Comparing Barefoot and Traditional Trims

There are several key factors that distinguish the barefoot trim from the traditional pasture trim that is being given to our horses. These very key factors can make or break the horse! We have to leave the hoof alone for the most part to function as it was intended and not interfere with un-natural shoeing and trimming practices. This highlights the main pros and cons of the barefoot trim vs. the traditional trim. It is important to note that every farrier/trimmer is an individual and not everyone trims to these exact methods, some of these methods may be used while others are omitted.

Results of a Traditional Trim


Results of a Barefoot Trim

Heels often left too high, usually to help relieve soreness, frog rendered passive to the ground and not being stimulated. Digital cushion not being strengthened. Heels are at risk of becoming underslung and crushed. High heels can result in misalignment of the coffin bone.

Heels brought down to ideal height and balanced accordingly, to prevent high or underslung heels and aid in proper coffin bone alignment and proper stimulation of the frog and digital cushion. This also aids the foot in de-contracting from years of shoeing if applicable.

Sole often carved out, protective sole callous cut off to take sole pressure off the ground.

Sole lightly trimmed around the frog, smoothing it over and removing only dead, flakey sole, to build up natural thickness and protection via sole callous and natural concavity

Frog pared away to relieve ground pressure, results in weak, thin frogs which removes natural hoof traction and limits expanding and contracting of hoof capsule. Also limits stimulation of growth of fibrocartilage in the digital cushion resulting in soreness in the heel region and toe first landing.

Frog primarily left alone – only touch up if necessary - encouraged to take part in weight bearing; stimulates fibro-cartilage growth in the underlying digital cushion. Trim out central sulcus. Results in stronger heel region via heel first landing. On a healthy foot the frog usually covers about 2/3 of the length of the sole. It should appear full & robust.

Bars trimmed to or flush with sole level (often along with live sole), or not trimmed at all, results in weakening of entire hoof weight bearing structure. Removes natural hoof traction.

Bars separately from the sole. Trimmed to taper with the concavity of the hoof and should bear weight only in the very rear portion. Trim separately, fairly straight and flat on top – should end midpoint down the frog. Results in overall hoof strength and integrity as well as necessary traction.

Toes trimmed too short underneath, or not enough from top resulting in flares which cause undue soreness on hard terrain and gravel.

Toes are backed up from the top to natural toe angle. is taken from underneath the toe, resulting in better protection of the coffin bone and a comfortable horse.

Walls are frequently not addressed properly due to the lack of a mustang roll or necessary simulated wear via rasping to the outer wall. Results in discomfort on hard or rocky terrain. Flares lead to wall separation from the coffin bone and tearing of laminae.

Walls are evened out from the solar surface around the entire hoof – this includes removing flares. A good mustang roll relieves the peripheral loading stress on the laminar corium. When the mustang roll is applied to the entire foot, a natural scooping of the quarters will appear.

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