Barefoot Trim Frequency

(Header Image courtesy of Penzance Holistic Horse)

In a perfect world, my horses would live in a huge pasture with varied terrain and plenty of rocks. Sparse, desert-type grasses would cover the ground, and their hooves would be shaped by the land and their movement across it. I would seldom have to trim.

But unfortunately, this is not the case. I live in an area of Oklahoma known as Green Country. My pastures are filled with enough green grass to feed a herd of cattle. Or enough to cut and bale hay (which is, in fact, what we do). Is there such a thing as too much grass? If so, I think that pretty much describes where I live.

And while some parts of Oklahoma (even not far from here) are hilly and rocky, we live on a flat, soft land with a few trees thrown in for good measure.

 

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The result? I have to trim my horses more frequently than others might. In fact, I have them all on a four-week schedule (I have four horses and trim one a week.) But I’ve been realizing that this is even too long between trims sometimes. So I’m moving up to a two or three week schedule for one of them in particular.

So now the question you might be asking is this: How does one know if they’re trimming frequently enough?

The answer is pretty easy to find actually–it’s in the hooves. If they are starting to flare, crack, or chip by the time you trim, you’ve waited too long. You really want to trim before they get to that point.

 

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One of Kady’s hooves, when I didn’t trim her on schedule

 

It’s best to trim when the hoof is just starting to show signs of overgrowth.

Of course, this could be different for every horse, depending on how much they’re exercised, the environment they live in, and even the weather sometimes.

So now you might also be wondering, what’s the big deal? Why does it matter if I wait six or eight weeks between trims? My horse is still getting trimmed!

While trimming at the wrong frequency is better than nothing for most horses, you’re still giving the hooves a chance to develop flares and cracks (which can invite fungi and bacteria to come take up residence in the hoof).

 

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The horse’s hooves are meant to be self-trimming. This is how it works with the wild horse. They move all day long and over varied terrain. We should be trimming our domesticated horses to at least somewhat mimic this naturally occurring self-trim.

Now I know many of you pay someone to trim your horses and they can’t come every three weeks (or maybe they can, but you just can’t afford to pay them every three weeks!) This is where a rasp will come in very handy. Have your trimmer show you how to rasp the hoof wall between trims. Or watch some tutorials online. It’s really not too difficult. You might even like these handy little Radius Rasps from Evolutionary Hoof Care.

I recently gave some trimming lessons to a couple of gals, and they were going to opt to use a rasp on a weekly basis to keep things in check. This is a great idea, really.

 

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I know a lot of us are pressed for time, but if you ride every day, or at least several days per week, it could be just a quick routine you add–just like cleaning out your horse’s hooves.

Of course, I’m not perfect. Occasionally, my own horses go too long between trims, too (as shown in the picture of Kady above). But I do keep a little planner on my kitchen counter, and I pencil in one horse in per week. I’ve found that by writing it down on a specific day, this helps me to stick with it.

So I urge you all–take a look at your horse’s feet. Could they benefit from a different barefoot trim frequency? Next time you have your trimmer out (or trim yourself), try to determine if your horse is on the right schedule. It really might make a difference for him.

 

Ta-ta,

 

Casie

 

Casie

Hi! My name is Casie Bazay. I'm a mom, a freelance writer, and a certified equine acupressure practitioner.

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7 Responses

  1. Eden says:

    Hello, Casie! Thank you for all the posts you’ve been posting! I enjoy reading them. So you mentioned trimming your own horses hooves. Do you trim your own horses hooves? If so, how??? Having a farrier come out is not cheap and I would like to start trimming my own horses hooves. How do you do it?? What if you mess up?? Also, does age matter? Because I’m only 14…
    Please respond ASAP
    Thanks Casie!
    Eden

    • Casie says:

      Hi Eden–Yes, I do trim my own horses. I’ve been doing it for about five years. Anyone who’s willing can do it if they really want to learn. In fact, I taught a fifteen-year-old girl how to trim her horse recently. 🙂 Sometimes you can take lessons, but if not, I suggest reading Pete Ramey’s book, ‘How to Make Natural Hoof Care Work for you’ and watching some online tutorials on barefoot trimming. There are also clinics you can attend occasionally. Start off very slowly and with just a rasp. You can hurt your horse if you use nippers incorrectly and trim too much. I advise people learning to trim to always take a ‘less is more’ approach. Better to trim too little than to much. But if you really want to learn, I say go for it!

      • Eden says:

        Is ‘How to Make Natural Hoof Care Work For You’ how you learned to trim your horses? Do you still use that technic that Pete uses in that book? BC that book was back in 2003. Do you think he might have learned more since then? Or is that book accurate on how you trim?
        Thank you Casie! You have been extremely helpful:-)
        Eden

        • Casie says:

          Yes, that book is how I first learned. My husband went to farrier school and used to trim (and shoe) my horses before, so he helped me a little bit (though he trims differently than I do!) I also bought Pete’s video set and joined online barefoot hoof care groups. I read every article I could find on barefoot. There are lots of resources out there. A couple years ago, I had Pete out to do a clinic at my barn, too. The important thing is learning to understand the hoof and the important structures inside of it. We should trim to support these structures and proper movement.

    • Jamie says:

      The Hoof Guided Method by Maureen Tierney was very helpful to me in my journey to learn to take care of my horses feet . Once you start studying and paying attention to your horses feet it will ll fall into place for you . It takes some practice but anyone who is physically capable can take care of their horses feet . I found one handed nippers to be very helpful . Good luck !

  2. Marlene says:

    I watched my trimmer for a few years, but never thought I’d be doing my own horse’s hooves. He told me if I was doing my job, I wouldn’t need him. So I started a bit here and there, and still had him come by to see if I was doing okay. So it’s been about three years now, and it’s going great. I am on to a new horse now, and had trimmer come by just to see if I should be doing things much different. This horse wears his feet a little differently but the principle is the same. His feet look better now (because I do frequent touch ups) than when I got him. Don’t be scared, just get your trimmer to oversee your efforts and then come by for a check up, or if you have a question. OF course I did a lot of research online as well but by itself that’s not enough.

    • Casie says:

      Good for you, Marlene. I agree that horse owners need to read and research before trimming and having someone more experienced help at first is a great idea. But it’s definitely not rocket science as many people think it might be.

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