Identifying healthy hoof ideals

This really is the starting point in any assessment of the horse and posture and we will refer to these before providing any recommendation or implementing an intervention such as trimming or booting.

Horse owners, carers and professionals have a duty of care to horses to be recognising early indicators of loss of health and pain well before then horse is 'broken'.

In our new short on-course coming this spring, and available as a FREE learning resource our VIP Members (available now), we will be providing guidelines on what is considered healthy proportions or ideals for an individual horse. They key is 'individual' - all horses have unique conformation which we need to appreciate and respect. We consider each and every horse for the uniqueness in every assessment and the the owner choose an intervention to achieve or maintain what is needed for the horse to stay sound and well.

There are many published studies on hoof morphology and different opinions on what is healthy. In the application of trimming with an integrative approach to the whole horse, we don't follow a method, but find the following guidelines to be useful and form a basis for our approach. The guidelines are simply that and there will be horses which will fall outside of these. This is why we consider the opinion of the horse to be the most authentic guide of all.


  • Limbs (metacarpals and metatarsals) perpendicular to the ground when resting

  • Close to 50:50 heel:toe ratio around the approximate COR (centre of rotation) of the distal interphalangeal joint (DIP). With barefoot horses, 40:60 is considered acceptable if there is a straight HPA/appropriate palmar/plantar P3 angle and leverage is managed throughout a trim cycle

  • Appropriate vertical depth of the hoof capsule

  • Appropriate palmar or plantar P3 angle of between 5 and 8 degrees (some say as low as 2 degrees and as high as 11 degrees)

  • Straight hoof pastern axis (HPA) which is associated closely with palmar/plantar P3 angle