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Fundamentals of Trimming


Many of the most experienced and respected farriers in the industry will tell you that the trim is the most important step in shoeing a horse. If you don’t get the trim right then keeping the horse sound and the hoof in good condition is going to be more difficult. We have a few simple suggestions regarding the observations you should make before jumping into the trim of a front foot.

The article by Bob Pethick in Volume 9, Issue 4 of The Natural Angle had photos of the alignment of the hoof and limb you need to look at before starting on the front foot. Those views should help you to understand the hoof balance as you go through the rest of your pre-trim inspection.

The lateral view will help you to determine if the angle of the hoof lines up with the angle of the pastern. This is one of your important balance points. You can also check the angle of the heel compared to the toe from this view.

The closer examination of the foot from the front may help you see the medial/lateral balance. Flares can indicate an imbalance that may also be visible when you look at the bottom of the foot. The coronary band will also give you some things to consider. If the hairline is pushed up in one area it may be an indication of pressure from a high spot below that area. Does the coronary band look fairly level? If not, this may also indicate an imbalance in the bottom of the foot.

Always pick up the foot and hold it loosely by the cannon bone. Keep it in close to the body of the horse so that the limb is not twisted. Don’t push against the foot with your thumb as this can cause the view to be distorted. This view of the foot will help you finalize your plans for the trim. Is the hoof capsule squared up with the leg? Look carefully at the distances from the bottom of the hoof to the hairline on each side. Are they the same length? This will give you an indication of your medial/lateral bal- ance. You should be able to see if the foot has more length on one toe quarter versus the other. You can also begin to get a sense of where the heel is in relation to the highest/widest point of the frog. Of course the highest/widest point determination should be made once you have cleaned the frog and heels in the next steps of the trim.

These are simple steps but critical to reaching your goal of a correct trim. Look for more details on the trim in a future issue.