After 2 long years, farrier Dave Gilliam’s vision for a farrier-veterinarian collaboration has come to fruition as Equine Soundness Professionals (ESP). Its primary focus is on podiatry and lameness, so farriers and veterinarians can come together and share their expertise with each other.

“There’s no real bridge between the two groups of farriers and veterinarians,” Gilliam of Flower Mound, Texas, told American Farriers Journal. “There could be an improvement in that area. We want to open a line of communication.”

Gilliam and the advisory panel are developing a database of lameness cases and common causes of lameness. ESP will also offer education covering seminars and clinics, a credentialing program, newsletters and a forum for discussion of specific cases. The mission statement of ESP covers the importance of sharing what is learned, providing an open discussion and promoting the practices learned from evidence.

“Currently, there’s no real equine podiatry credential,” says Gilliam in the current press release. He emphasized the need for an intensive examination for farriers and veterinarians. The credentialing process includes a test from a book and a case assignment in a clinic setting.

The advisory panel consists of Gilliam and five advisors, including two veterinarians and three farriers. The veterinarians include Courtney Lewis of Circle Oak Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation in California and Melissa Mitchell of Equicare in Texas. The farriers include Sammy Pittman of Innovative Equine Podiatry in Texas; Shane Westman, resident farrier at the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Large Animal Hospital; and Pat Reilly, chief of farrier services at Penn Vet New Bolton Center.

Flower Mound, Texas, farrier and founder of ESP Dave Gilliam

A successful hunter/jumper farrier in the show circuit, Gilliam is furthering his education on hoof-care by pursuing the Equine Locomotion Research (ELR) graduate diploma offered by the Royal Veterinary College, taught by UK veterinarian and researcher Dr. Renate Weller.

Another part of ESP’s objective is to host routine conferences, clinics or seminars to bring farriers, veterinarian and other equine professionals together. ESP will be hosting its inaugural conference and clinic March 30-31 at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Wellington, Fla. The clinicians will be veterinarian Raul Bras and farrier Pat Reilly.

“The industry is constantly evolving and changing,” Gilliam says. With the new research being conducted, he emphasizes the need to share it. “There are so many ways of handling certain procedures. And all that could change with evidence-based research.”

Farriers and veterinarians who provide equine podiatry services in their practices are invited to apply to become members of ESP. There are no membership dues for 2019.