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The Barefoot Trim

Sole is armor, leave it to build to provide protection for the coffin bone. Carve it out with your knife in the name of concavity and performance on rocky ground will diminish.

Provide footing and movement that affords the horse the ability to callus and exfoliate his own excess sole as much as possible. The more the horse can do for himself the fewer trimming decisions we will need to impose upon the hoof. Nobody knows better about how the hoof should be trimmed than the particular horse wearing it.

Keep the hoof walls trimmed to within 1/16” to 1/8”of the adjacent sole. The sole is our guide here. That is why we want the horse to exfoliate as much sole as possible himself. In this way the horse decides how long the hoof wall shall be and not the trimmer.

In general you want to trim the heels down to the frog but never trim the heels down past the firm sole in the seats of corn. If the heel can come down further then the sole in the seats of corn will come out on it's own in the coming weeks giving you permission to lower the heels some more.

Keep in mind that for the high heeled horse, developmental conformation of the leg may be a factor in what heel height is comfortable for that particular horse. Apply patience in bringing the heels down. In time the heels will settle into what is right for him. It may take many months to a year or more before the high heeled horse is happy with naturally low heels.

Do not over trim the bars, just keep the bars from lying over on the sole and trim them passive to the ground plane. Considering that I've had five foals born with curved bars, I do not get excited about them. Should they be strait or curved? I've seen no correlation between curved bars versus straight bars related to performance.

Leave the frog alone as much as possible and keep the heels low enough (if comfortable) so the frog is an active player in weight bearing. Take the frog out of play and it becomes weak and debilitated and ripe for thrush. Make it a partner in weight bearing and it becomes full and healthy and fills the collateral grooves keeping out rocks.

If you have living conditions which tend to cause thrushy frogs or whiteline problems, this should be dealt with by keeping the frogs active in weight bearing and by increasing the rate of natural wear via abrasive footing. This is preferred to aggressive trimming strategies of the frog and sole.

Also make sure the footing is well drained and changed out when contaminated with urine and manure. Of course, the manure should be cleaned frequently to preserve the cleanliness of the footing.

Apply a generous mustang roll around the perimeter of the hoof wall. I generally also like to roll the heels (reverse break over). This serves to encourage a heel first landing and reduces the pressure spike on the horn tubules as in the case of a sharp cornered heel.

Some may argue that rolling the heels promotes an under run heel. This might be true if one looked at the horse in a static state. That is not the case; the horses average weight bearing situation includes movement and time spent landing heel first. In the heel first landing, a rolled heel actually reduces pressure on the new horn growth. This is beneficial when dealing with under run heels as rolling the heel actually shortens the lever forces when in movement.

More details later but remember, Less is more............


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