~Brief Trimming Tutorial~

There are of course many opinions as to what constitutes a "correct" natural trim. As I have continued to trim more and more horses over the past 12 years, my own opinion has gradually changed. It will no doubt continue to change as I continue to learn more from the feet of the horses I trim. The following description can only apply to feet that are not seriously impaired before you begin the trim, in other words a fairly "normal" foot.  Keep in mind however that EVERY foot is different in one or more ways.  Trimming pathological feet will be covered in the section on hoof pathologies (under construction).

After trimming horses, mules and donkeys for many years with the conventional tools I have concluded that all aspects of hoof trimming are more easily achieved using the abrasive method as shown in my DVD.  The end result will also be superior in appearance as well as function.

At this time I believe the basic parameters of a "good" trim are as follows:

When you are finished, the hoof should be relatively symmetrical with a shape that will encourage breaking over at the center of the toe. The medial (inside) and lateral (outside) heels should be of the same height when measured from the hairline to the tip of the buttress .

The hair line (coronary band), level (parallel to the ground) when viewed from the front.  A 28 degree downward slope toward the heel of a weighted foot when viewed from the side.

The heels low enough to provide a 28 degree hairline slope when viewed from either side.  This will usually correspond with trimming the heels to a smooth surface at the seats of corn.  Each foot may be a different measurement in inches.  All horses are not the same! Heel height when measured will most often fall between 1" and 1.5" when measured from the hairline to the buttress tip.

The quarters scooped (floated) so that they are slightly passive to the ground.

The Toes,   are often too long on domestic horses.  Do not concern yourself with toe angles. The toe when viewed from the bottom of the foot (solar view) should extend past the frog apex no more than 1/2 the length of the frog.  In other words the frog measured from it's widest point at the heel to the apex would equal approximately 2/3 of the total length of the bottom of the foot and 1/3 of the total length would lie beyond the frog apex.  However If the frog is stretched forward due to the toes having been too long for some time this relationship no longer applies.  All toe flaring should be removed by at least the third trim.

Toe shape should follow the curvature of the hairline when viewed with the foot on the ground.

The walls should be of equal thickness all the way around unless there was flaring which needed to be removed, or if toes needed backing up in which case the walls may appear to be thinner in those areas when viewed from the bottom.  The walls will also be level with or very slightly above the level of the sole at their juncture and have a well rounded edge or what is known as a "mustang roll".  I like to bevel the walls at about 40 degrees from the white line out to the edge, then add the mustang roll.  This way the next time you trim there will be little or no chipping.

The frog should comprise approximately 2/3 of the total length of the bottom from heel buttress to toe tip. (measuring down the center line)  It should also taper down toward the apex to allow the center of the foot to drop slightly on impact with the ground.  It is often not necessary to trim the frog other than to clean up ragged edges after the first several trims.

The bars should be flush with the sole and plainly visible.  Bars do not grow past the halfway point of the frog.  If they appear to this is false bar and should be removed at least down to flush with the sole.

The sole will be at least somewhat concave except for the outer 3/4 inch and all flaky dead sole removed.

In my opinion there is no need to take any measurements in inches or centimeters to achieve an excellent trim, in fact I feel this practice can be detrimental.

The only "measurement" I recommend to take any more is to check the 28 degree hairline slope.

A well trimmed hoof is a beautiful sight.

Before you even start:

The first step is to examine the feet as they are.

Look for uneven wear, medial lateral imbalance and lack of symmetry in shape.  Also look for flaring in the toes or quarters. (take notes if you feel the need to)

Next observe the horse in movement watching for uneven or out of rhythm steps.

Then watch how the horse stands, is one front foot always behind the other?  Does the horse look comfortable and reasonably relaxed? 

Are the feet pointing straight forward or do they toe in or toe out? If they do either is it due to the shape of the foot or is it caused by something further up, check the line up of the joints. Observe if the leg comes down centered on the hoof. These are all things that can greatly affect how the hoof wears consequently also affecting balance.  Some hoof problems can not be corrected by trimming but often these problems can at least be kept from getting worse.

Everything about the horse will be affected by how the feet are trimmed.

~Phil~