Friday, April 24, 2009

Liberated Hoof! Yee Haw!

I did one of the neatest things this past week - I attended a 6 day Natural Hoof Care clinic for horseowners that was put on by Liberated Horsemanship. Their site is:

They tried to keep it very simple but full of great information. The first few days were about stress in a horses life, and the damage it can cause (just like people!), and it depends on the horse as to how traumatic that stress might be. We covered feed, booting, anatomy of the hoof, we watched video of wild horse country and pulled out examples of different things from that, then came the last 2 1/2 days! The 1/2 day consisted of unloading a big box of cadaver hooves, then wrapping the ends of them in garbage bags leaving only the hoof sticking out. Well, it started out that way...some sort of slid down the bag a little bit. Then the last 2 days consisted of trimming those suckers! Now let me tell ya, if any of you have tried to trim a real hoof, it is nothing compared to theses pieces of petrified horse hooves we had! They were tough!

In case anybody is wondering, the hooves for Liberated Horsemanship/Gateway Clinics were purchased from a Rendering Plant and were picked up by one of the instructors from Arkansas and delivered to a freezer in Warrenton. I asked about obtaining hooves from the slaughter houses and they said you could not even get those places to talk to you because they were always worried about animal rights/PETA type people causing problems, so no, they did not get their collection from the slaughter houses.

I met a gal on one of the barefoot groups, and she decided to sign up for the class. She asked if I wanted to share a room to cut down on expenses, so I had a room mate for a week. Janet lives North of Kansas City and has a mule named Hap. She also has a Welsh Cob named Flyer. It really was a good week, and we could talk about what was going on in class. There were 12 students in class and you know how usually there is one you just want to feed to the lions? There was not one person like that - this was a fantastic class and there were experience levels that covered all ends of the spectrum. Some had been trimming for quite a while and had already dealt with pathologicial stuff, there were ones like myself who have been muddling thru but not confident, and there were still others who had never trimmed a hoof before. Lots of questions were asked and really was a neat class!
Let me think...we had Missouri, Nebraska, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, Minnesota, Pennsyvania, Indiana, Massachusettes, Vermont and last but not least, British Columbia. That was our only guy believe it or not!

Here is Janet and I on our testing day.

This is day 2 and what is left of the hooves. The piles of 3 across the top are all hooves for our 3 hoof challenge. We had to trim hooves without any help at all from instructors or class mates, then present them to John Graves, our trimming instructor who also graded us and marked them up where we needed to work on things.

The first day of practice trimming, even the hoof was not safe from a self portrait! OH! My camera had bit the dust, so I had to go get another one. I ended up getting a small one because it will pack easier on trail rides...I got an Olympus Stylus 9000 and these are my first batch of pictures with it. Will write my review on the camera another time.

Here is Janet with her first practice hoof. We were quite proud! Especially since those hooves were harder than heck and our tools were just not working like they do on a live hoof.

Okay, we also got to practice pulling shoes, so Janet decides to pull a shoe on her practice hoof of day 2 before our testing started. To her utter astonishment, she pulled that hoof capsule right off! ACK! Let's just say that it freaked her out a little because her first thought was "What if I do this to a live horse?"
The rest of us were so excited! This was the first time I got to see the inside of a hoof, and it was absolutely beautiful! I am amazed at the mechanics of the hoof and how much movement it actually needs to work properly, not to mention how it continually tries to heal itself every time a little stressor is put on the body.

Here is the hoof capsule - perfect! She took it home. (I brought 2 legs with shoes home hoping for the same result this weekend)

Here is the inside of the hoof, and I am kicking myself because I thought I got a picture of the lamina in addition to the bottom of the foot. Argh! Oh well, the frog part was like firm rubber and the lamina was very fine textured, which is amazing because it is strong to hold things together the way it does. The coffin bone was covered in all of that stuff. (That is my other goal - to pull the hoof capsule then cure the other part so I can have a good coffin bone)

I kept forgetting to take pictures of my hooves before and after! Finally one of the girls mentioned it (she forgot too) so here is one of my test hooves before....

And a before shot from the bottom....

At first I thought I forgot to take pictures of the finished product...but I do have them, and here they are!

Here is my group of test hooves, and the middle one of the group is the one I thought I forgot to take pictures of after the trim, and it had one little circle with marker that ended up not being a bad mark because I had smoothed out a chunk that was in the hoof, I didn't dig it out and cut into the water line.
All in all I did pretty well. I have to watch the dark hooves and be sure to hold them up to a light background to make sure I don't have any uneven areas in the toe. Also need to do a little more spit shining (which I would have done if my tools would have been more user friendly) and make sure I smooth out the wear line a little more after doing the mustang roll. Now I just need to practice practice practice. Good thing we have too many horses! :-)

John Graves was our trimming instructor, and he is from Colorado. This is the logo on his jacket and vest. Neat, eh?

Here is John grading our hooves, and Ann Corso is standing behind him. She is also one of the instructors and she took 1/2 of the group to work on trimming. She was helping to grade and give results to the students in her group.

I did not get a picture of Bruce Nock! We met him at the Women and Horses Expo in Sedalia and Bruce had mentioned having a hoof care class. Brian really pushed for me to take the class, so I did. I learned so much, and I left that class confident that I can perform a very balanced trim as long as I follow the guidelines. The way they teach it is simple, broken down into steps, and we do all trims the same. That is not saying that they are all exactly alike, they are just the same as in we measure, measure, measure to find out the horses natural hoof angle and go from there.
Tiger and Wyoming are perfect examples. Tiger has a lower angle to his hooves, and Wy is more upright, but my trim will be the same, if that makes sense.

If anybody gets the opportunity to do something like this, I highly recommend it! And a huge thank you to my class mates! It was everyone's level of experience and their questions that took the class discussions in different directions. And another big thank you to the instructors! Every single one of them was great!
Richard from Arkansas (he special fits Swiss boots in case anybody is interested), John from Colorado, Ann from Kentucky, and Bruce from Missouri.

Until later...Karen and Tripp

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