The Horse's Hoof: Healthy Trimming Basics

A Pictorial Guide, Part 1

by James & Yvonne Welz ©2006

There is no one “right” way to trim hooves. Nature is the ultimate guideline, and form follows function. In this brief pictorial guide, we will share what we do - what we've found that works for us.

What style or method do we advocate? We would love it if people would refer to our style as a generic barefoot trim! We strive for physiologically correct hoof form. We do not actually advocate any method, and we feel that many roads lead to Rome. We have taken the best of what we have learned from every source during our journey this past decade; however much of our current technique centers around our personal study of wild horse hooves and how their form can be applied to the situations of domestic horses.

Healthy Trimming Basics
1) Heels are trimmed to a natural, comfortable low heel.
2) Bars are trimmed to be straight and tapered.
3) As little sole is removed as is possible (“new sole” a.k.a. “live sole” is a guideline)!
4) Wall flares are addressed as necessary.
5) The outer wall is rolled (Mustang Roll). For hard terrain, entire wall should be rolled, toe to heel. For soft terrain, roll as desired.
6) Every hoof is approached with the concept of “Target Trimming” - trim that which is most important first, and only that - one item at a time. This means that every single part of the hoof is not always trimmed; focus only on what is necessary.

Above, same healthy, sound hoof, before and after a monthly maintenance trim by James Welz.

Trimming by Steps
It's easy to write down a list of trimming steps - deceptively easy! What is difficult is conveying the decision process involved. What to remove when, and why. What NOT to remove when, and why! It only takes a few days to learn to trim a hoof. Then it usually takes a few years to learn how to make the complex decisions necessary to trim well!

Click here to continue on to part 2.

©2006 by The Horse's Hoof. All rights reserved. No part of these publications may be reproduced by any means whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher and/or authors. The information contained within these articles is intended for educational purposes only, and not for diagnosing or medicinally prescribing in any way. Readers are cautioned to seek expert advice from a qualified health professional before pursuing any form of treatment on their animals. Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher.


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