This article is provided for public information only, and not as an endorsement of these instructions. Please seek professional guidance.
(The following steps were provided by Dr. Hiltrud Strasser and Sabine Kells--used by permission)
Examine the hoof, placement and conformation from the front and the side, and determine whether there is anything wrong with the symmetry (from the front or sole) or angles. If the hoof is too steep, remember that the toe must likely be left alone for the time being (it usually is already too short).
Compare coronet diameter and toe length. If the toe is shorter than the coronet diameter, then do not, for now, trim any sole in front of an imaginary line drawn across the frog apex (not to be confused with trimming sole concavity immediately around the tip of the frog, which is necessary).
Slight corrections to the toe may be made after the rest of the trim is complete, for coronet and toe angle adjustments, levelness, etc.
Starting around the frog apex, trim the sole to expose the juncture between frog and sole horn. At this depth, carve a furrow immediately beside the frog toward the heels, to the halfway point of the frog (where the bars should end). There should be no more dirt or crevice between the sole and frog horn in this furrow from the apex to the midpoint of the frog.
Trim the bars. They have their beginning (0 cm height) at the midpoint of the length of the frog (where the bar is at the same level as the sole), and their highest point at the heel (turning point of bar to wall), where they become the wall. They run in a straight line from their origin to the heel. At the halfway (lengthwise) point of the properly trimmed bars, the vertical height difference between the upper edge of the bar and the wall beside it should be 1 cm (necessary for the sole to draw flat properly on weightbearing). At the same point, the vertical height difference from the upper edge of the bar to the deepest point of the collateral groove (connection between frog and bar) should also be 1 cm.
Mark proper bulb/heel height (about 3.5 cm vertical height from the top end of the lateral cartilages, or 3 cm from the edge of the hair-bearing skin below them) and the line along which the trim should go along the lateral hoof wall (generally only as far forward as the frog apex). The frog in its heelward third should be level with the heels/wall; its apex can be level with the sole, and should not be much longer. Begin to concave the sole while trimming the walls and heels along this line. If the hoof is contracted or high-heeled, it may be better, after marking the correct heel height, to concave the sole first, and then shorten the heel and wall as properly as possible. This avoids accidentally cutting into corium or leaving the sole convex or too thin.
Carve the solar concavity as a smooth dish. In the bar triangle, the sole level must be shorter than bar and wall (the sole must be relatively thin in this region, to allow proper hoof mechanism). Also, it must allow the bar to protrude slightly for proper skid brake action (in healthy hooves; in hooves which require reshaping or uncontracting, this is often not possible). In the lateral regions, the sole should be shorter than the wall. In the region of the moon sickle, the sole is normally at the same level as the wall.
Scoop or float the quarters (more important for horses on rocky terrain than on yielding ground). To check, align bulb/toe or place a level object (rasp, plexiglass, etc.) on the wall and view it from the side.
Note hoof angles (toe, coronet, toe/coronet). After correctly trimming sole, walls, bars, frog and heels, check and establish correct coronet and toe angles (seen from the side): a 30 degree coronet, about a 45 degree toe wall on the fronts, and a 55 degree toe wall on the hinds (remembering that these angles are for non-abraded hoof walls).
If necessary (slippered toe, shallow hoof, white line separation, etc.), rasp the toe contour so that an imaginary line drawn from the coronet to the breakover point at the toe has the correct angle (is parallel to the coffin bone), and that the angle of toe wall to coronet is also correct 95 degrees on a hind, 105 on a front). In some cases, this is impossible to achieve due to insufficient toe height (such as in a long-term high-heeled hoof, or one where a good part of the coffin bone tip has been destroyed, seen often with long-term conventional treatment of founder). In this case, the primary importance is to bring the breakover point back to where a coffin bone parallel wall would end.
Check levelness and balance. Examine the placement of the hoof from the front and assure that the coronet is horizontal; especially hinds often tend to bowleggedness (inside high). Correct if necessary (by shortening or weakening) and also assure that the bulbs (end of the lateral cartilages) are of equal height, seen from behind when the hoof is weightbearing. Correct if necessary.
Retouch the sole. After any trimming of the wall, such as after angle or balance corrections or scooping, always check to be sure that the sole is not left protruding relative to the new wall length. Also check that the quarters are still scooped.
Assure that the hoof mechanism functions properly on whichever terrain the horse lives on. If necessary, make opening cuts.
©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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