Having spent the first thirty years of my life around horses, I heard about barefoot hoofcare in 2001. Up to this point, my involvement with horses was mainly through behavioural training and writing. Initially, I was intrigued but unconvinced by barefoot; the idea made sense intuitively, but after years of believing that feet needed shoes, it took me six months to get the courage to take off my horses’ shoes.
Once shoeless, I began the process of self-education and began maintenance trimming my own horses under supervision. I became increasingly fascinated by the subject and went on clinics, including Pete Ramey’s first UK course. As people began to ask me to trim their horses I decided I wanted to be properly trained and qualified and enrolled on the American Association of Natural Hoofcare Practitioners certification programme and was fortunate enough to be taught by Pete Ramey, Todd Jaynes, Jaime Jackson and Bruce Nock among others.
As UK Field Instructor for the Equine Sciences Academy, I worked with Cindy “Hawk” Sullivan and with fellow UK instructors Lesley Holehouse and Annie Stonebridge, with whom I am a member of Barefoot Works trimming cooperative.
Continuing my own education is important and I have been fortunate to attend lectures by international hoof experts including Professor Robert Bowker, Dr Tomas Teskey, Katy Wicks, Professor Chris Pollitt and Mark DePaolo and also experts in other areas of horse care so that I can approach the feet from the perspective of the whole horse.
I began trimming professionally in June 2006 and now my practice is full-time covering the West Yorkshire and Lancashire areas and also includes giving talks, lecturing and training trimmers. Gentle handling is a central part of my work and I have a number of horses on my books who are difficult to trim or shoe. Over the years, amongst many things, I have learnt that Thoroughbreds have good feet, no horse is too big to go barefoot and that feet don’t collapse when you take the shoes off. I practise non-invasive trimming, allowing the horse time to adjust and grow the hooves that it needs.