Friday, 18 September 2009

Farrier trim or barefoot trim?

This is another in my occasional series of barefoot myths de-bunked :-)

This time its been sparked by an email from someone asking (as people often do) what the difference is between a farrier trim and a barefoot trim. In actual fact, she asked whether her farrier could trim her horses for barefoot because he apparently views trimmers as
"cranky, untrained and potentially dangerous"

Here is the problem - for taking a horse out of shoes and getting its hooves to the point that it could work hard barefoot, I would view most farriers AND many trimmers in exactly the same way - farriery training does cover trimming, but certainly not barefoot performance, and trimmers can practice without any training at all.

The result is that there ARE trimmers (and farriers) out there who are potentially dangerous when let loose on a barefoot horse. Equally there are farriers AND trimmers who are exceptionally competent in helping hooves achieve barefoot performance.

Can her farrier trim her horse? Yup, probably, although if he is not familiar with how a hoof works barefoot, he will probably leave hoof wall too long and may worry when it starts chipping and cracking. And of course if he is one of those farriers (and they DO still exist) who routinely trims sole and frog, the horses may be sore after each trim.

But lets assume that he does a safe, non-invasive trim, as all good farriers and trimmers should, which encourages the weak areas of the hoof to work without over-stressing them, and allows the horse to grow stronger hooves both internally and externally.

The issue is that the trim is only a tiny, final part of helping that horse to grow the healthiest possible hooves. If her farrier can't also advise her on the correct diet and environment for the healthiest hooves, and advise her on what exercise programme she needs to develop areas of the horse's hoof that will have been weak in shoes and need to be strong to work barefoot, then the trim he performs will be largely irrelevant.

Of course, for "farrier" in that paragraph you can also read "trimmer" ;-)

The fact is that barefoot performance requires optimal hoof health. Optimal hoof health requires correct diet, environment, exercise and trimming, so whoever you choose to trim your horse had better have more in their toolkit than a rasp and a pair of nippers!

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