Saturday, 12 June 2010

Trimming horses feet

Several years ago my wife went on a barefoot course. I told her at the time, 'don't expect me to get involved, I have enough to do'. Yes, you guessed it - I now spend half my life trimming feet.

I have no doubt that if my horse can go barefoot then I should allow him to. My horse was the original reason we got into trimming because at the time the farrier had let his toes get so long he actually was struggling to walk down hills. We knew something was wrong because he started doing mini bucks to tell us, and when we took his shoes off and trimmed his toes he was immediately back to his old self.

I think I have finally worked out how to do this foot trimming thing properly. My problem in the past was that I didn't have any points of reference on the foot. Despite a few foot gurus trying their hardest to explain, for me it was all a bit vague. Now I have got it (I think). The three fixed points on the underside of the foot are the two heels and the point of the frog. If you use those points as the 'plane of the foot' then from there it is pretty easy to keep the foot in balance. The bit of information that I was missing was the point of the frog, and that was why I couldn't understand how to stop the toe running away from me. I was trimming to the visible sole of the foot and actually on a lot of horses that visible sole, isn't all true sole. And that is especially true where you haven't been taking care of the 'flare'.

So now I have the underside sorted, and I've learnt to trim the frog pretty well, and I'm pretty determined not to have any flare, I reckon my horses feet are starting to look pretty damn good. Ah well, it's only been the seven years since I started. See, this is important, because it's easy enough to have a foot that can go anywhere on any ground, but there was always this problem of the long toe and the resultant separation, not to mention what can be the pretty disasterous effects on the leg and shoulder joints.

You might not be interested in horses feet ( I wish I wasn't), but even if you pay a farrier or a trimmer, it might be handy to have a bit of a picture in your mind of what a good foot might look like. If you put a straight edge across the heel to the toe I reckon it should run parallel to the frog (that's if the frog is trimmed to the point of the frog). If the gap widens towards the toe then I reckon you have probably got false sole, a load of flare, and a long toe.

Bare in mind I have never been on a trimming course and have no qualification whatsoever, so as with everything horse related, don't take someone's word for it - work it out for yourself. I'd be very interested to hear from anyone who has any thoughts on this subject.