A Day in the Life of a South African Hoof Care Practitoner

Clients in South Africa

EasyCare is pleased to have Desiree Wadsworth of Primary Hoofcare join our team of hoof care practitioner dealers. Desiree is from East London, South Africa. Desiree, a member of Pacific Hoof Care Practitioners, recently made a trip to the US to study and learn from various professionals in the group. I had the opportunity to meet up with her and chat about an EasyCare dealership and our various natural horse products. Barefoot trimming and protective horse boots are relatively new in her country so we welcome and encourage Desiree as she carries the torch and helps to pioneer the barefoot movement there in South Africa! 

In the following paragraphs, Desiree gives us a peek into her world of barefoot trimming.

Vet I have had such an amazing day. A local vet, Dr Karl Hagemann, does some volunteer work with horses (every 3 months) in the very remote village of Keiskammahoek. He vaccinates and deworms, etc. He is pro-barefoot and is not afraid to pick up a rasp if need be. He also strives to educate the rural horse owners on how to care for their horses correctly - simple things like placing a blanket or sponge under the saddle to prevent saddle sores, use of bits instead of blue wire, etc.

When I heard about what he does I offered to join him on his next trip to trim feet pro bono. I was keen to see what these hardy little ponies' feet looked like. They are working horses that are basically used like we would use our cars. They have to travel across rugged terrain and do miles and miles of roadwork on very hard, stony, gravel roads. They all live out and graze on vast areas of mixed veld and scrub bushes.

Karl phoned me yesterday afternoon and said we're going today! We left early this morning (it's about a 1½ hour drive from East London) and traveled inland to the picturesque village which lays sprawled out across a green valley at the base of the Anatola Mountains. Kazakh was originally a military outpost and played an important role in the Frontier Wars in the mid 1800's (English against the local Xhosa people).

When we arrived, at what I guess you could call a community hall, I was rather disappointed to see only four horses enclosed within the yard area. We were greeted by a headman named Lu lama (a Zulu word meaning "place of healing"), who was clearly very pleased to see Karl again. However, I could see that he was rather skeptical when Karl told him that I had come to assist by trimming their horse's feet. Lulama smiled politely as he shook my hand but there was no masking his doubting my abilities - being a woman (a petite one at that).
 
Here they come!I had no sooner removed my hoofjack from the back of the bakkie when I heard the sound of horses hooves approaching at great speed. I turned around and was astounded by what I saw. Horses were being ridden in from all directions, coming along the road and down from the surrounding hills, following the well-worn game and cattle paths. Most were bareback, the lucky ones had make-shift bridles and the less well-off had only a rope around the horse's neck. Some were galloping over the hard, rocky road-bed with incredible ease!! Pretty soon we had a total of 22 horses. I happily trimmed away while Karl vaccinated and dewormed.

We had to leave at midday because of a scheduled appointment to de-horn cattle in nearby King William's Town, I couldn't believe it when Karl said it was time to leave. How time flies when you're having fun! We trimmed 20 horses in total (unfortunately ran out of time to do the last two). Their feet were amazing!! Hard as steel. No separation. No chipping. No thrush. Only two horses had medial / lateral imbalance and they were both older horses with body issues. All the horses were a breeze to trim because there was very little to do, their feet were near perfect! I did take a cow-kick on the thigh by a scrappy little mare who grew increasingly agitated by a gelding standing too close behind her but it was well worth it! I felt a pang of sadness when I waved goodbye to my smiling new-found friends. Lulama, the headman, shook my hand and this time there was a glimmer of respect in his yellowed, old eyes. As we drove away he waved goodbye in animated fashion and shouted to me "See you next time!".

Des at workMy heart sank a little as our vehicle climbed the steep pass, leaving the humble village behind us in the distance. On the drive to King William's Town I thought about the people we'd met, the tough little horses we'd worked on, their incredible feet and their tack (or lack of it). I think I'm going to take my horse with next time so that he can see how the other half live :-) I thought back to when my good friend, Michele, bought me a rasp in June last year. How I'd laughed and told her she's insane and that I'd surely injure myself if I were to pick "it" up. I smiled inwardly and thought... what an incredible journey life is.

Words cannot describe how great it felt to be able to help today.

Des Wadsworth
Student Practitioner, PHCP
East London, Eastern Cape


Debbie Schwiebert

easycare-vet-hcp-deaaler-accounts-manager-debbie-schwiebert

Vet Dealer & Hoof Care Practitioner Accounts

I manage the hoof care practitioner and veterinarian dealer accounts at EasyCare. An integral part of my job is to stay current in all areas of barefoot hoof care, which enables me to serve this vital group of EasyCare dealers at the next level.



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