Stephanie Trimming a Client’s Horse in 2006
In parts one and two of getting started with natural hoof care, I first gave a brief introduction and, second, provided a jump-start article for traditional farriers.
For the most part, all of the resources in “Natural Hoof Care For The Traditional Farrier” apply to this article as well. However, I plan to take a slightly different approach to this write-up than I did for parts one and two.
This article will provide a high-level guide for the horse guardian when choosing a natural hoof care professional.
Choosing A Natural Hoof Care Professional
Choosing a hoof care professional is an art in itself. Over the years, some natural trimming practices have developed a bad name, and rightfully so. Once you get to the point of choosing a hoof care professional, this is a big decision.
You are putting the soundness of your horse in someone else’s hands. Some times when people get to this point, it’s a do or die situation, meaning, their horse is already lame for whatever reason, and they feel natural hoof care is their last option.
One thing I’ve noticed about people who seek out natural hoof care is that they don’t make the decision lightly. They usually have already done a lot of research and are at the point of being ready to select a trimmer.
A Few Things To Consider
- Always get a referral from someone you trust. This can be difficult because how do you know who to trust? I hope I can help alleviate some of this uncertainty.
- Interview more than one natural hoof care specialist.
What Questions Do I Ask During The Interview?
Ask such questions as:
- How long has she been using natural hoof care methods? It’s important that, if the person you’re asking used to be a traditional farrier, you make it clear that you’re not interested in how long she’s been shoeing. You want to know how long she’s been using natural hoof care methods.
- Why did she decide to switch to natural hoof care? Ask about her personal story. This, in itself, will tell you a lot about a person.
- What barefoot trimming method does she use? Become familiar with the different methods so you can make an informed decision. Rule out any invasive types of trimming methods. When in doubt, less is more.
- What kind of professional training does she have? Note: I have witnessed individuals falsely claiming to have studied under someone like Pete Ramey. Often, these people had acquired no education on natural hoof care or even mentored with other natural hoof care professionals. Be sure to ask for references from some of that person’s existing clients.
- Does she keep up with the latest in the natural hoof care movement and, if so, how? The best way I can describe this is that it’s an evolution. We are constantly learning more about how to maintain healthy barefoot horses for both the professional athlete and the backyard companion. There are also strategic methods being applied that can help some of the more severe lameness cases such as navicular, founder and laminitis.
- Does she shoe AND use natural hoof care methods? If that person says she still shoes (metal shoes), say “Thank you for your time” and then move on to your next interview.
- Does she use a whole-horse approach? Since most issues don’t originate in the hoof, it’s important to have this understanding in order to evaluate a situation and recommend the appropriate professional. For example, saddle fit, body work, dentist, etc.
- This one may not be as important to some as it is to me, but… what kind of horse-man-ship skills does this person have? Natural hoof care doesn’t necessarily mean “Natural Horse-man-ship”. People tend to get these two things confused.
Is There A Natural Hoof Care Professionals List?
As I recommended in my article “Natural Hoof Care – Getting Started For The Traditional Farrier,” start with the American Hoof Association (AHA) trimmers list. This is a short list, and yes, there is a huge shortage of GOOD natural hoof care professionals. If there isn’t a trimmer listed in your area, contact the AHA and ask if they know of any qualified individuals they could recommend who trim near where you live. There are often many trimmers who aren’t on that list who are very qualified.
You can also contact us here at Soulful Equine by going to our Contact Us page and sending us an e-mail. We’ll do our best to help you. Every horse deserves great hoof care and optimal health.
Another organization I would like to mention is the Pacific Hoof Care Practitioners (PHCP). Take a look at their list of trimmers as well.
There are other lists out there, but the main list I can confidently recommend is the AHA. As far as the PHCP, I feel good about this list too, but always remember to ask for references.
The Importance Of Doing Your Part
As the horse guardian, educating yourself is a big part of natural hoof care. Keep in mind that a great natural hoof care professional can only do so much. They can help most horses, but they’re really limited by the guardians and what they are willing to do to address the underlying issues.
If the guardian isn’t willing to address the areas the hoof care professional points out (i.e. diet, environment, movement, etc.), then the relationship may be dissolved very quickly. It’s important that the horse guardian do her part, otherwise, she may not be able to find a natural hoof care professional willing to work with her or stick with her.
There are many fantastic resources available that you can use to educate yourself. Please be sure to read my previous article “Natural Hoof – Getting Started For The Traditional Farrier” because I mentioned many resources you can utilize. I will, however, list the resources in this article that I feel the horse guardian should focus on in order to know more.
I hope this article will help guide you in choosing a natural hoof care professional. If your horses have been barefoot for a while using natural hoof care methods and you’re happy with the trimmer you’re using, please post it in the comments section. This may be a good way to “pay it forward” and share that special trimmer’s name and contact information with someone else.
Remember, every horse deserves great hoof care and optimal health!
Keep it soulful,
Where to find the educational information from this article:
- American Hoof Association (AHA) Trimmers List
- Pacific Hoof Care Practitioners (PHCP) List
- Barefoot Horse Care Yahoo Group [Moderator: Walt Friedrich, Less Is More Trim (LIM)]
- Pete Ramey’s DVD Sets & Giddy Up Flix – If you would first like to watch Pete’s DVD series before buying I would highly recommend first renting them at Giddy Up Flix
- Pete Ramey’s Web Site
- The Horse’s Hoof Online and Printed Magazine Dedicated to Natural Hoof Care
- Easy Care Blog