Nia Cooke DEP MEPA(UK)
Alistair Taylor DEP MEPA(UK)


What training do you have as an EP?

I hold a Diploma in Equine Podiatry. The Diploma in Equine Podiatry is a two year course which consists of 13 modules. 

The course content has been carefully structured to ensure it will easily surpass the new National Occupational Standard which was published by LANTRA, the Government-licensed Sector Skills Council in April 2010. The aim of the National Occupational Standard is to ensure that in future, anyone practising in the field of non-farriery based hoofcare must demonstrate a minimum standard of education and proficiency. More information can be found here

At the moment, there is no legal requirement for anybody practicing equine podiatry to be trained to do so. But DEFRA, the FRC and a 

group of the most established Equine Podiatry Schools are currently working together to come to a solution to regulate the profession. Please find the EPA position statement here


Can I still ride my horse as I did when it was shod


Yes!! Absolutely!! There may be a transition period when you first remove the shoes when the hooves might need some time and help to improve their condition. This could involve hand walking on different surfaces, in some cases hoof boots will also be needed.  Given the right conditions, and enough time to grow a new stronger hoof, you can carry on just are you were.

My barefoot lady Milly and her pal both completed 50 miles in 2 days without metal shoes and remained totally sound, even over stony mountain tracks. I have customers who compete and take part in all sorts of disciplines including Endurance, Dressage, Show jumping and Hunting, and many who hack over the rugged Welsh terrain in a regular basis, all without shoes.

Why do horses wear shoes?

 A very common question, but not an easy one to answer!


Mankind started using horses many years ago, and successfully did so without the need for shoes for many years. I believe at some point, the culmination of several factors and their cumulative effect, altered the condition of the domesticated horse to such an extent that the hooves were no longer able to function as nature intended. With the demands and changes to lifestyle that mankind put on them, the rate of wear exceeded the rate of growth, leading to a variety of lameness issues, which drove mankind to seek a solution. These factors include:


- The stabling environment we created: as society became more sophisticated, so did the way we kept our horses, stables and paddocks meant that horses became restricted in their movements, and restricted to soft surfaces, and their hooves came into more contact with their own urine and faeces, known to be conducive to infection and damage.


- The unnatural exercise regime we created: Horses were the main form of travel for many years. In the wild, horses may travel up to 40 miles per day over a variety of surfaces. Working horses may have been kept on soft surfaces with limited movement for several days, then required to travel long distances on hard surfaces, so the hoof did not have sufficient time to adapt.


- The terrain we created: Man-made roads of hard surfaces meant that horses were required to travel for very long distances on hard, hoof wearing surfaces.


- The feeds we introduced to the domestic horse: Mankind introduced feeds which could provide high concentrates of energy in small amounts, and their natural feeds became restricted to a few varieties of grass, plants and shrubs, leading to a deficiency in vital vitamins and minerals and an excess of sugars.


- Horses were relied upon for transport, warfare and transporting food and tradable goods. The more mankind relied upon them however, the further away from natural existence they moved and the more they struggled with lameness issues.


There is historical evidence to suggest the Romans did not use horse shoes until they had visited the British Isles.  This suggests two things to me. The first is that their horses would have probably struggled to adapt from the stony streets of the Roman Empires, to the wet marshy conditions they would encounter in Britain, providing a need for a solution to the lameness issues they would have suffered. The second is that there would probably have already been some sort of shoeing practice in the British Isles to inspire the Romans to introduce it to their established equine practices.


Nowadays however, they are asked to do far less than we asked of their hard working ancestors - I think we'd be hard pushed to find a horse that travelled 80 miles on cobbles pulling a cart every day!


Horses hooves have evolved to react to their environment, the more stimulus they receive, the more they will grow. It's an absolute myth that barefoot horses cannot do road work - quite the opposite - they need the stimulus of firm level ground to encourage growth. Think of a bass player and his calloused fingers, nature adapted his digits to do the job.


Why do we keep shoeing them now though? Well, because we just do. It's what we've always done. Even I used to. Horse shoeing is now a long established practice. Hundreds of years of the practice, profession, publications and advice handed down through generations have led to a firm belief that horses need shoes in order to be able to work. Even, that not shoeing a horse is cruel! With so much history of the horses being shod, owners had, until in recent years, ceased questioning and accepted shoeing as a necessary evil. 

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or Call: Nia 07766 087722     Ali 07342 045096

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