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barefoot trim
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Jennifer
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 Posted: Thu Dec 11th, 2008 08:41 pm
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Dr. D, I don't know if this topic has been covered elsewhere but what is your opinion on barefoot trimming?  I recently attended a barefoot trimmer's seminar and she recommends X-rays even when there is nothing wrong to determine the correct way to trim based on the bony column(not sure if this is the right term).  Also, she recommends the heel to be back, large frog and wide heel bulbs and only about 1 inch between frog and toe.  what is your take on this method?  many barefoot trimmers tend to disagree with eachother, how do you know who to listen to???

Joe
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 Posted: Thu Dec 11th, 2008 10:30 pm
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I'll be interested to hear DD's response, but in all sincerity, I recommend that you ignore ALL "Barefoot" trimmers.  A good farrier can give you a properly trimmed shoeless foot if that is what you want. Alternatively, you can learn the process yourself, although it is a lot like work.  I used to trim a dozen unshod horses when I was a late teenager working on a horse farm.  These days, I am very happy to pay someone else to do it.

One of ours has never been shod, because he has never needed shoes.  He is, therefore, barefoot, but not "Barefoot" according to the current fad.  Go by the need of the animal for shoes, no shoes, angles, toes etc.  Completely disregard theories of natural bare feet.  Horses do not live in natural conditions.  In fact, they are not even the product of natural forces.  All riding animals, including feral so-called "wild" horses are the result of unnatural human interference in the form of selective breeding. They live in places and under conditions that no true wild horse would tolerate.  And, domesticated horses live longer and more comfortably than do  their feral or wild cousins (who may among other things be fatally lamed by foot problems a good farrier would have helped them avoid).

If your horse is straight and comfortable in his way of going, don't sweat it.

Joe

Ben Tyndall
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 Posted: Fri Dec 12th, 2008 03:15 pm
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I am wondering what sort of opinion you are looking for. Any horse confined in an environment where their hooves can't self-trim by walking and running around all day on firm ground will almost certainly need their hooves trimmed with tools every few weeks, and it is the horse's owner's responsibility to get it done.

The so-called barefoot trim simply refers to a trim that is suitable for a horse who does not wear shoes (99.999% of all horses). The main principle is simple: trim off the excess hoof wall that has grown past the sole.

The subject doesn't get contentious until you start to ask about the need to wear shoes. Many people seem to hold strong opinions on that question. For an excellent discussion on hoof care and orthopedics, see Dr Deb's article the 2003 issue of The Inner Horseman. IMHO, a must-read.
...Ben


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 Posted: Fri Dec 12th, 2008 03:56 pm
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Thank you both for your responses.  My horses don't wear shoes but I did have been in contact with 2 barefoot trimmers.  One of them is the one who recommends the X-rays and bases her trim on what she sees.  Then she does a digital metron photo and video analysis.  It is all preventative but very costly.  The other person I had out to consult does not believe in the X-rays etc. She said you can see with the eye how the trim needs to happen.  It seems as though they recommend a very different trim than conventional farriers. FOr instance I was told that my horses frogs are too small and the heels don't come back far enough.  She also mentioned that once you start trimming this very different way, the frog will expand and so will the bulbs of the heels which results in a much healthier foot in her opinion, which will never get thrushy nor will snow accumulate at the bottom of the hoof, it should be self cleaning etc.   It just seems that what they recommend is very different from a traditional trim by a farrier.  This is what is getting me so confused and concerned.

AdamTill
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 Posted: Fri Dec 12th, 2008 05:52 pm
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Hi Jennifer,

I'd tend to agree with the person that said you can tell just about everything you need to know for trimming without xrays, barring lameness with an internal source. The other tools you describe can be helpful, but they aren't even perfect anyway.

Using an xray will let you see where you'd like to get to eventually, for example, but it won't tell you how much of the difference you can make up at once (lowering high heels too quickly risks soft tissue injury, for example).

Not even Metron and such are perfect, since for example I don't personally agree with the way that it calculates underrun heel angles (it can't pick out the tubule angles, uses just the overall perimeter silhouette of the foot, and so gets confused if there is a lot of fleshy heel bulb material overlying the heels).

To give you some examples of what you can see from the outside if you know what you're looking for, take this example:



My main tools are:
1) Angle of growth at the coronet
2) Proportions of foot at the ground level
3) Angle/depth of collateral grooves (which run down the sides of the frog).

Everything else sort of derrives from there back, but each item is important, since often one used alone will lead you astray. Knowing where you're coming from lets you formulate a plan of action, eg:



...but it's still experience that lets you know how far to go at any one time, or even to recognize that this ideal may not be possible. Once you know where you're starting from, there are a bunch of roads that can lead to Rome, and choosing how you support your horse in getting there largely becomes a management/owner involvement/monetary decision.

In the end, I wouldn't neccessarily accept anything anyone says entirely. You need to get to the point where you know enough about the biomechanics involved so you can evaluate what everyone is telling you, even if you can't do the trimming/shoeing yourself. As Dr Deb points out, there is no central paradigm that most farriers/trimmers work from, so a lot of things are done "because they've worked before". You need to be able to understand what your horses problems might be before you can effectively work with someone to correct them - Dr Deb's Inner Horseman 2004 (03?) is a good start...the year which talks about hoof biomechanics and structure.

Ignoring one group or the other doesn't do your horse any favours, since you can oftentimes pick up useful tidbits in the oddest places IF YOU KNOW HOW TO EVALUATE THEM. But it's really up to you to learn enough to know how to work with a professional, even if only to recongnize when you've found someone you can trust. I know I didn't start out wanting to know any more then how to book an appointment with a farrier, but recognized eventually that it was my responsibility to find someone competent.

Adam

Last edited on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 05:55 pm by AdamTill


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 Posted: Fri Dec 12th, 2008 06:21 pm
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Is that article of inner horseman available on this site?? If not, how would I access this????

AdamTill
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 Posted: Fri Dec 12th, 2008 06:25 pm
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http://www.equinestudies.org/member_join_subscribe/innerhorseman_2003_2004_salepage.html

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Dec 12th, 2008 06:48 pm
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Wow! Adam! Terriffic!!

Joe
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 Posted: Fri Dec 12th, 2008 08:17 pm
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Wonderful stuff Adam.  One quibble, though.  For a newcomer to pay too much attention to the "barefoot" fanatics can be a confusing waste of time.  That why I recommended disregarding them.  You have to be reasonably well enough grounded to begin with to be able to listen to them with a critical faculty that rejects the romantic and dangerous misinformation.

Joe

equethy
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 Posted: Fri Dec 12th, 2008 09:49 pm
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Hi Joe,

I don't think you should be quite so strongly dismissive of "all barefoot trimmers".  Some have a greater understanding of the hoof and its relationship to equine biomechanics than most farriers. This craft has come a long way from its early days.  

I don't know about the States but in Australia barefoot & boots as a way of horse keeping has been widely accepted and because of this there arose a need for trained specialists.  From this need there has been developed a Diploma course in Equine Podiotherapy.

This course covers all aspects of rehabilitative hoof care and Equine Podiotherapists work closely with veterinarians, in fact the anatomy module of the course was delivered by Professor Robert Bowker of Michigan State Universities Equine Hoof Laboratory, and the other aspects of the course are all taught by leaders in their fields here.

Regards Chris Ware

 

 

Joe
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 Posted: Fri Dec 12th, 2008 09:58 pm
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Oh, well, Chris, I am not going to argue that, and I know nothing about Australia that I can't see on a world globe.  However, I can say with certainty that here in the US, there are "barefoot" zealots whose ideas range from silly to scary.

On the other hand, the more well trained a farrier in biomechanics, the better.

Remember, too, that I said in the beginning that one of my horses has never been shod,and that in the past I have been responsible for a lot of other unshod horses.  I'd never take either the position that shoes are necessary for all horses, or that all farriers are competent.

Helen
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 Posted: Fri Dec 12th, 2008 10:32 pm
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I agree with Chris as regards Australia, but also coming from another area - there are quite a few farriers who, when told that you want the horse to go without shoes, will just take the shoes off and leave it at that, which obviously isn't going to work.

Joe
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 Posted: Fri Dec 12th, 2008 11:00 pm
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Strange. 

Here, if a good farrier is told to just trim the feet, that is what is done.  They are trimmed to the best advantage of the animal.  It used to be more common for pleasure horses to be unshod than shod.  Most of us thought it was more healthy.  We only had them shod if the feet or way of going were telling us they needed shoes, of if there was another clear reason.

I am not sure, but it seems times have changed. Serious inquiries as to whether it is safe for horses to be unshod appear on other forums and in magazine question sections.  Of course, there was also a serious discussion thread (elsewhere) once about whether a horse could safely stay out of a stall overnight in a properly fenced pasture.  As a larger proportion of riders become abstracted from the animals, knowing them only as horsey-in-a-boxes, more of these concerns will develop.  People drive to barns to see their animals for limited times.  They know little about the beasts as living creatures.

Anyway, I hope you'll forgive me, but the whole question and intensity of feeling about "barefoot" strikes me as mildly funny.  I fully understand the need for competent farriers and trims that suit the foot and the needs of the animal's joint articulation and muscle action.  I have seen incompetent jobs -- and more than a few of them.  We're all in harmony about that.  However, having spent a lifetime around unshod horses and horses that alternate between shod and unshod,  the whole business seems quite obvious.

Joe

Judith from the UK
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 Posted: Mon Dec 15th, 2008 11:34 am
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Here in the UK we are having similar discussions.  "Traditionally" pleasure horses had their shoes removed at certain times of the year - hunters in the summer, polo ponies and show horses in the winter, and ponies were often not shod.

However, there are owners now who shoe their horses all year round, and there are also some poor farriers, I'm sorry to say, considering that all UK farriers have to be registered and have training and it is illegal to shoe unless you are registered.

In the early days of barefoot trimming in the UK it was mostly as a "last chance" for horses that were unsound, or simply couldn't keep shoes on, and I have personal knowledge of one horse that was going to be PTS, and has returned to full work as an endurance horse after going barefoot for several months.  This was after 12 months of veterinary and remedial shoeing for a chronic foot lameness. (And after being very dismissive of the treatment, the vet is now a convert!).

Barefoot trimmers presented with a horse with problems would probably require an X ray, and most would want to work with the vet.

A horse that is otherwise sound in shoes sholdn't need X rays.  I have seen tremendous improvements to my horse's feet after being trimmed by a barefoot trimmer, and it is certainly a different trim to that given by a farrier - who is used to preparing a horse's foot for a shoe, or for a rest in a pasture, and not necessarily for a working horse.  The frogs certainly did increase in size, and the angle of the foot altered, and the foot shape changed significantly. I could go on and on, but you get the picture .............................

Luckily, after deciding to go back to shoes for the show season, I have a farrier who is very happy to do a working barefoot trim, and although my horse has had shoes on for the summer, was very keen that he had them off for the winter.  (Unlike previous farriers who said my horse couldn't cope without shoes).  It is quite surprising how only having shoes back on for 6-7 months and I can see the changes in my horse's foot again, although luckily not too extreme.

But I do agree that it is important not just to get swept along and believe everything that one person says.  There are enough websites and discussion groups around this subject, plenty to read until your head aches!

Leah
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 Posted: Mon Dec 15th, 2008 12:07 pm
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Joe, I am in the US, have spent a great deal of time studying hoofcare and am also going to have to disagree with you.

There are good and bad farriers AND good and bad trimmers. MANY trimmers, however, have invested enormous time in learning about hoof structures, the function of each structure and correct biomechanics.

It is, in my opinion, quite short sighted to dismiss all barefoot trimmers.


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