example of flared toe
or divergent toe angle (DTA)
with flared quarters
Ever wonder how a farrier pasture trim and a
natural trim differ? In these close-up hoof photos you will
see for yourself the striking differences that can go unnoticed
by the untrained eye.
The Farrier Pasture Trim
We’ll examine the key elements of a horse hoof trim
so you can see why the typical farrier pasture trim does not
promote a healthy hoof that can go shoeless comfortably.
This thoroughbred mare’s hooves were recently
given a pasture trim by a farrier.
Flared Toe or Divergent Toe Angle (DTA)
The healthy angle is emerging from the coronet band but the
flare has not been addressed. As the hoof capsule grows out
the flaring hoof horn will continue down the hoof. This may
cause the hooves to begin chipping and splitting within weeks.
This hoof also has flared quarters. This may cause quarter
cracks and chipping as the hoof grows out.
As a result of the trim, these hooves will crack, split and
chip as they grown out. As is often the case, this horse’s
owner was (mistakenly) advised that the horse had very poor
quality hooves and required shoes to be ridden.
In fact, this mare has a dense hoof wall and
tough, strong hooves. She could be ridden anywhere shoeless
(barefoot). Keep reading to see her hooves after a natural
Look Closely At the Bars
To the untrained eye this appears to be a healthy well-formed
hoof. In this solar view you can see that the bars have not
been touched in some time. They are long and beginning to
roll, potentially trapping debris under them.
The heels are left in an “underrun” condition
and will worsen overtime further misaligning the horse’s
The Effects on Her Stride
The angle of the hoof affects the stride. When the hoof’s
break-over point is too far forward, the horse’s shoulder,
back and neck must compensate causing each gait to become
increasing uncomfortable until the horse begins stumbling
and refusing faster gaits.
We measured her hoof from the apex of the frog
to the toe. It should be about 1/3 the length of the frog
(natural length). This poor gal measured way too long causing
her to break-over at a point much farther forward than she
should, creating a very uncomfortable stride. This may explain
many behavioral issues. Even humans get cranky when their
feet hurt. Imagine if your feet hurt for months or years!
A Bleak Future
A mare in this condition might still perform elegant dressage
movements but her situation would usually reduce her to being
a baby factory in a dressage barn. I’ve seen cases where
the hoof was allowed to flare and flatten to the point where
the horse appeared to be standing on 4 cow pies with shoes
attached to the bottom.
A Brighter Future
Many graduates of the American
Association of Natural Hoof Care Practitioners (AANHCP)
program could produce a superior trim to the one we’ve
just examined - one that would help this horse function more
|This naturally trimmed hoof is solid
after 10 weeks.
The Naturally Trimmed Hoof
Now let’s examine a naturally trimmed hoof so you can
see the differences.
The pasture trimmed hoof we looked at above
was only a few days out from its last trim and the flares
were already visible (with splitting and chipping not far
This hoof has been in natural care for several
years. This hoof was trimmed 10 weeks prior to the photo.
Notice that it is free of cracks, chips and splits!
sole and naturally trimmed bars
trimmed hoof wall and frog
hoof wall- beginning the Mustang roll
Natural Hoof Trimming -
See it Step By Step
Watch as we give this horse a natural trim.
The dead tissue is scraped off the sole and the frog is cleaned
The sole has NOT been pared as is typical of
a pasture trim. Paring causes the sole to react as if it has
been injured (which it has) and it begins generating excess
tissue to heal itself.
In the wild the sole is abraded naturally to
keep it clear of dead tissue - so that the step we simulate
in our trim.
The bars have been taken down here, as you would see on a
healthy wild hoof. (The bars on the above farrier pasture
trimmed hoof were left too long causing them to roll over
and potentially trap debris.)
The Hoof Wall
The hoof wall has been trimmed to the sole. You may be able
to see a bit of redness in the white line at the toe (it’s
easier to see in person). I typically see this when a horse
has been on a diet rich in orchard grass and/or alfalfa. This
horse had been eating a bit more of the good stuff than she
was accustomed to.
Her frog isn’t the prettiest I’ve seen, but it
is a healthy, functioning frog.
Beveled Hoof Wall
The hoof wall has been beveled – beginning the Mustang
roll. Notice the wide waterline on this hoof.
Naturally trimmed hoof
with Mustang roll.
The Naturally Trimmed Hoof
The Mustang roll is complete; the flaring has been rasped
A Naturally Trimmed Hoof - After 10
Naturally trimmed hooves should be trimmed every 5 weeks.
In the photo below you can see just how healthy the naturally
trimmed hoof is - even after 10 weeks.
Actually, one of these hooves was trimmed 2
minutes before this photo was taken. The other hoof was trimmed
10 weeks prior to the photo (making it 5 weeks overdue for
a trim). Can you tell which is which?
Place your curser over the hoof you think was
A Pasture Trim Side-By-Side with A Natural
Interestingly, the natural trimmed hoof (middle and right)
belongs to a horse that was worked comfortably barefoot on
gravel hours about being trimmed. And they say it canít be
|3 days after a pasture trim
||2 minutes after a natural trim
||10 weeks after a natural trim
If your horse seems to be uncomfortable walking,
is reluctant to get up or down, is cranky or has had behavioral
shifts, natural trimming could help.
Contact us today for
more information and to schedule a natural hoof trim.
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