Horse Hoof Trimming

Trimming Introduction and examples

Horse hoof trimming needn't be complicated. Well labeled examples helped me immensely when I was learning.

While learning on the internet is not ideal, many of the best professional trimmers I know started this way. Often, as owners, we feel the need to take care of our horses' hooves ourselves.

That is how I got started. I had a horse with problems, and he needed help. I was lucky and also had a horse with very good feet. I think his good feet taught me as much about proper horse hoof trimming as any website, book or teacher.

If you have a chance to study a good footed horse, you will learn a tremendous amount.

I have been trimming hooves professionally for over a decade. I enjoy my job immensely, but even with years of experience, it is hard to know with certainty what is the best trim for any given hoof.

My idea of best has changed drastically over time. I now have one main goal in mind as I trim. I want to find the most comfortable hoof shape for the horse. I no longer believe there are perfect parameters or that I always know what is best. I look to the horse to guide me.

I adhere to two philosophies while trimming.

  • I start simply. I usually start with trimming only unless the horse has laminitis. I will institute more changes over time, but want to tease apart trimming issues from other problems. Too many changes, and it becomes confusing.
  • I generally know within two or three trims if I am dealing with only hoof issues, health issues or a combination.

  • I understand that trimming is a process. I take a slower approach and ask the foot for changes over time.

I have approached hoof trimming from all directions and after years have found what works best for me. I rely heavily on the information I get from the hoof capsule. I make a few final adjustments from the bottom, but the bulk of work is done from the top.

I no longer strive for perfection. I know that may sound crazy, but I find that being too careful and too goal oriented leads to over trimming. Over trimming leads to consistently sore horses. Trust me, I know.

I no longer focus on what is wrong, possibly wrong or going wrong. Instead, I strive for improvement in movement and comfort.

I don’t think that it is vitally important how the trimming is done. All the different methods usually end up with very similar results.

I see lots of wonderful work done using various methods. I have used various methods myself.

Find what works for you and what you understand best.

I have come to realize that how I THINK about trimming is more important than how I use my tools. The more I understand form and function, the better plan I have when I trim.

Horse hoof trimming is not and exact science. The more you understand, the more confidence you will have. The more confidence you have, the better you will trim.

OK, that last statement isn't always true. There was a point in time when I was overly confident and that translated to my over-trimming horses. Be kind to yourself if you happen to do this. Learn from it.

I have had to move past many mistakes I have made over the years. I try to use them to continue learning. I openly share so that you may learn from my experiences. I do hope it helps you help your horses.

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Click on pictures to see examples

Flared Flat Hoof Flared Flat Hoof on a Welsh Cob

Long Toe/Under-run Heel A hoof with a long toe and under-run heel.

Tall Hoof
Possible issues to look for when trimming tall hooves.