefoot riding horse who thoroughly enjoys her work.

 

 

 

 

About three years ago, I and my colleagues became increasingly concerned by the lack of regulation of non-farrier hoofcare professionals.  Because the profession was so new, no legislation was in place to guarantee the standard of work of the practitioners.  With this in mind, we launched the Equine Podiatry Association (UK), a professional body for the regulation and support of EPs working in the UK.  Membership of the association is strict – a high level of training is necessary to join and commitment to continuous education is a requirement to stay a member.   Members must abide by a comprehensive code of conduct and there is a complaints procedure.  Members also have access to a wide range of training courses.  In this way clients who employ a member of the EPA(UK) can be assured of the highest quality of service.

 We also wanted to develop a qualification that was the gold standard in our field. Therefore my colleague, Richard Vialls and I set up Equine Podiatry Training Ltd which provides a two year course.  Teachers on this course are a mixture of experienced, practising EPs and some of the most acclaimed researchers and equine professionals in the world.  The course is tough, and requires a high level of commitment, but the students who qualify have a standard of eduction which is unparallelled in the field.

 

I am proud of what we have achieved so far, but there is much work to be done. Although a lot of research has been carried out in the last few years, there are still huge gaps in our understanding of how the hoof functions and grows and what exactly happens when things go wrong.  We have already learned so much, but what we know now is only the tip of the iceberg.  Each year, Equine Podiatry is able to help a few more horses who would previously have been euthenased, but there are still many more who neither the farriery, veterinary nor podiatry fields can help.  This is why I and my colleagues will keep researching to find answers.

 
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