Barefoot Hoof Trimming for a Sounder Horse

Natural hoof trimming, natural hoofcare and barefoot trimming are all terms used to describe a method of trimming that enables horses to be kept and ridden without shoes. There are many different styles of trim but they are mostly all based on the wild horse model.

Barefoot hoofcare is about more than just a trim method, however. It is a holistic approach to hoof care which takes into account the living conditions and the terrain that the horse encounters on a regular basis. The trim is a tool used to encourage the hoof to grow in a physiologically correct shape and the correct living conditions aid remodeling where necessary and help maintain a healthy hoof.

Barefoot hoofcare and hoof trimming aim to mimic natural wear so is often carried out on a more frequent basis than traditional pasture trims. This keeps the hoof in the optimum shape at all times.

There are many benefits to keeping your horse barefoot including:

  • Improved blood flow which improved horse's overall health.
  • Healthy, strong horn (hoof walls).
  • Greater shock absorption so fewer concussion related injuries.
  • Quicker heart rate recovery time after exercise.
  • No more worrying about shoes coming off during a ride/event.
  • Lower risk of injuries when playing in the field.
  • Improved traction - nature designed the hoof so it can adapt to all terrains.
  • Less tripping, stumbling and forging as horse can feel where it's feet are.

However, it is not just simply a case of removing the shoes and happily riding off into the sunset. Most horses need to go through a transition period to allow the hooves to adapt to being barefoot. During that time hoof boots may be needed when riding.

Good barefoot hoof trimming aims to:

  • Encourage a tight laminar connection by dealing with flares to ensure that the coffin bone is held strongly in the top of the hoof capsule.
  • The heels are trimmed to allow the frog to function in shock absorption.
  • The walls are trimmed so that the sole is also weight bearing.
  • The toe callus is encouraged to develop through conditioning to protect the front of the coffin bone.
  • Ensure that the bottom edge of the coffin bone is kept at approximately 0-5 degrees (depending on which trim method you follow) angle to the ground.

No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.  ~ Winston Churchill