Welcome to the Institute for the Study of Natural Horse Care Practices, which was created to house the natural hoof care education & training program previously conducted by the Association for the Advancement of Natural Horse Care Practices (AANHCP). Please see the "NHC Training" page for dates, costs, etc.
The health of a horse shows up in its hooves. This is an indisputable truth that is not widely understood. Students completing the Natural Hoof/Horse Care professional training with the ISNHCP will be provided the foundational education, skills and competency to determine how best to help any horse in any situation. Students will learn to recognize not only the signs of health or disease that show up in the hoof but also how to facilitate wellness and healing in every horse and any hoof through the application of proven practices and principles based upon the research and findings by Jaime Jackson on the healthy, fit and sound wild, free-roaming horses living in the U.S. Great Basin.
NHC is both a new and fairly complex topic. It is nature, art, engineering and science battling hundreds of years of deleterious traditions and practices!
Cause No Harm. Respect the Healing Powers of Nature.
I S N H C P
Institute for the Study of Natural Horse Care Practices
P.O. Box 1432
Lompoc, CA 93438
What sets us apart from other hoof care training schools and programs?
At the core of the ISNHCP training program is the culmination of the data, findings and observations that originally appeared in Jaime Jackson's landmark 1992 book, The Natural Horse: Lessons from the Wild (Northland Publishing). The ISNHCP curriculum is a result of Jackson's nearly four decades of research of the horse and the living, biodynamic organism - the hoof - along with the rather limited but most current credible science from other researchers in the field. Other schools are quick to state that their 'barefoot methods' are still in the experimental stage. Our method is based upon the 55 million years that it took nature to perfect the foot of the horse.
Jaime Jackson is one of only two hoof care professionals ever to conduct a scientific study of the wild horse hoof in its naturally adaptative habitat. During the years he conducted his research in Nevada's wild horse country, he simultaneously continued his practice as a farrier in California on a clientele of more than 600 horses. For nearly a decade, Jackson had the near perfect research laboratory - a controlled environment with a large, stable population of domestic specimens - to develop a trimming method that revealed itself, over time, through the laws of nature and physics, simply by applying various natural wear characteristics that he had discovered on every single wild horse hoof that he examined.
Again and again, he found that natural growth patterns would consistently emerge in the hooves of domestic horses just by simulating these natural wear patterns. Soon, the "Principle of Biodynamic Hoof Balance" was born. There was a systematic response from nature with the emergence of natural growth patterns consistently developing more naturally shaped hooves when we apply these natural wear patterns, (size, angle, proportion -- as studied and quantified in the wild), which, in turn supports more natural movement.. The naturally shaped hooves facilitate the natural gaits which generate natural weight bearing forces that further shape the hoof and reinforce the natural trimming method of mimicking the natural wear patterns.. The result is a repeating and reinforcing cycle of form and function that contribute to this equilibrium called biodynamic hoof balance -- a natural integration of locomotive forces, the animal's unique conformation and temperament with the environment. The beauty of this discovery is that the natural trim method can be taught and consistently replicated 100 percent of the time when applied accurately and in conjunction with the other pillars of NHC.
On a practical level, students in the ISNHCP NHC Training Program will learn what characteristics make up the natural wear patterns of the hooves of our Great Basin model and how to mimic / simulate these natural wear patterns on any hoof the student encounters. Students will trim only on cadaver hooves until they are deemed ready to progress to using their knowledge & skills on live horses. The education & training is taught through a series of materials, lectures, presentations as well as practical applications. Students can expect to learn how to effectively, safely and efficiently use their tools and equipment, and how to manage the horse and safely move around them in the safest way possible during their trimming sessions.
ISNHCP students are provided with a learning model called sequencing to learn the practical application of the 'best of the best' tools of the trade. By combining the intellectual understanding of the biology of the equine species with safe handling techniques, students will learn how to move efficiently around the horse, how to properly balance the horse and how to effectively & safely wield their tools in order complete the trimming in the best possible manner.
Students will also learn necessary related skills such as how to safely and quickly remove shoes. We don't believe it is possible - or even humane - to attempt to "correct" a horse's natural conformation - through trimming a hoof. So there will be no 'corrective trimming techniques' taught; nor will students spend months learning to forge, bend, fabricate or apply steel shoes. Other natural management practices critical to the success of the natural trim will also be explored and discussed, such as a 'reasonably natural diet,' natural horsemanship and natural boarding (such as the concept of Paddock Paradise).
Thus, the primary focus is teaching the student how to safely, humanely and naturally trim any and all hooves integrated with an understanding of the important application of naturalizing the diet and management of the horse (NHC) in order to 'grow' a healthy foot.
The end result is that the students are ready to go to work in a rapidly growing field where there is a far greater demand for services than there are competent practitoners. Given that Jaime Jackson is the original source of NHC, horseowners can be confident that the NHC practitioners coming through the ISNHCP and posted on the AANHCP website are competent, credible and will not cause harm.
Houston...We don't have a problem!
Above, Jaime Jackson and AANHCP CP Eddie Drabek (El Campo, TX) are pictured with members of the Houston Police Department's Mounted Patrol Unit - the second largest in the U.S. - where all 38 horses in the unit are now barefoot! Pictured from left are Officer Scott Berry (AANHCP-trained), Jaime, Eddie Drabek, Sr. Officer Greg Sokoloski, Officer Danny Pryor (AANHCP trained) and Lt. Randall Wallace, who is in charge of the entire unit and was ultimately responsible for allowing Officer Sokoloski to implement the removal of shoes and incorporate other natural horse care practices beginning in 2004 after years of lameness issues and high vet bills had plagued the department. By 2008, all horses had transitioned to barefoot with about half wearing boots while working and ALL horses are now sound!
The vital mission of both
the ISNHCP and AANHCP is to advance the humane care and management of domestic equines worldwide through the applications of proven practices and principles
based on the research and findings by Jaime Jackson of the wild, free-roaming equines of the
U.S. Great Basin.
Thus, the ISNHCP was created to effectively share a life's work of researching, deciphering and applying numerous laws of nature and physics that are cross referenced with those precise measurements and data ranges collected on several thousand hooves during Jackson's groundbreaking four-year study of the wild and free-roaming Great Basin mustangs (1982-1986). There is no other truly 'natural' trim method except for the forces of nature on the hooves of wild, free-roaming horses in a suitable habitat.
What can ISNHCP Students Expect to Learn?
Our goal is to share the results of Jaime Jackson's research, studies and understanding to prepare you for a career as a competent, professional Natural Hoof Care practitioner.
Natural Hoof/Horse Care (NHC) encompasses more than just the natural trim. NHC is a fairly new area of study and, paradoxically, is both relatively simple and fairly complex at once. It is an effort for nature, art and science to battle numerous deleterious traditions and practices in the horse world in order to bring optimal health - physical, mental and emotional - to our equine friends around the globe.
The Natural Trim - the 'official' humane, barefoot trim method adopted by the AANHCP and first published in the Official Trimming Guidelines of the AANHCP is just one dimension of natural hoof care based upon its model - the wild, free-roaming horses of the U.S. Great Basin. The natural trim facilitates the unique individual growth patterns of each horse without causing harm or obstructing the natural gaits. When combined with a reasonably natural diet, plenty of movement, lack of confinement and living within a herd, the trimming guidelines enable NHC practitioners to encourage growth that "reproduces" the exemplary hooves of the wild horse, providing the template and foundation for natural hoof care.
Ultimately, students will come to realize that it is the forces of nature that shapes the hoof. From herd dynamics to rocky terrain as well as the healthy benefits derived from the symbiotic predator / prey relationships, we emulate the hooves of these horses because they are the product of nature - and the picture perfect vision of health, soundness and fitness.
What is 'Natural Hoof Care' and is it the Same as the 'Natural Trim'?
It was originally organized with the primary objective of providing systemized hoof care training based on the wild horse foot. In 2004, the AANHCP received its IRS designation as a not-for-profit organization, tax exempt under Section 501(c)3 of the IRS Code, and was initially incorporated in the State of Arkansas. However, by 2007, it was widely recognized that the principles of the AANHCP were more about the entire horse than just the “hoof.” In fact, it was and is about every facet of the horse's life. It was also evident from the beginning that both membership and support for the AANHCP was increasingly international. The decision was then made to change the name of the organization to “Association for the Advancement of Natural Horse Care Practices”, retaining the same acronym, “AANHCP”. The association was re-incorporated in the State of California in 2008 under the new name.
In 2009, the Board of Directors were advised to separate the formal training and education program from the AANHCP and thus, the Institute for the Study of Natural Horse Care Practices was born. In addition to the curriculum of the natural hoof care training program getting a complete 'overhaul' in order to create a teaching model that can eventually be taught by others, we restructured the way the training is conducted. Instead of having large classrooms with little interaction between student and teacher, the training camps are designed to be taught to a small group that allows for consistent one-on-one communication. Students are given daily quizzes on the reading, viewing and lecture materials and all test questions are discussed thoroughly to eliminate the possibility of confusion or misunderstandings.
The training program continues to be run by original AANHCP co-founder, Executive Director of Operations, Jaime Jackson, along with AANHCP Director of Operations, Jill Willis. The AANHCP will continue to be the certifying body of those students completing the natural hoof care training program through the ISNHCP. For further information, please go to www.aanhcp.net.
The ISNHCP has its earliest roots in the late 1970s when AANHCP co-founder, Jaime Jackson, then a farrier, along with personal friend and fellow shoer, Les Emery (author, Horseshoeing Theory and Hoof Care), envisioned a similar organization, also based on the wild horse, which they called the “American Academy of Equestrian Arts”¹. A proposal was drawn up and taken to many equestrian experts throughout the U.S. and abroad for opinions and support. The latter never materialized, but both men, ahead of their times, realized then the need for a systemized approach to natural horsemanship, horse keeping, and hoof care.
A trend towards general acceptance of “natural is best” for the horse came about after Jackson’s groundbreaking work, The Natural Horse — Lessons From the Wild was first published in 1992. By then, he had already been teaching a new generation of natural hoof care practitioners -- many of them horse owners who could not get their farriers to give their horses a “natural trim.” Today, it is generally recognized by NHC advocates that lameness issues are typically a result of, or complicated by, shoeing and unnatural management practices. This has provided the main impetus for the skyrocketing interest in barefoot horses.
Under Jaime Jackson’s leadership and with planning and technical assistance from the Northwest Arkansas Resource Conservation and Development Council, the “American Association of Natural Hoof Care Practitioners” (AANHCP) was formally organized in 2002.
For specifics on the training program, please see the 'NHC Training' link on menu for detailed information on structure, class dates & times. A link to the application to enroll in the natural hoof care training program can also be found on the NHC Training page.
Cause No Harm. Respect the Healing Powers of Nature.
Professional Natural Hoof or Horse Care Practitioner Education & Training Program