GoodHoofCare is much more than trimming!
Swedish Hoof School is working with "holistic hoof care" including environment, feeding and trimming. I don't think you can be serious about hoof care without including all these three parts. What I do and teach is a foundation for trimming or maybe better a way to create a foundation for the horse to grow a healthy hoof from. It also works as a foundation for the hoof care provider to make individual changes and adaptations around.
My HoofCare concept is:
- Non invasive.
- Enormously effective.
- Extremely easy to both teach and learn.
- Just as good and important for both shod and barefoot horses.
- Thoroughly tested by both farriers and barefoot specialists.
and it works just as good for veteran farriers and novice horse owners.
The GoodHoofCare guidelines are:
1. Trim the hoof wall parallel to the hard sole.
The goal is to have the hoof wall at the same height as the outer limit of the hard sole but on the way there the horse might appreciate having the hoof wall just a fraction longer. If you need to scrape the hard sole clean to find the right height I recommend doing that with a scraper instead of a knife since a scraper will not cut into the hard sole. Remember that if you scrape the sole you do it for your own sake not for the horse so be careful not to hurt the hard sole.
Trimming the hoof wall to the level of the sole might not leave the bottom of the hoof traditionally flat but that is natural on a bare foot horse and it is necessary for getting an even load on the hoof when the hoof is loaded. (This is a problem shoers have to deal with.)
Trimming bars is a science of its own but if they are perfect before you start it is easy because the bars are hoof wall and should be treated as such. This means that they are supposed to be trimmed to the level of the closest part of the sole.
There is a comment on bar trimming further down.
2. Frog trimming.
If the front 3/5 (a little more than half) of the frog is sticking out compared to the level of the hoof wall it might be a problem for the horse when it is on hard grounds. Check by leaving the horse standing on concrete for a while and see if he is comfortable. If he is - Don't trim the height of the frog.
The rear 2/5 of the frog is supposed to stick outside the level of the hoof wall to get the ground contact that it so desperately needs. Trim this part of the frog as little as possible. Preferably not at all.
3. Leave the same amount of material outside the sole all the way around the hoof.
When looking at the hoof from the sole side the length from the outer limit of the sole to the outer limit of the hoof should be the same al the way around. Measure the thickness of the white line plus the thickness of the hoof wall somewhere at the quarters (the back part) of the hoof where everything looks good and healthy and trim the toe to the same length. If the white line in the toe region is stretched and longer than the sound white line plus the hoof wall at the quarters it is of no problem to horse that you trim away the entire hoof wall and a part of the stretched white line as long as you do it perpendicular to the sole level.
4. Round all sharp edges.
My experience is that different horses need different thickness of the hoof wall at ground level so you will have to test how much your barefoot horse wants you to round the hoof wall. (If the horse is to be shod you naturally don't round the edge.) Om my own horses I bevel the bottom of the hoof wall all the way to the waterline. That is what is best for the hoof in the long run but if you do this it is important that you keep it like that ALL THE TIME. This means that you might need to swipe your rasp over this part everyother day otherwise your horse might be sore everytime you trim like this.
If the bars are tilted or very large, or the hoof is asymmetric or flared, the bars need special attention. It is fairly easy to learn how to trim deformed bars but you really need to practice under supervision since it is just as easy to do wrong (and then nothing works) as it is to do right. (Under articles you can find an article about asymmetrical and flared hooves that will describe the theory of trimming bars.)
Trained professionals can cure almost every hoof disease there is with my hoof care concept as their foundation and private horse owners can easily help their horses to maintain healthy hooves with it.
GoodHoofCare might very well be the easiest way to do right.
The corner stones of GoodHoofCare are:
- All hooves should be protected in exactly the way they need at every single moment. No more no less.
- No man can create a perfect hoof. Our work is simply to help the horse to grow a healthy hoof.
- Every single hoof is unique and has its own natural shape. (That's why you can't have any fixed measurements.)
- Man has no right to have an opinion about what hooves should look like.
- Hoof shape is dynamic and changes over time and health status.
- You are never ever allowed to trim the hard sole.
- The bars are hoof wall and must be trimmed us such.
- Eating habits are just as important as trimming when it comes to sound hooves.
I believe that deshoeing and rehabilitation of pathological hooves should be taken care of by professionals.