Ashley Davis -
Equine Sports Trainer and Performance Consultant.

Below are pictures of Ashley with J. R. Khan. I never realized that Khan had a 'sore back' until Ashley palpated it with the soft part of his fingers. He and my farrier at the time, Craig Sanders, adjusted the trimming of the hoof and custom fit the shoes to correctly fit Khan's foot. This IMMEDIATELY relieved a long-standing problem of a hollow back that I had to 'ride out' by using a lot of lower leg pressure. Now, I don't have to use as much of my leg and Khan's HUGE trot (he's 18 hands!) is much easier to sit. He also found thrush on one of Khan's feet that had gone undetected for a long time. He told me how to treat it every day to relieve the soreness on that foot. (Khan would sometimes unexplainably 'go lame' on that foot when on hard surfaces). - Teri Rehkopf, ceo@HorsesintheSouth.com

See below for part of Ashley's interview with Anvil magazine.

J. R. Khan & Ashley Davis
J. R. Khan & Ashley Davis

Ashley Davis with J. R. Khan

More Testimonials

"Ashley Davis is one very special man! In the 4 years that I have known and worked with him, he has taught me much more than any textbook or farrier school. I can't thank him enough for his ability to correct horses that were chronically lame as had been diagnosed by 'experts'. Ashley speaks for all the horses who can't speak for themselves to provide answers for their unsoundness for undetected or unexplainable causes. This gift was God-given and improved upon by the one and only 'Ash Davis'. My understanding of the muscles of the horse as they relate to the feet has confirmed to me that one doesn't just shoe the feet but the whole horse."

Your Friend,
Craig Sanders
Sanders Shoeing
Farrier
386-684-6440
Interlachen, FL

"Ashley Davis's attention to detail is downright magic! He took a horse with a six-year ongoing soundness problem and turned him around in just one session, taking the horse from a one-phase animal to a three-phase. Cedar Lane Farm's Driving team has benefited tremendously from Mr. Davis's insight over the years and looks forward to continued knowledge and further services."

Jeromy S. Smith
Cedar Lane Farm Driving
Manager/ Trainer
New Jersey

"Hi, my name is Mary Eufemia and my husband Kevin and I have a hunter/jumper barn in Florida. We had a horse of a client's that had been lame for many months. None of the blacksmiths or vets in the area could make him sound. We even went to the University of Florida vet school for a scintigraphy scan. All anyone could say, was that it was the inside heel of his right front foot. No one could fix it though. That is when my friend Paddy told me Ashley was coming to town and he needed to see him. So I took him to her barn and her blacksmith worked with Ashley and they built a shoe around the problem area. They made a heart bar shoe so no pressure was on the inside heel and for the first time in almost a year he jogged off sound. It was incredible, this horse that was lame for almost a year, 100% sound. Since that time Ashley has fixed many of our horses and will always continue to do so."

Thanks Always,
Mary and Kevin Eufemia
Ravenwood Farm, Inc.
Palm Harbor, FL

"Ashley Davis has a gift for using his hands and experience to locate difficult musculo-skeketal problems in horses. I find his ability to be of the greatest value in trying to help owners of horses with those elusive problems that can benefit from his unique expertise. Ashley is one of a kind and I hold his knowledge in very high regard."

Donna L. Harper, DVM
New Mexico

"Ashley has helped more farriers with their clients than anyone I know. Some time spent with Ashley can give you a whole new aspect of shoeing. Using the unique methods that he has pioneered, with the help of many farriers, can greatly improve a horses performance. These methods work."

Chuck Milne
Farrier
Kennadale, Texas

"Ashley has helped my barrel racing horses with the muscle soreness problems for over fifteen years. He works with my farriers and shows them how shoeing effects the muscles. With his help and my farrier's willingness to learn, my horses stay sound. I have fewer injections and my vet bills have dropped dramatically. His methods and my farrier's have made a great improvement in the performance of my horses."

Dee Tucker
Texas

"Ashley, I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate everything you have done for me. I have been shoeing horses for over twenty years, and I have learned more in the small amount of time I've worked with you in the last few years, than I had in the previous seventeen. Your knowledge is an invaluable tool in my business. Not only has my income almost tripled, my horses are sounder and my customers more satisfied. My ability to recognize, diagnose, treat problems, and overall shoe has improved immeasurably. Ashley, you have had a deep and profound impact on both my professional and personal life, and I am eternally grateful to you."

Sincerely,
Drew Hendrickson
Farrier, Ocala FL

Training Hunters, Jumpers, and Equitation horses for National competition I have tried many alternative therapies for improving performance and soundness in my horses. One method I have found to be irreplaceable, is having Ashley Davis set up my horses with my farrier. The improvement is dramatic and shows in my horses performance. See her website - Top Call Horses.

Lisa O'Neill, AHSA judge
Trainer of nationally ranked show horses
New York

Anvil Magazine Interview

Ashley has had a 2 part interview written about him and his methodology in Anvil magazine in the September and October 2001 issues. His farrier and equestrian friends believe that his work is so important that they insisted that this article be written so that other farriers could benefit from his methodology.Below is the first part of the September interview.

INTERVIEW WITH ASHLEY DAVIS PART 1
by Rob Edwards

Published in the September 2001 Issue of Anvil Magazine

ANVIL: This is one of the very few interviews I have ever done due to the absolute demand of a couple of farriers who called me. They told me that this is a very important issue to them. Now, after seeing you work, I understand why. As I see it, over the years you have developed a unique science to determine soreness in horses. Your extensive use of Impak pads from Castle Plastics and Equithane from Vettec, Inc. has helped many horses regain their performance and remain sound. You are a horse trainer, an equine chiropractor, and now you work with farriers in a consultant and therapeutic capacity. Why don't you tell us how it all began?

ASHLEY: I was born and raised in eastern New Mexico and raised on farms and ranches. I didn't like the farming, but I did like the ranching. All I wanted was to train horses, rope and compete in rodeos. So that's what I did for about 30 years. I looked after cattle on wheat in the winter. I could train on my roping horses by doctoring yearlings. There were always a lot of sick cattle to rope and doctor. Each spring I would have several roping horses trained and ready to sell. They make better horses when trained in the pasture. I have always trained horses in some capacity: calf roping, team roping, and reining and breaking colts. My wife Pam trained barrel racing horses. I always thought that she was the best horsewoman I have ever known. She has a feel on a horse that is uncanny. Without her valuable input I would not be here today. I started in the cutting horse business just before the oil crash hit. That certainly was bad timing.

ANVIL: What actually did happen in Texas when the oil situation went sour?

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ASHLEY: A lot of oilmen had the luxury of a huge cash flow. When oil prices crashed, the cash flow stopped. They had to start cutting back. There were a lot of horse trainers all over our part of the world who lost their customers because the owners could no longer afford the luxury of having horses in training. It is the horse owners who finance the entire equine industry. Having horses trained was one of the first things they gave up in trying to save their businesses. These were tough times for everyone in the horse business. Basically, that's what happened to trainers all over. In the late 1970s I got involved in training cutting horses. I had a mare in cutting training that was lame in the right front. I had taken her to every veterinarian I knew and not one could find out what was wrong with her. I had a client and friend, the late Dr. Ivan Barber, who was a medical doctor in Lubbock. He was the head of anesthesiology at one of the hospitals there. He also had a pain clinic and owned racehorses. He was one of my clients; I broke his racehorses before he sent them to the track. Dr. Barber volunteered to come out one day to see my crippled mare. He started unloading something that was foreign to me, and I didn't have a clue what it was. It was a camera that took infrared images, and he used it in his pain clinic. The infrared camera picks up the hot and cold spots on a person or horse. He took infrared images of my mare and found that she had a pinched nerve in her neck between the 5th and 6th cervical vertebrae. The nerve affected her right leg and caused the muscles to spasm, which restricted circulation. It was much colder on the images or infrared pictures than the other leg. He told me I needed the services of an equine chiropractor. Back then, no one had ever heard of a horse chiropractor. So I called a chiropractor who worked on people, Dr. Elmer Addington. I told Dr. Addington that I'd like for him to come and adjust my horse's neck. He kind of laughed at me, but he had worked on some small animals in his career. When I told him the story, he became interested and agreed to come out and look at her. Sure enough, he palpated her neck and could tell that this was the trouble spot. We had already pinpointed the spot with the infrared images, and he confirmed it. The anatomy of people and horses is basically the same. There are seven cervical vertebrae in a human's neck and the same number in a horse's neck-all mammals have seven. He adjusted the mare's neck and in three days she was sound. I showed her in cuttings for two or more years, then sold her. I do know that for ten years after that she was sound.

Then Dr. Barber asked if we would like to have infrared images taken of some of the other horses that we were having some training problems with. My wife and I were delighted. He took infrared images and explained to us why we were having training problems. He said it was all due to sore muscles. He could tell this by interpreting the infrared images he had taken.

After the first trip Dr. Barber would come out about once a month. He was a good friend, and he liked to get out of the office once in awhile, away from the pressures of his practice. He would take infrared images on approximately 30 horses that my wife and I had in training. At first he would ask, "What kind of performance problems or movements is the horse having?" He would take the images and then tell us what was the cause of the training problem. One day my wife, still skeptical, said to me, "He's just telling us this stuff because we told him the problems the horse was having. Next time he comes, let's not volunteer any information; instead, I'm going to ask him to tell us what he thinks is going on. When he arrived the next time, she said, "Here's the horse." When Dr. Barber asked about the horse and what the problem was, she replied, "You tell me!" Amused, he smiled and agreed, taking infrared images of the horse with his camera. He told us exactly what kind of problem the horse was having by interpreting the infrared images. For example, if the horse had resistance in his turns, he could tell us in what direction the horse was supple and in what direction he was rigid. The doctor could tell if it was difficult for the horse to get his hind quarters gathered, if the horse would crossfire, or if he dropped his leads. He was always right. From then on, he would take infrared images with the camera and tell us what kinds of problems we were having with each horse. He continued to do this for about five years. During this period of time, he taught me to read and interpret the infrared images as well as how to feel and palpate the horse's muscles. After five years, I could skillfully read and interpret the images. We assumed that all of the muscles that were in a state of contraction were caused by spinal misalignment.

Ashley Davis - Equine Sports Trainer and Performance ConsultantYears later I found that this blanket assumption was not always correct. In that period of time I became interested in chiropractic. I studied all I could with my chiropractor friend, Dr. Addington, and his assistance was invaluable to me. Without his help, I would not have pursued chiropractic nearly as diligently. Over the next five years he helped me develop a way to manipulate horses, using our own horses as `guinea pigs.' I was encouraged because of the favorable results the horses displayed. The improvement in the way the horses moved was often dramatic. Sometimes the problems would completely disappear; however, the problems often seemed to come back. Some wouldn't, but the general tendency was for the problems to resurface later. But I was determined, and kept refining my technique. I was getting better results all the time on problems that nothing else worked on. People started bringing horses to my farm for adjustments as our success began to spread by word of mouth. When the oil crash hit in the 1980s, I quit training and began to practice equine chiropractic full time. For years I have done chiropractic adjustments on thousands of horses. I had barns that I went to on a regular basis, sometimes every six to eight weeks. The horses always showed improvement, but they would usually need readjusting on my next visit. My clients were always glad to see me, because of the positive results their horses exhibited. But in the back of my mind I always was questioning: Why do horses have more chiropractic problems than people? I would study and try to understand this and, as time went on, the pieces started to fit together. For instance, in barn A, all of the horses would have similar chiropractic problems. In barn B, all the horses would have different chiropractic problems, but ones that all the horses in that barn shared. The horses would all be doing the same events, even though barn A and B exhibited different problems. Then I would go to barn C where part of the horses shared the same type of problems and the rest of the horses shared a different problem. This just fueled my curiosity even more. One day it just happened that two farriers were working in the same barn. One farrier shod half the horses in the barn and the other farrier shod the other half. I was working on horses that they had both shod. The horses that one of them had shod all possessed similar muscle problems. The ones the other farrier shod had different muscle problems.

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Now my curiosity was really aroused. I had found out why different barns had different problems. The answer was the different farriers they used. After studying and paying a lot of attention, I could sometimes tell which farrier had shod the horse by feeling and palpating the animal. What was the connection between the muscle soreness and the feet? I started working with farriers and together we tried to figure out how the feet could affect the muscles. We did figure out a few things that helped us discover that the feet definitely can cause muscle soreness. Because it was so time-consuming most farriers could spend little time studying this, and I was not in a position to pay them to research the problem. About this time I was highly suspicious that most back and body soreness of horses were only symptoms, triggered by pain related to the feet. Out of necessity to prove the relationship of upper body soreness to the foot, I started shoeing my own horses about ten years ago. I still took care of my chiropractic clients, however, and continue to work for some of them.

ANVIL: Are you a farrier?

ASHLEY: No, I'm not. I can `cowboy shoe' a horse adequately, but I always disliked doing it. I had to start shoeing because I simply could not afford to pay a farrier to spend the hours that it took looking for an answer to a question that I had raised. I still disliked the shoeing, but it was the only way I could find out if there was a connection between the feet and the horse's sore muscles. It was only adequate enough to find the answers I was looking for. And again, our own horses were the guinea pigs! I would spend hours and sometime even days studying the cause of the upper body soreness, and what we could do to the foot to make it go away. Every time I made changes in the shoeing that affected the upper body, my wife would ride the horse to see if there was any change in the horse's performance. This was a very time-consuming effort, trying to find the relationship of the foot to the upper body. All of the information that we gathered came straight from the horse. All of the questions can be answered by being able to read the horse's muscles.

During the time of actual research, I learned more and more about the muscles and points that relate to the foot. I now believe that about 95% of all muscle soreness in the horse are symptoms that originate in the feet. We have proven it over and over again. By reading and interpreting the muscles in the horse's body, the relationship of the hoof to the upper body can be ascertained. Interpretation is key to the treatment.

ANVIL: That's a rather astounding statement! I would have questioned it, until I saw what you did today. We worked on five horses today and you palpated their muscles. It was obvious that one of the horses was very sore. You took a little piece of pad and used some duct tape and taped on a frog support.

ASHLEY: That's right. I have developed ways to use the cut-out pieces of pad to test and see if the body soreness originates in the feet. If the feet are the cause, a treatment then has to be determined. By using the cut-out pads before taking the shoe off, I can determine by reading the muscles what trigger points are causing the soreness. Only after the cause is known can a treatment be determined. Today on one of the five horses, before taking the shoe off, I taped in a frog support and the muscle soreness intensified. The cause of the pain was the frog. Only by interpreting the muscles before and after taping the frog support in, could this be determined. I then used an Impak Absorber pad that is designed to carry the weight on the bars and relieve the frog. I had trimmed the pad so that I could use it as an insert in the shoe to see if it would release the contracted muscles. I have developed all kinds of ways to check the source of the muscle soreness. If the frogs are sore this would be the best way to approach the problem. Putting a heart bar on a horse that has a frog that is sore is going to make the body soreness worse. When I find a horse that has sore frogs, I use the Impak Absorber pad. It has some frog relief built in, it distributes the weight on the bars, and relieves the body soreness. By doing this, you're stabilizing the foot by using the bars to distribute the weight with the Impak Absorber pad. Horses with crushed heels are usually the ones that respond with these pads.

ANVIL: So in that case what you were doing was relieving the frog by distributing weight on the bars, which, in fact, better distributes the weight over a wider surface of the bottom of the foot, instead of the walls carrying all of the weight.

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ASHLEY: Yes. If the frog is sore, then every time that horse takes a step the pain is goin to radiate up through the body. So you've got to determine what you can and can't do for the animal. We had a good degree of success today, even though we had some horses that were not having muscle problems. One was a horse with an active splint and one with thrush in all four feet. The farriers successfully dealt with all of the muscle soreness and the horses showed remarkable improvement. I was just the mediator by being able to interpret the muscles.

ANVIL: What was the first horse's problem today, as you saw it?

ASHLEY: The first horse had thrush in all four feet. The thrush was out of control and making the horse terribly sore. Every time his foot touched the ground it was mashing on the thrush-infected frogs. That will definitely keep a horse from performing. It is a problem the trainer has to deal with after I leave, but I helped the trainer by locating the thrush for him. The thrush has to be treated before I can determine if the horse has any other problems.

ANVIL: I don't think the owner realized how severe the thrush was.

ASHLEY: I know she didn't. The trouble was that her farrier had told her that the horse had sheared heels and thrush, and she minimized it. When I looked at the horse, I showed her how much the thrush was affecting it. Now the trainer should have a veterinarian prescribe a treatment for the thrush. With continued care, it will get well. Sometimes the owners and trainers minimize the importance of what the farrier has to say and what suggestions he or she offers. I believe the farrier is one of the most important persons in a horse-training operation, as I have shown you today.

ANVIL: On the second horse, you put the frog support on. I thought it showed an obvious and dramatic improvement.

ASHLEY: Yes it did. However, when the horse was barefooted, and I taped the frog support back on and put a little more pressure on the frog without the shoe, the horse's muscles tightened up more. Just double checking before shoeing. This told me that we can't use the frog as a support, but we're going to have to use the bars to relieve the body soreness for this horse. One always has to cover all the bases. The inferior strength of the hoof capsule was the cause of the muscle soreness and needed some help.

ANVIL: So what ended up happening was that the horse had on Impak pads with the frog relief on the hind feet and that relieved the soreness in the hips. Then there was a problem with the front end.

ASHLEY: Yes, but the problem in the front could not be corrected with shoeing. Actually, this horse had a splint on the left front leg that was very active. The splint had been x-rayed and was not broken. I could palpate the splint and see it was very active. The splint has to be dealt with in whatever way the trainer's veterinarian prescribes. We took infrared images to see how active the splint was. You can see how inflamed it is from the images.

ANVIL: If that were your horse, what would you do?

ASHLEY: I always use a Mac Blister on splints. I just clip the hair on the splint, apply t blister for three days, skip three days, and apply for three more days. This usually desensitizes and stops the growth of the splint. I was informed later the owner did blister the splint. The horse was sound in about ten days. She sold him for a pretty good price before the next shoeing.

ANVIL: The inflammation induced by the blister is what actually stops the growth?

SHLEY: Yes. It works well, and I've done it many times. The blisters are harder to come by now due to FDA drug regulations, but you can still get the Mac Blister at racetracks. It is used a lot there.

ANVIL: The third horse was really sore in the back. The trainer could hardly ride him. She brought him up and you palpated his back and hips.

ASHLEY: Yes. I actually palpated him all over, but by reading the muscles I was led to his rear quarters. I could trace the soreness to the back feet. I checked the nails, by interpreting the muscles, and found that both toenails on both hind feet were bothering the horse. We pulled the toe nails out and she rode him. You saw the results. She was amazed at how much better the horse was.

ANVIL: It was a remarkable difference. When you palpated him after that, it was obvious that he wasn't even paying any attention to you.

ASHLEY: Before pulling the nails, he was really uncomfortable and was very back sore.

ANVIL: How did you know that?

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ASHLEY: Experience, mainly, and just trial and error, and pulling a lot of nails before I learned what the effects were. The very first experience I had with nails was with my friend Chuck Milne. A woman called him and said, "I want you and Ashley to work on this horse. Everybody else has already had a shot at him, but he's still lame and his back is, and has been, really sore." The horse had been lame for over two years and had been taken to Texas A&M and almost everywhere else to be checked out. All kinds of tests have been run on him, but no answers have been found. That was the time when 3M had just come out with the cast that is applied to the hoof. The shoe can then be nailed to the cast and not the hoof wall. It was a very new product at the time. Chuck and I worked on this horse for eight hours. I could not find a muscle on this horse that wasn't sore. We would do one thing to him and take him out and jog him around, thinking he was going to be alright. Then he would just fall apart. We went back and put wedges on him; he was good for a few minutes, then fell apart again. We tried everything we knew. The horse never flinched or reacted in any way when the nails were driven into his feet, blocked or clinched, that would cause suspicion. Then we began to check the nails when we pulled them out of his foot. They were actually a little warm. The horse's muscles that were in contraction also relaxed and he showed a lot of relief. Chuck then shaped the shoe so that the nails would barely touch the outside wall. We put the casting material around the outside of the hoof wall and nailed the shoe to the cast. The horse began bucking and playing and running, indicating that the nails had been the mysterious problem for two years. When I checked his muscles there was no soreness. You have to feel sorry for this horse. The horse was a real sensitive one with very thin walls. The nails were just `driving him up the wall,' so to speak. The horse went back to work and had no problems as long as the nails were not in his feet. This was a valuable lesson that was very elusive and hard to find. The muscles had the answers, but this was another new question that had to be answered. Almost every time an answer is found, another new question will surface.

ANVIL: I realize that you're doing this based on a lot of experience, but was there a reaction to the palpation above the fetlock that made you realize it was those particular nails?

ASHLEY: Yes, that's correct. That was the first time I finally realized that the nails cou be causing upper body soreness. It is a lot easier now to find nails that are affecting muscles, but it took a lot of studying and time. My horses got awfully tired of educating me. Without our horses at home to experiment on, I could never have been able to pursue this to the extent that I have.

By the way, I would like to thank Al Curry, Ray Brown, Chuck Milne, and Greg Broussard for working with me today.

Editor's Note: Ashley Davis can be reached at 716 S. Sherman, Richardson, TX 75081 or by email: equinesports@bigplanet.com. See web-site: www.EquineSportsTrainer.com.

The web pages for the October issue article http://anvilmag.com/members/110d4.htm . See http://anvilmag.com/members/109d4.htm for the September issue. You have to have a password and login. The current password and login are the same - "goldfinch". AnvilMag.com changes the password every two months. We will keep this page updated with the new password as it changes.

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Ashley Davis - Equine Sports Trainer and Performance Consultant
214-244-3367


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