EPC Solutions offered an intense 4-day workshop July 21-24, sharing advanced concepts in equine podiatry and therapeutic farriery. It was held at Deepwood Veterinary Clinic in Centreville, Va., led by clinicians M.W. "Tookie" Myers, equine veterinarian; and Sylvia Kornherr, equine podiatry technologist and nutritionist. This workshop shared 50-plus years of combined experience working in the field of equine foot care.

Veterinarians, farriers and trimmers joined us from five countries: UK, Australia, South Africa, Canada and the United States.

Horses were kindly donated to the workshop over the 4 days from local barns and United States Park Police (USPP) courtesy of Arvin Reynolds, staff farrier and USPP instructor Mariea Sabaté. Local farriers kindly supported us with their personal assistance and use of their clients' horses.  The American and Canadian Associations of Professional Farriers approved this workshop for 36 CE credits, and seven of its members participated. Deepwood Clinic's amazing classroom, large animal facility and their staff made for a seamless workshop.

The workshop explained eight common hoof type distortions seen in the field today, followed up with demonstrations on live horse cases to show how to address each type, moving from classroom theory to practical farriery.

"It's a really good baseline to launch from. We have been teaching this concept in our student farrier programs and see good success in better evaluating hooves in the field. These are pretty accurate guidelines but are not meant as a one-size-fits-all. Rather, just one of many tools to enhance our assessment skills and recognize important differences in how we support the hooves we work with every day,” Kornherr says.

On the final day of the workshop, we put theory into practice. Understanding different hoof distortions and corresponding trimming and shoeing protocols to assist, we created two teams. Sole and lateral hoof mapping was demonstrated, as was assessing sole depth visually. The class was then divided into two teams to hoof map to find center of rotation, distal tip of P3 and pillar location, with each team assigned one hoof case.

Each team filled out a test card describing the hoof type they were dealing with, commissure depth readings to estimate sole depth and other hoof capsule distortion observations. A trimming/shoeing plan was then devised by each team, estimating internal parameters, bony column and coffin bone orientation using what was taught without X-ray info.

Podiatry X-rays were taken and compared to the visual assessments recorded by the teams.  Both teams' mapping of center of rotation, distal tip of P3 and pillar locations were amazingly accurate when compared to X-rays, as was sole depth and hoof-type distortion.

Eagerly awaiting x-ray metron results for comparison.

A whole day was geared to various grades of laminitis and founder cases. Dr. Myers demonstrated importantpodiatry X-ray protocol in detail, showing farriers how to use radiographs to help them in their farrier plan, which is critical together with venograms for laminitic cases. Veterinarians honed their skills to take accurate, level radiographs with defined markers specifically for podiatry. Myers demonstrated his venogram technique and how to evaluate the results.

Proper positioning of the X-ray beam is paramount to gain useful data from podiatry radiographs. The workshop explained how the beam should be aimed at the center of the coffin bone mass along its distal margin. This allows for minimal distortion for accurate measurements of soft and hard tissues within the window applicable for farrier purposes. Understanding the hoof type distortion involved allows the veterinarian to better estimate this location.

Sabine Ware also flew in to attend the workshop. She recently moved to the UK from her Australian home base. She remarked that this clinic was a deciding point for her; she definitely plans to pursue her interests in farriery to compliment her focus on equine lameness in her veterinary practice.

"The course really solidified for me the importance of corrective and balanced farriery. The principles are clear and easy to understand based on the biomechanics of the horse and the hoof. I think a lot of lameness and poor performance issues could be fixed or managed better with these principles on board,” Ware says.

Recognizing pathology and hoof distortions across 8 common hoof types today.

An interesting dynamic took place with this very close-knit group that shared common lunches and dinners together and after hour discussions.

Of particular note was how Jana Pepin, a Certified PHCP practitioner from South Africa, found the workshop so welcoming and educational.

"The clinic has not only helped me to understand more about hoof pathology and how to read the hooves correctly, but also taught me about good shoeing. Now I understand where I was going wrong with my trimming and how I can improve it! There were moments when I finally understood why I was not getting the results I was hoping for. It was like pieces of a puzzle were falling in place. I hope more barefoot trimmers will attend your clinics to improve their understanding of hooves. It definitely improved mine," Pepin says.