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There are a lot of trimming and shoeing methods out there. Some claim to convert hooves from shod to barefoot without any pain or abscessing while others have a bad reputation because they're said to trim too severe. The best guide is always: Use your common sense! And the principles of Physics and Mechanics. Think about what you or your farrier are doing and the effects it may have. I can only give background information, and provide guidelines and case studies as well as a troubleshooting list (to come...).
Every horse is individual, every environment is individual. So - as KC LaPierre has said: Trimming is no science, it is an art.

Trimming a healthy hoof

The main goal of trimming a healthy hoof is to mimic abrasion and take the hoof back into equilibrium.
Equilibrium needs a balanced, painfree hoof that the horse uses in a physiologic way, that means:

- when standing, the cannon bones should be vertical, the pastern (= shoulder and arm muscles) relaxed
- when moving, the horse should show straight movement of the limbs, a slight heel first landing,
and a relaxed pastern, so that the load during the weightbearing phase is evenly distributed.

The pictures above show a young horse with relatively healthy feet, but a bad trim. The heels are high
and uncomfortable, pushing forward and causing the horse to shift weight onto the toe and lift the
pastern (left pictures).
Directly after the trim, the pastern is relaxed (right pictures) and the horse is comfortable on its heels. Before the trim, the bone alignment was broken, after the trim it is straight.

Body posture indicates uncomfortable heels in the front feet (fronts standing back, hinds stepping to far under). Please notice also the steeper shoulder angle in left picture. A thermographic picture would have revealed muscular activity that is needed to steepen the shoulder and lift the pastern (-> pain).

When looking at the thermographic pictures of Speedy, the horse from the pain page, we see the tremendous influence of a correct trim on the shoulder. With heel pain, the cervical portion of the m. serratus pulls the shoulder steep:

Speedy before first trim .................................................Speedy before second trim

Another horse with heel pain in the front feet due to full sole and extremely high heels before trim and directly after trimming:

Trimming an unhealthy, deformed hoof

When trimming a hoof with deformations and pain, we have the following goals:

- remove pain
- allow the hoof to return to its natural shape
- reduce unnatural tension in the hoof
- strengthen weak structures by rehabilitation (= time, environment, nutrition and movement)

Trimming an unhealthy hoof means always walking on a thin line. If you don't trim enough, you'll never reach the goal, but when you take too much or something in the hoof returns to its proper shape too quickly, the horse will be sore (-> navicular).






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