The Suspension Theory of Hoof Dynamics - The HPT Method™
By KC La Pierre, CF, EP
© 2001 KC La Pierre
132 Tillboro Rd.
St. Johnsville, NY 13452
12 pages, 8 1/2" x 11" spiral bound $9 US

An Introduction to the HPT (High Performance Trim) Method

With KC La Pierre, CF, EP
© 2001
The Institute of Equine Podiatry, Inc.
Wood Chuck Lane
Spencer, MA 01562
Approx 60 minutes
Approx $20

Not exactly a book, "The Suspension Theory of Hoof Dynamics - The HPT Method" is a paper, a work on the dynamics of the hoof. KC La Pierre is a relatively new enthusiastic barefoot advocate who has been a certified farrier of more than 16 years. He has been practicing equine podiatry and treating horses using barefoot methods for 5. His theories are presented in this paper and are based on not only his own academic research and observations but also by the scientific research of Bowker, Smedegaard, Ovnicek, Strasser, and others, though he is not in total agreement with all of their conclusions. KC La Pierre presents in this paper his theories on how the hoof functions, mainly two key areas - mechanical dynamics and hemodynamics.

KC looks at the hoof not only as it is standing, but as it is in motion, particularly at the point of impact. This text explains how and why he has put together his own theories and developed the model for the High Performance Trim™. This trim is about keeping the protective systems of the hoof in equilibrium and maximizing proper structure and function, and therefore health.

This paper is intended to present a clear and simple example of the theories involved so the average horse owner can make an informed decision as to their validity. It is not a manual on 'how to trim'. KC's text is not an 'easy read'; this information is at times detailed and very thought-provoking. Though not professionally edited, "The Suspension Theory of Hoof Dynamics" gets KC's message across and gets the reader thinking.

More information on KC's theories is presented in his video, "An Introduction to the HPT (High Performance Trim) Method. This entertaining and informative film, with KC's New-York-minute speaking style, is packed with information on hoof structure and function, including the theories of hemodynamics and mechanical dynamics.

Using a dissected model of the lower leg and hoof, KC takes the viewer through a lesson on the parts of the hoof, how his theories apply, and how and why the HPT Method is successful. Board drawings are also utilized. A trim on a live horse is performed, and close-ups give the viewer a front row seat, though the intention of the video is not to teach the trim.

KC has certainly done his homework. His expertise and enthusiasm are evident in both "The Suspension Theory of Hoof Dynamics" booklet and "An Introduction to the HPT Method" video. The packaging is 'no frills', but the information and theories in each are definitely worth examining, by the layperson and the professional.

Finding the Try - A Key To Communication Between You and Your Horse

By Mark Rashid
© 2001 Mark Rashid Horse Training, Inc.
PO Box 3241
Estes Park, CO 80517
Tape 1 - 75 min, Tape 2 - 75 min, Tape 3 - 36 min
Approx. $99 for the 3-tape set

"Finding the Try", a professionally produced 3-video set by well-known trainer and 'human coach' Mark Rashid, presents more than just methods to communicate with the horse. In this beautiful and quiet video, Mark demonstrates the fair, gentle and effective teaching for which he is known, and shows the viewer how to find the subtle tries from the horse and build on them.

In video 1, Mark explains what the video is NOT about and what it IS about. He rides and demonstrates on three horses who are in various levels of training. All respond differently, at first, and improve as they go. As Mark works with them, he announces what task he will be requesting and points out when they are actually starting to respond and how we should respond in turn to develop trust and communication. At first the tries seem nearly imperceptible, but Mark shows the viewer how to recognize them, which is effectively done with occasional slow motion and two simultaneous views of the horse. He looks at what is happening with both the horse and the rider and explains how the rider influences the horse. He points out the importance of timing in the release of the pressure or stopping the cue so as to allow the horse to learn. Mark explains what exactly is meant by pressure with comparisons such as the weight of a paper plate and the weight of a bowling ball, and a scale of 1 to 10.

While mounted, Mark explains contact and how to use it, and discusses more about pressure and why more pressure is not beneficial. He talks about what breaks down trust and why we should not want to scare or force a horse into what we want. Mark also shares what horses' intentions are, and explains that they are just trying to get through the day.

Mark begins with presenting the walk-stop transition and demonstrates walk-stop-back-stop-forward with lightness. "I'm looking for an effort to stop, not necessarily a stop just yet…" Mark explains when first asking for the stop. He demonstrates how to help the horse learn straightness as well. The trot-stop-back comes next, with discussions on how to achieve the increase in speed for the trot. One can readily see the stops getting smoother, quieter, and straighter. Mark then demonstrates lateral work and explains why it is helpful to know lateral moves, and why lateral moves are more difficult for the horse. He lets the horses find their own way so that "little issues will tend to themselves before too long..." Throughout these demonstrations one can see the softness coming through.

Video 2 contains segments entitled Impulsion, Collection, Rooting, and Closing Thoughts. In Impulsion, Mark explains how there is a constant dialog going on with the horse and how horses ask us questions. He demonstrates this on the 3 different horses and shows what can be done to answer their questions and let them know what we want, as well as what happens when we don't answer their questions. Bringing the energy level up or down, asking for forward motion in a way that the horse understands, cues and pressure on a scale of 1 to 10, building on what response we get, body position of the rider and what it means to the horse, and more are clearly demonstrated. Mark underscores the benefits of establishing the connection in communicating with the horse, using as little as it takes in cues but also as much as it takes at times, as well as what to expect and what to do if we make the mistake of using too much cue.

In Collection, Mark demonstrates how using impulsion and softly taking the slack out of the reins can get the horse to carry himself. He describes what the rider will feel in the horse's body, and explains that what is happening is not 'forcing the horse into a frame' but rather 'carrying on a conversation'. The day-to-day improvement in these horses is quite evident. Mark also explains how to help a horse understand the subtle difference between a shift of weight as a signal and a shift of weight from the rider adjusting himself in the saddle.

In Rooting, Mark and a young horse demonstrate the common problem of leaning on the bit - why it happens and how to help the horse understand the bit and find a way around the rooting behavior. The horse's softness develops dramatically in Mark's skilled hands. Mark explains that corrections are to be soft, and not to be thought of as any kind of punishment, but rather a way to get the horse to try something different. The horse can make the corrections on his own if we let him.

In Closing Thoughts, Mark summarizes with his key points, the first of which is that many times what a horse does has nothing to do with lack of respect or a bad attitude; they are just having trouble with something, and it is our job to help them understand. Mark's further thoughts are shared and are equally as important.

Video 3 contains segments entitled "Finding the Try with 'Baby'" and "Finding the Try in the Reins and Hands".
The first segment features Mark and a 2-week-old filly. Because Mark rarely sees youngsters at clinics yet is commonly asked about what to do with them, he answers many of those questions here. Being of the mind that the more we do with them the more chances we have of doing something we shouldn't, he covers only basic handling. Haltering, leading, and dealing with mouthiness are presented, as well as safety. Mark demonstrates how and when to go with them and not fight them. He explains that even babies try to figure out what it is that we want them to do. Though basics are the main feature, many details and some older horse tips are included.

In the second segment, Mark and Jodi sit in chairs with a pair of reins, one acting as the horse and the other as the rider. Mark discusses what is happening as the 'horse and rider' interact. Together they give a valuable and clearly visible demonstration on pressure and release, bracing and softness, collection, and timing.

In "Finding the Try - A Key To Communication Between You and Your Horse", Mark Rashid opens doors to communication and helps the rider understand when the horse is responding to a cue. The viewer is presented with various ways to help the horse out as much as possible and do things with the least amount of pressure while accomplishing more.

Mark's gentle ways and his understanding of the horse and his nature are demonstrated throughout this peaceful video set. The video states, "No matter what stage of training horses are in, they are always trying to do what we are asking, but because a try is often subtle, it is up to us to truly pay attention to how the horse is responding to our requests."

This video set is invaluable and is one that every rider should possess, regardless of discipline or age of horse. It is pleasantly educational, satisfying to watch as the horses soften and communicate, and most importantly it is definitely the key to an improved relationship, through better communication with the horse.