TORRINGTON – Farrier Karina Lewis will teach a class on barefoot and natural hoof care at Eastern Wyoming College on Saturday, May 8.
“I teach how to really balance the hoof, so we don’t end up with problems like navicular and laminitis,” said Lewis.
According to Lewis, the class will include three hours of classroom instruction and three hours of live demonstration. Lewis said she will be joined by two guest speakers from Eastern Wyoming College, Dr. Monte Stokes, a farrier and veterinarian, and Dr. Georgia Younglove, an expert on range management and nutrition.
“You’re going to be given instruction and will be looking at the horse in a way you’ve never seen it before,” she said.
Lewis said she will demonstrate the methods she uses and how to understand feedback from the horse being trimmed.
“I really started specializing in natural and barefoot care, although I have plenty of experience nailing shoes and doing therapeutic and orthopedic work,” said Lewis.
The event will be held in the Agriculture Technology Education Center (ATEC) and will last from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The class costs $390 and has a maximum capacity of 15 attendees.
“When you say natural or barefoot, it can automatically cause a debate,” Lewis said. “The key here is to understand that [the method] is not just for natural or barefoot. It works for barefoot or shod horses.”
Following the class, the EWC bookstore will host a book signing. Lewis said her book, which is her true story, begins with a near death experience that transformed her life. According to Lewis, the book covers her early work and finding that horses can pinpoint barriers in a person’s life.
Lewis’ next book is specifically about farrier care and is called The Hoof Whisperer.
Lewis grew up in Montana, with a background in ranching. She said right out of high school, she began working for a veterinarian.
“I got really interested in the health of the horse,” Lewis said.
After apprenticing under three different veterinarians and three different farriers, she decided to start her own business – HOOFMEDIX. Lewis said she spent time in Maine, Colorado, Idaho and Montana continuing to hone her skills.
In her travels, Lewis said she noticed there were some elements of horse care that might be missing. She disappeared into the mountains for four years to study wild horses. Prior to this, she had been working with the Bureau of Land Management, gentling and placing horses.
Lewis recalled how she got started with a method she currently uses.
“When you’re in this industry for as long as I’ve been in it, your body starts to take the wear and tear,” she said. For this reason, Lewis started using tools that resonate at a 200-megahertz frequency. Lewis said this is a healing frequency.
Using this method for hoof care, Lewis said, horses were responding twice as fast, sometimes faster, than when she used more traditional methods.
“That really intrigued me,” she said. Lewis said she decided to study the topic with scientists, researchers, veterinarians and farriers.
“When you find a model that produces a better end result, then we should all be looking at that and how we can adapt and do things better, so that we don’t end up with horses in chronic years of pain,” she said.
Lewis provided an example of a horse with bilateral rotation of its coffin bones. In comparison to other methods of managing the issue, Lewis said she has been able to cut costs and recovery time in half.
Though her home is in Fort Laramie, Lewis said her time is spent equally between her three HOOFMEDIX facilities, in Texas, Florida and Wyoming.
Lewis said growth of the company was largely from word of mouth and turning out that best result, which speaks for itself.
Her focus has been education and collaboration between horse owners, farriers and veterinarians.
“We don’t focus enough on networking in order to benefit the horse,” Lewis said. “Unfortunately, most veterinarians are not farriers, but they come out of vet school thinking that they are. And so, we end up with a disconnect in the education that causes an imbalance that ultimately the horse takes on as its own.”
“We’ve done it the same way, forever,” she said. “And we keep getting the same result. And if we can take a look at how we can get a better result and keep an open mind, you can avoid, not only a lot of cost, but also a lot of the unnecessary variables that go with it like supplements.”
Lewis recalled one of her most memorable cases. She received a call about a high dollar cutting mare who was confined to a stall for several years, having severely foundered. Because of her condition, mare had stopped cycling, so her eggs couldn’t be harvested.
Lewis said she networked with a vet and local farrier and finalized a treatment plan. Lewis first looked at the mare July.
“By October, she was sound and running around the arena, and by December she had ovulated again and was back in the breeding cycle,” said Lewis.
“That is typical in what I am able to achieve,” said Lewis, “and it’s not just unique. It can be taught.”
Lewis said she has had apprentices learning the techniques she uses, and she has a mission to certify 10 practitioners in the next five years.
Her plan is for these practitioners to offer HOOFMEDIX across the U.S., as certified veterinary services specializing in hoof care and lameness, with a better understanding of how the hoof affects the overall health of the horse.
“EWC will be especially important in growing HOOFMEDIX. Not only as an exceptional location to teach this education, but for their ability and support in offering a new curriculum,” Lewis said.