We have all read at one point or another now that the barefoot community believes on a whole that the heels of the horse should be low and the toe should be short. I do fully support this when at all possible. We have also seen arguments against this. I’m not going to get into mustang rolls and enhanced breakover, lowering bars and what not.
I will quote a good friend of mine Josh Noone from www.hoofwork.com "Good work is good work. Farrier or barefoot trimmer."
I often see people refer to a pasture trim or a farrier trim as the norm. Maybe I have been lucky here in the Northeast US, because I think I have only seen two of these so called pasture trims. Let me try and describe the pasture/farrier trim. This trim is basically the start of preparing a hoof for shoeing. The hoof usually has flat solar plane and sharp edge with nothing beveled. The bars are cut back, heals left generally high, flaring not addressed, and hoof wall intentionally left long. I would not call this a pasture trim I would call this a bad trim!!! This just sounds like poor work to me. Any hoofcare professional (Barefoot Trimmer or Farrier) should be able to see this work is not acceptable.
Now comparing this to a barefoot trim, where the heels are lowered to a more natural angle, toes nipped and rasped back, bars cut down to either the solar surface or just a bit higher, flares rasped down to keep proper hoof form when the hoof allows, and a beveled outside hoof wall to help reduce chipping. Again this is how most of the farriers I have worked with in the Northeast US trim hooves.
Obviously there is way more to describe and show when it comes to good or bad hoof trimming than can be shown in a basic blog post. I would encourage the reader (horse owner, farrier, barefoot trimmer) to expand their knowledge and read as much as they can on hoofcare.
Regardless of the methods or principles used by your barefoot trimmer or farrier, hopefully they take the entire horse into consideration. I have seen flares removed when the hoof actually needed it and flares left when it didn’t. Whatever camp you subscribe to make sure to keep an open mind and always remember that there is no perfect hoof, no perfect confirmation and certainly no perfect horse. Not all methods work for every horse which is why we has hoofcare providers have to constantly expand our knowledge and study the latest techniques and principles. Both Shoeing farriers and barefoot farriers can learn a great deal from one another. Continue your education even when you think you don’t have to. An old farrier once asked me if he could watch me trim a horse. I laughed and said I’m a new Barefoot trimmer what are you going to learn from me. He replied you always learn something new by watching someone. It might be what to do and it might be what not to do but it’s something.
So personally I don’t care if you call yourself a farrier, barefoot trimmer, barefoot farrier, hoofcare professional, or you are just a horse owner, you should be able to easily look at a hoof and see what looks right, I’m not saying what looks perfect but at least know what is right. If you are uncertain of a hoof ask your hoofcare provider why it looks a certain way. He or she might have a good reason for it, but question something if you think it might not be right.
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