Another European Hoof Care Clinic Tour came to a close last week. This brings the number of these workshops and seminars in Europe up to 12 since starting this program over three years ago. During these trips I have seen remarkable horses, visited great places and met so many interesting people, with most of them I have been in contact ever since.
Although I'm conducting the seminars, teaching and demonstrating various barefoot trimming methods and protective horse boot applications, I feel like it is me who is learning the most. To be able to see and work on a wide variety of horses of all kind of breeds and to learn new ways to address hoof problems and pathologies in other parts of the world has been an incredible experience.
During these clinics I often start with PowerPoint presentations on anatomy, followed by conformation evaluations and how conformation influences hoof growth. I'm also discussing various pathologies, causes and consequences.
Hoofcare does not stand alone and by itself. I always emphasize the fact that healthy hooves grow from a healthy environment which encompasses proper nutrition, movement, turnout, exercise, adequate substrate and timely trimming. A hoof, as it presents itself to our eyes, mirrors the horse for better or for worse. The holistic principle is essential and central to all Natural Hoof Care and must never be left out of the equation.
Following the theoretical indoor session, we then move outside to work with horses. Before we even pick up a hoof, we evaluate the whole horse, teeth, hair coat, muscle development, conformation, overall health and how the horse is standing while being observed. Is it standing quietly and square (a rarity), or with one foot forward or camped under, post legged, shifting constantly from one leg to the other? We then can draw conclusions and already know how the hooves are going to look like. We understand easier why a hoof grows a certain way and displays certain characteristics. When looking at the actual hooves afterwards, we are then merely confirming our conclusions from our observations.
Participants often bring their own horses to learn with them. Many have been trimming their own horses already and want their job being evaluated and possibly improved. Others want to learn how to trim their horses hooves and will then be given opportunity to practice.
I avoid passing judgment. Instead I try to guide them to look at their trimming from different angles and to open new avenues to help their horses. There are very few absolutes, if any. Every hoof is different, therefore we should treat each hoof as an individual.
Day two starts again with theory and a detailed presentation about various hoof protection applications. I introduce the different EasyCare Hoof boots together with all the Vettec Glues and their respective application. We then practice together to fit Easyboot Gloves, Trail, Backcountry Gloves, and others like Epic and Glue ons. A presentation of gluing Glue on shells follows. Participants often have the opportunity to glue their first boots themselves and even learn how to build a hoof shoe with Vettec Superfast.
This past tour was especially interesting. Zuerich, Switzerland, was the first stop. Nina Good and Marina Huber, who had just completed a 3 months internship at Global Endurance Training Center in Moab organized the seminar with about 20 participants. The group consisted of professional trimmers and farriers, beginning trimmers, drivers and riders in various equestrian disciplines. A great mixture of prior knowledge and skills and horses of all kind of statue and shape.
The Bootmeister is demonstrating the application of Easyboot Gloves.
The enthusiasm and participation was amazing. Everybody was learning and also sharing.
Onward to the Bretagne (or Brittany), the most western part of France. This time I was guest of Christophe and Carole Bogrand, who own and operate Chateau du Launay near Ploerdut. www.chateaudulaunay.com.
This 300 year old castle was our place for the clinic. Again, like in Zuerich, the organization was superb, Christophe and Carole were the most wonderful hosts one can wish for.
The group was smaller, which gave everybody more opportunity to practice trimming and gluing Easyboot Glue on horse shoes. We even had two American participants, friends and clients of GETC, who flew in from NY to participate in the clinic and enjoy the castle and the outstanding cuisine by Carole Bogrand.
It is awkward to take a Hoof Jack by airplane. So when no hoof stand could be found anywhere, we had to be creative.
We ended up gluing 4 boots.
I have to admit that their first glued boot did not quite look like that, but somewhat close.
On a cultural note, after the clinic we went riding for a day through some magnificent country and rode by a 7,000 year old Druid tomb. I'm always fascinated by history and their remnants. So much we can learn from it.
Last stop was Duesseldorf, Germany. Claudia Bockerman, who undertook a two week hoof trimming and hoof protection internship with me at GETC's facility in Moab a couple of years ago did the onsite organization. Again, we had a mixed group with various background levels and experience in hoof care and trimming. This made it again a learning and sharing experience for everyone.
The riders of the world are very eager to learn about Natural Hoof Trimming and EasyCare boots. And this is just the beginning, I'm convinced of it. More clinics are already being set up in Europe for next year. I will keep you posted.