So Many Hooves; So Many Trims

What is the 'Right Way' to Trim my Horse's Hooves?

There are so many hoof care blogs and websites out there now, all different, all proclaiming to be the 'right way'. This means that things can get very confusing, very quickly, even for professionals, such as barefoot trimmers or farriers, who continue to strive to learn and keep up with the latest discoveries of the equine hoof.


I’ve always said that the only expert on hooves is the individual horse, himself/herself.


Horses don’t read blogs, textbooks, or go to courses or clinics, they only want one thing; to survive. In order to survive, they need their hooves.


So hooves are a big deal. 


As the adage says, 'no hoof, no horse'.


So with all the information that is circulating around the world-wide web, how is one to know what their horse needs in terms of hoof care?



A barefoot trim on a brown horse hoof model


The ideal hoof shape has been touted to be a 'wild horse's hoof' for well over a decade now. What is failed to be mentioned, is the fact that the ‘wild horse hoof’ model that is so readily recognised as such, is from a dry, arid mid-west area. It looks visually pretty; well rounded, smooth and compact. However, one can easily compare that hoof to one a hoof of a horse that lives on the barrier islands (along the eastern coast of North America, where they extend from New England down the Atlantic Coast, around the Gulf of Mexico and south to Mexico) and see a remarkable difference that causes the hoof care enthusiast to immediately want to grab his or her tools and head to the shore to trim them all up ‘correctly’.


We also have...

  • The Pete Ramey Method
  • The Gene Ovnicek Method
  • The ABC Method
  • The LIM Method
  • The HGM Method
  • The 'Farrier' Trim
  • The Horse’s Hoof Nethod
  • The 4 Point Trim
  • The TACT Trim
  • The Jaime Jackson Trim
  • The Marjorie Smith Trim
  • The Paige Poss Trim
  • The KC LaPierre Trim
  • The Rockley Farm Nethod
And so many more... is your head spinning yet?


My head continually spins as I read and continue to learn. There *is* something to be learned from each of the aforementioned websites, even if is the incorrect thing to do to a horse's hoof.


So which one is right?


The fact is, if it’s not right with for individual horse then it’s not right. Period.


There are guidelines by which to learn off, such as espoused in the Penzance (, for balance front to back and side to side trim, but they are guidelines, nothing is set in stone. Ideally, yes; we all want our horses’ hooves to be perfect, but, then again, what is a perfect trim?


Perfect is what is perfect for the individual horse. Period.


If an individual truely wants to learn about a horse’s hooves, go and take the online course(s), learn about the anatomy and physiology of the equine hoof, before picking up a rasp, a hoof knife, or a pair of nippers. Learn about the internal structure of the equine hoof capsule and all of the bone structures, tissues, and connections. Learn about the equine foot so you know it like the back of your hand. So when you close your eyes and run your hands over your horse’s hoof, you can feel the balance, the consistency of the horn, the bumps, the lumps, the imbalances, the heat, the cold. Learn the internal structure of the hoof and lower limb so well that when you watch a horse move, you can almost see what is happening inside the hoof and leg (and shoulder and hips and pelvis etc.).


In other words, study your anatomy and physiology of the equine hoof before you even think about trimming your horse's hooves! 


That way, you’ll have a much stronger base from which to ascertain what trim is correct for your horse. 


Always follow the oath in the Hippocratic Corpus


First, do no harm.


Ideally, the horse should walk off better after their trim than before, so learn first! Then do.


The following are photos showing various trims; all different yet all totally best for the individual horse. 

A collage of barefoot trims on horse's hooves


Gwenyth Browning Jones Santagate is the world-renown author of "10 Secrets to Healthy Hooves" and "Natural Hoof Anthology" as well as a noted author for various international equine publications including The 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 NE Connecticut and continue to offer consults for horses in need. For further information please click here:

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