Hoof Stuff

Ok folks, opinions please.

Is this a potential disaster or a pair of hoofs doing a reasonable job of self-trimming?

Left fore :

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Right fore :

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This is not intended to be a trick question, by the way.  I have never been brave enough to allow hooves self-trim, but this is what has happened with Aero’s front feet over the last six weeks.  None of my horsey friends here are into the self-trimming idea, nor is my farrier.  I respect their opinions very much, as they have all been barefooters a lot longer than me!  On the farrier’s advice, I gave Aero’s feet a good rounding-off before I left, as they were trying very hard to grow and crack and chip like this.  I’ve seen first-hand the issues that can be caused when the wall is separating out like this and pieces of gravel or whatever become embedded in the white line so I can see where he and my barefoot friends are coming from.

HOWEVER…

you read about self-trimming and you do start to wonder… my guys are on really hard ground, perfect for self-trimming!  Surely it should work?

Anyway, Aero was 100% sound, even on stony ground, with his feet like this.  I rounded off the left hoof and took the inside wall down a bit, but then spent a lot of time on the right, bringing the protruding bits almost back as far as where the biggest chunk had fallen off at the toe.  This is a far more serious rasping than I have ever done before, and I was kinda nervous when I trotted him up afterwards.  He is often a bit ‘soft’ after the farrier trims him, but this time he was perfect!  Phew!

My thoughts are that his feet were ‘showing’ me just how far back I could go – I could possibly go even further with the right one.  At the same time, I’m wondering if rounding them off (mustang roll) is stopping his feet from going to where they want or need to be.  In this instance, with hard summer ground, is it purely cosmetic?

His hind feet, by the way, have not chipped in this way and need a ‘normal’ trim – they are looking particularly concave!

I’m far from expert at this stuff, so I’m interested to hear what other people think.

My camera battery died so I didn’t take ‘after’ photos but I will hopefully take some tomorrow.

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9 thoughts on “Hoof Stuff

    • He’s now developing fissures at the bottom where stones are being wedged in between the wall of the hoof and the white line. I’ve come to the conclusion that with him anyway, I need to keep rounding rounding rounding. That’s my current strategy anyway.

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  1. I am unfortunately late to this post, but they look like really good, healthy feet that are trying to chip back a bit. Nothing to be concerned about! I know you’ve already trimmed them at this point, but you might try doing more road work to help them wear down more gradually.

    I tried self-trimming some years ago and had some success. However, I found that I needed to walk (with a little trot) my boys on a road 2-3 days per week, for an hour at a time, to really have them self-trim. This is IN ADDITION to my boys getting 24/7 turnout on a small, hard-ground track system, and their regular work. I did try trimming myself, but it takes a tremendous amount of strength that I just don’t have.

    These days I have a barefoot specialist out every 4 weeks to trim them. He can immediately tell how much road work we’ve been doing. In a good month where we’ve spent a lot of time on the road, he’ll just to a small touch-up. In a normal month (steady work, but in a softer arena), he’ll do a full trim. Mine usually start to chip out around 3 weeks too!

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  2. Are you familiar with Maureen Tierney’s hoof guided method? I found her very helpful. She really listens to what the hoof is telling her and has what seems like a sensible method for doing so. On the other hand I attended a clinic given by Nic Barker about a year ago. The horses there all had good hooves (unfortunately – I’d have liked to have seen a few problems) so she advised leaving them all alone. She really emphasised taking a video at ground level of the hooves in motion and slowing the film down. In this way you could really see the heel first landing, or presumably if there were none. So her advice was – watch the horse in action and then make a decision re trimming. Do not worry about the ‘prettiness’ or other of the hoof.

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  3. If the horse is sound and there are no digital pulses, this looks like pretty typical self trimming on hard ground. You can round off the sharp edges if it suits you. If the hoof wall is getting longer than the load-bearing surface – frog and heel – this is what happens, if the horse gets enough abrasion to make it happen.

    Take a look at the Rockley Farm blog for more info on this subject. My horses do get farrier trims, but do a lot of this sort of self trimming, particularly at the quarters, between trims.

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  4. I think the foot is trying to self trim and would likely do so IF he got more exercise over the hard ground. I also think you are on the right track to trim back to where the hoof “wants” to be. Trim according to what the hoof is telling you. Typically, the hind feet are better at trimming themselves because the horse has more propulsion form the rear and they wear more. If you can increase movement so that the fronts will do the same, then self trimming will work.

    This is where self trimming fails for me as well, or perhaps it is more accurate to say that I fail it because I am unable to provide the exercise needed for self trimming. I would do just what you are, trim that foot back to where it is trying so hard to be. It just needs a bit of help, either in the form of trimming or more movement.

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