Trimming Results

A 5 yo Hanoverian/TB X gelding

Shoes were removed in December ’08.  The images represent his progress over the course of the next 5 months.

Left Front Foot

  Dec082lf      Mar09lf   

         Fig. 1                                                              Fig. 2

  Apr09lf          May09lf

       Fig. 3                                                              Fig. 4

    The long toe is progressively coming back into better proportion.

A better hoof/ pastern alignment is visible in the subsequent views.


What a Little Good Trimming Can Do


The horse in question, an 18 yo Appaloosa was retired from showing because of the non-specific diagnosis of caudal heel pain syndrome.  Xrays confirmed the presence of ‘changes’ that were attributed to his discomfort.  He was shod according to proper conventional veterinary standards for navicular, which did help to make him comfortable, but he still seemed stiff, definitely not agile, and, at the bottom of the pecking order would allow himself to be cornered and bullied rather than try and run away.

In examining his feet, there was nothing obvious or terrible about them that would be making him sore but the owner decided, with much trepidation, to give barefoot a try. As it turned out there was quite a bit of fine tuning to do on his feet and with each trim his gait and comfort level improved. In particular his toes were able to be shortened much more than they could be in wedge shoes even though short toes is the standard shoeing protocol for ‘easing breakover’.

Right Front Leg Lateral View

1may07b.jpg           2may07b.jpg         3my07b.jpg

a.  With shoes                          b.  Shoes Just Removed            c.  First Trim

In the shoes with wedge pads, the toe length looks acceptable, but without it, the excess length is more apparent.  While a wedge does improve breakover, it comes at the cost of shifting the weight of the foot and leg pathologically onto the toe.  With one trim, the toe length is improved and the bulge in the hairline is relaxed and straighter.

11jun07b.jpg    12ajuly07b.jpg   dec.jpg                        

d.  Growing out holes           e.  4 mos. later                     f.  7 mos. later 

As the trim progresses, the hairline bulge continues to improve, the toe continues to come back, the heel stands up a little, and the foot comes ‘under the leg’ in balance.  In the last photo, the hairline angle approaches the ideal as toe height improves, and the toe length is nice and short. The horse is standing comfortably with the cannon bone nicely vertical, with all his weight visibly placed onto that leg and into the heels.   

Note the difference between figs. c and f.  In the later photo, the heel has been brought back more underneath the boney column, providing a better base of support which is helpful in a navicular diagnosis (as in all cases since the balance is better).  The toe is shorter in lenght but has more depth from coronary band to ground, which improves comfort.  In general the whole shape of the foot is much improved, without having made any drastic changes. 


  Horse and rider right after a trim.

The mare is classified as a pony but is a QH, with large, horse-sized feet. She had fairly healthy feet to start with, with the exception of some minor flaring that was corrected over the course of the first two trims. This enabled her right lead canter to improve and helped with better lead changes.

    blog4lfbeforeflare.jpg                  blog5noflare.jpg 

     Slight Medial Flare                      Flare has been corrected

 blog2.jpg             blog1.jpg              blog3.jpg

    Left                                                    Right                                        Left Sole

She and her owner/rider have had a very successful 2007 showing season,  winning Champion in Children’s Hunter Pony Division at the “Big E” Eastern Seaboard Exposition  in MA, a finalist (8th place) in Marshall & Sterling National Finals at HITS in Saugerties NY, and Reserve Champion at Gardnertown Farms in Newburgh NY. They are now (February 2008) competing at HITS in Ocala, FL.

smallbig_e.jpg             small-m-s.jpg

At the “Big E”                       In a Chronicle of the Horse ad congratulating M&S Finalists

                                               (upper right hand corner)

This is a Left Front foot with the inside wall curving to the inside, in a bell-shaped fashion (red dotted line Fig. 2).  This is being caused in part by the sole at the inside toe which is  too high (Fig. 1) as well as the toe too long.

This young mustang, never shod, has very thick and extremely hard walls which do not break off with wear but continue growing in a distorted way, and altering the horse’s stance.

1alfbefmu.jpg    4lffrontmu.jpg

Fig. 1                                                          Fig. 2

The trimming treats this condition similarly to a flare but also lowers the toe on the inside (sole is removed). So, there are cases when sole forward of the frog does need to be rasped. The trimming is complicated by the inside-growing direction the walls have adopted. Now that the inside wall is growing more correctly, the outside wall needs to begin to start growing in a more outwardly direction (more visible in Fig 3 due to the angle of the photograph). Advanced trimming techniques such as floating the heel and the diagonal toe will allow this to occur.

2alfheelsnov1mu.jpg   5lffrontoctmu2.jpg

Fig. 3                                                     Fig. 4



Fig. 5

A photo from an early trim shows how all the pressure was  put on the inside wall by the long toe, with all the compression rings on the inside only.

Here is an example of overgrown bar that has migrated forward onto the sole creating the appearance of a ‘false’ or ‘double’ sole.  The material is not merged with the sole and is distinctly different in appearance and texture.

   right-fore-solar-initial.jpg    right-fore-lateral-initial.jpg 

After 5 months of trimming:


The bars are brought back to their correct position ending alongside the collateral grooves and approximately to the midpoint of the frog. Also note the expansion of the contracted heels.

These pictures are courtesy of a barefoot trimmer in the Midwest.

The horse in question is a 30+ (?) yo neglected (starvation) rescue case.

Overgrown bars can lead to a variety of problems, such as exerting pressure on the hoof wall which causes it to crack.


The Right Hind hoof has a crack starting at the lateral toe quarter which began with an abscess. (As seen here).

jerry-bar1.jpg   jerry-sole-aft1.jpg

 Before trim                                            After trim

Both bars are too long, grown above the height of the frog preventing it from being weightbearing. The lateral bar has extended almost to the frog’s apex and overlaid onto the sole. At the green arrow it is raised above the sole by at least 1/4″.  The furthest point of the bar (where the blue arrow starts), exerts pressure on the wall when the foot is weightbearing, in the direction of that arrow and splits the wall apart.  The underrun heels also contribute to the problem. To correct the problem, the bars have been shortened and brought back approximately to the frog’s midpoint, the heels have been lowered and brought back to the widest point of the frog, and the toe has been backed up. These changes will allow proper forces to be exerted on the hoof capsule allowing the crack to grow out.

Healthy laminae are vital  in preventing founder. The health of the laminae is determined in part by their length. The shorter they are, the more tightly they connect the coffin bone to the inside of the hoof wall, because they are not ‘stretched out’.  Their distance is measured horizontally from the coffin bone to the inside of the hoof wall. On the sole view, they appear as a narrow, tight, healthy white line with no separation.  

The photos  in this progression essentially speak for themselves, and are used to illustrate the change in the laminar connection, as well as the angle of growth, once a correct trim is undertaken. Equally obvious results are evident in horses that are already barefoot but were not correctly trimmed, and examples of these will be posted in future entries. (Reader contributions as always are welcome).

1aug9bfm.jpg August

The horse was ‘rescued’ from a hack line by a new owner at this point. The horse was bruising himself with the shoes due to the overgrown feet.





2sep06m2.jpg September

One month after the shoes were removed, the horse has largely self-trimmed its feet to this profile with the exception of the toe being rasped a little by hand. The new laminar growth has come in so much tighter (closer to the coffin bone) that the hoof wall has ‘separated’ away at the line of new growth and looks like a crack. The second half of the new growth has come in at a more correct angle as the hoof started correcting itself.  



The new growth has progressed almost halfway down the hoof and continues to come in at a steeper angle, closer and tighter to the coffin bone.






 A small amount of old growth remains, projecting beyond the new growth.






5nov28m.jpg December

The growth is now all at the same angle and the ‘cracked’ hoof wall has almost grown out.





 The pastern angle remains steep as a result of joint adaptation (from the long term incorrect hoof form visible in August), rather than heel pain.