Going Barefoot – Advice, Help and Resources
Barefoot trimming is the term used to describe trimming horses hooves so they can be ridden without the use of metal shoes.
Keeping a horse barefoot is a true joy and well worth studying and accomplishing.
If your horse is shod, the first thing that needs to be done, is to remove his shoes.
You may know how to do this – it is not so difficult but you will need the correct tools and it is much easier if there is someone who can help you.
However – if you need help then just ask your farrier to remove their shoes. However what is important here is not to let them trim the hoof unless they know how to do a natural barefoot trim. This is not a pasture trim.
To make it easier for yourself I suggest you ask them before they come – much easier having this sorted than putting yourself and them on the spot.
Or if you have a barefoot trimmer locally they should be able to remove the shoes.
In the above picture you can just see the remaining nail holes on this hoof from shoes which were removed 4 weeks ago.
Once the shoes have been removed the hooves need to have a barefoot trim. Barefoot trimming is not a standard pasture trim done by a farrier. It is a specialized trim. Care needs to be taken to make sure that it is done correctly.
To help you with your barefoot trimming We have now produced an eBook- High Performance Barefoot Trimming.
This can be downloaded instantly. It goes into detail how to trim all the different parts of the hoof in a step by step format.
I have written it for horse owners and made it as easy as possible for everyone to understand so they can by the end of the book trim their own horses hooves.
In addition to this I have written some individual pages on this site on the different parts of the hoof, and how I trim these.
Whether you wish to learn to trim or just understand what you barefoot trimmer is doing, either way these pages should help you immensely.
High Performance Barefoot Trimming.“> covers all the information that is on these pages below but also much more information on barefoot trimming and how to actually trim.
Barefoot Trimming Pages:-
The first page to read is;-
Then at the bottom of this page you will be directed to pages outlining how to trim the bars, the sole etc.
The hooves will need to trimmed and kept in shape regularly. Depending on the amount of work the horse is in, will depend how much maintenance trimming will be required.
I have found that the best way to maintain the hooves is to trim them very frequently.
If they are doing a lot of mileage the trimming required will be significantly less. If they are doing little mileage they will need to be trimmed every 3 weeks.
Once I started trimming them every 3 weeks, the hooves then really improved, they became tougher, stronger and we got a much better wall connection.
I cannot emphasis enough the importance of frequent trimming. If you try and trim them, or have them trimmed every 6-7 weeks, you will in my opinion, never really manage to have healthy hooves.
The list below is a brief list of the areas that you will need to look at, assess and trim.
How to actually trim each area is covered in great easy to read detail in:-High Performance Barefoot Trimming.
Parts of the Hoof Which Will Need to be Assessed and Trimmed Accordingly
- Looking at the hoof first to assess balance and toe length and flaring. Ie looking and assessing first while the horse is standing.
- Checking heel height from underneath and trimming when necessary
- Backing/shortening the toe from underneath
- Removing any excess flare from underneath
- Defining and trimming the bars,
- Checking frogs, trimming if necessary,
- Keeping clear the collateral grooves, the central sulcus and the frog sole junction,
- Scooping the quarters,
- Checking and balancing the hoof
- Creating a mustang roll from on top, I do this using a hoof stand.
This can, once you know how, easily be kept up by you, or your trimmer, if you prefer, or a combination of both.
So for example you could trim/tidy up the hooves every 3 weeks. Then have them checked every month or every 2 months by your barefoot trimmer.
With our barefoot trimming we trim and check the hooves every 3 weeks.
This is something when I started trimming that I struggled with and often wondered about.
So without having a trimmer come and inspect your trimming how do you really know?
Well the answer is:-
“You should see an improvement in hoof form over time.
This includes structural integrity. So the walls should get thicker, the heels should get wider, the outer walls should be smooth and flat, without slippering or ripples/ridges.”
In Addition I would also Add….
That the white line should tighten, the sole should deepen creating hoof concavity and the frog widen and become calloused.
The hoof should begin to look more like a wild horses hoof. The horse should become sound and be able to cross different terrains if he is exercised over different surfaces.
Ideally with barefoot trimming you want the horses to be ‘self trimming’ their own hooves. This is the “lazy” model to be working towards.
Even though we exercise our horses regularly and also hunt them, we still find that we need to trim their hooves. It will depend how much riding you do, the terrain you ride on and their living terrain as to how much they need trimming.
There are quite a number of books on barefoot horse care and trimming. To date I think I have just about read them all. They all offer and bring sometime to this fantastic and very important subject. Some are very detailed, others are more about the whole subject of barefoot horse care.
When I started to learn about hoof care I wanted an A -Z as to what to do.
The book I wanted to buy was not on the market! I kept searching for it – but to no avail.
High Performance Barefoot Trimming is the book I wanted to buy, which I have now written.
It is an A to Z of how to trim. And written in easy to understand English for anyone.
However the trim I do has taken years to develop so although it is easy to understand – I am teaching and writing for you, what in my opinion, is a very well researched high performance barefoot trim.
The only qualification I have (or that I am interested in) – is the horse. All the horses I trim, I ride. And this is how I have learnt to assess my trim.
If you decide to get help – learn and watch alongside your trimmer. The more you understand the trim and your horses hooves and how they effect how your horse goes, the better it will be for you and him.
If you do not understand barefoot trimming and what your trimmer is doing, ask them. If you read High Performance Barefoot Trimming this will show you the guidelins of barefoot trimming and help you understand the art of barefoot hoofcare.
There are differing opinions on how to do a barefoot trim. There are now a number of bodies and although they all advocate the riding and keeping of barefoot horses, they differ somewhat in their opinions on the trim and how to trim the hoof.
When I first started researching natural hoof care I found it challenging enough trying to master barefoot trimming, without the added confusion of the different bodies not agreeing with each others trim.
I stuck to the wild horse trim as recommended by Jaime Jackson, (AANHCP). Later on I went on and studied Hildrd Strasser’s work, (she has received bad press here in the UK). But if you look and read her books, her research and material is excellent.
We contacted a Strasser trimmer in order to try and determine the differences.
As it happened her trim, (she had trained with Hildred Strasser), was excellent and there was nothing that she recommended that caused me any concern.
In fact I would go as far as to say she is the best trimmer I have ever come across.
At this stage while you are learning – don’t worry too much about the differences just work on the basics as outlined here.
The differences are relatively minor and I have covered then in more detail in our eBook if you are interested and want to know more.
If you try and trim the hoof to get it to the wild horse shape before the internal structures are ready, you may well suffer consequences. The lesson here is, not, to over trim.
However I would also remember balance. This is because under trimming can also create it’s own problems. This is because if you have horn which should not be there it can create imbalance and inappropriate lever forces on the hoof capsule so creating internal damage.
An example of this is if you leave the toes and walls too long you will create stretched white line.
Pete Ramey’s Trimming Goals
Pete Ramey explains very clearly that when he trims his two goals are :-
- To leave the horse feeling the same or better after a trim
- and for the horse hooves to improve in the following weeks and grow a better well connected hoof wall
He goes on to say that, most people try and trim to much, too quickly and try and erase “10 years of pathology”" in one trim and by doing so violate rule number one.
He says he does not always achieve these goals and will make mistakes, but these are the goals he works towards, which are simple but very powerful.
When you know how to trim your horses according to the barefoot model it becomes a joy. All the worry goes………
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