Podiatry and farrier short course
Under the guidance of the AAEP student chapters, the podiatry course work is voluntary, which provides a great service for
those students who participate. Each veterinary school offers the course every three years. Because there are 36 veterinary
schools in North America and the West Indies, it is necessary to schedule the coursework out to limit the work for the instructors.
"The podiatry course came about because there was a lack of basic podiatry information, basic horseshoeing information, and
foot-trimming in the veterinary curriculum," says Tracy Turner, DVM, MS, DACVS, of Anoka Equine Veterinary Services in Minnesota,
a podiatry short course instructor. "The idea of the course was to allow students a hands-on opportunity for learning about
what constitutes good trimming, good hoof care."
A major benefit of the course is the student interaction and lab portion, but first the basics are covered. "What we do in
preparation is a lecture to get everybody on the same page," Turner says. The wet lab is designed to have a high instructor-to-student
ratio. The AAEP brings in local farriers so that a large number of instructors is available to assist students in the lab.
"We begin with cadaver limbs and then hook them up to mimic what the proper posture is and to let them go through the process,"
Turner says. The students then have one-on-one instruction as to how to perform proper foot care—what it feels like, what
to look for, how to trim and shoe. Sometimes they also have live demonstrations. "It's basically a hands-on course, which
has really not changed over the past 20-plus years we've been doing it," Turner says.
The students get to interact with horses and meet local farriers. They also have a chance in the future to ride with the farriers
to get more experience. "They get to understand the bridging of the two professions," says Turner. "It's a good opportunity
to begin to build relationships early in their careers. Part of the whole idea is for the veterinary students to get a better
respect for the farriers and their profession. They learn how to talk to farriers, work with farriers, and help to increase
the healthcare of the horses."
"When I took the course, I was a second-year student," says Kathryn Livesey, now a third-year student at the University of
Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine. Livesey was always interested in horses and rode for the University of Wisconsin
"I was mostly interested in the farrier course as a great opportunity to interact with local farriers," Livesey says. "There
were quite a few local farriers to come and help us with the lab portion of the course. In addition, a farrier was sent by
AAEP from California as well as Dr. Turner, the instructing veterinarian. With some additional university participating veterinarians,
there was a very good ratio of instructors to students. All were absolutely wonderful, very knowledgeable, very willing to
help and explain. The lectures were wonderful, and it was very helpful to get the hands-on experience.
"In the past, I'd seen farriers trimming or shoeing and veterinarians working on horses feet, but I had not had the experience
of watching how well the two professions worked together, especially to solve the difficult cases and see how valuable a farrier
could be," continues Livesey. "Since that course, I've spent time with local farriers to get even more experience watching
and working with them. Two of the farriers are associated with the university, so I have had good access working with them,
as well as with the other farriers I met through the course."
Livesey says she hopes to continue to be involved in equine podiatry and participated again in the AAEP farrier course offered
on Sept. 15.
Ed Kane, PhD, is a researcher and consultant in animal nutrition. He is an author and editor on nutrition, physiology and veterinary medicine
with a background in horses, pets and livestock. Kane is based in Seattle.