Darrall Clifford has followed on from his first book, Equine Orthopaedic Balance, with a second, equally exceptional book exploring the complex relationship between the horse's foot and its upper body. This book provides a solid introduction into the exciting new field of Equine Biomechanical medicine that utilises observations of the anatomy, function and motion of a horse in order to identify diseases that can occur when imbalances arise.
I had the very good fortune to have Darrall become my farrier and good friend after he was referred to me by Dr Rowan Kilmartin to treat one of my own horses' navicular pain, which he successfully did within a handful of trims. At once, I recognised him as a very special person and not your regular farrier. Jumping out of his car with a preserved specimen from one of his many equine distal limb dissections, the first thing he wanted to do was spark my interest in what was going on within the hoof and stress the importance of trimming my horses' feet in a way that would affect and improve their overall balance and mobility. He continued to commentate throughout the trim, especially encouraging the observation of the horses as they relaxed and expressed newfound comfort with their feet. This was my first introduction to Darrall's core philosophy,
" The only teacher is the horse."
As a practising veterinarian for over 30 years, I have witnessed the world of science create more and more powerful machines to visualise and measure the structure and function of the horse and see the research being done into all aspects of horse care. Using science as a constant source of reference, Darrall also reminds us to approach each individual horse with an open and inquiring mind that is capable of asking the right questions and then deciphering the answers only the horse can give regarding the treatment it requires.
Over a lifetime of systematic study, observation and experimentation, Darrall has proved the efficacy of his farriery technique and now expands on this to include the equine upper body and the compensation patterns that can be identified when an imbalance occurs.
Equine Biomechanical Medicine is a must-read for all equine healthcare professionals for both the information it contains and the way it encourages us to think. We must free our minds from preconceptions and habits that no longer serve the best interests of the horse and truly listen to what the horses have to say.