When I was 9 years old I met my childhood best friend and our adventures with horses began. Initially, we had about thirty My Little Pony plastic toys and took care of them as if they were real. The following year we started spending time with her dad's barely trained Thoroughbreds riding in the foothills of Cochrane, Alberta. The year after that I began working at a barn with over 150 horses and spent as much time as possible at the ranch after school. The owner of the ranch taught me how to barrel race on Codger, a reliable, older Heinz 57 gelding who took care of me and endured my lack of knowledge and experience. On the weekends we would venture from the ranch to EmTe Town, an old western ghost town, to help lead guests on trail rides.
After Codger I was given a yearling gelding, Cisco, from the owners of the ranch in exchange for doing chores. We also had two more horses at our farm, Duke, a reliable, patient draft cross gelding who used to grunt along with me when I sang "Duke of Earl" to him, and Murphy, an untrained but willing Appaloosa that my brother rode bareback and bridleless. My dad took care of the majority of our hoof care needs; we only called the farrier for my rodeo horses. In all that time and with many more horses added to our herd, I had never met a female farrier. I didn't even know hoof care was a job women could do.
After high school my journey led me to outdoor adventure, travel, and college. Starting at Unity College in Maine, then transferring to the University of Missouri, I received a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Environmental Studies. While working on my degree I worked as a barn manager at Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding Center and at the Columbia Environmental Research Center as a Biological Assistant. After moving to Vermont I was finally able to put my English degree to use working as an Editorial Assistant at the University of Vermont. Cubicles, business casual attire, double computer screens, and hours on end spent in an office chair. Let’s just say I was not thriving. The hunt for my true passion began. I spent as much time as possible scouring the internet, trying to figure out a new career path. After adjusting my office schedule to four 10-hour days, I began volunteering at a horse farm in Johnson. It was here that I met my first female farrier and immediately knew that hoof care was the career for me. My love of animals, appreciation for physical labor, need to be outdoors and drive to continue learning all fulfilled pursuing a career in hoof care. And so my hoof care journey began and continues to this day.
The word farrier originated sometime between 1375-1425 and is a variant of the Old French word, ferrier, meaning "smith", and the Latin word ferrum, meaning "iron". Thus a blacksmith applying steel shoes to a hoof would be called a farrier. A barefoot trimmer on the other hand wouldn't be considered a farrier simply because they are not blacksmiths and do not apply steel shoes to the hoof; so it makes sense to call the hoof care provider a barefoot trimmer.
In 2012 my hoof care journey began as a farrier. I learned to apply steel, aluminum, clogs, and composite shoes to the hoof. After nine years of developing my craft, I transitioned away from the application of shoes and went back to school, achieving my certification with Progressive Hoof Care Practitioners. Moving away from shoes and focusing solely on building a healthy foot from the inside out, I offer barefoot trimming and boot fitting.
Hoof care has evolved and advanced over the years, particularly in the last twenty years, and the materials available to hoof care providers now versus 1000 years ago are vast. Steel is no longer the only option. Boots and composite shoes are similar in density and flexibility as the equine hoof and create less vibration than steel and aluminum shoes.
Optimal hoof health requires proper equine nutrition, a healthy living environment, exercise and movement, and appropriate, regular hoof care. Remember that a variety of theories and approaches to hoof care are available and mine is one of many. As the horse owner YOU need to decide what theory and approach resonates with you and what in your experience seems to be healthiest for your horse over time.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns regarding your horse and natural hoofcare!
Horse & Sole Hoof Care
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