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.
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.
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).
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.
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.