TORRINGTON – Farrier Karina Lewis taught a natural hoof care class at Eastern Wyoming College on Saturday, May 8. The class began at 9 a.m. and wrapped up around 3:45 p.m.
There were about three hours of in-classroom instruction. After a lunch break, Lewis demonstrated her trimming method on a client’s horse.
Lewis began by introducing herself and explaining some of her background as a horse owner, trainer, researcher, author and farrier.
During the classroom session, Lewis emphasized the hoof as an organ that can adapt quickly to its environment.
“The hoof is an organ as important as the heart,” Lewis said in her presentation.
Issues such as quarter cracks, navicular, ringbone, seedy toe, laminitis, founder, abscess and keratoma occur due to human error, she said. Lewis spent years studying wild horses that never had such issues. She now patterns her hoof-trimming matrix after what the hoof naturally looks like in the wild.
A significant portion of the class focused on the hoof’s collateral groove.
“Your collateral groove is your map to keeping your hoof healthy,” Lewis explained.
Lewis demonstrated how to measure the rotation of the coffin bone (the bottom bone in a horse’s leg) without needing to look at an x-ray.
Lewis used a tire tread depth gauge to measure the depth of the collateral groove’s apex and each heel buttress. She said the ideal measurements are between 15 and 18 millimeters, and all points should measure to the same number. Measurements that are not the same indicate a rotation of the coffin bone.
According to Lewis, getting these points balanced is the cornerstone to all other rehabilitation. She also said this balance can be restored immediately almost every time.
She explained the makeup of the hoof in great detail.
Some traditional farrier methods can actually damage the hoof, according to Lewis. For example, rasping the outside of the hoof damages keratin tubules and masks flaring and heat rings. Another common practice, hot shoeing, damages blood supply in the hoof, according to Lewis.
Lewis said she hopes her results – a healthier horse and lower overall costs – spark change in the industry. She hopes her methods can be a tool for owners, students, farriers and professionals.
Lewis emphasized that the hoof is constantly regenerating itself from the coronary band. A healthy hoof, according to Lewis, has flat lines of keratin tubules, is smooth without rasping, has a calloused frog, has a thick wall and has a healthy white line.
Lewis said she does not rely on her own reputation, but that her end results speak for themselves. Eighty to 90 percent of Lewis’ business has been the rehabilitation of horses already in vet and farrier care.
She also focuses on making her method a repeatable option for owners looking to work on their own horses and for professionals. A goal Lewis is working on getting 10 practitioners certified, to expand the use of the HOOFMEDIX methods.
Lorre Hart, one of the two attendees, said she had heard about the class because of her Facebook connection with Lewis.
“I own horses so I’m always trying to learn more about them, so that their lives are better,” she said.
Hart said her expectations – learning more about how to better care for her horses – were met.
Lewis said she prefers to leave horses barefoot, except with horses competing in eventing and reining.
During her live trimming demonstration, Lewis showed how to measure the collateral groove. The horse she was trimming had too high of a measurement in the heel buttresses. She demonstrated how to correct this.
A significant portion of the demonstration revolved around being aware of horse feedback.
Every time she trimmed to the correct measurements in the collateral groove, the horse responded with licking and chewing, which is a sign of relief.
At one point, Lewis intentionally left one side of the hoof a millimeter too long – no sign of relief.
“Horses can feel the difference of a millimeter,” she explained.
Lewis said she teaches different levels of classes, with this being the introductory one. She said she is excited about such a great space to teach and hopes to do more classes at EWC. For more information, Lewis’ website is www.hoofmedix.com.
Participants left the class with a HOOFMEDIX hoof pick, an instrument to measure the hoof’s collateral groove depth and a flash drive of informational resources.