~About Phil~I have been working with horses in one way or another for over 50 years. In 1991 I discovered natural horsemanship methods and found them to be far superior to the conventional way of riding and training. In 1998 one of my training clients directed me to the website www.barefoothorse.com . That was the beginning of a total transition of thinking in terms of my horse's feet and their shoes. I discovered the writings of Dr. H. Strasser of Germany and Jaime Jackson, a veteran American farrier whose ideas at that time seemed to present a very similar concept of hoof care. The discovery of natural hoof care proved to be as enlightening as that of natural horsemanship. Here was a whole new way of treating horse's feet that led to a tremendous improvement in their feet and overall health. In seeking verification of my understanding in regard to this new concept I made contact with Debbie Dutra, another pioneer in this new approach to hoof care who happened to live in Truckee CA not too far from me. Debbie was very helpful in taking me through the basics. I learned the hands on, one on one basics from Debbie, she and I are still in touch discussing various problem hoof cases to this day. By this time I was finding myself pretty busy trimming horses for my clients and friends but still felt the need to learn more, especially in those dark areas involving laminitis/founder & navicular syndrome. It was at this time that I began to attend several weekend clinics presented by Martha Olivo another well known name in the natural trim movement.
I completed Martha's clinician certification course in July of 2003. The course included doing many hoof dissections which gave me additional insight into the workings of the hoof. Soon I began teaching what I knew at my own clinics and in private lessons. Since that time I have continued to learn from the best teachers of all, the horses.
I am currently trimming about 50 horses per month and have been able to observe the positive changes in all of them, this includes 12 horses that were designated to be put down due to severe founder/laminitis and 3 diagnosed as incurable navicular horses. Over this 12 year period several varying schools of natural trimming have emerged. After attending clinics and seminars representing many of these schools.
I have taken the ideas from each of these teachers that seem to work best for a particular horse. What I have developed from all of this is my own school of trimming, Softouch Natural Hoof Care which is customized to suit the individual horse.
By the Fall or 2005 my body began feeling the strain of using the traditional hoof knife, rasp and nippers. Consequently I began to experiment with several different small power tools such as the Dremel rotary tool. I happened across a post on the internet by Bob Creel a trimmer in Gorgia who suggested the idea of using an angle grinder fitted with an abrasive sanding disk. After alot research and a year of testing various models I found smaller lightweight grinder that anyone could handle and the Softouch Power Trimming Method was born. This innovation changed everything. Suddenly it was very easy to give horses a really nice trim in half the time and with half the effort.
My initial thought about using such a power tool was "what horse is going to let me get close enough to do anything?" To my surprise on my first attempt with all three of my own horses there was virtually no reaction. They in fact seemed to enjoy the vibrating feeling of the grinder. I have since experienced this same reaction in the hundreds of horses I have introduced this method to with my local clients as well as at my clinics around the country. This method has proven to be a true revolution in the hoof trimming world as more and more horse owners and professional trimmers alike realize the advantages. But as with any revolution there has been a certain amount of resistance from the staunch traditionalists who are simply opposed to change. None the less it has allowed hundreds of people, women in particular to be able to trim their own horse's feet which they would have found extremely difficult if not impossible with conventional tools. Many have even gone on to start trimming other peoples horses and several have now established a very lucrative career. I have personally trained 4 apprentices so far and all are doing well with their new line of work, earning more than they ever had before while doing something they love, helping horses live a happier more healthy life.
I am also now offering a mentorship program for those interested in learning more about this type of trimming but not wanting to commit to a full apprenticeship. This can be anywhere from one to five days of traveling with me as I trim my clients horses. I also offer private lessons for those who are unable to make it to a clinic.