Horse care experts step up for a sound approach to lameness

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Equine Soundness Professionals founder Dave Gilliam. 
Equine Soundness Professionals founder Dave Gilliam. © ESP

The new Equine Soundness Professionals (ESP) group has launched its inaugural year of educational and professional development for veterinarians and professional farriers in the United States.

The non-profit organisation, which is not affiliated with any other organization or systems of practice for hoof rehabilitation, has also launched an optional testing procedure so members can measure their knowledge of anatomy, imaging, and biomechanical aspects of rehabilitating the horse’s foot. Already 18 members have begun the testing protocol, with another 14 recent requests received.

The second level of the test, according to ESP founder and professional farrier Dave Gilliam, will be an in-depth case-based assessment with actual examination, workup and treatment of a horse in a clinic setting. Future examinations on individual areas of expertise will also be offered.

Both tests and procedures are offered to farriers and veterinarians, and can be taken online or offline.

The first educational event hosted by the organisation will be held later this month in Florida, with several respected clinicians rostered to cover a variety of topics.

Pat Reily, chief of farrier services at Penn Vet New Bolton Center, University of Pennsylvania, is one of the speakers at the ESP seminar on March 16.
Pat Reily, chief of farrier services at Penn Vet New Bolton Center, University of Pennsylvania, is one of the speakers at the ESP seminar on March 16. © ESP

Veterinarian Raul Bras of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital will discuss navicular syndrome and deep digital flexor tenotomy; Penn Vet New Bolton Center farrier Pat Reilly will focus on mechanical Considerations for the laminitic foot and foot management for surgeries of the distal phalanx; and UC California, Davis farrier Shane Westman will look at white line disease and the use of advanced imaging in lameness care.

Gilliam will also give an update on Equine Soundness Professionals and look at the need for scientific-based research

More than 187 qualified members have joined ESP, with 661 people applying for membership. Its mission statement  is “to facilitate and encourage collaboration between the two professions to better prevent and treat lameness by sharing knowledge, research, and experience;  providing a forum to discuss lameness cases; and promoting evidence-based practices.”

Gilliam, of Flower Mound, Texas, is studying for the Equine Locomotion Research (ELR) graduate diploma offered to farriers by the Royal Veterinary College, and hopes to combine his access to the horse industry with his vision for farriers and veterinarians to work together to benefit the horse. His practice provides performance horseshoeing and sport horse hoof rehabilitation within the hunter/jumper horse show circuit.

Shane Westman, resident farrier at the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Large Animal Hospital, is among the speakers at this month's ESP seminar. © ESP
Shane Westman, resident farrier at the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Large Animal Hospital, is among the speakers at this month’s ESP seminar. He is also on the ESP Advisory Panel. © ESP

With the ESP Advisory Panel, Gilliam plans to concentrate this year on accrediting veterinary and farriery professionals who successfully complete an exam to prove competence in hoof rehabilitation, as well as supporting educational programs and events that further educate professionals in the care of healthy hooves and rehabilitation of diseased or injured hooves. Gilliam also plans to develop an ESP member database documenting horses successfully rehabilitated by members.

The Advisory Panel for ESP consists of Gilliam and five advisers: Westman, Reilly, and veterinarians Courtney Lewis (California), Melissa Mitchell, and Sammy Pittman, both from Texas.

Presentations by Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital veterinarian Raul Bras at this month's ESP seminar are: "Navicular Syndrome: Clinicians Evaluation and Practical Approaches for the Horse", and "The Deep Digital Flexor Tenotomy: The Good and Not So Good About It".
Presentations by Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital veterinarian Raul Bras at this month’s ESP seminar are: “Navicular Syndrome: Clinicians Evaluation and Practical Approaches for the Horse”, and “The Deep Digital Flexor Tenotomy: The Good and Not So Good About It”. © ESP

Membership of ESP is open to farriers and veterinarians who provide equine podiatry services in their practices.

The ESP seminar is being held on Saturday, March 16 at The Wanderers Country Club in Wellington, Florida. Both members and non-members are welcome to attend the seminar; the registration fee is $150 (breakfast and lunch included); spaces must be reserved in advance. A second ESP educational event is planned for May in California.

Sponsors of the first seminar include Osphos, Palm Beach Farrier Supply, Polyflex Horseshoes, SteriHoof, Well Shod, Farrier Product Distribution (FPD), Equicast, Hoofjack, Equisport Farrier Supply, Castle Plastics, HoofSearch, Platinum Performance, and RevitaVet.

Those interested in attending the seminar should contact Dave Gilliam on (214) 907-3380 or info@equinesoundnessprofessionals.org.

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