The DIfHO® – Hoof Orthopedic Treatment

The main task of hoof orthopedic treatment is to provide the best possible healing solution for sick hooves within an appropriate time. Orthopedic treatment is generally considered as the development of treatment options for pre-existing or degenerative defective conditions, which cause severe problems in the horse’s biomechanical system and affect the ability to move properly.

Accordingly, horse’s hooves are regarded as part of the equine’s movement system. The hoof orthopedist not only considers the physical forces which constantly affect the hoof during movement as a problem, but also uses them as a method of treatment. This is the reason why this approach can be regarded as “hoof physics”. The main difference between hoof orthopedics by Jochen Biernat and conventional hoof treatment is the avoidance of radical hoof wall cutting.

Through continuous manipulation of the hoof’s natural biomechanics, a hoof orthopedist is able to reverse the process of hoof impairment. Thus the horn can develop in a positive way and its physical state will improve. In order to transform the hoof back into its original shape the hoof orthopedist uses the same physical forces and laws which initially negatively affected the hoof. Visible results and improvements of the hoof condition can usually be achieved within a short time frame, something that desperate horse owners previously had not expected. This method of orthopedic treatment is more like supportive conditioning. After manipulating the hoof horn into the correct position by utilizing physical laws the horse has to take over and do the actual “work” by walking the hooves into the right shape. It is a process which requires daily exercises. This is one of the reasons why the treatment has to be carried out within short time intervals. The horse’s owner needs to be involved in the healing process, for instance by providing detailed information concerning the horse’s current condition through observation or by restricting training.

If you also are interested in becoming a certified DIfHO hoof orthopedist, it is not imperative that you meet pre-determined admission requirements. However experience with horses and interest in the well-being and welfare of animals, as well as interest in veterinarian sciences and basic knowledge of medical procedures can be an advantage.

The DIfHO (German Institute of Hoof Orthopedics) is the association of hoof orthopedists created by founder Jochen Biernat. The hoof orthopedist program as offered by the DIfHO consists of 272 hours or 38 days, which will take place within a time period of two years. These 38 days are split into 15 days of practical work with horses, supervised by instructors, and 23 days of theory. Not included is additional time for self-study as well as preparation and personal follow-up training. An intermediate examination, assessing practical skills and theoretical knowledge, will be conducted after one year of education.

The successful passing of the subsequent final examination authorizes the advanced hoof orthopedist to work independently on horses. The admission for the final examination requires a report portfolio with documented hoof case studies.