Help! How do I choose a Natural Hoofcare Professional?
by Yvonne Welz ©2006
NEW! Locate a Professional Barefoot Trimmer!
Youve done your research, youve made the big decision
to take your horse barefoot, and you are ready to get started. Now you need
to find a natural hoofcare professional.
Whether you plan to learn to trim yourself but want someone
to give you lessons or do the initial trims, or whether you want a professional
to provide all trimming services, you are still looking for someone with knowledge
and experience. You may or may not have decided on a certain barefoot method
(see Help! How do I choose a Trimming Method?)
but in the end, you will still be limited to the professionals that service
your immediate area.
To get started, first begin a list of the natural hoofcare professionals
in your area. If you are interested in doing most of the trimming yourself,
you may be able to include any professionals that come into your area to give
clinics. How do you find out who is in your neighborhood? First, turn to your
local resources; area horse newspapers, magazines and newsletters. Read the
bulletin boards at tack and feed stores. Talk to friends, horse trainers,
farriers, and veterinarians. Search the internet for local resources (many
local horse communities are represented on the internet these days).
Here are listings of certified/approved practitioners for
AANHCP/Jaime Jackson: http://www.aanhcp.net
HPT/KC La Pierre: http://www.equinepodiatry.net
Natural Balance: http://www.hopeforsoundness.com/techsupport/search/farrier/enterfsearch.html
The above websites should also include information on clinics
and seminars for those methods.
Also, check out our lists:
NEW! Locate a Professional Barefoot Trimmer!
Trimmer's List: http://thehorseshoof.com/trimmers.html
Friend's List: http://www.thehorseshoof.com/friends.html
Once youve compiled some names, you can begin the sorting process. One of the first things to consider are credentials. You may want to inquire about past certifications, current certifications, courses completed (length and curriculum), continuing education plans, and their memberships in groups such as the AANHCP (American Association of Natural Hoof Care Practitioners) and the AFA (American Farrier's Association).
But how important are credentials, such as certification, or
diplomas? Hoofcare is an occupation that certainly requires no degree. And
it goes without saying, there are definitely many talented individuals out
there who may have no credentials at all, but they have experience or talent
that makes up for it. However, as an amateur trying to decide what is best
for your horse, it may be very worthwhile to seek out professionals who have
gone through a lengthy training course or attained some certification of graduation.
It can give you some reassurance that this person went through a genuine training
program and has some experience.
Next, you should give the professionals a phone call (or email)
and find out more about them. Some questions to ask include: how long have
they been using a natural hoofcare method (if they are a farrier, you will
be interested specifically in their barefoot experience, not in their shoeing
experience!); what are the details of their barefoot education; how many barefoot
clients have they had in the past, and how many currently; what problems have
they encountered with barefoot horses particular to your area and environment,
and can they provide a list of customer references. If the professional you
call seems very busy - takes a long time to return your phone call, or says
they have a waiting list - that could be a sign that they are very successful.
Get some references and check them out, if that is possible -- but do remember
that, these days, people are often very protective of their privacy with both
phone numbers and email addresses. You may have to wait for their references
to give you a call, instead. If you have to go on a waiting list, it may be
better to do that, rather than settle for someone just because they are available.
How much experience are you looking for? Since barefooting horses
in modern times has just become widespread in the past few years, there are
not many people out there with decades of experience in natural hoofcare.
However, for a general guideline, you should prefer someone with at least
2 years of experience trimming professionally. The reason for this: 2 years
will give you plenty of background for customer references. If you can talk
with a few customers who have been happy with the hoofcare they have been
receiving from this person for 2 years, then you should feel very good about
putting your horse in their hands.
What if the only professionals in your area represent methods
that you arent interested in? You have a couple of choices. First, you
can seek information elsewhere: attend seminars and clinics from outside your
area, and learn to trim yourself. Or as an alternative, you could keep an
open mind, and explore the options that are available to you. There is no
right or wrong, as long as you are working towards the basic principles of
natural hoof care and correct hoof form. If you investigate different approaches,
you will often find that many areas overlap, and there can be much in common.
Make it your goal to learn as much about hoofcare as you can, and try not
to be prejudice against different methods based on hearsay.
Once you choose your hoofcare professional, how do you evaluate the service you are receiving? Plan on keeping accurate records, photos of your horses hooves, measurements of length and width of hooves, even a diary of his progress. Whenever you have a concern, make sure to communicate with your hoofcare professional - they wont know unless you tell them! You want to find someone who is really willing to work with you, discuss any problems as they come up, and help you evaluate your horses progress. You also want someone who can help you accomplish your goals with your horses feet (whether it be healing a foundered or navicular horse, keeping a horse more comfortable, or just creating healthier hooves). And if this person also gets along really well with your horse, you probably have a winner!
Please read these articles:
What is Natural Hoofcare?
What is a Natural Trim?
Help! What does a Healthy Hoof look like?
Help! How do I choose a Trimming Method?
Locate a Professional Barefoot Trimmer!
©2006 by The Horse's Hoof. All rights reserved. No part of these publications may be reproduced by any means whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher and/or authors. The information contained within these articles is intended for educational purposes only, and not for diagnosing or medicinally prescribing in any way. Readers are cautioned to seek expert advice from a qualified health professional before pursuing any form of treatment on their animals. Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher.
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