Speakers for the  FHC 2014 included some of the world’s most respected researchers and clinicians in their field.

Colin Friels as MC


Colin Friels is one of Australia’s best known actors. He has a prolific body of work in television, feature films and live theatre.  But what is not so  well known is that his passion these days is his horses.

 “I live for horses. I never stop thinking about them. I just love the animal.”

 – Colin Friels

Which is why – when we took a punt and asked if he would be interested in acting as Master of Ceremonies for The Functional Hoof Conference, he was enthusiastic in his response.

He admires the classical (C18th horseman) François Robichon de La Guérinière. “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.”

Colin runs his own small herd on a piece of land south of Sydney . It’s his escape. Where he can focus just on his horses. “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. 

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

Dr Hilary Clayton

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Dr Hilary Clayton is internationally renown as the author of “Conditioning The Sport Horse.”   She subsequently went on to write “The Dynamic Horse” about the biomechanics of the equine gait.

Dr Clayton currently holds the MaryAnne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University.  She has a PhD from the University of Glasgow and spent 15 years as a professor of veterinary anatomy at the University if Saskatchewan, Canada.

Her recent work has included videographic studies of Olympic dressage and jumping events and kinematic and kinetic research with some of the world's top dressage riders and horses in the Netherlands.  A lifelong rider, Dr. Clayton began her equestrian career as a Pony Club member in England.  She later competed extensively in eventing, show jumping and dressage.   Active in the sport of dressage, Dr. Clayton is a USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold Medallist, and is a certified equestrian coach in both the UK and Canada.  She has been a member of the Canadian National Coaching Committees for the sports of dressage, jumping and eventing.

For more info on Dr Hilary Clayton see the Michigan State University website.

Dr Deb Taylor

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Dr  Debra Taylor’s passion is equine podiatry – the professional study, care, and treatment of the foot.  She is a member of the Veterinary Faculty at Auburn University, Alabama.  Her particular interest lies in discovering methods to readjust the load of a laminitic foot to promote healing.  

Dr Taylor is looking at achieving a better understanding of the mechanics of blood flow, weight distribution, and local anatomic structures – such as the digital cushion and the lateral cartilage's - of a healthy foot compared to that of a laminitic foot. The aim of her work is to document  more effective treatment management options to improve the prognosis of horses suffering from laminitis. Integral to her research is the use of advanced imaging (including MRI)  and computer analysis software.

For more on Dr Deb Taylor see the Auburn University website

Dr Lars Roepstorff

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Prof Lars Roepstorff teaches anatomy and physiology at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, in Uppsala, near Stockholm. He was retained as a consultant for the 2012 London Olympics, advising on surfaces and footings for the show jumping competition – an area he has studied extensively. He is also a keen showjumper himself.  Another area of research interest has been the functioning of the hoof under load. He has looked at whether the hoof expands as a result of downward pressure from the bony column, or upward pressure from the ground and will be discussing this research in Australia in November.

Other ongoing research projects include studies of saddle fitting and rider interaction in relation to locomotion with special focus on the horse's back; and training regimes and surface properties in relation to orthopaedic health.

Dr Neal Valk

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Dr Neal Valk, DVM, DACVS, is an equine veterinarian and board-certified large animal surgeon in Greeneville, Tennessee. A graduate of the University of Tennessee he has been in private practice for most of his career. He established the Stonehill Veterinary Center in Greeneville in 1998.

Dr. Valk's interest in natural hoof care began in 2004 when a client asked him to host a natural hoof care seminar featuring Pete Ramey. An avid follower of natural hoof care since then, Dr. Valk has completed training and is now a certified practitioner with the Association for the Advancement of Natural Horse Care Practices (AANHCP).

As a vet, he is in a unique position to teach. He lectures with Liberated Horsemanship in the US and is one of the lecturers at the Professional Trimmer’s course in Tasmania. He also delivers professional development to the GoBarefoot trimming network along with seminars for hoof care professionals and horse owners.

For more info on Dr Neal Valk see his website at Natural Equine Podiatry

Dr Andrew Van Eps

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Andrew graduated from the University of Queensland School of Veterinary Science, where he also obtained a PhD studying equine laminitis under the supervision of Prof Chris Pollitt.  Andrew trained as a specialist in large animal internal medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and also worked there as a lecturer and clinician.  He is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and a member of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists. Andrew is currently Senior Lecturer in Equine Medicine at UQ.  His research focuses on the pathophysiology of laminitis.

Carol Layton

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Carol Layton B.Sc M.Ed (Balanced Equine) is an independent equine nutritionist with a science and technology background. She tutors students in Dr Eleanor Kellon’s VMD nutrition courses. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge about optimal feed regimes. She explains the myths, fads and marketing ploys, and advocates simple, holistic and cost effective plans for both high performance horses and those predisposed to laminitis.

Ms Layton’s own endurance horse, Omani Mr Sqiggle was the 2009 Australian National Points and Distance horse for her weight division. Together they have completed  at top levels, including the 400 km marathon, Shahzada (three times), NSW State Championship rides and the national championship,  160km Tom Quilty, The pair won the Big 3 Award for successfully completing the NSW State Championship, The Shahzada and TheTom Quilty for one horse/one rider in one year, in 2010.

In 2012 Carol was a keynote speaker at the World Hoof Care Conference in Prague. She is currently a lecturer in equine nutrition for the nationally recognised Certificate of Equine Hoof Care course in Tasmania.

For more info on Carol see her website at Balanced Equine

Dr Cindy Nielsen

A veterinarian, Dr Nielsen’s passion is the equid suffering from laminitis or founder.  Dr Nielsen’s approach to treating Laminitis includes identifying and treating the cause, such as Equine Metabolic Syndrome (Insulin Resistance) or Cushings, as well as determining the best hoof care option. She routinely evaluates diets, including hay analysis and mineral balancing and corrects it if needed, to address Insulin resistance and obesity. She also includes radiographs along with blood work such as insulin/blood glucose and ACTH for Cushings disease diagnosis.

Dr Nielsen is certified by the Pacific Hoof Care Practitioners as a bare foot trimmer. She also teaches two multi-day webinars for hoof care professionals: Laminitis,  Founder and Insulin Resistance  & The Basics of Reading Radiographs for Farriers and Trimmers.

Dr Nielsen is keen to deliver the most up to date knowledge on how to manage IR and Cushings horses.  She lives on her ranch in Reno, Nevada. www.founderwarriors.com

Jane Myers

Jane has been involved in the Horse Industry for over 35 years (both here in Australia and in the UK) and is the author of two books published by CSIRO called: Managing Horses on Small Properties and Horse Safe: A Complete Guide to Equine Safety. Jane is also a co-author of Horse Sense - The Guide to Horse Care in Australia and New Zealand (2nd edition) and (along with Stuart Myers) of the new Sustainable Horsekeeping series (2011). 

Jane is a recipient of a Churchill Fellowship (2011) from the The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and travelled to the USA in April 2012 to study sustainable horse keeping management systems with a view to minimising the environmental impact of horse properties in Australia. She holds an MSc (Masters degree) in Equine Studies from The University of Wales (UK) and also undertook a period of research at the Royal Edinburgh Veterinary School for her thesis on the grazing behaviour of horses.

Jane has been an instructor and equine educator for more than 25 years. Along with her husband Stuart, they provide one day workshops about sustainable horse property management and are regular speakers at equine events and conferences such as Equitana Australia. 

 See www.equiculture.com.au for more information about Jane, Stuart and Equiculture.

Georgina Pankhurst

English-born Georgina Pankhurst  is a qualified British Horse Society riding instructor who worked in the racing industry and ran her own riding stables in the UK before coming to a new life in Australia in  the mid nineties. Here she turned her hand to the family business of broadacre cattle  and wheat farming in Western New South Wales.  In 2000 she re-entered the horse industry, qualifying as a Strasser Hoof Care Professional five years later. 

Georgina recognised the need for a more detailed examination of the ongoing hoof care issues worldwide.  In 2007 Georgina enrolled for a Masters in Philosophy by research degree in Equine Biomechanics at Charles Sturt University.  Although faced with the many challenges that the equine hoof presents, the research has revealed some important information with regards to the corium layer. 

Brian Hampson

Brian is a Human and Animal Physiotherapist and completed a PhD on the feral horse foot in 2011. Brian has been a bare foot trimmer for several years and has recently qualified as a farrier with training and apprenticeship in California and Germany. He continues to research the horses’ foot with Prof Chris Pollitt and team and publishes foot science regularly in veterinary journals and the European Farriers Journal.

Brian is passionate about science and teaching and enjoys contributing to the science of hoof care, particularly in areas were science and evidence is lacking. Brian enjoys the outback environment and continues to study the feet of feral horses in Australia and has been working with the management group of wild Przerwalski’s horses in Hungary for the last two years. He is a keen horseman and particularly enjoys the challenge of working with starting naïve feral horses.

Brian Hampson

Bach Human Movement Studies (UQ)

Bach Appl Sci (Physiotherapy), Uni Sydney

Ma Animal Studies (Animal Physiotherapy), UQ

PhD, School of Vet Sci (UQ)

Qualified Farrier (USA)