Licensed barefoot specialist ‘lamed horse’

  • An equine podiatrist and licensed barefoot instructor has been convicted of illegal farriery after he applied “equine wraps” to a cob’s hooves.

    Thomas Bowyer of Llansantffraid, Powys, denied he had caused injury to the horse, but pleaded guilty to two charges of unlawful farriery at Welshpool Magistrates Court on 3 September.

    The prosecution was brought by the Farriers Registration Council (FRC). It claimed the wraps – resin-impregnated bandages that are applied wet and dry to form a hard shell – lamed the horse.

    On 1 November 2011, Bowyer applied wraps to the front hooves of part-bred Welsh cob Ronnie, who belongs to Susan Stafford-Tolley, of Brecon.

    On 13 November, a vet found Ronnie was lame on his near fore. Ronnie had bruising and an abscess was forming, caused, the vet said, by a loose screw between the sole and wrap.

    Bowyer replaced both wraps on 8 December. But nine days later the horse was lame again, due to pressure from the wrap said the vet.

    It is illegal for anyone other than a registered farrier, trainee or vet to shoe a horse.

    The FRC contended that the wraps amounted to shoes, “as they were intended to protect the hooves by providing a solid structure between the hoof and the ground”.

    Bowyer is a licensed instructor of the Institute of Applied Equine Podiatry and holder of the body’s diploma.

    He said: “There is no legal definition of what constitutes a ‘shoe’ and the suggested definition by the FRC is very contestable.

    I did not consider my actions to be farriery, but, I had neither sufficient funding nor time to argue the case properly and so chose to plead guilty. It is my sincere hope that the Farriers’ Act is improved to more accurately reflect the hoof care industry as it is today.”

    Mrs Stafford-Tolley did not wish to comment – although her testimonial to Bowyer’s skills is featured on his website.

    Bowyer was fined £900, with £1,000 costs.

    This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (27 September 2012)

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