I was born in Edinburgh, and attended school nearby. I obtained my veterinary degree at Cambridge University in 1977 and worked in ‘mixed’ practices in Surrey and in Hampshire for 15 years. I set up my own, mainly equine, vet practice in Hampshire in 1993. I was interested in laminitis due to my frustration in dealing with this condition, but Dr. Chris Pollitt’s lectures at BEVA Congress, in 1998, made me realize how little I knew about laminitis and I started to study the condition in greater depth. At a weekend course put on by Dr. Hiltrud Strasser early in 2002, I found that I did not know enough about horses’ feet to have an opinion on some of the statements she made about them. It was after attending this weekend that I realized how little I knew about horses’ feet, and was when my interest in horses’ feet became my passion.
This interest in horses’ feet coincided with my aged father coming to live with me. Being my father’s primary carer over the next five years resulted in a necessary reduction in my practice work, but spending more time at home gave me a greater opportunity to do research. In 2005 I set up an information website on laminitis (www.johnthevet.co.uk).
Following the death of my father in 2007, I closed my vet practice and moved back to our family home in south-west Scotland (near Dumfries). I decided to take time off but continued my research and started to trim horses’ feet. For the past four years, I have worked as a barefoot trimmer in California. I am returning ‘home’ to Dumfries in Scotland in April 2016, and will continue to work on horses’ feet (rather than do general veterinary work).
I have continued to attend conferences in the UK and abroad. Over the past fourteen years I have attended over twenty-five International vet and farrier conferences, as well as attending courses, day meetings and BEVA Congress in the UK. I am very keen to try to pass on what I have learned, particularly about laminitis. I have spoken at farrier conferences and meetings in the UK, Europe and the USA, and also give talks to horse owners.
In 2012, I was inducted into the International Equine Veterinarian Hall of Fame of the Kentucky Racing Museum & American Farriers Journal and, in 2013, my book “Understanding the Horse’s Feet” (Crowood Press) was published .