Heike Bean Biography
I have been involved with horses since my early childhood in Germany. At the age of 14 I earned the Youth Bronze riding and driving medal. At the age of 23 I became licensed as a riding instructor by the German Equestrian Federation and have had many years’ experience teaching horses, riders and drivers before coming to the US in 1983. I also hold a degree as a grammar school teacher.
In 1984 I established Xenophon Farm in Hampton CT, and trained and taught there for 15 years. I also competed for 15 years in both riding and driving, but preferred the carriage driving competitions and was very successful at all levels, mostly with single horses, but also with pairs. In 1999 I retired from all this, to spend more time with my own horses and learn about other horse related topics.
In 1989 I was asked to serve as a member of the Dressage Committee of the American Driving Society, and shortly after was elected as Chairman. During my years as Chairman, I helped create the video “Driven Dressage” and the “Manual for Driven Dressage”, both published and for sale through the American Driving Society. I was also instrumental in the recognition of the Lateral Bend in driving horses.
For several years I was very active as judge and clinician, authored many articles and coauthored the book “Carriage Driving A Logical Approach Through Dressage Training” with Sarah Blanchard. Due to the success of the book, I gained world wide recognition as a driver and trainer and received many invitations for clinics abroad and within the US.
Since my retirement from teaching and competing, I have been an avid student of many other horse related subjects and modalities like chiropractic, farriery, massage, nutrition, Natural Horsemanship, energy therapy, homeopathy etc.. In 1992, my husband and I moved to Vermont where we enjoy our horses on long trail rides and drives along the beautiful back roads. My emphasis is now on affording my horses a lifestyle as natural as possible, and working them in the most noninvasive manner, mentally and physically.
Here just a bit about my life long experience with hooves:
I do not consider myself a hoof care professional as I do not care for hooves for a living, but I do feel that my expertise is at least equal to what one would expect from a professional. I have been owning and training horses for 55 years, and for at least the last 40 years have been very closely interested in hoof care. Already at the age of 10 I would hold up hooves for the farrier (this is how it is done in Germany), and as I was strong and fearless, many horse owners asked me to do that in their stead.
Stop at the local farrier to fix a loose shoe (Germany around 1975)
So I learned a lot by watching and listening. Consequently, I used to replace shoes on my horses, shape new ones, help other owners with lost shoes, and trimmed my barefoot horses on a regular basis. In hind sight, I really did not know what I was doing, up until about the year 1999, when I plunged head over heel into the barefoot movement, but even back then I managed to get a good looking and functional hoof established. Low heels and short toes were imprinted on me by the exposure I had.
My official training since then include Dr. Strasser’s extensive hoof course, ( I do not endorse her trimming techniques,) and attendance of many hoof clinics by many different practitioners, many cadaver dissections, lots of trimming myself and continuous learning via the internet.
The one advantage I have over a professional hoof care provider is that I live with my horses on a daily basis, observe them and deeply care about their wellbeing. As I train them in basic dressage, I have developed a very good understanding of soundness and quality of movement. Whatever changes occur to the hooves affects the entire horse, and I learned to recognize the smallest and seemingly unimportant happenings.
Not to say that I have all the answers, as the more I learn about hooves, which is really daily, the more I realize I don’t know yet.
But there are some very basic guidelines to a healthy and functioning hoof, and as long as those parameters are met, the horse stands at least a 90% chance of being comfortable and able to perform well barefoot. The last 10% or so may not matter at all to a horse with a normal conformation and naturally good feet, but for horses not so fortunate these 10% can mean all the difference. These I will address later under Problem Hooves.
For more information, you can go to my website.