The Horse's Hoof: Healthy Trimming Basics

A Pictorial Guide, Part 2

by James & Yvonne Welz ©2006

(Click here to return to Part 1)

Step by step trimming photos of a monthly maintenance trim by James Welz.

Hoof before trimming (one month since previous trim). 3 year old warmblood mare with no health issues. First, evaluate overall hoof health. Locate areas of deviation from normal-these are your “target.” In this case, the only problem here is a little excess growth of heel and bar.

Begin the trim by rasping down the heels to desired height. We recommend low heels to allow the frog to be weightbearing and in full contact with the ground.

How do you determine correct heel height? There are a few common guidelines. One is to simply bring the heels back to the widest part of the frog. Another simple guideline is to lower heels to the bottom edge of the periople; however this is only helpful if you can actually see the periople, and it hasn't worn away! Some people use actual measurements, but we think measuring can cause too many problems. Some trimmers will lower the heels by first locating the beginning of the "live sole" or "new sole" in the heel triangle area, and then leaving the heels just a tad bit longer than that -- which is a valuable technique, but really needs hands-on guidance and practice. A good hoofcare practitioner develops a natural feel for appropriate heel height for various horses (and every horse is different!). Our recommendation is to be gradual and conservative at first - remember, you can always take more off, but you can't put it back on!

Then, even out any areas of hoof wall that are flaring or out of balance.

Evaluate the hoof balance throughout your trim. Hoof needs to be balanced front to back, and side to side. Uneven hoof wear may need some correction with every trim.

Click here to continue on to part 3.

©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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