The Taos-based nonprofit Equine Spirit Sanctuary hosted a rehab hoof trimming clinic Oct. 21-22 with farrier and researcher Pete Ramey.
Ramey started out shoeing horses in 1994. His interest in hoof anatomy and lameness grew over the years and he started working extensively with lame horses that he'd bought from the kill market to take home and rehabilitate. He learned the value of barefoot hoof trimming and how to achieve superior equine health by carefully managing diet and nutritional needs, turnout and other maintenance designed to help domestic horses live as naturally as possible.
Over the years, he has seen the health benefits and improvements with these management methods, but he agreed that all horses can do anything barefoot. To Ramey, it just made sense to do something to help the horse if it was in pain, which led him to develop healthier alternatives to metal horseshoes, such as hoof boots, epoxy work and glue-on shoes. He also worked with feed companies to help formulate healthier grain mixes for horses that cause fewer hoof problems. He travels all around the world now giving educational clinics about hoof care.
Ramey said that there are still many people who claim to understand the principles of barefoot care, but harm their horses by doing improper or invasive hoof trimming - and there are many more who do not use boots or other protection for their horses in pain. Often, horse owners do not know if the person they are hiring to trim their horse's hoofs is competent or not. Ramey and his wife, Ivy, published a comprehensive guide, "Care and Rehabilitation of the Equine Foot," and they were co-founders of the American Hoof Association.
Equine Spirit Sanctuary works to rehabilitate rescue horses that come with many issues and to use holistic and natural methods whenever possible. It is the sanctuary's mission to provide educational opportunities, and this year's focus was on hoof care. In addition to a few local participants for the Ramey clinic, there were also professional hoof trimmers and horse owners from Arizona, Texas, Colorado, far north and far south New Mexico, Michigan and Alberta, Canada.
Prior to the clinic, veterinarian Dr. Dwight Hooton took X-rays of several of the demo horses. Sanctuary volunteers were on hand to provide support throughout the two-day clinic. Participants were able to see horses in rehab and some very challenging hoof issues and how to heat fit glue on shoes and boots.