Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What's an equine podiatrist? Part I

I wonder if in your equestrian travels some of you have encountered an Equine Podiatrist (EP). Well, I did.  How is this different from a farrier, a horseshoer, a trimmer, or a vet who specializes in hooves? A human podiatrist normally has a medical degree, what about horse podiatrists? I did  a little research, and it seems that practitioners using this title come in roughly two flavors.
  1. Some are veterinarians, like Dr. Steve O'Grady (or Dr. Ric Redden of Versailles, KY). Dr. O'Grady is a veterinarian and farrier who has applied this title to his work (www.equinepodiatry.com). Dr. O'Grady has practiced as a farrier for forty years and has published articles in The Horse  (publication of the AAEP), Blood Horse, and elsewhere. He contributed a chapter for the textbook Current therapy in Equine Medicine and  has presented and moderated at conventions held by the American Farrier's Association as well as other farrier and veterinary associations. I have referred frequently to articles by Dr. O'Grady and appreciate the detail and un-dumbed down information he shares in lectures, articles, and on the Web.
  2. The Institute of Applied Equine Podiatry (Ocala, FL) confers certificates and degrees in Applied Equine Podiatry (DAEP). A variety of courses and programs are offered through the school. Currently about forty certified DEAPs are listed as practicing EPs on the Institute's web site.
I was/am curious about the second type of EP.

Well, I did some research
Part of me was skeptical of the EP term -- it sounds a little too much like calling a housewife a domestic engineer, and it also implies an advanced degree through the use of the term "podiatrist." Since the Institute of Applied Equine Podiatry seems to be the main source of practitioners using this title in the U.S,   I looked into it.

From what I can tell, the graduates of the Institute are trained to trim feet, and their philosophy is that in all but the most extreme cases,  "shoeless is best." Now there are lots of schools that teach you how to be a farrier, and presumably a lot of barefoot trimming programs too. In the U.S. it's not that hard to hang out a shingle and become a school for horseshoeing or trimming.

As to the credentials of this Institute, here are a few things I've discovered...
  • The Institute's founder (KC La Pierre) is a registered journeyman farrier and hoof specialist. He is an invited speaker at horseman's conventions, equine trade fairs,  and equine-related associations. 
  • Yellow flag Ho! In his online bios and at the bottom of his Web site,  he indicates he has a PhD. In a 2005 bio he wrote that he had a "Middleham University PhD based upon original research in the field of animal science." MU is a diploma mill that sells you a PhD for $75 (see threads on COTH, horseshoes.com, and on forums.degreeinfo.com).   Not. cool.  Also in issue 134 of The Farrier's Journal (a UK publication) he lists the credentials DVM (doctor of veterinary medicine). He is not a DVM. While he still lists a PhD among his credentials, he does not say where it is from.
  • The Institute Web site is tightly integrated with -- you guessed it -- an online store. 
  • The Institute  is a one man show -- the founder has developed his own system and he is promoting that particular system. It may be a good system, but it limits the perspective of the graduates and IMHO detracts from the educational experience. There are no partnerships with vet schools, no instructors with differing viewpoints, the students learn only one person's perspective and theories.
  • Graduates who make a career out of their EP degree are encouraged to use the founder's products and to promote them to their clients. This is similar to the Parelli model of training and selling -- nothing wrong with it as a business model, but it seem a bit limiting to the student and self-serving for the Institute.
I'd encourage you to take a look at the web site for the Institute and form your own impressions. 
    Stay tuned for Part II. 


      1. I tend to be skeptical about "methods" that demand you only use their products...thus I am suspicious...but I will investigate.

      2. KC's original video about his original method (HPT; High Performance Trim) is quite good, only marred by KC's high opinion of himself, LOL. It is instructive overall. His book (um, the name evades me at the moment) is a bit convoluted. Then he really took off on the self-promotion highway. Ugh.

      3. I have had dealings with an Equine Podiatrist when I had my gaited mare a couple of years back. She was very knowledgeable about proper angles and bearing weight correctly.

        She was even able to correct partially in overgrown hind hoof for us, with a warning that there had been an abscess in the foot and that the horse if not properly handled would pull up lame. Which he did shortly after my daughter sold him to another family, even with her detailed instructions and warnings.

        She also pointed out the early stages of white line disease to me. She photographed each hoof from underneath and when on a flat surface. Watched each animal move from the sides, front, and rear prior to even picking up a hoof.

        I don't believe she studied in Florida though, I think she mentioned Oklahoma as the place she studied, if my memory doesn't fail me on that point.

        My overall impression of her was that she had been to school for farriers, and seemed to know her stuff. I had been around horses for many years and knew enough to tell if I was being taken in and I didn't get that impression for her at all.

        Hope that helps someone.

      4. Totally agreed....anyone who falsifies their "credentials" should be avoided. Nice work digging that up! On the other hand, I have to say that I am familiar with LaPierre (I live in FL) and he actually does nice work. But so do a lot of other local farriers that aren't promoting a "philosophy" that requires you become certified, purchase their tools, etc. etc.

      5. Sierra, Isn't it a shame? I've never heard anyone question his skills even as he's fallen under criticism for other things. PhDs have value in many professions, but claiming to have one that's "fake" just wrecks an otherwise good reputation.

      6. Stacey
        I've knew KC for over ten years. You are right, the real shame is any of the good information and work he does or teaches others to do is wrecked by his phoney PHD - my bringing it up to him was our end. I just can't be mixed up with someone like that. So sad.
        On an up note, there are lots of great barefoot teachers and trimmers out there who don't insist there is only THEIR way to skin a cat!

      7. Interesting and glad I found this article. I'm a "self taught" trimmer, and don't follow any one method and do a LOT of research. Anyway I've had some good success and when I started followed some not too good methods. But the proof is in the pudding, and I've always gone back to the drawing board to keep learning.

        Anyway I wanted to experiment with equicasts on some issues, and I found that just regular casting material for 5 bucks a roll is the same thing. Then I also found this gal on ebay selling what I thought was her brand called "equi-socks". She had a video of putting the socks on a newly trimmed hoof. Now I looked at that hoof and thought, that it was a really bad trim that had no concept of hoof growth and hoof pathology, very long toes and heels all run forward, and the hoofwall rapsed down very high up right into the white of the wall. So I searched and also found her videos on youtube, read the bio and she's a "graduate" of the Applied Equine Podiatry School.

        So I looked at some more of her videos, and her trimming and frankly was appauled, that she had not concept of how to actually do corrective trimming and grow out a good solid healthy hoof. Saw several horses that she'd rasped into the hoofwall very highup on the wall showing white or the soft inner hoofwall.

        Now you really have to understand here, I'm NOT into the whole "natural" thing or that a horse has to go barefoot. But I am into hoof anatomy of the inner or sensitive foot and corrective trimming in such a manner that understands what went wrong and how to trim and grow out problems so that you have a tightly connected healthy hoof capsil that will support the inner structures and promote the best health and movement for a life time. THEN if you need to you can tack a shoe on it.

        But Im not just into adding insult to injury which is what a lot of shoeing does and also this equicast or casting and glue in general.

        But I was very glad that you did the foot work on this KC La...(what's his name), and you know it just FIGGURES.

        Since getting interested in this I have learned that everyone and their dog has jumped on the so called "natural hoofcare" bandwagon. Anyone as you stated can hang a shingel out advertising they are this or that.

        But what irks me is that, I know for a certain that this gal really does not have any concept of hoof growth, the inner foot or how to correct and tweek a trim to grow a new hoof. I know that the horses she's doing will eventually just get worse or actually not improve at all, and that the owners will then just go back to having their horses shod, and say that "barefoot" doesn't work.

        Well, I don't say barefoot can work for all, but then neither does more and more elaborate shoeing, that is in reality just a band-aid that never actually fixes the problem.

        But it really tics me off that KC bought a Ph.D for 75 bucks, and isn't really a vet. WHAT A PHONEY! I wonder if that name is even real???

        I'm just on a learning journey myself and try and help others. You can check out my videos at

        Fact is a LOT of owners are learning to trim their own horses (that of course can be good and bad), but the main thing is more and more people are learning about hooves, dissecting hooves and making advancements in methods.

        And here are the videos of the gal that graduated from the KC podiatry school. http://www.youtube.com/user/NaturalFarrier#p/u/0/5rd5TPrJZkc


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