Any veterinarian can call himself or herself an expert in equine podiatry. Yet, there is a group of more than 30 equine veterinarians who want to establish standards and a knowledge base to be able to make that claim within the veterinary field.

"Our intent," Mark Silverman explains, "is to set up regulations, testing and verification of our skill set and a knowledge base for equine veterinarians."

To accomplish this, Silverman is spearheading efforts that have formed the Veterinary Equine Podiatry Group (VEPG), which aims to establish a college of specialty in veterinary equine podiatry. Currently, veterinarians can participate in 22 specialty organizations with 40 distinct specialties including surgery, toxicology and pathology.

"There is no board specialty in veterinary equine podiatry at this point," says the owner of Sporthorse Veterinary Services in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. "If this goes forward, the idea would be to set up residencies to train future veterinary podiatry experts."

Group Does Not Aim To Regulate Farriers

Silverman is quick to point out that this venture is only intended to improve veterinary equine podiatry and will not infringe upon farriers.

"We're not looking to set up regulations and require testing for farriers," he says. "We want to improve both the availability of current research and the development of future research that's focused on podiatry so we can be a resource for the area of farriery. This group is not looking to take over the shoeing of horses on a day-to-day basis.

"Our intent is not to be inflammatory. We are going through a process established by the American Board of Veterinary Specialties (ABVS), which is a group within the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), to form a specialty college and thus promote veterinary equine podiatry as a field of specialization."

Although VEPG has been in the works for some time and some hurdles have been cleared, there are many more to go. The group is working with the AVMA and the ABVS.

"This process can take 3 to 5 years, if we're lucky and if we get it done at all," Silverman says. "I've been told it couldn't be done because of the nature of equine veterinary podiatrists not being easily organized and the difficulty of meeting the ABVS's requirements. It's been tried in the past and it's failed. It's never gotten past the initial organizing level. We've made more progress this time than ever before in this area of interest."

The VEPG board consists of Scott Morrison of Lexington, Ky.; Andrew Parks of the University of Georgia; Amy Rucker of Columbia, Mo.; and Tracy Turner of Elk River, Minn. Silverman will chair the board while Bryan Fraley of Lexington, Ky., is the corporate treasurer; and Debra Taylor of Auburn University, is corporate secretary.

In addition to the board, the founding members of VEPG are Bob Agne of Lexington, Ky.; Olin Balch of Cascade, Idaho; Bob Bowker of Michigan State University; Raul Bras of Lexington, Ky.; Kent Carter of Texas A&M University; Hans Castelijns of Italy; Jean-Marie Denoix of France; Vern Dryden of Lexington, Ky.; Andrea Floyd of Evington, Va.; Todd Holbrook of Oklahoma State University; Cliff Honnas of Bryan, Texas; Dennis Jenkins of Santa Fe, Texas; Carl Kirker-Head of Tufts University; Joanne Kramer of the University of Missouri; Bruce Lyle of Aubrey, Texas; Dick Mansmann of Chapel Hill, N.C.; Bill Moyer of Texas A&M University; Stephen O'Grady of Marshall, Va.; James Orsini of the University of Pennsylvania; Sammy Pittman of Tulsa, Okla.; Scott Pleasant of Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine; Chris Pollitt of the University of Queensland, Australia; Ric Redden of Lawrenceburg, Ky.; Luke Wells-Smith of Australia; and Chris Wickliffe of Corvallis, Ore.