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
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
list (to come...).
Every horse is individual, every environment
is individual. So - as KC LaPierre has said: Trimming
is no science, it is an
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
The pictures above show a young horse with relatively
healthy feet, but a bad trim. The heels are high
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
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
- 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).