VOLUME 22 • © HORSES For LIFE™ Magazine
More Hoof Ideas from Dr. Robert Bowker
James & I attended Dr. Robert Bowker’s 2- day clinic in January, 2007, which was part of the Easycare-sponsored Pete Ramey & Dr. Bowker event. Though I had read about Bowker’s work for years, I had not grasped the scope or complexity of it, nor did I realize how compelling his collected evidence in support of barefoot is. THH Issue 26 included my quick summary of what I felt were some very intriguing—and controversial—points presented by Dr. Bowker. I hoped to whet people’s appetite, and spur them to find out more about what this amazing researcher has been doing.
Now I will attempt to delve deeper into my interpretation of what I saw presented by Dr. Bowker. Please read these ideas with an open mind, and understand that this is my perception. While you can disagree with interpretations and conclusions, they do not detract from the content of the actual scientific studies, which should really be examined first-hand.
Who is Dr. Robert Bowker?
Robert Bowker VMD PhD is a Professor of Anatomy and Director of the Equine Foot Laboratory at Michigan State Univ. College of Veterinary Medicine. His most important role (to us!) is that of veterinary researcher, and through funding support from the AQHA and Grayson Jockey Club, Bowker has been able to spend the last decade and a half studying the function of the equine foot. Much of his research has been on the microscopic level, and through the dissection and study of literally thousands of cadaver hooves.
The All-Important Back of the Foot The rear of the hoof is possibly THE most important area for determining the health of the hoof. Bowker remarked that he kept trying to look elsewhere, but no matter what he did, it all kept coming back to the rear of the hoof!
The back of the foot is exactly where three of his most well-known studies have focused. The first was his hemodynamic flow theory, which proposes that blood flow through the network of tiny capillaries in the heel region plays a vital role in shock absorption of the hoof. Second was his discovery of proprioreceptor sensory cells in the heel region; these cells may transmit information to a horse’s central nervous system and allow him to “feel” his way across the ground. And third was his study presenting the differences he’s discovered between a “good” foot and a “bad” foot.
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