Sunday, September 14, 2014

No Back, No Farrier

“If horses are your way of life, but injury-related back pain is limiting your horseshoeing, then this is the book for you.”  I’m talking about Dr. Katie Cosgriff’s book, NO BACK … NO FARRIER.  Seriously, you need to get your hands on this book.

I interviewed Katie the other day while she was shoeing our horses.  The afternoon before arriving at my place she had shod a half dozen draft horses.   After she finished with six of ours, she was headed to her next appointment.  I ask her, How to you do it?  How can your body hold up to this pace?  She replied, “The secrets are conditioning your core muscles, being mindful of your posture, and there’s a lot of horsemanship and finesse that goes into it.  It’s not about being stronger than the horse, but you do need to have a strong back.” 

3 Generations of Cosgriffs hard at work!- Photo by Roni Ziemba
And yes, it helps to be following in the footsteps of her father, grandfather, and great-grandfather—all Montana farriers.  Katie grew up on the family ranch north of Big Timber, Montana.  She owned a tractor before she owned a truck.  From the time she was big enough to pick up the shoeing tools she accompanied and helped her father and was soon was shoeing side by side with him.  Now at age 37 she has been shoeing on her own for almost 20 years. 

A graduate of the MSU Farrier School, Dr. Katie Cosgriff, DC, CSCS, IVCA, holds an Animal Science degree and a Human Biology degree from MSU-Bozeman, a Doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine from the University of Western States in Portland, Oregon, and is board certified by the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association.  She is a certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and teaches fitness classes in her “spare” time around her shoeing schedule.

Katie is what you would call a speed sport junkie.  Between being on the snowboarding team and riding as a jockey up and down the West Coast she managed to injure both knees, tear up her shoulder and damage her Achilles tendon.  That was before her crippling wreck on the race track ten years ago that left her unable to walk and so weak (in her words) she “could not even pick up a pitch fork.”  It was a chiropractor that got her back on her feet and fueled her passion to learn more about how the human body can heal itself, and particularly to understand the biomechanics of the foot and its impact on the entire body.

In her book, she explains how it all fits together.  Farrier Science done correctly is a combination of disciplines.  She explains how cross training keeps the core muscles strong thus protecting the back.  How the foot/hoof affects the biomechanics of the ankle/pastern and the joints all the way to the back.   She draws on her experience as a chiropractor as she analyzes form and function.

Katie’s book was published almost a year ago.  Within the first year the readership has expanded and it is now recommended by both the American and Canadian Professional Farriers Association.  They give continuing education credits for their members who read the book and successfully complete an exam.  Recently her book No Back...No Farrier was translated into German. 

Photos by Roni Ziemba
Today with almost two decades of professional farrier experience, Cosgriff goes beyond the blacksmithing art in forging steel shoes to focus on hoof function and internal structures.  Recently she traveled to Germany to work with a German veterinary team using a synthetic shoe that allows the hoof to function like it does barefoot, but with protection.

When I ask her how many shoes she had tacked on in her career she grinned.  Apparently she and her dad have been having conversations about Norwegian persistence.  About the importance of being a life long learner and the joy it brings them to share their knowledge.  About her passion for working on athletes, both 2-footed and 4-footed.  About the importance of doing a job well and how you need to protect your back if you are going to do your job for a long time.  Most recently they wondered how big the stack would be if all the shoes that all four generations of Cosgriffs have nailed on were piled up in one spot.  They decided it would weigh in the tons! 
The answers are all in her book.  There are delightful stories of family history and heritage in her book as well as down to earth discussions on anatomy and pain referral patterns and exercises and stretches.   Get ahold of Katie if you want a signed copy.  For product preview and to order online go to   Again, that is  No Back...No Farrier by Katie Cosgriff (Paperback) –online at Lulu Marketplace.

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