Thursday 8 April 2010

How to find a good "trimmer"

The title of this post is misleading for a start, because the one of the most important attributes of a "good trimmer" is that they will recognise that trimming is one of the least successful ways of improving a hoof - although a bad trim is a very successful way of laming a horse.

Unfortunately, though, the "trimmer" label seems to be one we are stuck with - all over the internet you will see people recommending trimmers and contrasting trimmers (favourably or unfavourably) with farriers.

Here are some home truths.

Anyone, no matter how little experience or training they have, can call themselves a trimmer, can advertise, and can take payment for their services. They don't need to be insured (although all UKNHCP practitioners, and many equine podiatrists, are insured).

There IS now a National Occupational Standard setting training requirements for trimmers, but at the moment there are no accredited courses. The UKNHCP course trains at or above this standard, but UKNHCP only takes very small numbers of students per year.

There are still lots of "learn to trim in a weekend", "learn to trim on dead hooves" and "learn to trim over the internet" courses out there. As a result, there are lots of people out there who have a small experience of trimming but very little experience of barefoot performance. If you are employing a trimmer, make sure they are NOT one of these people.

You will also find farriers commenting that they are equally, or better, able to trim a hoof than a "trimmer". Thats probably true in many instances, and its certainly the case that all UK farriers receive a minimum of 4 years training, and are taught to trim as part of this training.

The problem again is that only a tiny part of hoof health is to do with trimming.

You can trim the most "balanced" hoof in the world, but if the horse doesn't agree with your ideas of balance, and you haven't addressed its nutritional, environmental and metabolic needs, then its hooves will still not function properly, whether shod or bare.

Farriers are not currently trained in enabling horses to perform barefoot, and nutrition and environmental factors don't really feature as part of their training, so although many will be good trimmers, they may or may not be able to help your horse work hard barefoot.

So what to do? Firstly, anyone who is looking after your horse's hooves should be able to advise you on the current health of its hooves, how they can be improved and what practical steps you as an owner should be taking.

Anyone who is calling themselves a barefoot specialist should be aware that trimming is the last, and least influential, of the tools available to them.

Anyone who is taking money for services should carry professional indemnity insurance, and should be able to give you references from satisfied customers with hard-working horses.

Finally, anyone who leaves a horse less sound after a trim should, at the very least, be asked to explain exactly why that has happened, and it is not something which should happen more than once.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.