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Is the future of barefoot trimming at risk?

Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 by Heather Dodd

CHN has heard there is a strong possibility that the Farriers Registration Act will be amended in Parliament. The amendments have not been finalised yet, but it could be that the Farriers’ Registration Council will seek to control and regulate barefoot trimmers, and possibly that non-professional or owner trimmers will be banned entirely.

Whilst it is essential from a welfare point of view that horses’ feet are not damaged by incorrect trimming, this proposed change has left something of a grey area for those who are trained and qualified hoof trimmers or podietrists, but not farriers.

The following is an extract from a news story published on the Farrers’ Registration Council on 16 July 2013

“The FRC has had concerns for some time that the legislation under which it is established and operates, the Farriers (Registration) Act 1975 (FRA), is outdated in some respects and no longer meets the public expectations of a professional regulator.

In April 2013 an FRC working group began working with Defra officials to develop proposals to deal with the concerns. The issues raised by the FRC are concerned with improving the efficiency of the Council e.g. by constitutional updates or with equine welfare e.g. the penalties for illegal farriery. Each area of concern or request for regulatory reform will have more than one option as a proposed way forward. These options will be the subject of a public consultation planned to be issued in the Autumn of 2013.

One of the areas of concern that the FRC raised was that of work done on unshod horses. The practice is not regulated by any legislation and options are being considered for the consultation in order to seek out views on this matter. The FRC has alerted some “barefoot trimming” organisations to make them aware that this work is being done. It must be stressed that at this stage Government has not made any firm proposals and it is not clear if any regulatory changes will be made. Ministers will take decisions on this and other matters only after considering the views of all interested parties, which includes “barefoot trimming” organisations and horse owners.”

Perhaps this could be a golden opportunity for The Farriers Council to introduce a national trimming’ qualification as a standard to recognise, and protect, those who wish to make their living from providing a performance trim without shoes for equines.

What do you think?  CHN welcomes your comments.

5 responses to “Is the future of barefoot trimming at risk?”

  1. Our own hoof trimmer team at Equine Market Watch Sanctuaries UK are excellent, they have ‘saved’ many horses and ponies who otherwise would have been destroyed due to hoof issues with their forward thinking techniques and good handling practices. I think these changes are aimed , as you also say, at those with a little bit of info on hoof trimming but have no grounding nor education on the hoof and could do a lot of harm. On the other hand those who have taken many years to study (and know the foot, literally, inside out and the mechanics of the body as a whole, including nutrition and the impact that has on the hoof in particular) may suffer from the limitations of this proposed legislative change if it comes into being. I have recently spoken with our trimmers long and hard over this matter, they are dismayed that this may impact on their own good practices and that as a result folk like me, who have built up our rasping and care knowledge over many years under professional scrutiny and guidance, as is my case and in excess of 10 years now, may not, in future, legally be able to care for our animals podiatry needs between professional visits; though there is a get out clause in the proposed changes that allows people to deal with issues on welfare grounds. I of course will be using that clause here at the sanctuary to it’s ‘enth degree as most of our residents have the need for interim trimming on a 2 weekly rota to keep toes short ( paramount for laminitic control) and cracks/splits from becoming real issues especially through either very wet or extreme dry periods. We have several who without the 2 week rota would founder very fast without a doubt. Our trimmers visit the sanctuary on a regular 8 week cycle but if our ponies and horses were to have to wait that long between trims the job, timewise, would be a very very long one indeed. As it is now, with rasping between these visits, the day is farily short which is benificial as it allows for teaching of ongoing needs and is much easier for both the trimmers and myself when the hooves are kept pretty close to how they are after the last visit

  2. jackie parsons says:

    I have two horses for whom I used the services of a registered farrier for many years until, finding my horses struggling to stay sound, I researched barefoot carefully & taking the plunge around 5 years ago. I changed to a degreed applied equine podiatrist who has many years experience & has undergone a long training period. I have to say since doing so & once past a transition period when boots where useful, my horses haven’t looked back even a TB with very flat soles, Whilst I agree barefoot trimming does need some regulatory standard & a recognised qualification in the UK just to give customers confidence that the trimmer is capable before being let loose on their horse I do not believe that it should be regulated by the FRC. Barefoot is a whole different concept covering not only the trim but the diet, exercise & well being of the horse to produce a hoof capable of withstanding the stress put upon it by todays modern & varied use of the horse for leisure, sport & work. Over many years the FRC has relied upon shoes to keep horses sound which has resulted with our horses having many problems related to that very shoeing, I do not see how they can suddenly do a turnabout & expect to regulate barefoot trimming because the whole principle behind the barefoot movement, developed from modern knowledgeable research, is so totally opposite to that of shoeing, & the differences so great, that to be controlled by the FRC would stifle the newly developing barefoot movement & for our horses sake It needs to be totally independent of an old outdated organisation like the FRC struggling to retain a slipping grip on the industry. Speaking from over 50 years experience (I am old enough to remember the FRC’s beginnings & days with no regulation whatsoever) I for one want nothing to do with the FRC regulating the barefoot movement.

  3. Amanda Edwards says:

    The vast majority of people who choose to go barefoot with their horses would not want a farrier to touch their horses, or indeed their hooves. This is for many reasons, but the point is, this is down to an owner’s right to choose the care of their animals. By all means look at accrediting hoof trimming but NOT for the Farrier’s Council to be in charge of this. The fact that this is even being considered shows that there is absolutely no understanding as to why horse owners turn to barehoof in the first place! The shocking things I have seen under both veterinary and farriery care, which is just abuse, pure and simple, and I have seen it and continue to see it again and again, with no brakes being put on these professionals, and with so many of these vets and farriers backing each other up time and time again – it is disgusting, and so to even think that I would have to rely on these people to come up with the accreditation requirements for a barehoof trim is ironic, when I – and so many I know- have purposely turned away from farriery to avoid damage to our horse’s health. Go to the professional barehoof trimmers to look for accreditation levels and do NOT stop horse owners from trimming their own horses. If you are seriously considering stopping people from trimming their horse’s own feet – will you apply this principle to farmers who trim the feet of their own cattle, sheep etc. And if not – why not?? And my final point is this – How dare the Farrier’s Council place themselves in a position of judgement when their own training course for apprentices has been rejected by Ofsted as poor, not to standard and with many complaints by students of being bullied. Please sort out your own organization before you start meddling with other people’s affairs – who are perfectly happy with how things are.

  4. Lesley Harvey says:

    What gives the Farrier’s council the monopoly on hoof care? Bearing in mind that most barefoot trimming advocates, professional and horse owners, have come to this road via poor service from a farrier, it would seem that the general horse owning public would have little choice if it is the FC that introduce a National Trimming qualification. This is already in place with the trimming organisations, and has proved to be far in advance of farrier trimming methods. It is one law that I for one will not be adhering to.

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