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Count Dave Ferguson among those farrier clinicians who stress the importance of understanding equine anatomy in providing good footcare. Where Ferguson goes beyond many others is that he emphasizes that to really understand anatomy, you need to go further than reading about it in a book.
Ferguson, the certified journeyman farrier who owns and operates the Mint Vale Forge Education Center in Cambridge, Md., emphasizes a hands-on approach in his shoeing and forging classes, so it probably comes as no surprise that he extends that same approach to his anatomy discussions. That’s why they’re frequently built around the dissection of hooves and horses’ legs.
Dissections are something he thinks all farriers can benefit from. He has performed hundreds of them, ranging from detailed dissections to viewing simple sectional samples. A sound knowledge of anatomy and how a farrier puts that information into practice is crucial to good horseshoeing, he says.
One of the important things dissections can teach a farrier is that not all legs will conform perfectly with the drawings and photographs they’ll see in anatomy books. It can also aid in understanding the correlation between dermal structures and the horny structures they manipulate.
“It’s easy to look at the outside of the foot and hoof and become fixated on what’s going on there,” he says. “But a lot of the problems we’re dealing with directly correlate with the hoof’s underlying structures.”
HANDS-ON ANATOMY LESSON. Farrier Dave Ferguson talks to students as he performs a…