About Dr. Kate

Ph.D., Cognitive Science

I received my Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from the University of Louisiana at Lafayettein the Spring of 2007.  My area of interest is developmental cognition.  I have taught

classes at UL and LSUA in General

Psychology, Child Psychology, Adolescent Psychology, and Principals of Learning.

Dr. Kate
Natural Hoof Care, Consulting, and More

                    Contact: kate@drkate.me            (337) 230-3412mailto:kate@drkate.meshapeimage_2_link_0

Current Ventures

My focus has changed in the last few years from cognitive development to natural hoof care.  Today, I have my own hoof care practice.  I apply my knowledge of comparative cognition and my research experience to investigate equine communication, health and nutrition, and the effects of the barefoot trim.

Horses and Natural Hoof Care

Hand in hand with my great interest in developmental cognition is my love and fascination with horses: how they move, how they communicate, and their relationship with humans.  Although I have ridden and worked with horses since I was a young child, it was not until a few years ago that I became intensely involved with horse feet!

Marley Man

As a lowly graduate student in 2003, I acquired a horse.  Yes, he was one of

those horses that no one else wanted because (gasp) he obviously had

something wrong with his feet. Oh, he rode well in his shoes, but the seller informed me that he did not go well on rough terrain, and when his shoes came off (which they did very often), he was lame until  shoe was put back on.  He was so wonderfully sweet (and a great ride when he wasn’t lame!) that I couldn’t pass him up.  Don’t worry, I got him for a song :-)

(Before: June 2009- egg bar shoes and bell boots

Six years, 5 farriers, and 7 different types of shoes later, Marley still couldn’t keep a shoe on his foot and was rendered immobile with the loss of a shoe.  In desperation, I turned to my last hope-- a woman, Marie, who insisted that we remove Marley’s shoes for good and make some dietary changes.  (For the record, I was feeding Safe Choice, an otherwise healthy, dry pellet!)

Within one week, my horse was walking and trotting well in his new hoof boots

(EasyCare); within 3 months, he was barefoot and fancy free!  Today, Marley

and I are no longer inhibited by the loss of a shoe, or an abscess in his foot.  By

removing the shoes, removing excess sugars from his diet, and trimming his hooves based on the practices of Pete Ramey and other Natural Hoof Care specialists, Marley has been able to grow strong, seamless hooves and tough, calloused soles and frogs.                       

After witnessing a miraculous change in my own horse, I have devoted the last two years to learning natural hoof care and perfecting the barefoot trim.  Currently, I travel the Lafayette Louisiana area trimming for various barns, both competition and pleasure.  It is a joy every day to watch horses like Marley transform from painful, unhappy animals to frolicking beauties!

Keep in mind that by no means are these pictures of Marley’s feet representative of the “healthy” natural hoof.  Because the damage to Marley’s feet occurred over a 12 year period, the rehabilitation will take longer than the typical 9 months that it generally takes to grow a new hoof from the hairline to the ground.  Marley’s sole is still flatter than it should be at the toe, and it still has quite a bit of sole to grow-- particularly at the toe.  However, these “so far” pictures do show a healthier, stronger hoof wall, a wider, tougher frog, and the beginnings of the characteristic concavity seen in the healthiest bare hooves.  Most importantly, Marley chooses to be more active and no longer limps, even a step!  If there’s one thing a horse lover will notice, it’s the comfort in movement that emerges as the new, healthy hoof is allowed to grow.

                    September 2010                                 

August 2011: Superficial     crack after waiting 8 weeks between trims

Natural Hoof Care for All Horses

Marley’s terrible hooves may have gotten me to try the “crazy” lady’s natural approach (I honestly did not think that this hokey natural stuff would work at all), but I had another, “normal”, horse in my barn: Blondie.  Was it really necessary to change his feed and do the special hokey “mustang roll” trim on his feet?  He was already barefoot, and showed no lameness.  I certainly wasn’t going to feed two different feeds to the two horses, and I certainly wasn’t going to have two different farriers come out to the barn!  So, Blondie was also placed on the low-starch feed with the same supplements, and he too was trimmed by the “crazy” natural hoof care lady (who, by the way, has become one of my best friends, and my partner in hoof work).

Naturally, I don’t have any pictures of Blondie’s feet because, well, who takes pictures of normal feet?

The punch line is that natural hoof care may start with the lame horse in the barn, but you will see improvements in all of your horses!  The low-starch feed and added supplements eliminated Blondie’s cracks, splitting, and chipping.  His hooves became even stronger, and he was soon able to go over harder terrain thanks to his healthier feet.  But here’s the kicker: Blondie’s stride became smoother!

Because Blondie did not have any hoof “problems” or lamenesses other than typical cracking and splitting, he never needed any hoof boots.  However, the different style of trimming (and overall healthier hoof helped by diet) Did change his stride for the better!  I acquired Blondie about 3 years ago not only because he was neurotic, but because he was not an enjoyable ride.  His stride was hard and choppy, and a true workout for your knees.  Hence, I rode him as little as possible.  Within the year of starting natural hoof care, a ride on Blondie truly became a ride in the clouds! 

Why?  The trim changed his break-over point at the toe and set his heels even to each other and at a correct height.  This allowed him to land more comfortably on the back of his foot and not on his toes (yes, even the most sound horse often has some tip-toeing).  I haven’t totally cured him of his neuroticism (the flax seed does help), but the improvement in his gate has only solidified my belief in natural hoof care.

Note: I do not recommend a low-starch feed for all my horse clients!  Generally, the low-starch feed is used to treat a situation in which the entire hoof is unhealthy, the horse is lame, and the horse’s feet are in need of a drastic change.  Often, these horses are also overweight.  Now that my horses have developed much healthier feet, I have begun adding a more “normal” feed (higher starch) to their diet.  Often, merely changing to a dry pellet and adding mineral supplements to the feed is all that is required.