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Are horse owners making informed decisions about their horses hoof care?

Updated: Sep 24, 2023

I talk to many horse owners, predominantly in the UK and I listen to their concerns about their horses hooves. I try my best to understand the approach taken by their current hoof care provider, and the impact of their approach, so I can talk to the owner about the options available.

With so many hoof care methods being used in the UK and around the world, how can an owner make a truly informed decision on behalf of their horse if the options are not being presented in an unbiased way?

The following changes were documented on a lateral view of a RF hoof within minutes of trimming this horse; a mature ISH gelding, for the first time:

  • Decreased coronet band angle of 2.44 degrees

  • Decreased dorsal wall length of 0.15 cm

  • Decreased depth of the hoof from approx. centre of rotation (COR) of 0.02 cm

  • A reduction of hoof deviation of 0.34 cm

  • An increase in dorsal wall hoof angle of 1.94 degrees

  • Reduction in hoof length of 0.04 cm

  • A reduction in toe:heel ratio of 1.43%

  • An increase in heel-bulb distance of 0.12 cm

  • An increase in heel angle of 2.72 degrees

  • An increase in the bulb length of 0.18 cm

  • An increase in bulb height of 0.19cm

Those with a keen and practiced eye for hoof balance and farriery/podiatry sciences will notice there was very little hoof material removed from this hoof. The measurements inform that this is the case, and in particular:

  • The small change in dorsal wall hoof length

  • The increase in heel height

  • The barely discernible decrease in hoof depth from the COR

However, there remains some interesting (and from my perspective as an integrative equine podiatrist – significant) changes to be fully understood and researched, as they are not directly proportionate to the reduction in length and height of the wall during the trim; namely:

  • The changes to the coronet band angle

  • The increase in heel height

  • The changes in hoof deviation

  • The changes in the heel angle

For now, my only explanation as the why I see these changes is that the trim I apply changes tension in the soft and connective tissues, in the foot, limb and body, and the internal foot and whole body adapts (positively) to the trim.

I no longer map the sole of the hoof pre-trimming and I don’t trim to seek these measurements or ratios, but I do trim to relieve unhealthy pressure to the internal hoof while protecting the horse from harm, and the goal is a sound, healthy horse. The changes happen organically. Using software which allows for scaled measurements such as Metron-Hoof helps the student of the hoof (and therefore the horse) document and help to understand and appreciate the changes as a result of the trim applied. I document the posture too, and watch the horse walk. I ask for feedback from owners and support them in caring for their horse between consults.

To get to where I am now has taken years of practice, study and review of documentation taken during thousands of consults. I have changed my trim style several times as a result of reviewing my work and the impact this has on the horses I trim. I will continue to review my work and the influence on the horse.

I genuinely want to know the impact the environment has on the horse and how this impacts the horses well-being, development, soundness and performance. What I have learned is the trim and hoof care method applied has a highly significant impact on the horses hoof morphology, posture, movement and development.

We owe it to the horse and to the owner to study the impact of the hoof care method we use so we can provide unbiased information to the owners, so they can make an informed decision.

The very best solution to rehab is prevention, and this requires education. We are committed to delivering highly efficacious solutions and information, to empower horse owners to make better decisions for the betterment of the horse and to enhance the human-equine relationship.

Additional resources and assistance

We take an integrative and holistic approach to whole horse hoof and body health. We appreciate the relationship between body, limb and hoof and seek to address imbalances while positively influencing appropriate static and dynamic hoof balance and biomechanics.

If, like our clients, you want to learn a PRO-Active approach to hoof care and wish to prevent lameness in your horse, consider booking us for an Integrative Podiatry Consult, Educational Event, Mentorship, On-line Course or join our new Remote EP mentorship plan where you can learn top tips on how to help rehab your own horses hooves, and have weekly support, tailored to you and your horse!

We also recommend you learn how to document horses hooves and body, whether you trim your own, your clients horses, are an equine professional (in any capacity/field) or simply want to track and monitor progress of your horses hooves and the impact their hoof care has on their posture.

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Beccy Smith BSc ADAEP EBW

Diploma in Advanced Applied Equine Podiatry and now an Independent Integrative Equine Podiatrist, Consultant and Therapist

CEO and Founder of 100% Non-Profit Community Interest Company Holistic Reflections CIC

Holistic Reflections CIC – a 100% non-profit organisation promoting wellbeing and resilience in people, horses and the environment - for the benefit of all.


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