Vet school farrier promotes science-based approach to hoof care

Shane Westman at work at the UC Davis Center for Equine Health. © UC Davis

A farrier from UC Davis Veterinary Hospital has completed a Graduate Diploma in Equine Locomotor Research (GradDip ELR) by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), London.

Shane Westman is only the second farrier in the western United States to boast this title, the other being Tim Shannon.

Westman completed the program in three years while overcoming complications caused by the Covid-19 pandemic which interrupted class schedules and limited travel.

Farriery has always been rooted in practice-based approaches, often largely reliant on visual observations and anecdotal evidence, but there is a movement to bring more data-based science to the art of hoof care. horses, and Westman is a big proponent of that.

The RVC course provides participants with scientific and academic skills to produce original research at the highest professional level. Topics range from academic writing and communication skills to data processing and analysis.

Westman said her goal is to use her new skills to help her in her day-to-day college practice. “Combining these objective approaches with state-of-the-art equipment at a state-of-the-art facility like the UC Davis Veterinary Hospital could help expand the knowledge base of what we do as farriers.”

The final module of the course asks participants to undertake an original research project. Westman’s study, “Effect of a fiberglass and methyl methacrylate sun shoe casting technique on the stabilization of type III distal phalanx fractures”, investigated a shoe casting technique for stabilizing the coffin bone fractures. This new approach is a technique he learned from a fellow farrier specializing in racehorses.

UC Davis Veterinary Hospital farrier Shane Westman with a Center for Equine Health teaching herd horse.
UC Davis Veterinary Hospital farrier Shane Westman with a horse from the Center for Equine Health teaching herd. © UC Davis

Westman said it has been used successfully in the clinic, but the purpose of his study was to collect data to determine if the glue and fiberglass material that is bonded to the sole of the hoof and the wall of the hoof (not just wrapped around the hoof) stabilized the bone in the hoof capsule. He plans to submit his findings to the journal veterinary surgery.

To carry out this research, Westman worked closely with UC Davis equine surgery residents, Drs. Tom Cullen, Thomas Bergstrom and Lisa Edwards, under the direction of research engineer Tanya Garcia-Nolen, under the mentorship of Dr. Susan Stover, director of the JD Wheat Veterinary Orthopedic Research Laboratory.

The knowledge Westman gains through this program will enable UC Davis veterinary students, residents, faculty, and patients to access advanced approaches to clinical care.

“I want to use this new knowledge and the tools and resources I have at college to expand the knowledge base of what we do as farriers,” Westman said. “I really enjoy helping students, residents, and faculty with ideas for research and implementation, and look forward to being a more valuable contributor to the team.”

the UC Davis Farrier Shop at the hospital’s Large Animal Clinic (LAC) is integral to providing high-level diagnostics and state-of-the-art therapeutic services to UC Davis clients.

BAC director Dr. Bret McNabb praised Westman’s passion for therapeutic farriery. “We are fortunate to have someone on our team whose interests and dedication to equine podiatry serve our clients in providing world-class care for their horses while providing unique educational opportunities for future veterinarians.”

Farrier services at UC Davis will be further integrated with equine care at UC Davis in upcoming Veterinary Medical Center Equine Performance and Rehabilitation Center. This soon-to-be-built, state-of-the-art equine medical facility at UC Davis will create the world’s most advanced center for maintaining the health and fitness of performance and leisure horses. A key feature of this center will be the incorporation of a new farrier’s shop located adjacent to clinical facilities to provide immediate access to advanced hoof care.

The UC Davis Center for Equine Health provided partial support for Westman’s training.

About Hector Hedgepeth

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