The Natural Trim for My Working Horses
by Debra Singleton

Someone wrote about the trim being not suitable for high performance horses. Of course shod horses will go through a period of tenderness immediately after pulling shoes. Out of 26 various breeds, ages and sizes, only four (of my horses) have had really tender soles on gravel and these had problems anyway, as navicular, laminitis or had been shod all their life with pads on.

In my area of Va. we have soft pastures, so I expected all to be very tenderfooted last Oct. when we went totally barefoot. Surprisingly enough, I did not have to miss giving any riding lessons on my school horses due to tenderness. The ring consists of #10 gravel and is quite hard at times. Martha said this was perfect for toughing up their soles.

We did not jump them this winter, but I never do, anyway, because after a full show season with students I think the horses deserve a break till spring. However, we continued with strenghtening our flat work skills, and not one school horse had trouble with this. In fact the TB horses did great and their gaits improved immensely.

Early spring we took 6 to a hunter pace over various rocky terrain, through creek beds, etc. at a good steady pace. I was almost certain when we were galloping over this stuff that I would find some ouchy bruised feet the next day. I had hoof boots for my TB mare that came off 3 times within 15 minutes of the start, so I carried them on my belt for the rest of the pace.

The horses were extremely surefooted and really enjoyed the exertion. We soaked their feet in the cool creek after the event for 20 minutes. Loaded up and went home with everyone looking fine. The next day all these horses had lessons and they all were sound.

I used the dremel to take a good look at their soles the next week and only 1 pony had a bruise and that could have been there for a month or so before becoming visible. Regardless, he was not tender from it. Out of this crew was one 17 y.o. T.B. mare who had always been extremely sore if she lost a shoe, a saddlebred mare who had only been shod 6 months the previous summer (and had become underslung and contracted in that short period of time), an appendix 16 y.o. gelding who had been shod all his career, an appy. who had had 2 in. of heel removed since December (I have a previous post on him-crooked feet), a paso-arab pony and a large arab pony.

So much for worrying about performance. Huh? All are in their rigorous show season as usual and the only difference I can see is they have a better stride, they are healthier and we no longer have to worry about losing shoes the day of or during our events. I've been extremely pleased with our efforts to produce the natural trim.

Debra Singleton

Note: Photos are provided for reference and educational purposes only, and are not meant to indicate guidelines for trimming. Every horse should be trimmed as an individual. Opinions vary as to what constitutes "correct" but keep in mind - there are NO PERFECT FEET, not even in the wild. Owners are cautioned to seek professional help for the trimming of their own horse's feet. Owner trimming of pathological feet is not advised. Photos may not be reproduced, copied, or distributed in any way.

©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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