A new two-year diploma-level course in hoof care has recently been granted official accreditation by the Australian Government.
The Diploma of Equine Podiotherapy course from the Australian College of Equine Podiotherapy in Victoria focuses on anatomy, rehabilitation, hoof pathologies, biomechanics and the equine musculo-skeletal system.
Lecturers include Professor Robert Bowker, head of Equine Hoof Laboratory Research at Michigan State University in the US, and master farrier Andrew Bowe, “the barefoot blacksmith”, who runs the Mayfield Barefoot Centre where the course is based, in Yarck, Victoria.
The Equine Podiotherapy course has been designed by hoof care professionals, equine body workers, and veterinarians who saw a need for new specialists in this emerging field.
The designers of the course say it “opens up a whole new realm of study for many people”.
They said it had taken more than 10 years to complete the government accreditation process, and every lesson in each module had to be written from scratch.
While this was a lot of work, it “turned out to be a good thing”, the directors said, as they were able to include all the subjects thought necessary for a 21st century hoof care provider to be a true “hoof therapist”: “Someone who could explain to horse owners the role of the hoof in life-long soundness and the impacts of hoof issues on the entire horse.”
The new Equine Podiotherapy course is different to the Farriers Cert III course which has been taught in Australia for many years, as it does not cover working with steel but instead concentrates on areas such as anatomy, pathology, equine biomechanics and the equine musculo-skeletal system that have never been available before in any professional hoof care training course.
The February 2015 course was fully booked, with students from across Australia and abroad, and also including equine veterinarians who wish to use more natural hoof care for rehabilitation of conditions such as navicular and laminitis.
The course is based in Yarck in rural Victoria at a working centre for laminitis and navicular rehabilitation so students have access to a wide variety of hoof issues.
Enrolments are now being taken for courses starting in February and March 2016.