Interview with Theodore Janssen
Q: How did you start out with horses and what led you to become a barefoot trimmer?
A: I’ve been an animal lover since I was a small boy. I used to watch the farriers working on our horses. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to be trained in the art of shoeing by a family of 4 Farriers (3rd generation Farriers). During the years I spent with them, I gained invaluable knowledge.
I have a very analytical mind and I always need to understand how things work. My fascination with the foot of a horse and how it functions has driven my quest for knowledge on the subject. There is still so much to be learned and understood about the foot. As technology advances, theories change about how the foot functions and works. Shoeing, for a tall person like myself can be physically taxing and I therefore found trimming to be much easier on my body.
Barefoot trimming is extremely rewarding as one sees so many structural changes in a surprisingly short period of time. Especially with deformed and neglected feet, or feet with pathologies. It is evident how the foot wants to heal itself when given the right stimulus. My obsession with the functions and anatomy of the feet has brought me to a point where I concluded that barefoot is the way forward.
Q: We have been told that Pete Ramey has had a major influence on your work. Please tell us a bit more about the man and how he has influenced you.
A: Yes, Pete was able to provide answers that made sense to many of my questions with regards to the workings of the foot and how to accurately identify the placement of the internal structures by using the outside foot structures. He is one of the major role players in the barefoot industry. He is based in America and he has a wealth of knowledge and experience. His approach and understanding of the foot is really very good.
Q: Currently you are studying KC La Pierre’s work, what are you learning from him that is having an impact on your work?
A: KC La Pierre is another one of the industry’s leaders in barefoot farriery and he heads the school of Applied Equine Podiatry. His work is on a different level in that it focuses a lot more on the inner workings of the foot, structures and function. His foot balancing technique has a few more dimensions than the normal trimming teachings which even encompasses the neurological effects of trimming. His motto is Structure + Function = Performance, which makes a lot of sense once you study his material.
Q: Finally, why, in your opinion, barefoot vs shod?
A: Barefoot horses’ feet are much healthier and their structures function like nature intended. It allows me to be proactive in prevention of serious unsoundness issues by reading the foot and any abnormal wear is investigated immediately. How the foot wears tells one exactly how the horse is moving and using it’s body.
I can really see healthy structures in the feet that I work on. I incorporate structural health in guiding me regarding where and what to trim. Some horses do need protection when being worked; domestication and breeding have negatively affected our equines feet. If the horse requires protection there are various options i.e., Hoof boots, glue on boots/shoes or shoes. I believe all horses should be paddock sound when barefoot.
Sometimes just changing a horse’s environment or diet is enough to allow them to be 100% sound for their intended use. There are a lot of horses that I believe can go barefoot that are currently in shoes. Horses with bad foot conformation more often than not need protection. The reality is that most people opt for shoes as it’s easier. In my opinion there is still a need for further research in dealing with barefoot horses and keeping them barefoot when treating injuries and foot pathologies. I have successfully developed various remedial trimming techniques for various foot pathologies. I incorporate what I have learnt from remedial shoeing and shoe mechanics and apply it to my trimming protocols. Quick and positive improvements have been observed in most of the rehab cases that I have been involved with. The added bonus is that trimming horses allows me to travel to different parts of the country and continent. I travel on a monthly basis between Gauteng and the Western Cape and also a few times a year I travel into Africa.
Q: If anyone is interested in your services, how can they get in touch with you?
A: My cell # 0832128993 or can message me through my FB page https://www.facebook.com/theodorejanssen