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PHCP Practitioner Spotlight – Emma Billington

PHCP practitioner Emma Billington has a unique hoof care route in WA. She spends a few days a week island hopping in San Juan County to work on horses. The rest of the week she works near her home base in Friday Harbor.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started in hoof care

I grew up and still live on San Juan Island in Washington state. It’s a tiny place with lots of beautiful natural spaces. Growing up I spent all of my time outside and with horses. My friends and I rode trails for hours all summer and played with obstacles and arena riding all winter.

When I was thirteen my riding teacher had our farrier teach us all how to trim the lesson horse hooves so we could help keep up with the 25-30 horses that lived at the barn. We were each responsible for about 5 horses, including our own. We kept rasps in our brush boxes and trimmed once a week or whenever there was something that needed a little tune up. This was the beginning of switching the whole herd from shod to barefoot. I always said that when I grew up I would do something with horses but didn’t know what. I was lucky enough to apprentice with Ruthie Thompson-Klein and take over her hoof care clients as she retired from trimming. I always loved taking care of my horse’s hooves so this job was a dream come true and handed my career with horses to me on a silver platter.

I currently work on the local islands in San Juan County, riding a ferry between islands a few days a week, and the rest of the days working from my home base in Friday Harbor. I have two horses of my own, a morgan cross I have had from birth and an older quarter horse gelding who came to me for retirement. In my down time I enjoy training my mare and taking both horses for walks in the woods.

What is your favorite thing about being part of PHCP

I really appreciate the community PHCP has created. This can be a lonely career and while I’m not as active on social media as I could be, I do really enjoy seeing what other practitioners are doing and knowing that I have a place to go for support when needed. The mentorships I have taken during my training were extremely inspiring and encouraging experiences, and I plan to continue to work with others as much as possible in the future to maintain a connection to my teachers and my peers.

What are your interests besides all things hooves

Wow… do I have any!  I like to be in nature as much as possible, hiking, walking at the beach, hanging with my friends and their kids. I have just started golfing which has a really frustrating and slow learning curve so I am really enjoying that right now. I have a small yard with flower garden space that I love to work in and I find fun new things to plant each year. In the winter I like to bundle up and read books at the barn as a way to hang out with my horses without getting soaked!

Tell us something people may not know about you

When I was in high school I taught myself to tie rope halters, so making custom halters for people is a little side hobby that I love to do, especially for minis and ponies who are hard to fit. It’s really fun to make someone a bright colored, cute little halter that is comfortable and functional.