barefoot trimmer faq

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between a farrier trim and an EP trim?

If you’re looking at static balance, then a balanced foot is a balanced foot. There are many different methods of achieving balance for both shod and unshod horses. This makes it very difficult to compare one farriers trim to another farrier, and even more difficult to compare a farriery trim to a barefoot trim. There simply isn’t a standard trim for either discipline. That’s not a very helpful answer I know, but it is honest and accurate.

What I can tell you is what balance means to me. While I talk about balance with people because that’s the terms that’s used most often, I actually think in terms of equilibrium. Equilibrium is a dynamic balance. There’s a lot about the horse that is in a constant state of change, and as the hoof capsule is both always growing and always wearing down it too is no different. Many trimming methods address the issue of static balance, but the hoof is a dynamic structure.

Inside the hoof capsule are many sensitive structures, nerves, corium, bones, tendons, ligaments and cartilage to name a few. Obviously I don’t trim these sensitive structures, but the way in which the hoof capsule is trimmed will affect them. So for me balance is about having all the systems of the horse in balance. Trimming is part of the way I achieve that, but so is exercise, nutrition, environment and bodywork.

The difference between farriery and Equine Podiatry isn’t so much about trimming, it’s about everything else that is necessary to have healthy feet. Farriery tends to look at a foot to see what it can add to make it better, where as Equine Podiatry tends to look at the foot to see what can be changed to encourage the foot grow what it needs to be healthier. This is obviously a generalisation as every professional works slightly differently and has different approaches, attitudes and skills.

How often will my horse need trimming?

Most horses need trimming every 6 weeks. Occasionally they may need trimming more or less often depending on whether they have problems, or are in a lot of work. If hoof growth is slow, while technically this means you won’t need to trim the hoof as often, it is also a sign that there are problems with the foot.

Growth comes from the natural regeneration of hoof horn. This is the same thing as healing, so slow growth can mean that there’s a health problem with your horse. Slow healing may not be an issue now, while everything is fine, but if an injury or illness occurs, you may not be in as strong a position to deal with it.

There’s also a more obvious issue with hooves that grow very slowly. The hoof capsule is older. A normal barefoot grows a complete hoof capsule every 9 months. It takes 9 months for the toe, 6 months for the quarters and 3 months for the heels (roughly). A shod foot takes up to a year to grow a hoof capsule. If however, your horse takes longer to grow a hoof capsule, then the wall is going to be older.

That means there’s more chance of cracking. The horn has had to withstand infection for that much longer, and it’s been through far more weather changes. It’s basically less robust and more ‘tired’ than horn half it’s age. Slow growth isn’t a problem for me because I don’t get to trim as much. I’m perfectly happy to take it easy once in a while!! 🙂 Slow growth is an issue, because it leaves you open to more problems occurring, and you less able to manage and recover from them if they do.

Very fast growth can be a problem too. Really, it’s not that I’m never satisfied, it’s that when it comes to health, being at either end of the scale is a sign that something’s out of balance. The most common cause of too fast growth is inflammation, so that’s going to be something you really want to look into.

Will I need to trim my horse between your visits?

No. It’s not necessary for you to trim your horses. Occasionally clients like to trim their own horses, and have a professional to back them up if and when they need it, or to check up on their work periodically, but this isn’t the standard of how Equine Podiatry operates. I don’t think trimming fewer feet means you need less knowledge, so unless you’re interested in becoming a complete hoof geek, you don’t need to worry about trimming.

How long will ‘transitioning’ take?

It is impossible to give a true estimate without seeing the horse and environment involved. Every horse starts from a different point. Some horses may not need any time at all. Others may take up to 6 months. It depends very much on where you’re starting from, where you want to get to, and how much time and effort you want to, or are realistically able to, put in to it.

There’s many different ways to put together a program to suit you, your horse and your environment. That’s why I do so much information gathering in the beginning.