Under the Horse with Pete Ramey is a comprehensive 16-hour instructional 10-DVD set by a natural hoof care specialist, clinician, and author of the book Making Natural Hoof Care Work for You reviewed in Winter 2006 and available from Rural Heritage. This program covers the same material Pete teaches in the dozens of often sold-out two-day 20-hour clinics he holds in the United States and Canada throughout the year demonstrating his natural hoof care techniques.


Pete began trimming and shoeing horses as a conventional farrier in 1994, but migrated to natural barefoot hoof care in 1998. Five years later he had become one of the nation’s leading, largely self-taught experts in the field of natural hoof care. His book is considered one of the best manuals on the subject. In the four years since writing his book, Pete has expanded and refined his theories on how we can enhance a horse’s natural ability to grow and maintain a healthy foot.


To underscore his reluctance to convert from conventional to natural hoof care, Pete talks about how much he enjoyed shoeing horses and how sorry he was to never do it again. But after practicing natural shoeless hoof care for many months, he was unable to deny its success. He didn’t set out to never nail on another shoe, he says. In fact, he left his anvil in his farrier truck for seven years after nailing on what turned out to be his last shoe, in case he some day needed to shape another shoe. “I didn’t want to sacrifice the horse’s health for my ideals,” he explains, but he found he didn’t need to.
In his introduction Pete describes one of the underpinnings of natural hoof care: The study of the hoof structure of wild horses. He explains how he spent three days following 60 wild horses over rugged terrain to get a better understanding of how they travel and how their hooves wear. None showed signs of lameness or muscle soreness, but instead moved with the freedom and mobility of a foal, gliding over the land as if their feet never touched the ground. That kind of natural, effortless action is the ultimate goal of the hoof care regimen he details in his 10-DVD program.
The first six discs are presented in a classroom lecture format with Pete discussing in detail the specific components making up the anatomy of a hoof and how they are used when a horse travels over a variety of terrain. The first disc shows footage of wild horses and photos of dissected hooves from wild horse cadavers. He explains how the wild horses’ hooves grow and are worn, maintaining a healthy shape through natural wear.
Also in the first disc Pete introduces the use of the hoof boot to protect hooves under special terrain circumstances or when a hoof needs rehabilitation. He provides a quick overview of how the hoof boot evolved and some of his favorite techniques for using one. He explains how every hoof is unique and introduces the concept of reading hooves.


The second disc begins an examination of specific hoof components, covering the sole (thickness, terrain and seasonal variables, why proper sole maintenance and treatment is important, and how to discern the internal structure of the foot through the sole using the collateral groove), the frog (how it functions, the best way to maintain it through prudent trimming, and troubleshooting frog problems), and hoof bars (their function, maintenance, trimming, and troubleshooting problems). When Pete started out shoeing horses he, like many farriers routinely do, would pare down the frog when trimming, but he has learned that a frog left largely alone will establish a stronger, more calloused flesh that maintains its size through natural wear.


“When you cut something off and it pops back a few weeks later, it should tell you something,” Pete says. “That horse is using a lot of extra energy to grow it back and there must be a reason for that.” Excessive trimming of the frog is also responsible for thrush infections and for an inability to easily clear up sites of thrush.


Discs 3 and 4 continue with more classroom-style instruction about heel heights (probably the most critical of trimming subjects) and how your goal should be to accommodate impact mechanics and not standing mechanics; hoof walls (their function and maintenance, and how to grow a well-connected healthy hoof wall; foot development and its direct relationship to most hoof problems like laminitis, navicular disease, and hoof sensitivity; how a sensitive hoof alters a horse’s style of walking, often worsening the hoof and ultimately the rest of the joint structure and spine.
Discs 5 and 6 are almost entirely devoted to discussing laminitis treatment and prevention. Laminitis is one of Pete’s specialties and among the most difficult problems for horse owners and farriers to handle successfully.


The remaining four discs leave the classroom and show Pete trimming and booting a variety of horses on client visits and at clinics. Some of the footage was shot by amateur camera operators and is a little rough, but effectively shows a wide variety of hoof problems and how Pete uses the considerations and techniques he discussed in the classroom to cope with each unique situation. The final disc has Pete on an emergency call from a local vet to treat a horse with chronic laminitis in all four feet, then shows how the horse progresses over the next 20 weeks during each maintenance trim.
Throughout this series Pete maintains a light instructional tone, using direct language to deliver clear and precise instructions. He is obviously a master of the subject, yet maintains a modest style, repeatedly reminding us he is always learning, most often by listening to other hoof care professionals and by paying attention to the horses themselves. Some clinicians who are engaging and personable before a live audience can appear uncomfortable and awkward when performing alone before a camera. Pete is at ease and casual—neither unrehearsed nor overly staged. A large variety of clear and descriptive photos, drawings, and exhibits make his classroom sessions less tedious than they might otherwise be.


Pete’s initial clinics were one-day affairs, but he never had enough time to get through the material. His two-day sessions are now 20 hours long. Even so, he often hears the same regret from his students: It is too much information too fast and therefore impossible to absorb. These discs let you learn the same material over a longer period with more breaks and the opportunity to repeat segments to ensure understanding. Priced at $250, the 16-hour program costs the same as attending one of Pete’s clinics. Samples may be reviewed on YouTube (youtube.com/watch?v=7VcMU6vx_z4).
This program is intended for both hoof care professionals and horse owners who are serious about their horses’ feet—and we all should be, for so much depends on hoof health. Whether or not you subscribe to natural shoeless hoof care, you will benefit from spending time with Pete Ramey as he explains how horses can grow healthier hooves.
Joe Mischka

Rural Heritage

PO Box 2067, Cedar Rapids IA 52406

5995 Berry Rd SE, Cedar Rapids IA 52403

Since 1980 we have been publishing a wide variety of materials about draft horses, driving horses, mules, donkeys and other aspects of America's rich rural heritage.