History of the Barefoot Trim
In this article I identify seven people that have been influential in the “Barefoot Movement”.
· Dr. Hiltrude Strasser; Proper Trimming of a Sound Horse
· Lyle Bergeleen; Hoof Talk Natural Trim
· KC La Pierre; High Performance Trim
· Dennis Manning; AFA trim
· Gene Ovnicek; Natural Balance trim
· Dr. Ric Redden; Four Point Trim
· Michael Savoldi; Universal Sole Thickness UST
· Natural hoof care
Dr. Hiltrude Strasser; Proper Trimming of a sound Horse
Strasser is an advocate of “Natural Boarding” conditions. These conditions include plenty of natural movement (no box stalls), no legwraps bandages or other clothing, no greases, oils or hoof dressing. She advocates daily exposure to water, no horseshoes (ever). Strasser trims the foot to what she describes as a slanted cone. The front foot angle is 45 degrees the hind foot 55. With her method you must provide the horse the natural boarding conditions she outlines and immediately-permanently remove the shoes. The horse can now begin the recovery process which may happen in a period of months with a generally healthy hoof to a number of years for horses with worse pathologies such as founder or navicular.
KC La Pierre; High Performance Trim (HTP)
Kinetic energy provides the stimuli required for the proper production of hoof horn and the formula, Structure + function=performance, without proper structure function is lost. The palmar aspect (rear two-thirds) is responsible for the dissipation of shock created at impact, shock stimulates hoof wall growth. All growth is not created at the hairline some is produced at what is described as the secondary laminae. One key element of the HTP method is loading the angle of the bars on impact.
Lyle Bergeleen; Hoof Talk Natural Trim
The Hoof Talk natural trim addresses the front-to-back and side-to-side positioning of the hoof capsule to place it correctly beneath the bony column. An important aspect of this method is the length of the hoof at the toe, as you begin the trim estimate the horses’ weight, a 1000 pound horses hoof should be 3 1/4“ long, 800lb horse 3 1/8” long, a 1200lb horse 3 3/8” and so on. Trim the apex (point) of the frog to where it meets or disappears into the sole, trim the sides of the frog to provide small openings at the heels to allow debris to escape. Measure from the blubs to the apex of the frog divide that distance by three, this should be the distanced from the point of the frog to the toe. The hoof wall must be rasped back (if necessary) to that point. Initially you may sacrifice the integrity of the hoof wall at the toe but in subsequent trims you grow a hoof wall down not forward of the bony column.
Dennis Manning; AFA trim
Manning described the trim required of candidates for Certified Journeyman Farrier (CJF). The fourth of five achievement levels offered by the American Farriers Association (AFA) in the AFAs continuing education program. The healthy hoof wall must be flat with a continuous ring of hoof from heel to heel. The hoof must be balanced directly under the limb viewing from front. The angle of the hoof is in symmetry with hoof pastern and shoulder when viewed from the side. The sole is pared sparingly to avoid any primary ground contact. The frog is pared sparingly to the shape of the sensitive frog opening the channels to the heels to allow debris to work its way out, the frog must make contact with the ground at weight bearing. Flares are dressed but not beyond one third of the hoof wall height. Excessively removing any portion of the hoof is grounds for the candidate to be stopped as excessive removal of any of these support structures may lead to lameness.
Gene Ovnicek; Natural Balance Trim
Ovnicek studied feral horses in Colorado to arrive at his theory of the Natural Balance Trim. The distal Phalanx (Coffin Bone) is parallel to the ground medial/lateral (inside to outside). The anterior/posterior (front to back) plain of the coffin bone should be elevated to the rear 3 to 5 degrees. To achieve this goal the sole is trimmed to the live callous at the toe, the bars are trimmed to the height of the outer wall or not at all. Keeping in mind this trim is dependent on the horse living in a natural environment, the frog is trimmed only when there is obvious exfoliation. The hoof wall behind the quarters is trimmed to the same height as the functional sole callus. The hoof wall is trimmed to bear weight equally with the toe callus and rockered.
Ric Redden; Four Point Trim
His philosophy is leave everything the horse needs and leave nothing he doesn’t. Which means Redden leaves all sole and bars. The hoof has pillars at four points, the heels (posterior pillars) and the toe (anterior pillars) located at approximately the first and second nail area. Trim the heels to the widest point of the frog, square the break over, not the toe (don’t backup the hoof wall, work from the bottom of the foot) to within 1 inch of the apex of the frog. Trim the quarters from pillar to pillar being careful not to destroy the pillars. Remove the sole ever so slightly 1/16th of an inch.
Michael Savoldi; Universal Sole Thickness (UST)
The moisture line in the foot is extremely uniform in its vertical depth. Trimming to UST simply means trimming a hoof wall to the same plane of the healthy sole. The sole is the guideline for the hoof wall. Begin by trimming the sole to the point it appears (waxy) then trim the hoof wall accordingly. You will arrive at a slightly concave sole that models the plane of the Coffin bone.
Each of these theories provides valuable insight into healthy hoof care. An all or nothing approach will not provide your horse with the healthy hoof it needs to reach its full performance potential. I believe it is clear when viewing these seven theory’s together similarities exist with variations in the description, none provides the last word. You and your Farrier must consider many factors such as environment, riding discipline, genetics etc.
Happy Hoof care
The Farriers Corner