Thursday, November 19, 2015
The Naked Truth about Applied Equine Podiatry by Robyn La Pierre
For the more than fifteen years, the popularity of barefoot horses has increased in volumes. The frustration of horse owners with the traditional farrier sciences has increased as well. Horse owners are looking for their own answers, answers to questions about balance and lifestyle, as well as how the hoof itself works and grows. Herein lays the problem. Currently, there is no real true model for farriers and veterinarians to follow, other than the practice of balancing the hoof to the lower limb and shoulder, which is a variable at best. From this, horses have been suffering and developing syndromes, and diseases that could have been prevented had the horse owner known what to look for.
Systematically, the barefoot craze has taken off. Often labeled as "designer trims"of the decade, these barefoot trim styles are offering an alternative to the traditional farrier practices. However, what are they based on? Most are based on the hoof of a wild horse and are concentrating on the exterior of the hoof. Some of these trims are extremely radical and are considered damaging to the hoof, with consideration given only to circulation and support. So what is the answer? This question explains the over abundance of internet sites and chat rooms that exist today where thousands of people question the different trims and the results they produce. Why all the confusion? Simply this, there is no true model that will support the greater majority of the hoof care industry. Not until today.
At the Institute of Applied Equine Podiatry, KC La Pierre has begun to answer many of the questions surfacing on the internet. KC has been a registered Journeymen farrier for over a quarter century. However, he was never satisfied with the traditional farrier sciences, or the results he obtained in his practice of that science. His new theories and models on hoof wall growth help bridge the gap between the farrier sciences and the barefoot movement. What he teaches through his school, the International Institute of Applied Equine Podiatry, is how to define proper structure for the hoof and foot of the horse. Yes, there are two separate structures, a hoof and a foot. Most neurological and circulatory issues that plague our horses today are present due to an imbalance between the hoof and foot. Where the structures contact the ground is paramount to the soundness of the horse. KC is able to balance the foot using what he terms "the internal arch of the foot." This arch is not simply the coffin bone and whether it is ground or close to ground parallel. The internal arch includes soft tissue, lateral cartilages and all connective and sensitive structures within. His HPT (High Performance Trim) Method is his tool for achieving proper structure within the hoof. He balances to four dimensions, and utilizes the fifth dimension of time (T). Many farriers' today balance to only two dimensions, proximal/distal and rotational balance, however they label proximal/distal balance as medial/lateral balance and anterior/posterior. The fact of the matter is that medial/lateral and anterior/posterior balance as viewed by these farriers is actually proximal/distal balance (up and down) of the medial/lateral and anterior posterior planes. What about proprioception? Proprioception is the ability of the horse to know where its hooves are at all times, in relationship to its own body. Within the horse's foot there are five locations that have been identified where proprioception is heightened.. Heel placement is a key element in allowing the horse the ability to know where its hooves are at all times and how to correctly execute the stride. Most horses we see today have underrun heels that are naturally contracted due to forward movement of the hoof capsule. The frog, having a triangular shape will naturally cause the heels to move in or contract as the foot print moves out from under the horse. KC La Pierre addresses the functions that are present within the foot, and works to aid the horse in bringing back proper structure once it is lost due to incorrect stimulus.
What has all of this information meant to the horse owner today? Yes, it has caused one more barefoot trim to exist and it has raised yet another question in their minds. However, please take this fact into consideration; KC does not consider himself a barefooter. This somehow confuses people. How can you not put shoes on and not be a barefooter? Being in the barefoot sandbox has not been an ally to KC and his work. Currently, many barefooters are against the farriers and many farriers are up in arms about the barefooters. Why can't we all just agree to help the horse? Isn't that what it is all about? Applied Equine Podiatry being the study of the hoof encompasses all of the cutting edge research and proven results that aids the horse in healing itself, and perform as it was meant to perform. Utilizing a spectrum of usability KC places the hoof onto a scale identifying where each structure lies at that present moment. Educating farriers, veterinarians and horse owners on proper structure, how to recognize it, and rehabilitate it is the practice of Whole Horse Hoof Care. Being an Applied Equine Podiatrist has nothing to do with barefoot foot per say, it has to do with creating the proper environment for the horse, allowing correct pressure to be the correct stimulus for growth. Once proper structure is returned, then apply a shoe if you choose, having the knowledge that by locking the foot into an environment such as a shoe, you are no longer promoting proper function or proper structure, and could quite possibly dissipate the structure you had stimulated to grow. Remember, most people shoe their horse to allow that horse to perform in a discipline, not for the health of the horse itself. KC has invented a viable replacement for the steel shoes. His design, Perfect Hoof Wear Pro Wear allows proper bio-mechanical and neurological function to occur. It does not however allow the hoof to wear naturally when applied; therefore it is imperative that a regular trim schedule be maintained. KC's Perfect Hoof Wear was originally designed for those who working towards returning proper structure to the foot, but didn't have the necessary structures to work over extreme environments where rocks, rough ground, or asphalt may cause damage to the hoof capsule. The PHW Pro Wear replaces all types of performance and remedial type shoes.
In order to help the most horses, Applied Equine Podiatry needs to go main stream into the barefoot realm, farrier sciences and the veterinarian realm. KC La Pierre is working toward helping as many horses as possible in order to correct what he terms "DHS" (Deformed Hoof Syndrome). Being in the barefoot niche' will not enable KC to do so. Most people think that simply being barefoot is the responsible thing to do. However, often the environment that is present does not allow for the horse's ability to heal itself, and problems often arise. KC has dedicated his work to educating people about the science of Applied Equine Podiatry. KC's theories have opened many doors for many veterinarians and farriers the world over. But there are many more doors that need to be opened before we start to see a significant change in what has become acceptable in the equine hoof care industry. Applied Equine Podiatry is truly the cutting edge alternative to the farrier sciences.
About the Author: Robyn La Pierre is the General Manager of the Institute being responsible for admissions, and overall daily business operations. Robyn has owned horses most of her life. Robyn began trimming horses nearly two decades ago and began studying AEP in 2001. Robyn is a published author, and devoted horsewoman. www.equinepodiatry.com