The Trim

What may not look right or pretty in our eyes may often be serving their owner (the Horse) very well indeed, after all the name of the game here is creating or better still maintaining soundness. I have moved away from fixed angles and protocol, one respected trimmer here in England recently told me she may use '7 different approaches for 7 different horses', hmmm I thought yes that rings a bell!   The hoof will tell us so much as to the state of the horses health and without a healthy horse its hard to have healthy feet.

Sadly, the left photo of the hoof is all too common in domestic horses and our horses need to be

able to compensate for this.

I can't stress enough healthy feet come from a healthy horse which means getting diet and exercise

along with the day to day living environment into some kind of harmony.

Ok….so what do I do then?

I want, as I have said, to have the horses opinion first and foremost on how it feels on its feet and the various surfaces it encounters. One of my worst case scenario's is when I arrive to trim a horse and the owner tells me its "simply fantastic" on its feet.  Just how am I supposed to improve on 'fantastic'? I wonder! So, often I will see the horse move and always want a report or feedback from the owner as to how the horse is, its way of going/movement, any surfaces its not comfortable with or any other health issues? Basically then I will do as little as possible yet as much as I feel necessary trying to take into account any compensations the horse is making and respecting them "in the moment" of that particular trim.  In other words I may not do the same thing twice to the same horse, if its circumstances have changed or it did not respond well to what I had done last time. All the trimming I do is non invasive and since looking closer into Equine Barefoot Care as it will come to be known I have been massively influenced by others. Having seen the horse move where necessary and having looked over the hoof, the majority of my trimming is done now by bringing the foot onto the stand and trimming the outer wall first using the rasp and a rolling motion.  Paige Poss of www.IronFreeHoof.com has by far been my biggest influence in this and the greatest help to my most delicate footed horses who ONLY get trimmed from above, leaving the entire sole and frog untouched. Finally I will do a little on the sole surface and then the trim is finished.  I am often asked what is the difference between a "farrier trim" and a "barefoot trim" I can only answer for myself in this respect.  I was taught originally to 'clean the sole, bars and frog' with my knife and also try as much as possible to make the foot symmetrical. All too often these structures simply want to be left alone, especially when the horse is in work.

< The top two images on the left are of a typical 'maintenance' trim,

mainly trimmed from the outer wall then a little on the sole to finish as

necessary ...

..followed by some fun stuff!
This is the digital cushion, the hoof above shows a weak structure lacking blood.
The photo above shows a strong and healthy digital cushion.
This foot has ripples or event lines running down it which I and many others believe is linked to metabolic upset.
A weak digital cushion will allow the whole back of the hoof to collapse causing the entire skeleton to sink backward, forcing the horse into a change of gait and stance.
This photo is courtesy of Pete Ramey  (www.HoofRehab.com). The hoof on this Mustang shows a thick well developed sole but sadly the vast majority of our domestic horses have nothing like the thickness, the overall structure or the function of their feral counterparts.
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The Trim

What may not look right or pretty in our eyes may often be serving their owner (the Horse) very well indeed, after all the name of the game here is creating or better still maintaining soundness. I have moved away from fixed angles and protocol, one respected trimmer here in England recently told me she may use '7 different approaches for 7 different horses', hmmm I thought yes that rings a bell!   The hoof will tell us so much as to the state of the horses health and without a healthy horse its hard to have healthy feet.

Sadly, the upper photo (weak structure)

of the hoof is all too common in domestic

horses and our horses need to be able to

compensate for this.

I can't stress enough healthy feet come

from a healthy horse which means getting

diet and exercise along with the day to

day living environment into some kind of

harmony.

Ok….so what do I do then?

I want, as I have said, to have the horses opinion first and foremost on how it feels on its feet and the various surfaces it encounters. One of my worst case scenario's is when I arrive to trim a horse and the owner tells me its "simply fantastic" on its feet.  Just how am I supposed to improve on 'fantastic'? I wonder! So, often I will see the horse move and always want a report or feedback from the owner as to how the horse is, its way of going/movement, any surfaces its not comfortable with or any other health issues? Basically then I will do as little as possible yet as much as I feel necessary trying to take into account any compensations the horse is making and respecting them "in the moment" of that particular trim.  In other words I may not do the same thing twice to the same horse, if its circumstances have changed or it did not respond well to what I had done last time. All the trimming I do is non invasive and since looking closer into Equine Barefoot Care as it will come to be known I have been massively influenced by others. Having seen the horse move where necessary and having looked over the hoof, the majority of my trimming is done now by bringing the foot onto the stand and trimming the outer wall first using the rasp and a rolling motion.  Paige Poss of www.IronFreeHoof.com has by far been my biggest influence in this and the greatest help to my most delicate footed horses who ONLY get trimmed from above, leaving the entire sole and frog untouched. Finally I will do a little on the sole surface and then the trim is finished.  I am often asked what is the difference between a "farrier trim" and a "barefoot trim" I can only answer for myself in this respect.  I was taught originally to 'clean the sole, bars and frog' with my knife and also try as much as possible to make the foot symmetrical. All too often these structures simply want to be left alone, especially when the horse is in work.  The top two images below are of a typical 'maintenance' trim, mainly trimmed from the outer wall then a little on the sole to finish as necessary ... ..followed by some fun stuff!
This is the digital cushion, the hoof above shows a weak structure lacking blood.
The photo above shows a strong and healthy digital cushion.
This foot has ripples or event lines running down it which I and many others believe is linked to metabolic upset.
A weak digital cushion will allow the whole back of the hoof to collapse causing the entire skeleton to sink backward, forcing the horse into a change of gait and stance.
This photo is courtesy of Pete Ramey  (www.HoofRehab.com). The hoof on this Mustang shows a thick well developed sole but sadly the vast majority of our domestic horses have nothing like the thickness, the overall structure or the function of their feral counterparts.
MARK JOHNSON FARRIER
MARK JOHNSON FARRIER