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43 Responses to FAQ's

  • avatar
    Sarah says:

    Maureen—
    I have recently found your site and have purchased your HGM book. Very, very good read! How I finally got to being a believer in barefoot trimming is a long story….but the important thing is that I have arrived and I am not going back. NOW…..that being said. My horses have been barefoot for awhile so tweaking my current trimming technique to yours wasn’t too difficult…..but I am rescuing a “navicular” horse tomorrow evening. He has terrible heart bar shoes with toe clips on right now. I am having a farrier friend come and remove his shoes for me ASAP. Should I let him just be for awhile? Or should I go ahead and trim him right after his shoes have been removed?
    Thanks so much!!!

    • avatar
      Maureen says:

      My advice is to just let him be. Take the shoes off and do nothing else. Let him transition himself for 2-3 weeks. His feet will not get any longer than they were in the shoes, and most likely he will break off some of it himself. Where it most needs to go.

      • avatar
        Sarah says:

        Thank you so much for your prompt response!!! And what if he is pretty sore w/o shoes?? I hate to purchase boots for an untrimmed foot. Recommendation?

        • avatar
          Maureen Tierney says:

          I doubt that he will be terribly sore as long as no trimming is done. If he is sore it should go away in a few days.

  • avatar
    Sarah says:

    Maureen—
    You are very correct! I have removed his shoes and he is no more sore (in fact, I think less sore) than he was with the bar shoes on. We removed his shoes Saturday night and I took a look Sunday morning and he already was self-trimming just into the stretched white line at the quarters….I couldn’t believe how quickly he managed to start this process on his own. I am excited to see how far he comes on his own over the next couple weeks before I begin trimming him. This is going to be quite the experiment for me, I’ve never taken a horse from shoes to barefoot. All my other horses came to me barefoot.
    …….and so my journey begins……..

    I do have a question….I was watching your video and you talked about making the wall and heels level according to the sole height. But, what about when a chunk of “retained sole” comes out on one side and not the other. How do I gauge that? If I would trim both heels to 1/4″ above whatever the sole height is (even if one side exfoliated more deeply), then it feels as though he would be unbalanced?

    • avatar
      Maureen Tierney says:

      First let me say that there is no such thing as “retained sole”. That term was invented by people who do not understand or respect the sole. Sole is put down by the horse on purpose and will exfoliate when the horse no longer needs the extra thickness. As to sole that exfoliates on one side and not the other – do not force the exfoliation unless it falls off with a hoof pick. In many cases, due to trimming the heels by sighting down the back of the foot, the coffin will be tilted sideways (medial laterally). If that is the case, the exfoliation on one side will reveal wall which needs to be trimmed – to straighten the foot. Be patient and see what the horse is trying to accomplish – we do not have to micro manage the foot or control it. We are really just there to help – and only when needed.

      • avatar
        Maureen Tierney says:

        that should be coffin bone – not coffin.

        • avatar
          Sarah says:

          That explains it very well for me….thank you:) I’m excited to continue my journey….so far it is working just as you have explained and the horses are doing well.

  • avatar
    Krista says:

    I have moved to your trimming methods and my horses are fantastic! They finally have those feet that look like the pictures! One question, though. I am about to acquire a very small pony (advertised as a mini in fact) who is TERRIBLY overgrown. My question is this: 1/4″ heel height for full size horses before you begin to trim them, but what about for little bitty feet? Is there a sliding scale based on size or does the 1/4″ stand for all equines? Thank you!

    • avatar
      Maureen says:

      Good question! Minis should have their heels taken down to sole level. They don’t need more height. Bars can also be trimmed to sole level. Foals also.

  • avatar
    Krista says:

    I love when the answer is easy! Thank you!

  • avatar
    Robin Talsma says:

    Hello Maureen, I just purchased your book minutes ago and am looking forward to reading it. I have a horse and standard size (12.5hh) donkey. My donkey was at a rescue organization because previous owner never had his feet trimmed so they were over grown and curled up. The rescue had him trimmed right away and then I came along right after and adopted him. He’s been here 3 years now, barefoot trimming, and I’m still not happy with his feet. Does your book address donkey feet? My barefoot trimmer broke her ankle so I’ve taken over for awhile now and I also studied this kind of trimming for over 5 years. Until I read your article in ‘The Horse’s Hoof’ magazine, I’ve always felt I was missing something. Your article nailed it for me – Thank You!.

    • avatar
      Maureen says:

      No, donkey feet are not addressed in the book. Donkey and mule feet are very different than horse feet and need to be trimmed very differently. They do NOT want concavity, they do NOT want a bevel and should not be beveled. The heels and bars should be taken down to sole level when trimming. The frog is very different as well, being behind the foot. See photos below:

      Dissected donkey hoof
      Sole view of wild donkey

      If you email me at info@barefoottrimming.com, I will send you some markups I’ve made for donkey owners on how to trim.

  • avatar
    Connie lipham says:

    Hello…got both book and video…thank you so much for this information. Have used some of Ovnicek but not totally satisfied with it.
    Do you ever spray the sole and frog with vinegar? I ordered the thrush product you recommend so I am waiting for it to arrive. My mare has contracted heels that seem to be tender.

  • avatar
    Connie lipham says:

    Since I have begun the HGM, her frog has widened and gotten deeper. I rode her on a gravel road 2 days ago and no ‘owie’ steps…I am hoping for the sole sulcus to open up

    • avatar
      Maureen says:

      Wow! Always love to hear about horses improving. Would love video of her on gravel road if you’d like to send. Will post it on my blog with videos of other sound horses. And the good news, the foot will continue to improve until it is as close to where it was meant to be genetically as it can possibly be.

  • avatar
    Erena Powell says:

    Hi, I recently trimmed a herd of 15 horses on a mountain top that hadn’t been trimmed for up to 6 months. some had self trimmed quite well but others had very long toes or one side of the toe had grown very long. the soles were pretty good as they had many acres of hill to roam. one horse with very long toes went very lame (just what the owners told me- they blamed me and didn’t want me to return!) after I did a conservative trim- close to the HGM but just before I started using it. the owner said he thought the toes were too short. what do you recommend when faced with neglected hooves? I knew I wouldn’t be brought back to trim them for months so couldn’t do a little, often. I wish I had photos of the state they were in before I trimmed but time was limited. many thanks, Erena, New Zealand

    • avatar
      Maureen says:

      Hi Erena,

      If the feet are very bad, often the back of the foot is weak. Taking the toes back puts more weight on the rear of the foot and can make a horse ouchy. I would point out to the owner (and I do) that the horse is now walking ON the toe – not avoiding walking on the toe. This shows them that the problem is that back of the foot. So then you can explain how the back of the foot gets weak, how a weak frog causes problems, etc. You don’t mention the heels, but if you trimmed them, that would actually be the problem.

  • avatar
    Teresa Ruth says:

    I have a foundered Icelandic you have helped me with greatly and she is doing well. She has about half an inch separation at the toe line but is growing in a nice connection – about half way down. Her right front has the worst separation and she has a huge toe callus under the tip of the hoof. I have bevelled beyond the toe callus but there is a big bunch of hoof out in front (beveled and passive to the ground). Should this just be left alone? The “old” me would have backed up this toe but I hesitate to do so because your methods have been so successful on this mare and on my sound MFT.

    Also in your video you mention several times about frequency of trimming “except for foundered horses”. should I trim her more often or less often than my sound mare?

    Thanks for all you do!

    • avatar
      Maureen says:

      You should bevel from just in front of the ridge out. If there is a lot of toe in front, don’t be afraid to take it back. If the pressure is not relieved at the toe it will drag the new growth out and delay healing. With the HGM, the secret is to not trim the heels when they are not asking for it. The toe, on the other hand is what 99% of the time needs attention. Also, you should trim a foundered foot whenever it is asking for it, in the early days, once a week is not unusual, as the hoof recovers less frequent trimming is necessary. By asking, I mean if the heels are more than 1/4 inch above the sole, the wall is above the sole or is growing out away from the sole and is longer than 1/4 inch, or when the toe needs beveling.

  • avatar
    Teresa Ruth says:

    I need to share that bringing Roka’s toes back more conscientiously has really made a difference, as has trimming her more often. I noticed just today that she has a real “punch” to her walk across river rock and pea gravel – not tentative at all. She is definitely on the mend – thank you so much!

    • avatar
      Maureen Tierney says:

      That is so awesome to hear!! it’s those details that make such a big difference. Thanks so much for posting.

  • We’ve been barefoot here for 10 years now, including my own group of 6 horses I always have plus up to 5 newcomers/youngsters/sale horses, plus all my boarders who I’ve convinced to go barefoot. I started with a Strasser trimmer and it was so much better than shoes for my laminitic and navicular horses. But after a year or so they were sore again. This trimmer got more conservative, and I added a second trimmer who had already been a “less is more” type trimmer. However, 2 of my horses who’ve been on this program the longest are consistently sore after their trims. They weren’t the first couple years but they have been for the past 3 years or so. One has a lot of separation that has developed that the trimmers battle to remove each time at the quarters in both fronts, and the other has no concavity and thin soles. They both used to have very tight capsules with big healthy frogs, but not any longer. I’m going to take the plunge and not trim them for a couple months and see what develops, and then instruct the trimmers to try your method. It’s scary! Especially for the one with all the separation – I just envision it separating worse and worse if not trimmed. So, I guess I just want to hear it from you directly that this is an OK idea. Thanks!

    • avatar
      Maureen says:

      It’s hard to give a truly good answer without seeing some sole shots of the feet. I would guess the toes are forward if you’re seeing separation. I would not leave the front of the foot alone, but would bevel it at 30 degrees. I would leave the back of the foot alone, as horses respond very positively and very quickly to having their heels left alone. If you’d like to send of post photos, I would be happy to give a more detailed answer.

  • I emailed photos. I can’t figure out how to post them here. I have a question about bars. My trimmers say that when they are too long they cause bruising and pain. But the horses never seem to be pain free when they are trimmed. I’ve read several times on this site you saying just leave them alone. If the toe is properly backed up and beveled, the bars will do what they need to do? You don’t worry about them becoming laid over or all pounded into the foot?

  • I got your photos and will mark them up and send them to you. But I do want to say here that it is a HUGE error to attack the bars in general, but your horse has very low, normal bars that should be left completely alone.Your trimmer is clearly one of those aggressive ones, still following Strasser’s theory of completely removing the bars. The bars DO NOT cause pain, and horses grow them large in order to help support the back of their foot when there is internal damage. It breaks my heart to know so many horses out there are being MADE sore by trimmers who are obsessed with what they read and do not listen to the horse. If a horse is sore after a trim and was not sore before the trim, the trimmer should always question what he or she is doing.

    I do tell people to trim bar – but only when they are soft and ready to come off, brittle and tryingto break off, and higher than the surrounding wall. And then only down to just above the sole. Pardon my expression but it is pure crap that when there are no visible bars that they are somehow pushed into the sole – as is most of the other stuff put out there by people obsessed with bars. When the horse no longer needs bars,they literally will disappear.

  • THANK YOU. I’ve been reading everything on Rockley Farms’ website too. It’s all starting to make sense. My horses’ frogs are looking atrophied and awful because the every 6 week heel and bar trimming have made them too sore to properly load that part of the foot. They do still land heel first, but they used to have big juicy frogs that were wide at the base. Now they have shriveled up ragged thin frogs. I read on Rockley Farms’ site that if the horses are too sore to load the back part of the foot they don’t trim toe. Since my horses are clearly sore (lame on gravel after their trims, sound on gravel before their trims) but not totally lame all the time and still landing heel first, does that mean it’s OK to trim their toes? I can’t wait for your DVD and book so I can get more instruction on that!

    There was a good blog post about flare on that website too. I’ve been taught it’s painful because it’s tearing away on every step. But that website says it’s not strong enough to do that. I do wonder about gravel getting up in the flared/separated areas. Mine who have a bit of separation always have gravel stuck up there. They don’t do anything about it at Rockley Farms – it’ll break off and harden up as needed eventually?

    • avatar
      Maureen Tierney says:

      Yes, a lot of information out there about the “natural” hoof is very incorrect and one of the reasons that so many horses cannot go without boots. The hoof is a very unique and finely engineered thing and it has to be the way it was meant to be, to be healthy. Flare will go away when the foot has rebalanced internally. I will either just disappear or wear/or be trimmed away, from the solar aspect – as it will be clear that the foot wants it removed. The foot is very clear about what it wants and does not want!

  • Oh and about the bars not causing pain – I’ve been to several dissection clinics with hooves that had very tall bars, and upon dissection there was bar-shaped bruising in the corium, right under the bars, and we were told that was from the too tall bars pressing in and causing bleeding. Not true? Or maybe true for horses who didn’t have good management in other areas (lived in a stall, no chance to self trim)?

  • avatar
    Maureen Tierney says:

    Regarding the bars, what you were told was bruising was not bruising. KC LaPierre on his anatomy DVD says he has dissected thousands of feet and never seen any evidence of bruising or what is called “impacted bars”. There is a bar corium directly below the bar, from which the bar is produced. It is a different color than the sole corium and also has laminae. I’m fairly certain that what was pointed out as bruising was just blood left from the dissection tearing the bars from that laminae.

  • avatar
    Anthony Sikes says:

    Hello Maureen,
    In your video “How Far Can We Safely Back the Toe?” you show an example of a hoof that has no wall height above the sole but plenty of excessive wall length that needs to be removed. You show a yellow line of where it should be removed to. My question is: would you do a vertical cut to remove the excessive length and then bevel or just rely on the bevel to remove the excessive length that is in contact with the ground?
    Thanks, I think your method is awesome. I’ve got your book and seen the video. It all makes good common sense to me.
    Anthony

    • avatar
      Maureen says:

      No, aside from a severe founder case you don’t want to make a vertical cut. The goal is not to thin the wall – which that would do – but to create a slanted area which effectively moves the breakover back, and relieves the forward pull on the heels. Horses with forward toes have some degree of separation, and to take a vertical cut will often make them sore as well as thinning the wall.

  • More on trimming the heels… From an article on Bowker: “”We need to be trimming hooves so that more of the back part of the foot—including the frog—bears the initial ground impact forces and weight,” Bowker stated.

    “Trimming the foot so that the breakover is much shorter and the frog and back part of the feet support a lot of the horse’s weight encourages development of tissues that dissipate more energy when hooves hit the ground.

    “If hooves are trimmed so that the frog rests on the ground,” Bowker said, “it stimulates the back part of the hoof to grow more fibrous and cartilaginous digital cushions, which appear to be ‘protective’ of the more chronic foot problems.”

    So that makes me nervous about not trimming the back of the foot. But that’s not really what you’re saying, right? You’re saying we’ve probably been trimming it too much. But to still trim it before the foot resembles the feet you see on so many stall kept shod horses, where the coronary band is parallel with the ground from the heels being so high. But then I think about your series on the foundered horse whose heels you never trimmed. I guess you still don’t actually disagree with Bowker because the heels on that horse did come down – just not from you trimming them.

    When I first switched to barefoot 12 years ago I had a foundered mare with stove pipe feet, heels as high as the toe, and the trimmer took over and inch of heel off in the first trim, and immediately after she was able to trot and lope, something she hadn’t done in over a year. But maybe considering your method, maybe it was really just the backing up of the toe that made her so immediately comfortable?

  • Hi Maureen. When you got the second horse and did the experiment of not trimming him at all, why did his feet start to change with you? Why hadn’t they changed at his last home?

    • avatar
      Maureen Tierney says:

      He was a racehorse when I bought him. He was at Suffolk Downs and had shoes on when I got him. I wouldn’t call that a home. Anyway, feet can’t change in shoes.

      • OH I did not know that. I figured he was just turned out and neglected, which is why I couldn’t figure out why he started changing for you. Thanks!

  • Hi Maureen. I think we’re still not doing enough. Here are photos from a trim we did today. Looking at them now it seems the wall wasn’t beveled close enough to the white line in the quarters, especially the outside (left) quarter. What do you think? Before and after photos on this page:
    http://allisonacres.org/tarzanfeet.html

    • avatar
      Maureen says:

      You’re doing too much at the toe – you’ve thinned the wall. The wall should be wider after you bevel, not more narrow. And yes, you didn’t bevel enough in the heel quarters. See photo below.
      Trim markup

  • OK I’m even more confused. I thought we were to back up the wall to the white line? How do you do that without thinning the wall? Is that photo on the bottom right a horse who’s done? Or do you still do a little “sanding” of the pointy edge?

    • avatar
      Maureen Tierney says:

      That’s a good question. The answer is we are not backing the WALL. We are BEVELING the wall to move BREAKOVER back. We are just creating a slant from the white line forward.

      No the horse is not done – if you read the text, you would see that one side is not yet finished. That photo is very informative, but only if you actually read the text. Once the right side of the foot on the right is finished, it was put on the hoof stand and just the sharp bottom edge was smoothed.

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