The DIfHO® – Purpose

The Purpose of Hoof Orthopedics by Jochen Biernat

The principle goals of hoof orthopedics are: the healing of unphysiological conditions, early prevention and maintenance required to achieve the best possible condition of the hoof.
Healthy hooves are the foundation for the essential health of a horse’s extremities and the musculoskeletal system, this is achieved through regular trimming, and the frequency of trimming is subsequently determined by the condition of the individual horse’s hooves.

If the underlying hoof structure is unstable, diseased, it will have a negative impact on the overall health of the horse.

In order for hoof diseases and infections to be addressed and treated effectively it is critical that hooves must first be trimmed in such a way that the best possible condition (state) is established.

In order to achieve the best possible condition it is required that a hoof orthopedist have a detailed knowledge of equine anatomy and the ability to understand the causes of change in the hoof’s natural condition and how to correctly implement hoof orthopedic trimming.
Educating hoof orthopedists in these skills and keeping them up to date in continuing requisite seminars is the main focus at DIfHO© (German Institute of Hoof Orthopedics).
This dedication to continuing education and advanced training is an assuring guarantee for the horse owner that DIfHO hoof orthopedists constantly keep up to date and broaden their knowledge. All DIfHO hoof orthopedists have direct access to the teachers at DIfHO© after their initial training.

Orthopedics is the branch of medicine that addresses the correction or prevention of deformities, disorders, or injuries of the skeleton and associated structures. This includes the horse’s hooves as part of the musculoskeletal system.

A hoof orthopedist carefully examines and works within the natural mechanics and physics of the horse’s musculoskeletal system, fundamentally hoof orthopedics can be appropriately called “applied hoof physics”.

The unique difference between hoof orthopedics by DIfHO© founder Jochen Biernat and what separates this method from other common styles is that the hoof trimming is the prevention and the treatment of the causes which lead to undesirable changes in the hoof.

This is not done by forceful measures like radical trimming of certain parts of the hoof wall because this can essentially harm the joints above the hoof, among other things (although there are rare cases where an exception has to be made).

There is no ideal generalized image of a hoof that is aimed for.

The objective is to achieve the best possible condition for the each individual hoof and its present state. The physiological condition of the individual horse, its genetic predispositions and any diseases are all taken into consideration during the process.

A DIfHO© orthopedist does not try to repair the undesired development of the hoof or cover up any symptoms; instead the negative forces which have shaped the hoof are reversed through continuous and precision work on the hoof. The only material needed is the hoof horn itself, corrected physiological development will start immediately when the new horn material is produced.

Since hoof orthopedists use the same exact forces which have previously deformed the hoof, the corrective trimming is done in rather short intervals and produces never before seen and truly amazing results.

Treatment intervals of 4 weeks have proven to be best. Diseased or highly deformed hooves may need shorter intervals in the beginning. The individual situation of the hoof determines the frequency of hoof trimming.

The horse’s owner may be included in helping with the healing process. Good collaboration consistent and careful implementation of the recommended measures, especially letting the horse rest sufficiently, play a substantial role in the success of treatment.

In more severe cases in which even clinical care might be necessary, it is important that the treatment process must be kept tolerable for the horse, considering the treatment itself as well as the time it takes. Other aspects such as but not limited to the use of the horse for riding must be considered secondary to the healing process in such cases.

Naturally, animal health and well-being must always be the first priority.