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A visit with Bob Solman

Published: 3/10/2011
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By Maddy Butcher Gray

There’s a lot of lameness out there. Owners can be confounded. Farriers and vets can often help. And once in an unfortunate while, a bad farrier can do harm. (That’s what happened to me before I found Greg Burns.)

Enter Bob Solman and his ‘Help for Horses’ enterprise. I met Bob over a horse with hoof issues. He might be the first proselytizer I’ve ever liked. I think that's because he backs up his fervor with evidence and action.

Solman is a protégé of Gene Ovnicek, the pioneer of Natural Balance hoof theory. For decades, Ovnicek has studied hoof form and function. He speaks and teaches around the world and contributes prominently to Hope For Soundness and the Equine Lameness Prevention Organization.

Solman approaches each horse with a program of investigation. Last week when we met, he mapped the mare's hooves for balance, front to back, side to side. He used the seven-step hoof trimming protocol piloted by Ovnicek and the ELPO.
After he examined the horse, we went into his trailer. It’s a big rig filled with diagrams, skeletal displays and lots of teaching tools. For slow learners like me, all these aids helped immensely to understand and visualize what’s going on with horse’s feet, beneath the surface.
Next, we returned to the barn and Solman tested the hooves with his Cross Tester. The diagnostic tool is a bit like a boot. It has a plastic bottom and attaches over the hoof with Velcro. There is a plastic wedge on its base that can swivel 360 degrees.
By maneuvering the wedge from front to back and side to side, one can observe the comfort level of the horse. As she stands on the tilted wedge, she may or may not want to pick up the opposite foot. She may resist bearing weight on the hoof with the Cross Tester, depending on its angle.
In the case of this horse, we discovered her barefoot trim was acceptable, but Solman told me plastic clogs might be used to alleviate some arthritic and navicular pain.

View Reader Comments:

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3/10/2011 sonia
I started using Bob this Spring, he gave a clinic at our farm in early January. The interest level was high, 25 people came! He explains everything and does a very thorough job, plus he is very generous about sharing his knowledge with your regular farrier.
3/11/2011 Patti
I went to Sonia's clinic and was really impressed with Bob and natural balance. Ericka, a natural balance farrier did a natural balance trim on both of my horses. I was impressed with the precision of the trim. I'm looking forward to riding again to see if there is a difference in their movement. Can't wait to ride again!
3/23/2011 Janelle
Until Bob I was spending hundreds of dollars each MONTH on pain relief and joint supplements to try to get my horses comfortable. Lots of farriers say they know how to do Natural Balance but now that I know what they don't nobody touches my horses unless they know how to do Natural Balance. Thanks for the valuable education, Bob. He should be cloned!
3/24/2011 Rider
And yet again we have proof that P.T. Barnum was right.

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    "There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man." - Winston Churchill