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Equine hoof care attracts an odd bunch of people. Who would have thought humans could be so passionate about such a weird niche speciality as a horse’s hoof?
If you look at those involved – those who study it (university veterinary researchers) and those who provide hoof care services (vets, farriers and trimmers), what you often find are people who are fascinated by every little detail and possibility. These are people who pore over veterinary publications. Who subscribe to Hoof Care and Lameness and The Horse’s Hoof. And who scour the latest scientific literature and You Tube for the latest information. Their mission is to better understand the highly complex structure that is the horse’s hoof. And they become truly animated when talking to one another!
So – given the high level of interest in anything ‘hoof’ amongst these equine podio aficionados – we (two self-declared hoof obsessives….Rebecca Scott & Zoe Messina) decided it was time to bring together some of the world’s leading researchers for a hoof fest.
We started by thinking of who we would most like to have here at a conference in Australia, talking to us about their work. Then we called them up and invited them to come on down. Almost all of them said YES!
So we have Professor Hilary Clayton – who holds the Mary McPhail Chair of Dressage at Michigan State University and is famous for writing Conditioning Sport Horses and The Dynamic Horse (about the biomechanics of movement). In her first presentation, she will be talking about the interaction of the hoof with the ground, along with her research into movements of the distal limb joints.
Her second presentation will be based on her work with Professor Robert Bowker on the effects of a barefoot trim on a group of research horses.
We also have Dr Debra Taylor, from Auburn University in Alabama, who will talk about the relevance of a human rehab program for people with dropped arches, to rehab possibilities for horses with dysfunctional feet.
In a separate talk Dr Taylor will discuss the physical examination of the hoof with particular emphasis on the digital cushion and how 3d reconstructed images can be used to gain ‘hands on’ understanding of this critical structure.
3d printed models of digital cushions (and lateral cartileges) from three horses in Auburn University Study.
From Sweden comes Professor Lars Roepstorff, a consultant on footing in the showjump events at the London Olympics. Professor Roepstorff (who worked with Professor Clayton in the past) will look at the biomechanics of the hoof, and hoof ground interaction, including frog pressure as it relates to heel expansion.
In his second presentation he will look at the functional properties of equine footings and how they affect the horse. This will include how to prepare horses to perform on various surfaces.
No hoof conference would be complete without significant light being shed on laminitis. So we have Australia’s own Professor Chris Pollitt (fresh from presenting in Florida at the International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot who will describe his research into the laminitis process and how to prevent or treat it.
US vet, Dr Cindy Nielsen who specializes in laminitis rehab will have tales from the battlefront of her practice, Founder Warriors. Shes coming armed with case studies, photographs and radiographs and will look at the principles and science underpinning the optimal management of laminitic horses.
And that’s really only a start. Other presenters include independent nutrition specialist Carol Layton; Jane Myers on managing the environment of domestic horses to keep horse and land happy; and Georgina Pankhurst premiering her recent research on heel angles in a healthy and unhealthy hoof.
Don't forget -The early bird special ends the end of June!
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