Show Me the Difference Between
            a Farrier Pasture Trim and a Natural Trim

An example of flared toe or divergent toe angle (DTA)

An example of flared toe
or divergent toe angle (DTA)

 
A hoof with flared quarters

A hoof 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.

Flared Quarters
This hoof also has flared quarters. This may cause quarter cracks and chipping as the hoof grows out.

The Result
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 trim.

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.

Long bars and low underrun heels

Long bars and low underrun heels

 
The Farrier Pasture Trim (Before and After)
 
 
The Farrier Pasture Trim (Before and After)
 

Underrun Heels
The heels are left in an “underrun” condition and will worsen overtime further misaligning the horse’s skeletal structure.

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 soundly.

This naturally trimmed hoof is solid and healthy after 10 weeks.
This naturally trimmed hoof is solid and healthy
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 behind).

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!

Cleaned sole and naturally trimmed bars

Cleaned sole and naturally trimmed bars

 
Naturally trimmed hoof wall and frog

Naturally trimmed hoof wall and frog

 
Beveled hoof wall- beginning the Mustang roll

Beveled hoof wall- beginning the Mustang roll

 

Natural Hoof Trimming -
See it Step By Step

Watch as we give this horse a natural trim.

The Sole
The dead tissue is scraped off the sole and the frog is cleaned up.

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
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.

The Frog
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.

Naturally trimmed hoof with Mustang roll.

 

The Naturally Trimmed Hoof
The Mustang roll is complete; the flaring has been rasped off.

A Naturally Trimmed Hoof - After 10 Weeks
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 just trimmed.

A Pasture Trim Side-By-Side with A Natural Trim
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 done!

3 days after a pasture trim   2 minutes after a natural trim   10 weeks after a natural trim
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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Specializing in Horses with Hoof Pathology and Lameness Issues

Patricia Morgan Wagner
Certified Hoof Rehabilitation
Rainier, WA


 
 
 
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