Pasture vs Barefoot Trim Pt. 7 - Angles

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Ahhhhhhh, well, Good EST Monday Morning to y'all!  What a great weekend and I'm so looking forward to a great, productive week! I love, love, love being able to help people from "afar" ... the internet has its down sides but, for the most part?  It's awesome!  I get to help people from all across the globe. That's so satisfying for me.  I got a note, for instance, from someone in Wales this weekend. I'm Welsh, myself,  so that was a nice surprise.  A question about hooves, of course -- and I was able to clarify and help. Love it!  And I've gotten a fair number of nice notes from y'all, too .. just in general!  I love conversing on the Scoot Boot FB page ... if you haven't visited yet you should!  It's a great way to hold good discussions about ..

hooves, of course!  

OK, so. We've covered heels, quarters, toes ... and this week I wanted to look into "angles". So many times (in fact, just last week I talked to someone about 'angles') I get the comments about farriers saying they have to get the 'angles' right!  The fronts HAVE to be 55 degrees for the fronts and some other number for the rears.  When I hear of STATIC numbers - where every hoof on every horse MUST be the same 55 degrees, I CRINGE! 

I hope you've read enough of my posts here to realize that one must consider the "HOOF-IN-HAND" on the "HORSE-IN-HAND" ... not every hoof is created equal! 

The statement that the trim will get the hoof to the existing pastern angle as if the pastern angles were cemented into one spot .. well, hey, come on - let's take a look at that. Is that right?  

Isn't it more correct to say that we trim the hoof to adjust the pastern angle? When we Ladies put on spiked high heels, do our 'angles' remain the same as when we are barefooted on the grass?  Um, no. 

The same applies to the equine digits. 

Wait, you say -- how can one compare a horse's hoof to a human foot?  Well, it’s a matter of analogous physics, my Friends.  

Let's look at this with another example aside from the human foot. 

Here’s an xray marked as trimmed:

Now, if we were to put a wedge (or leave high heels) on this same foot, we’d have this (in purple)

Can you see how the dorsal hoof wall angle has changed? It's much steeper than it was and you can also imagine how the angle of the pastern has changed.

Here’s another illustration that spells it out nicely:


Can you see how the angle of the hoof wall corresponds with the angle of the pastern and other joints and bones?

I think that illustration above really hones home.


So the next time your farrier or trimmer says “I’ve got to get the hoof wall at 55*” … stop him or her right there.  You can ask, “Why?”  Most likely you’ll get a response that is similar to this – “Well, that’s just the way it’s supposed to be!” 

Feel free to show him/her this illustration:

Now, here’s a clincher for you – the angle of the hoof wall at the periople determines the angle of the dorsal hoof wall.

Can you see the straight line from the hairline down the wall to the ground?  Now that’s the angle the hoof ‘naturally’ wants to be; to grow … the periople is from where the hoof generates. The heels can then be trimmed accordingly. Once this is properly tended then the angle of the hoof wall will be the same as the pastern wall which will then be the same as the shoulder angle. 

So there you have it.  The skinny down on angles of the equine hoof.

Always, always remember – one trims the “hoof-in-hand” on the “horse-in-hand”.




Gwenyth Browning Jones Santagate is the best-selling author of 10 Secrets to Healthy Hooves as well as a noted author for various international equine publications includingThe Horses Hoof, Equine Wellness, Natural Horse Planet as well as a contributing author for the 2001 United States Federal Mounted Border Patrol Training Manual. For the last 37+ years, she has maintained healthy hooves with natural trimming on thousands of horses and specialized in pathological rehabilitation hoofcare for the last 18 years. She and her husband John keep a small herd of their own equine in SW Florida and continue to offer consults for horses in need. For further information please click here:



  • Gwenyth Santagate: September 28, 2016

    You are very welcome! I enjoy sharing. :)

  • Lesley: August 31, 2016

    Thanks so much for your posts your generous sharing…really appreciate it..

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