Strasser Hoof Trim Method Far Too Risky To Recommend, Says Guild President Henry Heymering
June 11, 2002, Washington, DC -- In response to an anti-traditional hoofcare program advocated by German veterinarian Hiltrud Strasser, the Guild of Professional Farriers, an organization of advanced-level professional full-time farriers, is the first US horse health organization to caution horseowners about this program for the well-being of their horses.
"Strasser hoofcare" is currently being promoted in the United States and Canada through a network of seminars and via Internet discussion groups.
Guild president Henry Heymering issued a multiple-point statement in June outlining the potential dangers of the Strasser program, which is built on a naturalistic approach to horse management, but with unorthodox trimming of the feet.
Heymering was one of six professional farriers and veterinarians selected to discuss Dr. Strasser's program with her at a formal presentation hosted by Tufts University College of Veterinary Medicine in North Grafton, Massachusetts May 4-5, 2002. About 100 veterinarians, farriers, and horse owners attended.
In preparation for the discussion, Heymering undertook a month-long investigation of the Strasser system by reading her books, communicating with her followers, and trying, in vain, to find sound useable horses that had benefited from her methods. "I found some sound horses that were being trimmed with some of her points selectively in mind," Heymering concluded. "I saw far more evidence of failures than of successes."
The Strasser hoof trimming method has been the subject of equine welfare warnings in Great Britain from organizations such as the International League for the Protection of Horses, the Worshipful Company of Farriers, the Farriers Registration Council, and the Laminitis Clinic. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals became involved in one case where a horse was euthanized following unsuccessful trimming by a Strasser follower.
Heymering agrees with several points of the Strasser program, stating, "Barefoot is an ideal state for horses who can perform safely and soundly without shoes. I also agree that maximum turnout time is desirable for all horses. My disagreement with her method comes in the severity of the trim and the radical intentional misaligning of the hoof capsule compared to current professional farriery standards."
Heymering is most concerned that not only may the extreme trimming technique be dangerous, but that it is made considerably more dangerous when done by untrained owners or even Strasser-certified trimmers, if they have less than three or four years of experience applying the method.
The Guild president's assessment is published in its entirety on the Internet. Anyone wishing to read the statement may do so at the website www.horseshoes.com ; click on "press releases".
For more information about the Guild of Professional Farriers, write to: 2020 Pennsylvania Avenue, #800, Washington DC 20080; call President Henry Heymering at 301-898-6990; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
About Henry Heymering: Henry Heymering is a farrier with 29 years experience trimming and shoeing horses. He is the founder of the American Farriers Journal and is the author of two books: On the Horse's Foot, a bibliography of farrier literature from Roman times to the present, and Hoof Care for Horses. He attended Clark University and is an American Farrier's Association certified journeyman farrier, and a Registered Master Farrier with the Guild of Professional Farriers. Heymering has ridden horses for more than 40 years and currently rides and trains horses in Frederick, Maryland, where he operates his full-time farrier practice.
National Animal Supplement Council Submits Compliance Plus Proposal to Regulatory Agencies
(from a May 13, 2002 press release)
The National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) is a not-for-profit, industry-funded trade association serving manufacturers of nutritional products for small animals as well as horses. Working very closely with the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), the Food & Drug Administration/Center for Veterinary Medicine (FDA/CVM), and other trade associations such as the National Association of Equine Supplement Manufacturers (NAESM), NASC has submitted a proposal, Compliance Plus, to the regulatory agencies. Compliance Plus includes provisions for establishing common industry standards for manufacturing processes, allowing focus toward finished product safety through an adverse event reporting system, and limiting unsubstantiated labeling claims. These standards are now being vigorously demanded by the various state and federal agencies.
The Compliance Plus proposal was submitted as a response to AAFCO's plan -- spelled out on its internet website at www.aafco.org -- to orchestrate and recommend nationwide "Enforcement Strategy" beginning in April 2002. The Enforcement Strategy is scheduled to be carried out by AAFCO state agriculture department members selecting a single ingredient that is not recognized or accepted for use in animal feeds. The enforcement event is targeted to seek compliance with existing federal and state laws and regulations. These activities may impact all channels of distribution and sale of products within the participating states.
Additionally, the NASC also seeks to gain formal approval for the sale of certain novel ingredients that are now deemed not to be accepted or recognized by many state agriculture departments. The NASC seeks to ease the approval process for member companies by collectively funding among NASC members clinical data on safety for certain ingredients with ongoing member-sponsored research initiatives. The association also serves as a clearinghouse for relevant information, and an industry voice for legislation and regulations of various kinds.
Bill Bookout, president of NASC, comments "In all of our discussions with the representatives of AAFCO and FDA/CVM, it is clear that both industry and the regulators have common goals. We want the products in the marketplace to be quality products, with the reasonable expectation of safety for the animal and provide consistency for everyone. Although the solutions may not be easy, we are confident that a solid foundation has been established for constructive progress." The Compliance Plus proposal was submitted to John Breitsman, President of AAFCO in early April and, according to Bookout, Breitsman commented as follows: "We wanted dialog with industry and believe this a good first step. The Compliance Plus proposal is being taken seriously and there is obviously merit in the proposal. We feel a positive outcome can be achieved if we are all willing to make it happen."
Bookout replies, "We are pleased with the response from AAFCO to the Compliance Plus proposal and feel great about the progress that has been made. Everyone realizes that consumers want these products and we are optimistic about working cooperatively with the agencies to meet the objectives of all stakeholders."
The Compliance Plus proposal can be viewed in its entirety, along with other NASC initiatives and membership information on the NASC website, www.nasc.cc
What can you do to help? Contact your state AAFCO feed control officials and let them know you support the NASC proposal and as a stakeholder you appreciate their efforts to work toward a viable solution with industry that does not interrupt the supply of products while providing the confidence in safety and quality. The feed control official in your state can be identified on the AAFCO website, www.aafco.org