Who are you and what do you look like? ...oh, and why become an EP?

Mark Bailey

Me and The Lad.

About Me

I was not brought up around horses.

Being a hyperactive child I was only calmed down when tasks of sufficient complexity would make me focus, so from an early age I naturally gravitated towards computers. In an attempt to save their own sanity, my parents bought home from work an old RM Nimbus and i started copying game code from a programming book in a language called BASIC.

From then on, i have been involved with programming, taking GCSE's, A-Levels, a degree in Applied Psychology & Computer Science, and a post-graduate diploma in Software Engineering. I have worked as a programmer for the past 12 years, getting really good at it, but something wasn't right.

When I was around 22, my partner and I used to cycle around heaths and forests, and one day found a marsh with feral ponies on it. We went back every day, and so my introduction to horses began.

Looking after other peoples horses for years had its ups and downs, so we bought our horses knowing they would be with us for their lifetime.

And then came Melado.

What i thought i knew about horses, Melado showed me was relatively minor. To say he had some issues is an understatement. As an example; when i had done enough groundwork with him to start walking him out, people in the village would see him coming down the street and walk the other way. I had been in nursery all this time, and here, now, was my professor. He has taught me a huge amount in terms of relationships and communication, but most relevantly, about feet.

He was shod, and was also intermittently lame. Remedial shoeing made no difference. So i started learning about horses feet, footcare, farriery etc.

I spent time with local farriers, enrolled to get my forging certificate from Kingston Maurward and aimed to start training as a farrier.

But still, something wasn't right. If shoes were the best way of looking after a horses feet, why were mine so weak? So incapacitated without them? So strange looking? Why do they need shoes at all?

It was then that i was pointed in the direction of barefoot hoofcare. I took his shoes off, and within weeks, he was sounder. He progressed, but still had poor feet.

Knowing that i wanted to work with horses and their feet, I realised i needed to educate myself with a proper understanding of the anatomy of an equines foot, and how to make it healthy.

And here i am.

Not coming from a horsey background, I am able to sidestep and question a lot of the conventions that seem to be associated with modern horse keeping.

A lot of what seems to be true, is actually no more than habit. For me, shoeing horses and traditional horse husbandry are examples of this.

Why Inside-Out?

Simply put, because health comes from the inside.

  • A healthy foot needs healthy nutrition (and most importantly a healthy gut). Inside.
  • A healthy foot needs to belong to a horse with a healthy immune system, metabolism, lymphatic system, renal system etc. Inside.
  • A healthy foot needs to have healthy internal structures. These are influenced by (and define) the external shape of the foot, but understanding anatomy allows the external shell to be manipulated into encouraging healthy internal structures. Inside.
  • Physiology and movement also defines they way the foot is used, and therefore shaped. Muscles, tendons, ligaments etc. are inside the horse.

Furthemore, a hoof that may look pretty externally, may be internally very weak. It is not about cosmetic appearance, or what you can brush on to the outside of a hoof that improves it's strength. By understanding the influences on a foot, you can modify them so that as the health of the horse improves, so does the internal strength of the foot. What you see on the outside is a representation of the inside. To improve the external, you need to improve the internal.

So a healthy hoof is made from the inside-out.