The Functional Hoof Conference 2014 functioned well!


Its over (for 2014). And Zoe and I have emerged from our organisational marathon, tired but happy!

Lots of hoof care professionals (trimmers and some farriers) and vets, along with equine therapists and interested horse owners made for an intense and stimulating four days in Daylesford. Its not often that those passionate about horses hooves get to spend  time together, let alone time focused on professional development. With lectures delivered by some of the world’s leading researchers and clinicians in the area. Professor Hilary Clayton, together with her professional colleague Professor Lars Roepstorff, and Dr Cindy Nielsen, were standouts. But so too were Dr Debra Taylor, Dr Neal Valk and Dr Andrew van Eps. Their presentations were all fascinating.

We really were like  pigs in mud.

The Conference was  - we think - a great success. And judging from the feedback, those who attended thought so too.

Dr Andrew Cust from the Ballarat Veterinary Practice rang to congratulate us after he attended several days. He reported a ‘light bulb moment’ as he drove home after one of the presentations.

Dr Ian Bidstrup from Kilmore, Vic emailed: “Congratulations on running such a great program!  Was excellent!   I look forward to your next conference.”

Dr Cindy Nielsen, who presented on laminitis, equine metabolic syndrome and Cushings Disease had this to say about the event: "Friggin awesome, The best hoof conference I've ever been to!"

Megan Matters on the Highlights of the Conference: "Wow! So many... In particular the variety of speakers and delegates and the fact that we all have so much in common despite apparent differences".

Pauline Williams particularly enjoyed presentations by Dr Deb Taylor, Dr Neal Valk and Jane Myers as she found: "They all provided information in a form easy for us to translate to our day to day work and to our customers."

And this from another Trimmer: "The more we learn the less we know. I particularly enjoyed learning about the similarities between good farriers and good trimmers, we're all heading towards similar goals."

Fiona McDonald-Crowley: "I loved the research and it's application. Every single session was highly interesting and informative. I particularily likes Dr Deb, Prof Lars, Dr Cindy and Dr Neals presentations. It was great getting the combination of Vet research combined with trim/hoof form."

A Highlight for Anna Roach (Trimmer) was: "The general consencus between presenters about the importance of movement in hoof health."

Plus we received a double page spread in the latest edition of Hoofbeats Magazine.

All those who attended this year are on our mailing list for the next conference. If you did not attend this year but would like to be kept in the loop regarding the next conference, please register your interest by signing up to our email list on the right hand side of the page, and we’ll keep you informed.

Rebecca J Scott.







Write here...

Bookings close tomorrow!

We’ve had a lovely rush of last minute bookings for The Functional Hoof Conference!  It seems that horse people from around Australia and New Zealand (and even Scandinavia) are super keen to hear from our illustrious presenters.

We have leading researchers and clinicians from universities around the world coming to Daylesford next week to share their knowledge. Teaching and horses are their twin passions. And they will deliver to a highly receptive and focused audience in the historic Daylesford Town Hall.

For vets, farriers, trimmers, dressage riders, equine therapists and performance horse people – there’s going to be plenty of stimulating science delivered on the conference floor. Prof Lars Roepstorff talking about the success of the Swedish harness horses and their approach to hoof care and training. Prof Hilary Clayton on digital kinematics and biomechanics. Top farriers and trimmers in a respectful conference discussion about the different techniques of trimming. Plus plenty of animated argument and debate in the cafes, bars and restaurants around Daylesford after hours.

Leonardo Da Vinci – Anatomy Drawing C15th

Leonardo Da Vinci – Anatomy Drawing C15th

There’s still time! Ticket Sales close at midnight on Friday 31st October. You can book for the entire four days (student discounts still available). Or  buy a single day conference ticket. Or perhaps you’d like to come to the conference dinner on Saturday night to hear about Dr Brian Hampson’s research on different trimming methods and see the glorious presentation of his work with Przewalski horses in Hungary?

Photo: Dr Brian Hampson

Photo: Dr Brian Hampson




Can you REALLY afford to miss The Functional Hoof Conference?


How much better can it get?  If you are involved in hoof care, The Functional Hoof Conference is a four day event which has it all!  Never before in Australia has such a high voltage learning and networking opportunity been brought together.

  • Leading researchers and clinicians from around the world talking about their latest research and findings. Prof Hilary Clayton, Prof Lars Roepstorff, Dr Debra Taylor, Dr Andrew Van Eps.


  • The unveiling of a new hoof boot designed by Dave MacDonald who has a history of innovative design in the industry. Think the original Old Macs.


  • Top Australian farriers talking about their trimming. Craig Jones and Michael Saunders who represented Australia this year at the World Blacksmithing Championships in Calgary will be joined by farrier vet Dr Luke Wells-Smith from the Scone Equine Podiatry and Lameness Centre.


  • On display freeze dried cadaver legs trimmed by three farriers and three trimmers – part of an event including a vet-moderated  panel discussion on the various approaches to trimming. See above photo.


  • An international comparison study of barefoot trimming techniques by Dr Brian Hampson (presented at the conference dinner)


  • Laminitis research and rehab from every angle, from around the world.


  • The chance to meet and talk with all the presenters during proceedings.


  • An opportunity to ask any of the stellar group of speakers, that question which you have wondered about for years.


  • All the professional development you could want, and more…..


  • Iconic Australian actor and horseman, Colin Friels as MC


Dozens of  hoof care professionals, vets and equine therapists have seen the value in this event and already booked their ticket. Can YOU afford NOT to come?  Do yourself & your clients a favour .  Bookings close at midnight Friday 31st October.

New hoof boot coming soon…check it out at the conference!

A new hoof boot – designed in Australia – is to be unveiled at The Functional Hoof Conference.

It’s the Scoot Boot.

Here’s a sneak preview of the sole:

Inventor, Dave MacDonald of the Tasmanian-based Macs Equine says a prototype will be on display in Daylesford and the boot is expected to be available commercially early next year.

Made from thermoplastic poly urethane (TPU) he promises a boot that is “very lightweight, with sleek contours and a low profile.”

He claims that the same boot will suit a range of hoof shapes, including those that are wider than they are long… also narrow hooves.

“They are a very adaptable boot. There is no velcro. No moving parts.  Nothing to break off the boot. Nothing apart from the tension straps which are also made of stretchier TPU - even your grandmother could put this boot on,” he reckons.

From the horse’s point of view, “the boot is like wearing a slipper.”.

A former farrier,  Dave MacDonald invented the Old Mac hoof boot which he sold in 2006 to Easycare Inc in the US.


Bookings close in a Week!

so get your skates on and book a ticket if you haven't already.



Counting Down to the Hoof Conference….

In a little over a fortnight’s time, some of the world’s leading equine hoof researchers and clinicians will be flying in to Melbourne and heading to Daylesford for four days of presentations and discussion at The Functional Hoof Conference.

Some of them hail from universities in the US  (Michigan State, and Auburn in Alabama).  We also have an internationally recognised laminitis researcher from Queensland University and a biomechanics and performance horse hoof expert from Sweden. Plus we have several American veterinary clinicians who specialize in hoofcare and laminitis. And we will be unveiling new Australian research on underrun heels.

These are all people who are at the forefront of the quest to better understand hoofcare so that we can reduce the incidence of lameness in domestic horses.

This really is an extraordinary gathering and we don’t want any of you to miss out! 

We are hoping that those who attend will have plenty of opportunity for informal discussions with the presenters throughout the conference, and at social gatherings such as the ‘meet and greet’  drinks evening on Thursday 6th November.


Please take a moment to check out our full official program, released today. 

The conference received front page treatment last week on an international harness racing website. And we’ve got bookings from vets, farriers and trimmers from Australia, New Zealand and Scandanavia.

If you have not already done so, it is not too late to book your spot. Either for a single day, several days or a full four-day conference ticket. Credit Cards accepted.

For anybody interested in the equine hoof,  we can promise you a highly stimulating conference with plenty of new and interesting information to inform your current practice. 

Look who’s excited about coming to Daylesford….

Not long to go now. Bookings close for The Functional Hoof Conference midnight on Friday October 31st. 

Book now so you don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to hear some of the world’s leading hoof care researchers and clinicians.

Here’s what some of those who have already booked to come, have to say about  the event:


Megan Matters:

“I will never miss an opportunity to hear the latest in hoof research from ‘the horses mouth’ as it were, plus four days of networking within the industry. Priceless!” – Megan Matters, former student Equine College of Podio-Therapy, and hoof care practitioner on the NSW mid north coast.


Dr Steve Roberts, vet:

Photo Jo Arblaster, Animal Focus

Photo Jo Arblaster, Animal Focus

“The first Functional Hoof Conference in 2011 provided a ground-breaking opportunity for veterinarians to access relevant, current information on hoof form & function. This critical aspect of horse performance & welfare is very poorly covered in our undergraduate training & we usually do not take it into consideration in evaluating lameness cases.

Whatever your veterinary perspective,  this conference will challenge your view of  equine hoof.”  – Dr Steve Roberts DVM.


Jen Clingly, Wild About Hooves:

“Ongoing education in hoof care is imperative if we are to stay on top of the latest research and offer horses optimum hoof care. Wild About Hooves wouldn’t miss this opportunity to get engrossed in all that is “HOOF” at The Functional Hoof Conference in Daylesford this year.
We hope to see aspiring and fellow hoof care professionals for the learning and networking opportunities.” ~ Jen Clingly, Wild about Hooves and co-found of the AustralianCertified Hoof Care Practitioners’ Course.


Alternative hoof care gains success in Europe & the US


One of the world’s fastest harness horses  - Sebastian K -  has so far trotted his way to more than $US2.8 million dollars around race tracks in Europe and America, barefoot. According to his trainer, he goes better without shoes. He recently ran a world record time for a mile – 1.49 seconds, barefoot, in the US. His trainers and connections are Swedes.
And for many of the Swedish harness horses, if they are not barefoot, then they are wearing  flexible (metal)  shoes with polyurethane inserts which mimic the function of a barefoot hoof.  They find that the hoof functions better if it is not cast in rigid steel.


Photo courtesy Chris Tully

Photo courtesy Chris Tully

 “Locking a horse’s hoof into a traditional shoe takes away its natural movement and stability. Once this impediment is removed, your horse will regain his stability and his confidence will improve,“ – RazerHorse 

And its not only the Swedes. At Caen in France in May, 14 of the 19 starters in a major harness feature race, ran barefoot. And in the thoroughbred industry, a significant number of horses trained by South African trainer Mike De Kock in Europe and the US are currently being trained barefoot and shod only for raceday.
While it is not unusual for harness horses in Europe, Scandanavia and the US to race barefoot, most of the equine athletes still remain shod.  Some trainers switch between barefoot and shoes, depending on the surface and conditions for each race. There are concerns that without shoes the horses will wear their hooves down too much.  So there is a market for a ‘bridge’ product between traditional metal shoes, and barefoot.
Which is where  Swedish technology underpinning RazerHorse comes in. Their shoe design allows unilateral movement of the heel bulbs. Just like on a barefoot horse.  The companion product ProPads, are designed to keep the frog in the equation as a shock absorber and spread the load across more of the hoof than simply the hoof walls.  Again. Similar to the way a barefoot hoof functions.  Based on Swedish research, the company goes on to say:  “The frog acts as an airbag when it has full contact with the ground, then absorbs approximately 60% of the recoil shock that occurs upon landing.”

Consequently they have worked to overcome the way a metal shoe elevates the hoof and disables the frog’s innate function. ‘The ProPad gives a barefoot feeling and restores proper frog function when shod,” the company states. “Locking a horse’s hoof into a traditional shoe takes away its natural movement and stability. Once this impediment is removed, your horse will regain his stability and his confidence will improve.“
What is interesting for us at The Functional Hoof Conference, is this convergence of techniques. On the one hand there are concerns about protecting the hoof, but acknowledgement that traditional methods of farriery may limit the very  functionality of the hoof. And consequently we are seeing efforts to create a solution which works better than a rigid metal shoe.
- Rebecca Jacaranda Scott

Win a FREE Four Day Pass - valued at $1200 - to THE FUNCTIONAL HOOF CONFERENCE

Here’s how. Two easy steps...

1) Go to the official Website ( and subscribe to receive email updates. (If your already on our website the subscription box is on the Right hand side of the page)

2) Then share the link to this blog on your FaceBook Page so that your friends can go in the draw as well!

That’s all!


The competition closes at midnight on Friday Oct 17th and we’ll publish the winner on this blog and our our conference FB page by midnight on Sunday Oct 19th.

This is your chance to hear some of the world’s leading hoof researchers and practitioners – all in one place over four days.   It’s the biggest gathering of cutting edge knowledge of this kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Here’s who is coming:

Dr Hilary Clayton – world authority on biomechanics,  and held the Mary Anne McPhail Chair of Dressage at Michigan State University. Rides Grand Prix Level Dressage.

Dr Lars Roepstorff – another biomechanics researcher. Also an international expert on training for specific surfaces. Was consultant in the Show Jump arena at the London Olympics. Competes in showjumping.

Dr Debra Taylor – laminitis researcher at Auburn University in Alabama. Also studying the importance of myofascia in hoof function.

Dr Andrew Van Eps – laminitis researcher at Queensland University.

Georgina Pankhurst – Unveils her thesis on the effects of underrun heels.

Plus we have six freeze dried cadaver hooves, trimmed by three farriers and three trimmers who are participating in a panel discussion about their respective techniques. So we’ll have three different farrier trims and three different barefoot trims to consider.

Sign up now to receive email updates. And share the link to this blog on your FaceBook page for your chance to win the FOUR DAY FREE PASS.


Book Now for Dinner ….

Conference Dinner. At the Savoia Hotel in Hepburn Springs, Victoria. Saturday night, November 8th 2014.  Your chance to chomp and chat with conference presenters and fellow attendees.

We’ve just finalized arrangements and you’re invited!  Great Australian pub fare in  exclusive company! We’ve booked out the dining room.

How often do you get to chew the fat with world experts in this very narrow field of focus? Or debate digital cushions and lateral cartilages with people who actually know (and care) what they are…over a crème brulee?

Our guest speaker at the dinner will be Dr Brian Hampson who is best known for his brumby research. He will be unveiling his latest  (international) study comparing four distinct methods of trimming domestic horses. His research measures changes in hoof morphology in hooves trimmed to specific parameters, over a 12-month period. This kind of research is vital in informing our understanding of how the hoof responds to our intervention.

He will also be talking about his work with the Przewalski's horses in Hungary and he has some beautiful images to accompany his presentation.

Numbers for the dinner are strictly limited. Cost is $60 a head which includes a glass of wine or a beer on arrival.  Book here for this event. Hepburn Springs is just 3kms from our conference base in Daylesford. Please advise of any special dietary requirements at the time of booking. 

In addition to our Conference Dinner, we’ll be hosting a ‘Meet and Greet’ drinks night at the Daylesford Hotel on Thursday evening Nov 6th, from 6pm to 8pm.  This is your chance to meet the speakers and fellow attendees and catch up. Conference organisers have booked the venue and will provide nibbles.  Buy your own drinks.

A smorgasbord of knowledge relating to the horse’s hoof!

Do you:

  • Want to know how best to help a horse with navicular?
  • Wonder if Laminitis can be prevented…or rehabbed?
  • Want to know what is the best way to feed your horse?
  • Wonder about the differences between barefoot trims and farrier trims?
  • Want to manage your horse in a sustainable manner so the environment is protected?
  • Advice on how to train your horse to perform on specific surfaces?
  • Get good advice from scientists who are passionate about promoting equine welfare around the world.


Well – do we have the event for you!

Coming to Daylesford, Victoria, Australia in Melbourne Cup Week – a smorgasbord of knowledge relating to the horse’s hoof.

This is a very rare chance to attend a niche conference which will give YOU the chance to interact with world experts in their field.

We have a full four-day presentation schedule of speakers on equine biomechanics and hoof anatomy, pathologies, nutrition, environmental management and performance training.

Dr Hilary Clayton

Dr Hilary Clayton Competing

Dr Hilary Clayton Competing

Dr Hilary Clayton, a world leader in biomechanics research. She has served as the Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine for more than a decade. Her research covers an exceptionally broad scope, with studies in bitting, saddle fit biometrics, kinematics and kinetics, and locomotion .  Her work informs techniques adopted today  across a range of equine  performance sports.  She also rides Grand Prix level dressage in her spare time.

Professor Lars Roepstorff

Dr Lars Roepstorff

Dr Lars Roepstorff

Dr Lars Roepstorff  - who was a consultant on footings in the show jump arena at the London Olympics – is himself a keen showjumper. Hailing from Sweden, he will be talking about biomechanics also but specifically about how to prepare performance horses to train and compete on various surfaces. What works, what doesn’t.  He has been closely involved  in studies with colleagues in the Thoroughbred Horse Racing Industry in Kentucky and is a font of knowledge about the different track surfaces in horse racing.

Dr Cindy Nielsen

Dr Nielsen specializes in laminitis, insulin resistance and cushings syndrome.. All are common here in Australia.  She will also talk about how best to rehabilitate horses suffering navicular. Dr Nielsen runs Founder Warriors in Nebraska, and teaches horse owners online via webinars. She’ll be appearing in person at Daylesford. 

These are just a few of the people we have lined up for four days of presentations at the Daylesford Town Hall from November 6th to 9th.

Four day passes are available, as well as single day passes so you can choose the presentations which most interest you. 

Another World Premiere Presentation for The Functional Hoof Conference…

A new academic study comparing the outcomes of four distinctly different hoof care techniques, will be  unveiled at The Functional Hoof Conference this year.

It is the work of Australian wild horse researcher, farrier, trimmer and physiotherapist  -  Dr Brian Hampson, who travelled to Europe and the US to conduct the comparative research project.

Brian photo.jpeg

His new study looks at the results of two US-based techniques: The ABC HoofPrint Trim promoted by Cheryl Henderson and  the US Pacific Hoof Care Practitioner techniques of Sossity Gargiulo. The other two methods studied were German-based methods: Barefoot Hoof Orthopaedics’  with practitioner Konstanze Rasch, and Dr Tina Gottwald’s Natural Hoof Care approach.

The project used photometric and radiometric techniques to measure changes in the hooves of the case horses under the care of the four trimmers over a twelve month period.  The illustration below shows the measurements involved in the study.

 Dr Hampson will be presenting his research at the Conference Dinner on Saturday Nov 8th. Tickets need to be purchased in advance and are strictly limited due to the size of the venue (Ticket booking link here). 

Conference organisers are delighted to offer a platform for the worldwide premier presentations of not just one -  but TWO - new studies relating to hoof care. Georgina Pankhurst from Australia will also be presenting her new work on the effects of heel angle on the corium health of the hoof at the conference.

Dr Steve Roberts on The Functional Hoof Conference - A message to fellow veterinarians...

Call to Conference – By Dr Steve Roberts DVM


“Whatever your veterinary perspective, this conference will challenge your view of the equine hoof.” 


The first Functional Hoof Conference in 2011 provided a ground-breaking opportunity for veterinarians to access relevant, current information on hoof form & function. This critical aspect of horse performance & welfare is very poorly covered in our undergraduate training & we usually do not take it into consideration in evaluating lameness cases.

Speakers at the 2104 Functional Hoof Conference include world leaders in their fields who will provide practical information to help inform our management & prevention of lameness. This is an exciting opportunity to learn more about how important the hoof is to the horse, often in ways we do not usually consider.

Details are on the website  but a snapshot includes Dr Hilary Clayton from Michigan State University who is well known for her research & publications on equine biomechanics in performance horses. Dr Debra Taylor from Auburn University focuses on better management options for laminitis cases. Prof Lars Roepstorff of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences researches details of hoof loading & interaction with ground surfaces; his work was used at the London Olympics show jumping. From Australia we have Dr Andrew van Eps at the University of Queensland, working on the pathophysiology of laminitis with Prof Chris Pollitt.

Other speakers will challenge your view of what the hoof actually is & what its role is in horses’ general health & well-being. For example, management of insulin resistant & other metabolic cases should include consideration of effective hoof function.

This conference provides a unique professional development opportunity for all veterinarians dealing with horses as it brings together leading researchers (many of whom are also equestrians) with those providing different types of hoof care on a daily basis.

A  highlight promises to be A Table with All the Trimmings” which presents 6 freeze-dried hooves, 3 that have been trimmed by farriers and 3 by non-farriers.  Each hoof will be presented by its trimmer, including supporting documentation as to why they trimmed the hoof the way they did. A moderated discussion will give everyone an opportunity to ask questions and hear the replies from a variety of viewpoints.

This is an opportunity to not only increase your knowledge of what’s going on in hooves & how they affect the horse, but also to better understand the challenges facing trimmers & farriers every day!

The Functional Hoof Conference is a great way to widen veterinarians’ hoof horizons!


Photo taken by Jo Arblaster, of Animal Focus

Photo taken by Jo Arblaster, of Animal Focus

Steve Roberts has been a veterinarian for over 40 years, working in large animal and horse practice for 18 years before moving to the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service. He has a life-long personal horse interest and has been involved in endurance riding for over 30 years as a competitor, rider organiser, committee member and veterinarian. His particular areas of interest are hoof care, nutrition and exercise physiology.

Steve completed his first 160km endurance ride in the mid-80’s with his horse wearing 4 Easyboots, before they were officially recognised as acceptable. He has continued his interest in better hoof care, researching the literature, studying hoof care methods and trimming his own horses. He was one of the prime movers in having the rules of endurance riding in Australia changed to allow competition without metal shoes. After that became known, he was asked to have the Australian rules of racing changed to allow unshod Thoroughbreds to race and subsequently put in a submission, but that is a much harder nut to crack!

Now semi-retired, he continues his involvement with endurance riding as a head vet and is getting back into competition with a horse that he bred and started. All his horses are worked barefoot and bitless.

Celebrated Australian Actor Colin Friels to Compere Conference

He’s won a swag of acting awards. Australians probably remember him best as Detective Senior Inspector Frank Holloway in the long running televisions series Water Rats. Or maybe as the shy mechanical genius with a tram obsession in the feature film Malcolm. Or more recently as Willy Loman in the stage play Death of a Salesman at Sydney’s Belvoir St Theatre.

Now Colin Friels is coming to Daylesford as Master of Ceremonies for The Functional Hoof Conference!

One of the lesser known facts about this celebrated but private Austalian actor is that his passion in life is horses!  He’s run his own small herd on a piece of land south of Sydney for many years now. “I’ve loved horses all my life. I’m self taught. I’ve never competed.”  Although he did win a celebrity cutting comp at Tamworth  last year.

“I’m a student of the classical (C18th horseman) François Robichon de La Guérinière,” he says. He talks animatedly about the shoulder-in and other  gymnastic exercises he does with the individuals in his band – often riding out in the bush for a day or so, with several in tow. He mostly trims – and conditions -  his own horse’s hooves. But he also has an old timer farrier he can call on.

François Robichon de La Guérinière

François Robichon de La Guérinière

Friel’s equid empathy embraces both the psyche and the physical. “I live for horses. I never stop thinking about them. I just love the animal.,” he says.

At the centre of his approach is the study of biomechanics “Learning the scientific biomechanics of the horse is crucial……I am steeped in what is classical and that is an absolute respect for the horse. I want them to go straight, true and upright. All I want is for the horse to feel proud. I want to communicate with the horse so the horse thought he thought of it. (first). And I want to do that using classical principles.”

As organisers of the conference we are delighted to have Colin Friels  onboard to guide proceedings.

A Trim's a Trim's a Trim... Isn't it?


Ever wondered what the difference is between a farrier trim and a barefoot trim? IS there really a difference?  SHOULD there be a difference?
Well there certainly IS a difference …….. not only between a farrier and a barefoot trim, but between farrier trims from one farrier to the next.  And also between barefoot trims, from one barefoot trimmer to the next.
So the next question is … what does a good trim look like?  And why do these people trim the way they do?  What about the horse?
Well, thanks to the American Farriers Journal, we here in Australia will have the chance to compare actual trims done by six well-regarded practitioners. Two of them are farriers who have represented Australia internationally – Craig Jones from Queensland and Michael Saunders from Tasmania.

Craig Jones

Craig Jones

Michael Saunders

Michael Saunders

Luke Wells-Smith is a farrier turned vet, who now specializes in hoofcare working for the Scone Equine Podiatry and Lameness Centre. 

Luke Wells-Smith 

Luke Wells-Smith 

James Welz 

James Welz 

The trimmers are James Welz from Arizona, USA,  who together with his wife Yvonne, runs The Horse’s Hoof Magazine. 

Thorsten Kaiser

Thorsten Kaiser

Thorsten Kaiser who is a Strasser Hoofcare instructor from New Zealand; and Rebecca Scott who runs a team of Victorian-based trimmers.

Rebecca Scott

Rebecca Scott

This is an opportunity to inspect their freeze dried cadaver trims, listen to the practitioners describe why they trimmed the way they did,  listen to the panel discussion and ask questions about the respective approaches.

“A Table with All the Trimmings”  will be the centrepiece panel discussion at The Functional Hoof Conference, in Daylesford, Victoria, Australia in November. It will be co-moderated by vets Dr Andrew Van Eps  from Queensland University Vet Faculty, and Dr Neal Valk who is in private practice in Tennessee, USA.
This is an opportunity for vets, farriers, trimmers and body workers to see for themselves and evaluate the different approaches. If you are involved in equine hoof care, can you afford to miss this highly anticipated event?

  • Thanks to the American Farriers Journal which has kindly allowed The Functional Hoof Conference  to use the name they created for a similar event at the American Farriers Conference.  Thanks also to Allie Hayes of HorseScience for permission to use her concept.

Student EarlyBird discounts extended to 28th July

Due to some confusion surrounding the eligibility of students for the 'Student' tickets' we have decided to extend the EarlyBird discount to 28th July.

Any Full time student will qualify for the 'Student Ticket'. We will also accept apprentices and trainees. 

If your not studying full time or are unsure of your eligibility, please contact us as we may be able to be flexible depending on your circumstances.

Hoof Nerds co-operate for the good of the Horse

Early Bird Tickets End at Midnight Tonight!

This week as organisers of The Functional Hoof Conference, we received an email upbraiding us for having a range of speakers at the event, some of whom the critic did not agree with.

This is what he told us about our planned ‘Table With All The Trimmings’ – a visual comparison of -  and discussion about - the various trimming styles of three respected farriers and three trimmers.  (On display at the conference, will be cadaver legs trimmed by the six participants – all with different trimming styles.)

“Shame on you,” he wrote. “You've created a competition that will prove nothing that promotes a healthy hoof.
You might find over and under trimming, or whose is pretty and whose isn't, but without time for healing and evidence of not creating and/or alleviating pain, you've done nothing but create more confusion.
One again, shame on you.”

This was timely because the tone and intent was diametrically opposed to the very essence of what we are trying to achieve at our event. We WANT people who hail from different learnings and backgrounds to come and talk about what they do, and why.  We don’t want to work in a vacuum. We don’t think that anybody has all the answers.  We want to learn from others. We want others to learn from others. We think other practitioners ––  be they farriers, trimmers, vets or bodyworkers - have valuable knowledge to be considered, shared, spread, for the benefit of the horse.

We (Zoe Messina & Rebecca Jacaranda Scott) come from backgrounds in barefoot trimming. But one of the most gratifying occurrences as organisers (besides being able to entice eminent international hoof researchers to Daylesford) has been the response from the farriers. Michael Saunders – who is dual qualified in the UK and Australia, and will be representing Australia at the World Blacksmithing Championships in Calgary this week, and  Dr Luke Wells-Smith who is a farrier turned vet and works with the Scone Equine Podiatry and Lameness Centre, have gone out of their way to assist.  Both have trimmed cadaver legs for our event. Dr Wells-Smith says he particularly wants to hear Dr Debra Taylor speak. One of her subjects is correlating physical examinations of the foot with the state of internal structures such as the digital cushion and the lateral cartilages. This is precisely the type of learning, sharing and exchange opportunity we envisaged when we put our hands up to organise a second Functional Hoof Conference. 

We don’t feel any shame. Rather the opposite. We are so stoked at the prospect of having so many people who are all focused on horses’ hooves, that we can’t wait.

- Rebecca Scott & Zoe Messina

Surfaces for Soundness

Early Bird Tickets END MONDAY!

What if our top pole vaulters had to do their run up to the jump on bitumen?  Or our footballers had to play on sand. Or the netball games were held on synthetic turf.? What would that do to the game? But more importantly … what effect would it have on the athletes in the various disciplines?


After extensive consultation and study, the FEI has recently released a white paper on equine surfaces.

The crux of the study is an investigaton of the effect of various arena surfaces and footings on the orthopaedic health of sport horses in the seven FEI disciplines, plus TB racing. The idea is to try and reduce the incidence of injury and breakdown and make the various arenas safer for horses and their humans.

And the consultant who presented the international inter-university team project to the FEI earlier this year, was Lars Roepstorff,  Professor of functional anatomy at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

Professor Roepstorff  (pictured left) - himself a keen show jumper – will be one of the keynote speakers at the forthcoming Functional Hoof Conference, in Victoria, Australia, in November. He is passionate about using science to help humans help horses. He has travelled the world testing surfaces with a mechanical hoof that mimics the biomechanics of a horse. His research based on biology and technology. The aim is to define an optimal surface for various disciplines “from cutting to harness racing to trotting to equestrian event horses – they all work on very different surfaces and have very different requirements regarding shoeing, trimming and whether they should have shoes or not.”

The research has looked in particular at the effect of various footings on horse locomotion. At some racetracks – for example – certain synthetic surfaces have been removed because of the problems they created for horses and riders. However, Professor Roepstorff cautions that it may be the maintenance rather than the surface itself, which is the problem. Two similar surfaces, maintained in different ways, may affect horses quite differently, he says. One might work well, and the other may fail.


In tandem with his interest in equine footings and surfaces, the Swedish researcher has become a world authority on how best to train and prepare horses for competition, across a range of disciplines, on particular surfaces.

He says he will be devoting time in his presentation in Daylesford to this aspect of his work.  The topic is expected to draw interest from dressage riders, show jumpers and the racing industry.

 - Rebecca Jacaranda Scott

Calling all Students - Further discounts available before 30th June!

It’s been brought to out attention that there is no early bird discount rate specifically for students. With this in mind, the organisers of The Functional Hoof Conference are happy to offer any bonafide student, a further discount of $55 bringing the total ticket price down to $795. That’s a huge saving of  over $400!

To take advantage of this offer you will need to book before midnight on the 30th June.

Any full time student is eligible (your course doesn't have to be hoof related), trainees and apprentices may also qualify. Please contact the organisers for details if you are unsure of your eligibility.

For those students who have already booked, you will automatically receive a $55 ticket refund.




'A Table with all the Trimmings' - A Comparison of Trimming Styles - Farrier and Barefoot

Is there a difference between a barefoot trim and a farrier trim? Say, for a regular pleasure horse which is at pasture and ridden a couple of times a week?

It is often said that a trim is a trim is a trim. But if you look at enough trimmed hooves then what you soon notice is that not only is there a difference between a barefoot trim and a farrier trim…..but there is also a difference from one barefoot trimmer to another, and from one farrier to another. In fact a trim is not a trim at all! But different practitioners have different techniques.

Which raises the question of why? What techniques work best when it comes to trimming? And what is the science underpinning respective approaches?

Some years ago at an American Farrier’s Conference, one of the big attractions was an event they called  “A Table with All the Trimmings.”
It featured a collection of cadaver legs – owned by Allie Hayes of HorseScience trimmed by highly regarded farriers and trimmers. Those participating included Dr Ric Redden, Gene Ovnicek, Michael Savoldi, Dr Hildrud Strasser, K.C LaPierre and Lyle Bergeleen. All six trimmed in distinctly different styles.

Photo: American Farriers Journal

Photo: American Farriers Journal

So….with the permission  of  Frank Lessiter of the American Farriers’ Journal and HorseScience, we at The Functional Hoof Conference Australia 2014 are planning an Australian version of this event.
We have lined up three top farriers and three well known trimmers to trim cadaver legs which will be freeze dried, sagittally dissected and prepped for display at the conference. On Saturday November 8th we’ll have a panel discussion involving the particpants. The idea is that they will explain why they trim the way they do.

The farriers include Craig Jones and Michael Saunders, two of the Australian representatives  of the Mustad  Australia team who head off later this month to Calgary to take part in the World Champion Blacksmith Competition. Farrier vet Luke Wills-Smith, of the Scone Equine Podiatry and Lameness Centre is the third farrier who is trimming for this event.

Dr Luke Wells-Smith

Dr Luke Wells-Smith

“At an event like this you are really going to get a lot of people in the same room with different experience and hopefully that will generate some discussion and we can then come up with some solutions….” – Dr Luke Wells-Smith, farrier vet from the Scone Equine Lameness and Podiatry Centre, talking about The Functional Hoof Conference.

The trimmers are James Welz, a US-based trimmer who went professional  14 years ago who has studied multiple techniques and is technical editor of The Horse’s Hoof magazine; Rebecca Scott whose technical references include Pete Ramey and Bob Bowker; and one of two Strasser Hoof Care Professionals – either Thorsten Kaiser from New Zealand or Georgina Pankhurst from Australia.  Georgina has kindly offered to trim a leg in case we have quarantine difficulties getting Thorsten’s cadaver leg into the country for the conference.

Photo: Rebecca Jacaranda Scott

Photo: Rebecca Jacaranda Scott

The event will be co-moderated by Dr Andrew van Eps  a laminitis researcher and lecturer from Queensland University’s Vet Faculty, and Dr Neal Valk , a US-based vet in private practice who is also a qualified barefoot trimmer.

Save $$$ and buy an EarlyBird ticket before the offer ends on 30th June 2014.

Early Bird Discounts Ending Soon for The Functional Hoof Conference!

Here’s a friendly reminder of a price rise. Our EarlyBird Special for The Functional Hoof Conference finishes at midnight on June 30th.  

Save over $200 on the price of a full four day ticket by buying it this month. $990 for four full days….if you buy your ticket before July 1. After that the price is $1200.

The Conference brings together some of the best researchers and clinicians in hoofcare and sustainable horse management,  from around the world. Dr Hilary Clayton, Professor Lars Roepstorff, Dr Debra Taylor, Dr Andrew van Eps and  more.

Plus a comparison of various trimming styles - barefoot and farriery -  in “A Table with All the Trimmings” featuring some of Australia’s top competition farriers, a farrier vet,  two Australasian barefoot trimmers and a ‘name’ US trimmer.  See for yourself how they all trim and hear them debate their technique. There will be an opportunity to submit questions from the floor. 

The conference aims to promote dialogue between the participants and the presenters. You’ll get the chance to ask questions of the speakers throughout the conference, and rub shoulders with them during the breaks. 

Those who attended the inaugural Functional Hoof Conference in 2011 were glowing in their praise. 

If you are passionate about hoof care, Daylesford, Victoria, Australia  is THE PLACE to be from November 6th to 9th. Don’t miss the 2014 Functional Hoof Conference.