A natural trim

Posted: January 31st, 2008, by Melanie Merrow

Before PhotoThis overgrown hoof is from a standard bred mare that has some hip problems and is only kept as a pasture horse. I added the red dots to outline the frog, and the white dots to show the hoof wall and bars. You can use the location of the apex of the frog and the length of the frog as guiding factors in determining where the hoof wall should start. If a hoof is overgrown, the formula length of frog divided by two should equal the distance from hoof wall to the apex of frog. The main issues she has are a flared and unbalanced hoof wall, bars that have grown forward and are unbalanced from right to left. The heels have grown forward and starting to fold over the sole.

This horse is outside on 24/7 but has access to a shelter; has a diet consisting primarily of hay with a night feeding of 1 cup of soaked beet pulp with 1/4 cup of black oil sunflower seeds. A low sugar diet will help a horse have healthy hooves by keeping the sole tough and strong, even if there is a long period of time between trimmings.

AfterThe second photo – click on the thumbnail to see more detail – was taken after my natural trim. In trimming away the bars and balancing the heels to the widest part of the frog, it revealed a good working healthy hoof. I trimmed away the extra hoof wall and evened out the thickness, relieving the pressures of a flared wall. I did not trim away any sole or parts of the frog beyond any dead black flaps. This horse has not worn shoes in over five years was still able to remain healthy. Flexing and movement are key factors in maintaining a healthy hoof.