Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The value of a testimonial

I had a rough night last night and was up and about at 4am.  You see, despite doing all I can and what looks like a great job at helping owners help their horses, I am simply struggling to survive in today's economic climate with a niche business less than 12 months old..  It can interfere with sleep and my stress levels are threatening to move from that of a healthy stimulus to an unhealthy one!

So the first thing I did was check emails.  I often get emails from owners who are having trouble with their horses from topics ranging from swollen testicles (I kid you not) to treeless saddles to laminitis.  Every morning I answer emails before breakfast and before seeing to our own 7 horses.  Mostly this takes around half an hour per email and I offer this advice freely.  More times than enough I never hear from the owners again and I often don't receive thanks either (not that I'm doing it for the thanks!).

But this morning I remembered a client sending me an email with a testimonial the other day but I somehow forgot to open the attachment and read it.  I have to admit, I nearly shed a tear and was so moved by the story!  Click here to go to the testimonial (March 2011).

I do not have a budget for advertising and promoting myself is therefore down to my website and word of mouth.  I do post frequently and promote Holistic Equine on my Facebook page but despite having a decent number of 'fans' (I hate that word...it sounds too egotistical!), it doesn't generate revenue; or at least it hasn't so far!  But it is well worth the effort as I hope I have managed to spread the word about kinder and better ways to look after horses and help keep them healthy and help them heal.

Testimonials are I feel the best way to help promote what it is I do and what to let other owners see the benefit it could be to help their horses.  I do ask customers for them and they say they are keen to write them but as you will see I have very few testimonials on my site!  All my AEP customers have been generated through word of mouth, which is also the best form of advertising.  However, Holistic Equine's services and products are very little understood and are still very rare in the current equine world.

I feel I do my best and I am around all weekdays and evenings for calls and will answer messages and emails always on a weekend if they are emergencies or if not; if time allows.  I don't charge for this time but maybe I should?  Or perhaps happy clients could help me to continue offering this service by writing testimonials and telling people what I do and how I have helped them.  Social networking can help and word of mouth is great but you can't beat 'putting it in writing' and sharing your views in a testimonial!

Happy wednesday!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The dilemma of a foot care provider and 'value for money'.

As we discover more about true foot function, we learn what is correct stimulus for health and what is not.  We categorically know now that shoeing is not good for hoof health and neither is conventional trim methods.

As an applied equine podiatrist, it is my job above all else to protect the horse from harm and I do this by providing information to the owner so they can be responsible for making informed decisions regarding their horses health and welfare. 

Every horse and horse/owner relationship is unique.  Some owners only want the very best for their horses which often means they want the shoes removed and will do everything they can to improve foot health.  However, sometimes these owners simply cannot provide the ideal environment for their horse and finances and other resources come into play such as time, energy and available environment........

Some owners have everything at their disposal but would prefer to put their own needs first and would like to continue riding or feeding what they want to feed for example so in doing so they decide they won’t provide the environment required for healing and rehabilitation.  Sometimes it is simply in the best needs of the horse to remain shod, no matter how committed the owner and what resources they have available.  I know this may come as a shock to some purist pro-barefooters out there but with correct and in-depth knowledge of foot function you can understand when a horse will suffer more for having shoes removed and sometimes it is just best for the horse to leave things as they are.

So when I get called out for an initial consult, I try to ascertain the commitment level of the owner and ask many questions.  What is their motivation to improving their horse’s health?  How do they imagine I can help?  What knowledge do they have about AEP and caring for the barefoot horse?  What vet tests have been done?  Was there a diagnosis?  I also try to find out how committed they will be and what resources they have, which is not always just about money.  Going barefoot responsibly can seem to be expensive at the start but pays off long term in health benefits.

So, after in-depth discussions with an owner and full evaluation of the horse’s current foot health and environment, I may actually come to the conclusion that removing shoes and going barefoot with a particular horse is inappropriate.  Or I may feel that it is appropriate and will help the owner make informed decisions, but ultimately it is the owner’s choice and I always respect their choices. 

If I feel that the owner wants to go barefoot but is making choices that will compromise their horse’s welfare, I will politely say so and I will make the decision not to support that owner with their choice and will not remove the shoes or continue as their foot care provider. 

These are tough choices and this has only happened once to me so far. 

Incidentally, the question of value for money sometimes comes into play when I talk about what I do.  The local farrier might only charge £20 for a trim, but what is that trim doing to the short and long term health of the horse?  That depends on the current health of the horse and what is being asked of it.  I know from personal experience that removal of my TB’s shoes a few years ago lead to chronic laminitis.  My farrier at the time simply did what I asked, no questions and no comments but the removal of the shoes left the weak foot vulnerable to stress and strain and within weeks she had an attack of laminitis and I was completely shocked!  Now, because of my education and knowledge, I know that if the roles were turned and I was the foot care provider for that horse, I would have been able to assess the health of the foot and more accurately predict the consequences of removing the shoe and applying a grass trim so I would be able to treat the foot accordingly, apply the HPT method to properly balance the foot/hoof, apply perfect hoof wear and condition the foot accordingly to improve on health, spectrum and performance.  In other words, I could recognise in the first instance that the foot health was poor, I would know how to balance for health, what tissues and structures needed to be improved and how to stimulate improvement of health; all by providing THE CORRECT ENVIRONMENT FOR THE RETURN OF HEALTH! 

Just doing that would have saved several thousands of pounds on vet bills, supplements and remedial shoeing, which incidentally did not improve on the overall spectrum other than to slow down the rate of deterioration.  But most of all it would have saved on an immense amount of pain and distress on behalf of the horse and on the heartache experienced by my whole family as we watched her in so much pain.

I am not saying that all farriers are not doing a great job, but I am saying that the £50 I charge in an initial consult is money extremely well spent and considering it usually takes me about 3 hours for the first consult, that works out at only £16.60/hour.  So when your farrier does a barefoot or grass trim without completing a spectrum of usability, without applying hoof testers, without ascertaining what level of work the foot is capable of, without ascertaining what structures require improvement, without giving guidance on what is appropriate stimulus for health, without advising you how to properly treat infection and taking photos, and then not providing you with a written copy of your horses evaluation and guidance, then the £20 for a 15 minute session doesn’t seem like such great value.

((Incidentally, repeat consults are £40 or £37.50 if you have more than one horse done at the same time and multiple horse owners can always negotiate more discount!))

But my horse is fine you say and he is trimmed every 8 weeks by my farrier?  And that’s great, but would you like them to be finer? 

Do you have a horse on retirement because the vets and farriers say it will never get better?

I’m not saying I can work miracles and that I do the healing.  I don’t and I can’t.  Only the horse can do that.  But until you provide your horse with the proper environment required for the horse to self heal, you will never know if you horse can get better or sounder.

Happy riding/caring!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The Coronet band?...what's all the fuss about?

Below is an extract from a Facebook page which I am a 'fan' of.  I noticed some comments were posted about a picture of a cross section of a hoof which looked like it had had equine digital elastosis and laminitis.  There were comments which lead me to believe the writer niaively dismissed the coronet band as relevant in functionality.  This was my response which I think was over the too over the top but it is really hard to write in a concise manner as the topic is actually quite in depth.  I thought it was interesting enough to post here too but it has made me more determined to try and help people learn more about correct anatomy and physiology of the foot and the improtance in proper education amosgst horse owners, farriers, vets and most importantly, hoof care providers (which are all terribly keen; like me, in spreading the word about barefoot hoof care!).......

Responsibilities of owners and hoof care providers (a little rant...be warned!)

I am delighted that more and more people are taking up hoof trimming as careers,  There are more and more facebook pages, forums, blogs and websites cropping up and giving well intended advice to horse owners and other trimmers; professional or hobby.

However, there is a serious lack of knowledge and understanding about very basic and fundamentally important  aspects regarding hoof care, but still there are trimmers and owners picking up rasps and knives and even hoof nippers and working on hooves with signs of equine digital elastosis and deformed hoof capsule for instance and these horses are are at risk of developing acute laminitis if improper environmental stimulus is provided.

In fact I seen evidence of improper environmental stimulus being given to horse WHICH ARE UNDER VETERINARY AND FARRIERY CARE; despite owners very best intentions.

So if you are a horse owner, please learn as much about the hoof as you can, and from the right sources,  so you can ensure your horse is receiving the best care; which means that YOU are giving the horse what it needs.  You are responsible for choosing a foot carer provider so choose wisely.

Foot care providers; whether you are a hobby trimmer trimming your own horses, a farrier, a professional barefoot trimmer or equine podiatrist; you owe it to yourself and to the horses in your care to learn everything you can about the horses foot. On the whole; natural trimmers, conventional farriery trades and veterinary sciences tend to IGNORE THE INTERNAL ARCH APPARATUS and the back third of the foot.  I find this incredible since this is where the horse lands and from when a whole load of physiological series of events begins.  It is also the part of the foot which is affected first BEFORE laminitis occurs, yet the majority do not understand how this part of the foot works (and some wont even contemplate it-egos again!).  But I guess since this part of the foot has in essence been ignored since man began nailing on horse shoes, its no surprise the trend still exists.  In fact several anatomical structures have yet to be 'officially' defined in veterinary text books!!!!!

So please, please...owners, carers, vets, farriers and hobby trimmers...please learn about true foot function and put your pride and ego aside..there is no room for vanity and egotism in animall welfare.

A little test: Do you know what dynamic equilibrium is?  Do you know the function of the coronet band?  Do you know what equine digital elastosis is and what role the coronet band plays in laminitis?

Are there gaps in your knowledge regarding understanding the structure, function and performance of all the structures in the horses foot?

Please, visit www.appliedequinepodiatry.org for more information on this and for info on 5 day and 3 day AEP courses. 

Keep up the good work...the horse has earned it just by having to put up with domestication!

Beccy x

Monday, 14 February 2011

Metabolic debate...food for thought?

The perfect hoof club forum is great for learning about true foot function and proper barefoot hoofcare.  Below is a post I left today which is in a thread about different opinions about the cause of metabolic disease.  I recently believed some of my horses were metabolic and maybe insulin resistant (IR).  Blood tests were send to an IR in the US (Dr Thomas-from 'for love of the horse') and I am discussing the company view on metabolic disease in response to a reply from KC LaPierre from a previous post....

Monday, 7 February 2011

Metabolic Disease...the modern horse epidermic.

Did you know that the gut membrane has a direct line of communication with the skin of the horse and the lung membranes? So when your horse has laminitis or mud fever consider the health of the digestive system very seriously as they are all one continious membrane! 
The ONLY food stuff that should be given to horses is that which is free from harmful ingredients. Thunderbrook feed is the ONLY such feed on the market today which provides all the basic nutritional needs and which does not use straw, binders, food stuffs, binders, anti-oxidants, known allergenics/goitrogenics, pesticides, clays, anti-fungals, MSG's, and all other nasties which is found in high profile horse food. .......

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Sick of bugs and infection or want to stay clean? Buy my fogger!...

I have for sale a NEBULO ULV Cold Fogger;

Use the NEBULO Cold Fogger to apply a wide variety of solutions to treat either open spaces or object surfaces. Use to create an aerosol dry-fog or a residual spray that wets all surfaces. Ideal for sanitizing, deodorizing, mould and mildew abatement, hydration (for gardens and greenhouses), application of insecticides, disinfectants and other water based solutions
·         Stable yards
·         Small holdings.
·         Veterinary practices
·         Greenhouses
·         Homes and gardens
·         Hospitals and care homes
·         Doctors surgeries and other medical centres
·         Pest control businesses
·         Shops, factories and offices......