Meander Valley Gazette

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Only the proprietors wear shoes

RuralJoanne EisemannComment

APRIL 2018 | Lorraine Clarke

“NO FOOT, no horse” is an old proverb heard less frequently now than when all transport depended on our equine servants. But for those involved in sport or pleasure riding, it rings just as true today.

Jeremy Ford and Jen Clingly have a passion that extends beyond endurance riding and retraining difficult horses. 15 years ago they began their successful business, Wild About Hooves.

Rather than shoeing horses with iron or aluminium shoes, they use barefoot trimming techniques, and the latest designs of synthetic hoof boots, both for lengthy trail riding and rehabilitation of damaged and diseased hooves. The philosophy of barefoot trimming is “Do no harm”. It is non-invasive, with the horse’s comfort and welfare paramount.

One of the horse boots they recommend is the “Scoot Boot,” invented by Tasmanian Dave MacDonald, who formerly manufactured “Old Mac’s” boots.

There’s a whole lot of four-legged love at their tree-rimmed farm, The Gem, just outside Deloraine. Visitors are announced by the braying of watch-donkeys Gloria and Betty, then greeted by diminutive Daisy the West Highland White Terrier, and statuesque staghound Mr Wendell. 18 horses, mostly Arabs, appear when called.

Jeremy and Jen have now transitioned from their hoof trimming business, expanding into tourism and education, but horses remain the centre of it all. They have been taking international visitors on 5-day guided Tassie Tiger Trail rides through Tasmanian National Parks, and are now venturing further afield.

In 2017, they led a group of Australians through Mongolia for 3 ½ weeks, riding the native horses there over terrain that few people are fortunate enough to experience. “They’re amazing, tough little horses,” said Jeremy.

This year, they have trucked 8 horses to South Australia, where seven 5-day Barossa Valley Grape Horse Adventure riding tours sold out within 10 days. 3-day Wild Horse Outback tours are offered in the Northern Territory. Jen and Jeremy also run Australia-wide DIY hoofcare workshops.

However, their local barefoot trimming clients are not being abandoned. The business has been handed over to Jeremy and Jen’s sons, Milton Ford and Danny Del Vecchio, who have grown up around horses, and recently completed intensive training in Perth, W.A. “It’s great to know that the business is in such capable hands,” Jen & Jeremy said.

The boys are available for everything from regular hoof maintenance, hoofcare advice, boot fitting and glue-on shoe services to rehabilitation of pathological conditions. Dan works with vets, using X-Ray diagnosis when treating injuries and laminitis. “They’re a peaceful creature to work around,” he said. “At first it’s daunting to pick up their foot, but when you learn to read them, it’s a beautiful part of the job.”

The guys demonstrated their barefoot trimming techniques on several willing volunteers. “It takes 20 to 30 minutes for a trim, depending on how bad the feet are,” said Milton. He will soon be travelling north for a while, where he has work lined up with practitioners from northern NSW to Cairns.

Clients can reach Danny Del Vecchio on 0488 098 948, and Milton Ford on 0499 151 570.

Photo | Mike Moores