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Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Polyflex Horseshoes Hosts Informational Farrier Session with VEPG Chair Mark Silverman at Palm Beach Farrier Supply


On Saturday, January 31, Polyflex Horseshoes hosted an informational session for farriers with Mark Silverman, MS, DVM, owner of Sport Horse Veterinary Services in Rancho Santa Fe, California. He is also a partner in Southern California Equine Podiatry with farrier Ernest Woodward.

Mark Silverman is chair of the new Veterinary Equine Podiatry Group (VEPG), Inc., an initiative by a group of veterinarians who would like to see a veterinary specialization established for equine podiatry. The group is just beginning on this effort and is probably years from establishing a recognized and credentialed program.


Curtis Burns of Polyflex Horseshoes heard about the VEPG and invited Mark Silverman to Florida to meet with him and other concerned farriers in a public forum to hear firsthand what “veterinary equine podiatry” was and how it related to farriers and their work on horses.

Palm Beach Farrier Supply in Wellington, Florida was chosen as the location for the meeting; about 30 farriers attended.

Joy Ream, owner of Palm Beach Farrier Supply, said that she noticed that the farriers who attended this meeting were different from the ones who usually attend the educational events at her store.

“This was an older group, and they were very serious. They just walked in and went to the back and sat down, they were all business,” she said on Monday. “From what I remember, they were mostly older, very accomplished farriers.”

Mark Silverman, MS, DVM, of Rancho Santa Fe, California traveled to Wellington, Florida to meet with farriers at the request of Curtis Burns, owner of Polyflex Horseshoes. Some of the Florida farriers wanted to express concern that they are already feeling an impact of veterinary equine podiatry on their profession.

While the farriers had concerns about how veterinarian/horseshoers can create a shift in business in a place like Wellington, that problem doesn’t necessarily overlap much with the mission of the VEPG, which is basically an educational program to make sure that veterinarians who call themselves equine podiatrists have experience, skills and knowledge to be highly competent case leaders and practitioners.

Curtis Burns of Polyflex
Curtis Burns said that he was happy with the way that Mark Silverman outlined VEPG and how he interacted with the farriers and their concerns. “I’ve been very fortunate in the way things worked out for me in this business,” he commented, “and looking out for the future is important. I've had a great life and tremendous opportunities as a farrier and I hate to see that change. I'd like to give something back.”

The concerns of the farriers who attended were based on current trends that they see in the elite-equestrian levels of the Wellington winter show and sport scene, rumors that are spreading through the farrier industry, and actual experiences that these farriers have had in working with veterinarians and other professionals.

On Saturday afternoon, Curtis Burns said that some of the farriers who attended are legitimately concerned about being restricted in their work.

Mark Silverman’s aspirations may be five years or more in the making and be less related to actual practice or interaction with farriers than to education and establishing an institutional status for veterinarians. He noted that he thought that VEPG would have a positive impact on farriers as well as veterinarians when and if it becomes a reality.

Still, Mark Silverman listened and attempted to discuss the farriers’ sincere concerns with them.

Surely some of the problems stem from dealing with 50 different Veterinary Practice Acts in 50 states, and the fact that most veterinarians and farriers are not familiar with how farriers are covered by the Acts as farriers, vets and horses travel from one state to another.

“I’m not sure anyone has the answers,” Mark Silverman said on Saturday night.

To learn more:

Veterinary Equine Podiatry Group Announced at 2014 AAEP Convention, Will Pursue Board Specialization Status

Connecticut Drops Charges Against "Equine Podiatrist" for Illegal Practice of Veterinary Medicine
AVMA: Horseshoeing Is No Longer an Excluded Profession in the New Model Veterinary Practice Act (But Farriery Is)

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