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
See below for part of Ashley's
interview with Anvil magazine.
Ashley Davis with J. R. Khan
"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."
"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
"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."
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
"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."
"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."
"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."
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
Lisa O'Neill, AHSA judge
Trainer of nationally ranked show horses
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
INTERVIEW WITH ASHLEY DAVIS
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
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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.
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
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
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
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. See
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
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Ashley Davis - Equine Sports
Trainer and Performance Consultant
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