After doing extensive research on natural hoof trimming and seeing such great results with my horse with laminitis, I figured that I owed my other “sound” horses the same chance to develop that natural wild hoof which they all have in them waiting to be given a chance to come out. The AANHCP claimed that the natural hoof trim could give my horses longer and healthier lives, that I could see them define true soundness, that it would make them more surefooted, less prone to injury, and that they would perform better than shod horses partly due to added circulation. This is the hoof that they were designed to grow and wear.
What do you have to lose by
giving the natural hoof trim a try? Think of all there is to gain. How does preventing your horse from developing many common hoof
lameness and health problems sound? Or how about added speed, agility, endurance, increased traction beyond belief, and longevity by adding 3-4 years to your horses life? You owe it to your horse to look into it further and consider the natural hoof trim. I would like to share with you some more
information on the natural hoof trim so please
continue to read on for the benefit of your horse. Benefits of the Natural Hoof Trim
· Adds circulation
· Improved agility
· Increased endurance
· Developed digital cushion
· Less prone to injury
· Less shock to be absorbed
· Less strain to the back and legs
· Adds longevity
· More surefooted
· Better Performance
· Smooth natural break over
· More speed
· Better traction
For every breed under the sun!
Contact us if you are interested in having your horses trimmed with the Natural Barefoot Hoof Trim.
Call Korie @ 610-730-4973
What is the Natural Trim?
Is it possible that, with the exception of true birth defects, every horse was born to work hard, for great distances, each day on rough surfaces without hoof protection? I believe that
almost every domestic hoof can be transformed into what would be considered “genetic
perfection.” The best model we have is the wild horse hoof, which is the inspiration of the natural hoof trim. It is believed that the closer you move a horse’s hoof toward that model the more able and healthier the horse will
The natural hoof trimmed horse produces a thicker hoof wall that is rock crushing and as solid as ivory just like the wild model. For horses living on soft terrain the concavity will be deep and the hoof will not clog with dirt as often, so every time it takes a stride it is like a clean shovel ready to dig. Picture a smooth natural
break-over which is less stressful on their bodies than anything you can get through shoeing.
The natural hoof trim creates a more developed
shock-absorbing digital cushion inside the foot. This results in less strain to the back and legs and gives the horse increased endurance. Also, without shoes, there is less shock to be
absorbed. It enables almost all horses suffering with laminitis, navicular, brittle hooves, contracted heels, and practically all other types of lameness to
recover and achieve healthy strong hooves. Natural hoof trimming allows horses to live on small acreage and have naturally healthy shaped feet.
The ideal model of a hoof is the wild horse hoof. If we study it carefully we will find that hooves should be short with little or no hoof wall extending past the sole. The heels should be low, the sole concaved, and the frog should be like a rawhide. The bars should gradually descend toward the wide frog and the entire hoof should be free of chips, flaring, and splits. The grooves should not have a foul smell and the whole underside of the hoof should be very tough and hard.
The natural hoof trim allows the hooves to expand and contract the way it was intended to and allows them to “hollow out” at the quarters similar to the arches of our own feet and like the wild horse model. Contrary to what many of us have been taught, the expansion and contraction of the entire hoof capsule is a blood pump and shock absorbing system. Not just the frog. The frog only plays a small role in the giant shock absorbing system of the hoof and leg, but it is a great traction aid as well, much better than anything you’ll ever see a blacksmith put on. The hooves should also have concavity from hoof wall to hoof wall if the horse is
living/working mostly on soft terrain. However, for horses living/working on hard terrain, there should be just as much depth at the apex of the frog but with less sole concavity.
Finally the hooves are finished off with a mustang roll which promotes callusing and prevents cracking and splitting. If you imagine a broomstick being stabbed into gravel repeatedly at the rounded butt, the rounded shape would be maintained as the stick wore down. This would also be packing it into a firmer material than the rest of the stick (callusing). This same thing happens to the hooves with a mustang roll applied. Now picture cutting the rounded end off of a broom stick and doing the same stabbing into the gravel. It would crack, fray and worsen with every strike, just like the hooves trimmed using the pasture trim and shod hooves. Also, it wouldn’t take long until the stick ran down.
Once natural hoof trimming begins, a steeper hoof growth below the coronet will continue to grow to the ground in a straight line. Solar concavity forms as the bone moves higher off the ground. When this happens, and the horse grows his natural hooves, he will be wonderfully balanced resulting in most hooves being in perfect alignment with the pastern and shoulders. The heels will be almost nonexistent in length, yet they will be thick and very solid. The short toe will allow a smooth natural break over that all hooves were meant to have. Contracted heels will widen and that wonderful deep solar concavity will emerge. This is the very solar concavity that many people believe has been bred out of horses. All this results in a horse that is more comfortable, nimble, smooth, tireless, and quick.
The average natural hoof for an average size horse ends up at about 3 1/4 inches from the top to bottom with the width of 5 inches. Despite the short hoof, deep solar concavity, low heels, and basically no bulbs, the digital cushion, frog, and sole are thicker. To make the natural hoof trim work to it’s fullest, a steady trimming by a competent natural hoof trimmer (every 4-8 weeks depending on time of year, speed of growth, and how often ridden and on what types of terrains) activates growth, thickening, and hardening just like hard wear in the wild would. It is also very important to have your horse on a proper balanced diet (low NSC levels) and to keep him exercising/moving for continual hoof growt
To Shoe or Not to Shoe
If you pick up any farrier book, you’ll find that most of them encourage long unshod periods to heal horses’ hooves from the effects of and harm caused by shoeing them.
If you need another example of this look at the deer. They only need hoof care once domesticated and their movement
becomes limited due to confinement. The horses’ bars, frog, and sole, just like the hoof wall, are all designed to withstand impact and constant contact with rough terrain.
Please, don’t confuse the
natural hoof trim with a pasture trim, they are far from the same. With a pasture trim, the farrier stops right before the shoe would go on leaving it set up for failure similarly to the shod hoof. The natural hoof trim turns that “typical” short stiff legged gait on shod and pasture trimmed horses into long smooth strides and your horses will love it. It prioritizes naturally healthy and correct heal first landings unlike the all too common, very harmful, toe first landings seen on most shod horses.
Too much research has been done on the pathological hooves, also known as shod hooves, while almost no research has been done on the truly healthy hooves, the wild hoof model. Can it be possible that what is considered the norm may actually be a sick hoof? If you were to look at a wild horse hoof and its structure, you would see an amazing set up very contrary to the shod domestic hoof. The good news is that every horse is
waiting to grow that healthy hoof back out if only given the chance. Some owners come up with all kinds of reasons why they
believe their horse “needs” shoes and could not do the natural hoof trim. But I will tell you that to this day I have NEVER trimmed a horse that couldn’t grow that “wild hoof” out. However, I have met owners that wouldn’t try the natural hoof trim due to fear of change and other irrelevant fears, or those that would not do their part in caring for their horse to make it work. The horse is the one that looses in these cases.
As for the popular method of shoeing and trimming that focuses on
specific angles and dimensions on every hoof, truthfully, it just does not work very well for horses. The degree the hoof wants to grow will always result in true soundness for that individual. The key is that each horse is a different individual and a good natural hoof trimmer will listen to what each hoof is trying to say and they won’t force any specific ideal on them.
Steady maintenance is the heart and soul of natural hoof care. Most horses should be trimmed every 4 weeks, or a little longer in the fall and winter when hoof growth tends to slow down a bit. Horses develop the natural hoof on their own if they move more than 20 miles a day on the
correct terrain which is highly unlikely to occur in domestication. Our horses have it too easy and this is the reason we must trim. The goal of the natural trim is to trick the hooves into thinking they are living on much harsher
surfaces than they really are.
Probably the biggest
complaint with natural hoof care is maintenance. This is most likely
because most horse owners neglect their horses’ hooves by waiting too long between maintenance trims. Many have been led to believe that one should wait to trim until the hoof looks bad. You don’t want to wait until damage is visible to have the hooves done. If damage is seen, you have waited too long! Hooves must be trimmed before damage occurs. Please forever remember that routine hoof care is part of owning a horse. If you ever wait to get the horse trimmed until the hoof “looks bad” damage has already been done. When the hoof gets too long, hoof production slows down and a thinner and considerably weaker hoof horn is produced. The sole will turn into a chalky and flaky material when it should instead be slick and hard. The goal is to trim right
before any damage is done from
excessive hoof growth. This time frame ranges from 3 to 8 weeks. Remember it is just as important to keep a foal’s hooves in good shape as it is a mature horse.
Four week schedules are best for maintenance, especially for horses in rehabilitation. Donkeys and mules with healthy feet can normally be maintained on 8 week trimming schedules. Most good natural trimmers will refuse customers if they won’t have their horses steadily maintained. Otherwise if customers ride their horses hard, and the hoof never gets to reach its
potential, then they will claim that the natural hoof trim did not work.
It is so important to diligently keep on a correct schedule and have the hooves trimmed before any
damage is done. The natural trim only enables the horse to do what it was intended to do. That’s why such a
simple method rehabilitates so many problems and prepares horses
perfectly for their individual enviroment.
How it Helps Lameness
Most of the ailments that plague our domestic horses’ hooves are caused by hoof form. From my research, and personal
experience with trimming horses I have not come across one case of properly maintained horses with naturally shaped hooves foundering or developing most other hoof problems that are so common with our domestic horses! I have learned how easy it is to help heal practically all lameness problems that perplex the horse world. I believe the natural hoof trim can fix most, cases of cracking, founder, laminitis, navicular syndrome, thrush, and white line disease. The natural hoof trim and certain lifestyle changes will work where nothing else has and the results will be dramatic.
Let us begin with a very common condition - laminitis sometimes referred to as “coffin bone rotation”. “Coffin bone rotation” is actually very common and present in many of the horses we consider to be sound. When a horse’s hooves are high, the coffin bone is standing on its sharp pointed tip instead of having its solar surface nearly parallel to the ground. “Coffin bone rotation” suggests that the bone is trying to go somewhere when it is in fact right where it is supposed to be all along - at the end of the skeleton. What is really
happening is that the hoof has moved from its correct position and from the bone. Don’t get me wrong, diet and lifestyle changes need to be considered and acted upon to treat the
condition, and I am not against pain and
anti-inflammatory medicine. The top priority is to get the horse out of pain and moving again.
I mention laminitis to show that many hoof conditions are treated as disease, when in reality the only problem is that the care of the hoof has changed the structure that they are meant to have and as a result lameness settles in and may come in the form of many things. The good news though, is that horses have an amazing ability to heal when given a proper chance by setting them up to grow that natural hoof they were born to have. “Coffin bone rotation” along with many other dangerous unnatural forces wear on a horse considered sound, and it is only a matter of time before the horse breaks down into unsound conditions. If you were to research
statistics of horses in the wild, you would discover that most never develop these conditions ever in their lives, and that they live longer and healthier than most
domestic horses. Imagine the health and
longevity for our horses if we allow the hoof that was meant to be and is waiting to come out to develop.
When it comes to navicular
syndrome in many cases the owner comes to the decision of nerving the horse or putting him down, but these are not even options through the natural hoof trim and making him sound is pretty easy in most cases. The deterioration of the navicular bone is usually a response to pressure in that area that is not natural. When the heels are under run and long, they will bear their weight forward directly under the navicular bone. Unfortunately the normal prescribed treatment methods for both laminitis and
navicular are exactly the opposite of what the horse actually needs to heal.
As for back problems and hoof cracks, the blame is usually misplaced as well. The domestic horse world has many horses with back problems, and they are rarely
diagnosed. The blame is almost never placed on the hind feet. When in fact, in many cases it is the long hind toes. Hoof brittleness seen as cracks, chips, splits, and poor hoof quality are always a symptom of a problem, they are not the problem. All these are caused from either a combination of excessive hoof growth, imbalance, and bacteria/fungal issues, not from dryness or vitamin and mineral deficiencies (how could vitamin and mineral deficiencies only affect 2 out of 4 hooves?). As a matter of fact, hoof supplements are horrible for correct hoof growth. Hoof supplements only speed up outer hoof wall growth when in fact you normally want to achieve more inner hoof wall growth. The only things that can speed that up is
movement and joint
You see, we have set up a lifestyle for our
domestic horses that is simply just too easy and their bodies are adapting by producing a poor hoof quality that will easily wear away. With the natural hoof trim we are trying to create a simulation of natural wear on harder surfaces rather than what the horses are actually living on. Understand that lack of moisture is not the problem. Hooves are suppose to be dry.
Almost 100 percent of the time the brittleness is being caused by too wet of an environment, not dry feet.
Finally I want to mention deformities. Interestingly, no matter how deformed the hoof, the quick stays surrounding the coffin bone right where it belongs . The natural hoof trim is the best shot for horses that are truly deformed from birth.
As for flaring, wall cracks, weak brittle hooves, contracted heels, laminitis, founder, flat feet, faults in movement of the legs, white line disease, navicular, and what we call the “sound horse” that “just needs his shoes” the general rehabilitation needs are just about identical. The natural hoof trim relieves practically every locomotion ailment from
arthritic, back, joint, muscle, and tendon problems due to the added shock absorption. In fact I have seen and heard reports of arthritic horses becoming a vision of health and vigor as soon as they started growing their natural hoof. The natural hoof trim and natural hoof care lifestyle changes will work where nothing else will and you will see dramatic results. It will encourage natural movement and gaits and will produce a near perfect hoof free of lameness. If you’d like to see some great case studies go to www.hoofrehab.com and click on the
The majority of domestic hooves would be bleeding and miserably lame if they were cut as short as the wild model on the first trimming. Almost all domestic hooves are in need of being rehabilitated to some degree, even the barefoot horses that are healthy need to be worked to the wild hoof model.
Hooves grow more by mileage rather than by time. The more they move, the more the blood flow increases, which in turn speeds up the new hoof growth. The more exercise the horse gets the quicker the progress will be because every time the hoof hits the ground it grows a bit to compensate for the wear. This is why you don’t have to worry about the hoof “filing away” on the road. The more steps taken, the more the hoof grows.
Always look at, and judge, hooves from the coronet down. This is more accurate than looking at what is at the bottom of the hoof. New hooves can grow from hair line to ground in less than 5 months. Horses who do not move much could take longer than 8 months to grow their first new hoof. You will see a
dramatic improvement in the first new hoof growth cycle but the hooves will continue to improve for years. Expect transitioning horses, especially those that were in shoes, to be “ouchy” while the horse is transitioning into their first new hoof. Most horses will be comfortable out on pasture and dirt surfaces after the first trim. However, plan on using boots when you ride them or take them on surfaces harder than their pasture until they get through the first few months of transition. Boots are the way to go to ease this transition (see more in the Boots section below).
There are a few unique
transition situations that must be taken into consideration. To start, no one should ever ride a limping horse. If there was already dead tissue in the hoof before trimming began the
infection must work its way out. This is basically the only time you will see
abscesses in a
natural trimmed hoof. The abscesses
normally happen at the coronet and there is not much a trimmer can do to prevent or help it. Abscesses can be very painful for a horse, but it is usually best to let it run its course even though it is hard to do while the horse is in pain. If it needs to be opened, that is for a vet to do.
Abscesses happen in only a small
percentage of rehabilitation situations.
As for foundered horses in
rehab, daily walks are helpful as soon as they can do so. They should be ridden on soft footing as soon as they can and then moved onto tougher footing
gradually but never pushed. Quality horse boots will help all transitions and allow you to ride and exercise the horse more often. This will speed up the hoof growth process so that new hoof grows down quicker.
With properly trimmer hooves (and boots as necessary, mostly during transition) there is no reason to ever shoe your horse again! Boots provide much better and more complete protection for the hooves than nailed on shoes.
Tricking the hooves into adapting to the terrain they are going to be ridden on, instead of the terrain the horse lives on, is the little piece of magic that natural hoof trimming care is about. All horse hooves were meant to work hard without any kind of protection including boots, and if the horse can’t, than the hoof can’t be considered healthy. You can ride most transitioning horses from the first day with the exception of rocky roads, longer rides, and rocky trails in which case you can ride with good quality horse boots. My top choices are Easyboot Glove and Epic both made by EasyCare. I also strongly recommend you use the Comfort Pads with the boots which eases the transition and applies pressure evenly to the entire bottom of the foot. The rule of thumb is to treat your horse’s feet the same way you’d treat your feet if you were being conditioned to go barefoot. Always break them in gently. Remember, you should continue to ride and exercise them which in turn will increase blood flow to the hoof resulting in the new hoof growing down faster compared to a horse that rarely moves.
We don’t have a problem until we try to work the horse on rougher terrain than their hooves are adapted and conditioned to. Doing that without the proper hoof protection would be cruel. You can stop using boots when the horse is ready. Always remember that if the terrain that you ride on is much different from the terrain he lives on, or is conditioned to, then boots will be necessary for these rides. With the exception of longer rides, rocky trails, and rocky roads they are usually ready to ride long before the hooves are completely rehabilitated. A final note, never let boots on when the horse is not being exercised or ridden unless it is recommended by your natural hoof trimmer for rehabilitation. FYI: I am an authorized EasyCare dealer and carry the entire EasyCare line at the lowest allowed prices.
Natural Horse Keeping
I can help all my clients with much more advice and information on the following topics:
Firm ground is much more natural than soft ground for horses and they do much better on the firm ground.
Dry climate and correct trimming/wear quickly turns the hoof into the rock hard structure it is meant to be.
The majority of horses (with the exception of those working very hard, those needing more calories, and those with digestive problems such as many geriatric horses) would be much healthier with only free choice quality hay and a mineral supplement.
Create a pasture/paddock that encourages regular movement.
Contact us if you are interested in having your horses
trimmed with the Natural Barefoot Hoof Trim.
Call Korie @ 610-730-4973
Serving Eastern Pennsylvania
Korie is a natural hoof trimmer and offers her barefoot trimming services to the Lehigh Valley Pennsylvania and surrounding areas. As with most natural hoof trimmers, she takes a strong interest in natural horsemanship handling techniques.
Asks for the hoof before taking it by force
Never drops hooves to the ground when finished
Lets them rest before trouble starts when the horse gets tired
Trims in location where the horse is most comfortable
Balances the horse before asking for a hoof
Scratches and rubs the horse between trims as a reward
Horses & Ponies $45
*All rates above already include 6% Pa State sales tax
Additional $5 for fuel if only 1 horse is being trimmed.
Fuel charges apply for mileage over 18 miles from farm.
Additional $5 (per shoe) for shoe removal.
For a natural hoof trim you should expect to pay the same as you would for a reset. The national average rate for a natural hoof trim from a natural hoof trim Practitioner is $45-$80 per horse. It is my personal goal to go above and beyond with my education and quality of work while charging less then the competition.
Imagine your horse with increased agility, better attitude, smoother gaits, better endurance, speed, and traction, able to perform better and longer, never seeming to get tired or sore, being ready to ride when you are, you never having to worry about loose or thrown shoes, added shock absorption that more than makes up for the added weight of the rider, and a longer healthier life for your horse.