Hoof Corner: Our Way of Trimming the Mustang Roll

by James & Yvonne Welz ©2008

Some people say that we should not create a mustang roll on the edge of the hoof wall through trimming - that if the horse "needs" a roll, he will wear the edge away himself. That makes no sense - unless we apply that to ALL our trimming: why should we trim any of the horse's hoof at all - when he can just wear it away by himself, if he needs it that way?

This is our simple stand: We trim our domestic horses' hooves to give him all the structural benefits that the mustang's enjoy due to their natural lifestyle. This lifestyle is simply not possible in domestication. Few people can give their horses even adequate exercise, much less wild-horse-style exercise. Through trimming, we can shape the healthiest hoof possible for our beloved equines. One of the most important features of this shape is the Mustang Roll.

Once again, "our" Mustang Roll comes to us from the Mustang himself:

This is a cadaver hoof from a healthy Mustang. Really study that hoof wall edge closely. Note the nearly vertical angle of the front edge at the toe! Yet the whole shape is smooth. There is even rolling from toe to heel.

Here is a similar Mustang cadaver hoof, with the capsule split down the center. We can see the internal structures of the wall:

The left arrow points to the "water line" (which is the white material). The center arrow points to the "white line" (which is the gray material). The right arrow points to the edge of the sole.

When evaluated, it is clear that the lowest part of the hoof is somewhere between the water line, white line, and the edge of sole. The water line actually rises up a bit from the ground surface (barely brushing it), then the outer wall outside the water line sharply and drastically turns upwards, in a near vertical swoop. The top arrow points to the height of the mustang roll. This outer wall is as passive as the inner concave sole!

This is how we pattern our mustang roll, to duplicate this effect of unloading the outer wall. Here is an example of James' mustang roll:

The roll creates a slight vertical edge to the hoof, not very high up, but very distinct. The surface is rounded, but the roll does not extend deeply onto the bottom sole surface of the hoof. Just like the Mustang, this mustang roll exists mainly on the outer wall. The purpose is not to create a smooth, pretty, rounded edge; the purpose is the relieve the outer wall.

Now, the roll, side by side:

A mustang hoof, and a hoof (belonging to a performance horse) trimmed by James.

This is just an example of the results we obtain using this version of the mustang roll. We'll provide more how-to information in future articles.

How NOT to do it:

Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the way many rolls are being done out there. Here is a typical, "barely there" roll:

A poor quality roll with little positive effect. Hairlines in the quarters are pushed up from the peripheral loading, and the toe is slightly flared. The walls are probably thin due to the excess pressure at the coronet.

Usually too much rolling is being done to the bottom of the hoof (see below), and too little to the outer wall. It doesn't take much on the bottom to make the horse very sore! The bottom does not really need to be rolled, as you can clearly see from the mustang example above. This version of the roll does not seem to increase hoof health or unload the outer wall. It is not sufficient to reap the benefits of the mustang roll!

Another roll with little effect. This hoof will drastically improve if the roll is changed to duplicate the mustang's.

(August 2008)

This area of The Horse's Hoof represents OUR own personal opinions and recommendations regarding hooves and hoof care. We are James & Yvonne Welz, owners of The Horse's Hoof Magazine and website. While the emphasis of The Horse's Hoof is to promote barefoot as a whole, and provide a place for practitioners of all methods to gather and interact, we do have our own personal way of doing things. Throughout this past decade, we have been quietly practicing barefoot horse care on hundreds of horses, ironing out what really works, and here we will share our knowledge with you.

©2008 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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