Natural Hoof
Natural Hoof


Join Our Newsletter

Send This Page To A Friend

P e n n y   G i f f o r d
Strasser Hoofcare Professional, Certified (2004)

Holistic horse and hoofcare, short term agistment. Barefoot transition and lameness rehabilitation. Focusing on healthy happy horses. Area covered: Waikato, South Auckland and now also based in Kumeu.

Ph 07 884 8773 Te Aroha, or 09 4122308 Kumeu, M 0272526090, Email:

About Penny Gifford
My passion and love for horses started many years ago as a child, but my inspiration to follow Holistic Horse and Hoofcare began when I attended a three-day clinic with Todd Merrell from the USA, one of Dr Hiltrud Strasser's instructors in Holistic Horse and Hoofcare.

I wanted to gain the knowledge and skills to be able to keep my horses as healthy and happy as possible in a domestic environment. I had seen many horses become lame or unwell with a variety of diseases which usually resulted eventually in euthanasia.

Hoofcare Qualifications
Attending Todd Merrell's clinic was an eye opener for me, and at the end of it, I learned there was the possibility of becoming a qualified Strasser Holistic Hoofcare Professional. I couldn't let go of the idea that this is what I had been looking for, so followed up and enrolled. This was a huge commitment for me time wise and financially to return to study at age 45 but after 18 months hard work, I passed my final exams with six other like-minded New Zealaders, the first Kiwis to qualify.

During my study we were required to have case studies to present at the final exams. Some people had contacted me to help with hoofcare for their horses, and most of them had some degree of hoof and health problems with their horses. So they were briefed on the requirement for Holistic Hoofcare and I continue to help these people and their horses to this day with great success.

What is Holistic Horse and Hoofcare?
My training is to understand the functions of a healthy hoof and natural environment to best work with horse owners to achieve a healthy sound horse able to perform in any discipline barefoot.

Two of the most important aspects is movement (15km per day) on breed-appropriate terrain, combined with a correct physiological hoof form for optimal hoof mechanism or expansion of the hoof. This gives optimal circulation to the hoof, which in turn gives optimal quality hoof growth in order for the horse to be sound and capable of the tasks required from them.

In nature, hoof growth and hoof wear are in balance. In a domestic situation, this is altered, depending on the environment we provide. I see it as our responsibility to do our best to provide a healthy holistic environment for horses to live a long and healthy natural lifespan. We can do this by gaining knowledge about the best possible practice to replicate nature in a domestic situation.

Movement, hoofcare, nutrition, herdlife, shelter and comfortable equipment that does not cause physical pain. It is also important to learn to understand the horse's mind, so that we can safely work with the horse for mutual enjoyment

As part of my work with hoofcare, I am also very interested in supportive natural therapies to support healing and restoration to health of horses with problems.

Penny's Success Stories
My own horse Harlequin, who I bought as a very green three-year old, is now 17 (2007). He was shod until I discovered barefoot when he was 12 years old, which had resulted in severe contraction of his hooves. After applying the Strasser Method, Harlequin has extremely strong quality hooves and can now go just about anywhere he is conditioned for on his barefeet, including beach and forestry rides, jumping and hunting.

I bought Shadow, a grey registered Arab, as a three year old, he had a natural lifestyle on the stud where he was bred but hadn't had any hoofcare that I know of. He was given a natural trim and environment in the company of other horses and was led out from an older horse around the roads and slowly started to be educated with ground work. Then he was professionally started by Russell Higgins, PNH, and then hacked out bitless to include experiences such as beach riding, fun endurance rides, road rides etc on as many different terrains as possible. Though he arrived with a toe crack and slight club in his off fore hoof, and some quite bad flaring on all hooves, these problems were quickly remedied using the Strasser Method and he has remained sound over all terrain since.

Dusty, the donkey
Dusty is a 23-year-old donkey who could barely walk due to and incorrect living conditions and incorrect hoofcare, resulting in very overgrown and deformed hooves. Penny Gifford has been trimming Dusty's hooves and advising his owners of the Strasser Method of care since December, 2004. He is now much more comfortable and enjoys his walks. click here for a full article about Dusty's case study and the care of donkeys.

Missy was an aged pony (late 20s) with severely contracted hooves, some coffin bone rotation and Cushings symptoms when the Strasser Method was first applied. With the Strasser Method, Missy became more sound, the signs of Cushings disappeared, and she continued to take seven and eight year olds to pony club. She has the free range of 10 acres with two other horses and access to a stream. Her owner describes her as being 200 percent better since using the Strasser Method and is happier and healthier than she has ever been.

The Real McCoy
The Real McCoy, or "Mac", an ex-racehorse, who came to us in very poor condition, with four very brittle white hooves and a host of unsociable behaviours, including extreme nervousness when out. With the Strasser Method, and a good natural environment including herd life, Mac soon became completely sound over all terrain, with hard, good quality hooves, and his temperament improved to a mellow, safe ride we could happily take anywhere bitless and barefoot: jumping, hunting, beach rides, hacking out in groups etc.
A stunning warmblood that became lame while shod, to be diagnosed with incurable navicular in January 07. Conventional veterinary recommendations at that time were euthanasia, or an operation which would keep horse usable for a short period of time, then euthanasia.

After Strasser barefoot trimming in April 08, Dodge became sound, and was placed in dressage at four outings during transition from shod to barefoot. He then continued to successfully compete eventing barefoot and has now been leased to a dressage rider and is competing at Elementary level, winning or being placed at nearly every outing.

Removing the pain in the horse's heels through deshoeing and Strasser Trimming has resulted in exceptional movement, with the horse happy to weight his heels and fully drop the fetlock, resulting in a very free shoulder. This has contributed to his success in dressage.

A note from Dodge's rider, April 2009: "Dodge is really good, last weekend he got a 5th and a 2nd at Woodhills Sands, and today out at Papatoetoe (Manukau Dressage Autumn Series) he got a 5th then a 1st = which we were absolutely thrilled with! His feet are really good, and we noticed that when he walked on the gravel, he wasn't at all ouchy. Definitely the daily soaking and good foot work is paying off! He's having a break Easter weekend (no competing) but on again on the 19th April."
Successful Strasser trimming of a Miniature Horse, 5yrs old (2008) for 4 yrs. Mushroom is kept on a track system with big horses, including a 17.2hh clydeX. He has never foundered, has great sound hooves and is a healthy happy chappy.

For more information, contact Penny Gifford: Ph 07 884 8773, or 09 4122308 Kumeu, M 0272526090, Email:

Home | Articles | Hoof Trimmers | Clinics-Events | Brag | Classifieds | Order | Links

Componic Webdesign