Hoofcare for the New Millennium
Conference Participants Explore the Concepts of the Strasser Method

by Yvonne Welz ©2006

HOOFCARE FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM- Exploring the Strasser Method
This groundbreaking conference took place on May 4 & 5, 2002, at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in North Grafton, Massachusetts. According to Tufts literature, the goal of this conference was to enhance understanding of the controversial bare foot hoofcare methods proposed by the German veterinarian Dr. Hiltrud Strasser and to provide a public forum for their fair but vigorous review by a panel of expert veterinarians and farriers.

Dr. Hiltrud Strasser presented her theories, and Dr. Carl Kirker-Head, of Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine served as moderator for the discussions. The panelists included Dr. Judith Shoemaker, DVM, a practitioner in complementary veterinary medicine; Dr. Tia Nelson, DVM, both a farrier and veterinarian who developed her own barefoot techniques; Craig Trnka, President of the American Farrier's Association; Mike Wildenstein, AWCF, CJF, Farrier for Cornell University; Henry Heymering, CJF, RMF, President of the Guild of Professional Farriers, and Pete Ramey, a barefoot practitioner promoting Jaime Jackson's methods.

Audience members (estimated around 65+) included Dr. Robert Cook, Gene Ovnicek, Fran Jurga (Hoofcare & Lameness Journal), Randi Peters (Natural Horse Magazine), K.C. La Pierre, and CSHS Todd Merrell, Lisa Walker and Ray Shammas. The audience was allowed to write down questions to ask, but was not allowed to participate in the discussions.

Dr. Strasser began with a presentation of her method and theories, similar to the lecture portion of one of her hoofcare seminars. She was also able to demonstrate her trim on the first day on one live horse's hoof, but due to time constraints, was not able to finish the rest of the feet (they were later finished by Todd Merrell, CSHS). This live trim that Dr. Strasser performed seemed to be well received by the conference participants.

Everyone agrees that Dr. Carl Kirker-Head did an outstanding job as moderator for the discussions that followed. There was definitely much to debate and disagree about, but there was also a tremendous amount of common ground. All the panelists agreed unanimously with Dr. Strasser's lifestyle recommendations--except for soaking of the hooves, which they unanimously disagreed with.

Some of the discussion topics included toe angles, heel height, and the ground parallel coffin bone (all panelists disagreed with the concept of a ground parallel coffin bone), function of the bare hoof and perspectives on shoeing. Most of the panelists were supportive of keeping horses barefoot, if possible. On the second day, the subjects of navicular and laminitis were covered, with discussion of the role of the navicular bone, blood flow into the hoof, treatment of navicular, and such treatments as grooving of the hoof capsule and cutting of the digital flexor tendon. There seemed to be a tremendous amount of information squeezed into a very brief time!

The conference wrapped up with three CSHS discussing their own success and experiences, and a discussion of the apparant success of the Strasser method among barefoot endurance riders, including world class rider Darolyn Butler-Dial. All the panelists agreed that Dr. Strasser's credibility would be enhanced if she could support her methods with classical research and data analysis.

This was Dr. Strasser's very first invitation to speak in front of colleagues-anywhere in the world-and she thanked everyone for this opportunity. As a grand finale, she received a standing ovation from the audience and panelists.

"One of the most important points I believe she [Dr. Strasser] made this weekend is that if the horse is happy with his hooves (no pain as indicated by muscles, posture, gait, etc. and they grow fast enough to keep up with wear), then why change it? Her trim and research was directed toward a pathological hoof that is far from the physiologically correct shape. Since we need to help the pathological hoof and don't know what the individual horse shape should be, then we have to set some rules and follow guidelines. This is what she has researched and teaches all of us. But, you wouldn't take a healthy, well moving, happy horse and change everything just for the sake of making it exactly like every other horse in your pasture." Karen Standefer, audience member

More articles about the Tufts Strasser Conference and viewpoints of the panelists can be read at: http://www.hoofcare.com/

©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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