one side of the horse - Ronald Searle

Further Hoof Care

Following up on last week’s post about Simple Hoof Care, this week a short film on further hoof care. The method shown here is still relatively simple but this time we look at the use of conventional trimming tools and techniques.

The video lasts just over six minutes. 

bottom of hoof

Simple Hoof Care

The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which is causing COVID-19 casualties around the world, is disrupting all walks of life and many activities we took for granted have ground to a halt. Not least of these is the horse world and all associated with it. Some countries have put severe restrictions upon leaving the house/property. Other countries have banned horse-riding altogether –even in private– since an accident would add yet another problem to the already overburdened medical services.

Clearly, whatever the local situation, horses are getting less exercise but their hoofs are still growing. And the farriers and hoof care specialists are hanging up their tools for the duration with many equestrian centres closing, or being obliged to close, their doors and ‘unnecessary’ work being suspended.
For many owners, this is a hand in hair situation – what to do now.

For this reason, we have compiled a short video showing how you can maintain your horses hoofs in an acceptable condition until your hoof care specialist is back out and about…

Lucky Luke

Prior knowledge of hoof care is not a pre-requisite and you will not damage your horse’s feet nor cripple him. You will need access to some basic equipment but it is advisable to obtain a proper farriers’ hoof rasp. These cost between €30 and €60 (£25 & £50) and can be bought at any online farriers suppliers (check Google for your nearest stockist). When buying a rasp, make sure it is a 14 inch double-edged rasp (one side will be rough, the other fine). Smaller models and multi-faced models are not easy to use because they do not allow a flowing motion; larger models are unwieldy. Do not buy a Riders Rasp™; this is of little use other than to cosmetically pretty-up the edge of the hoof and certainly has no place is proper hoof care.

4-edge hoof rasp

The multi-faced rasp, far left, and the Raid Riders Rasp, left.
Two tools of very limited used and best avoided.

So, here is the video. It is only five minutes long (±675mb). We hope it will be informative and help you out in these trying times. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to mail us at info@sabots-libres.eu

Stay safe.

Trimming Course Level 2 (Porta, France)

Two day level 2 hoof trimming course (in French) in the beautiful Pyrenees.

Day 1. Theory

Distribution of educational material
Morning – Objective: evaluation and revision of Level 1
  • Welcome and introduction.
  • Collection of questions.
  • Work terrain & the law.
  • Equine physiology.
  • The rules of kinetic damping.
Afternoon – Objective: The pathologies
  • Interpretation of radiography & lameness.
  • Post deshoeing.
  • Differentiation of lameness.
  • Explanation of diagnoses.
Day 2. Practical
Distribution of tools
Morning – Objective: Evaluation scenario
  • Recap of tools used.
  • Analysis of the workplace.
  • Methodology and revision of safety.
  • Hoof care and trimming horses.
Afternoon – Objective: Treatment of special cases
  • Pathological case studies.
  • Revision of the training.
  • Evaluation of the course.
Data: 17 & 18 augustus 2015

The course starts at 09:00 – students may arrive on Sunday evening (there is a small supplement for an extra meal and night)
Includes 1 night, 2x lunch, 1x evening meal (Monday).
260€

Note: this course is intended for students who have already participated in the Level 1 course. 

For more information you can make use of the form below:

Simplification or Mystification?

Everywhere you look, everywhere you go, farriers and barefoot specialists alike are talking about “protection” and about balance. Trimmers in particular are tied to the idea of dimensions – there is even a movement that issues little templates to determine the right heel height, or one that issues protractors for getting the toe-angle correct. Hoof mapping is “all the thing” in some quarters.
But not one of these ideas is based on sound scientific knowledge and evidence. On the contrary, most of them define the “mystique” of the horse’s hoof – even given that they are intended to help the owner trim himself.
Hoof mapping is probably the biggest nonsense, but followed very closely by the other two. Hoof mapping tries to determine the position of the P3 and by using a Terry clip to mark the correct outline of the hoof.
Sadly, the horse is not an insect and thus in no way a perfect mirror image – left and right are ALWAYS different as are front and rear. The shape of the hoof is not determined by a Terry clip but by the horse itself; some are longer, some are rounder. Most are absolutely not circular – and never will be however much you trim, since the shape of the hoof is determined by the shape of the P3 inside.The same goes for toe-angles and most definitely for heel height. Nobody can determine what the correct heel height is except the horse.
But probably the biggest mistake made by trimmers and farriers alike, is the supposition that the hoof wall is a weight-bearing structure – it is not! It is the adherence to this historic fable that ensures farriers and trimmers all pay more attention to that what they cannot change than to that what they can. It is impossible to improve the comportment of the horse by dint of adding shoes or by trimming asymmetrically – likewise, striving for an identical height across the heel of a foot is a utopia. None of these actions make the slightest bit of sense.
Why not? Because when we look at the horse’s foot it is static; but a horse uses its feet dynamically. Nobody can show which forces are active under the foot when the horse is in motion; the various experimental systems used all break down at their own functional level. Sensors affixed to the hoof – but carried in a metal structure which not only adds weight to the foot, but also increase limb length and thus altering locomotion; a pad laid in the floor – slightly more reliable but still with the problem that the pad is not a hard structure and thus does not give a completely accurate impression. And who has access to these things anyway – measuring dynamics that change with relation to surface, weight of the horse and even simply the speed at which the horse is travelling at the moment it is monitored?
It is important to realise that the hoof wall is nothing more than a protection for the underlying structures and a touch sensor. It is not designed to carry the weight of the horse and it is even less designed to carry the force of impact when the hoof lands. If we take time to study the shape, form and structure of the hoof from a physics viewpoint we can appreciate this argument much better. The horse is not an insect, there is no exoskeleton – the hoof wall is not a skeletal structure and is not connected to the skeleton. The forces applied during landing, support and departure are not centred on the hoof, not even the three phalanx bones, but rather in the cannon bone. We can draw a line down the cannon bone and see that the actual reception of energy on landing is very clearly in the digital cushion.
So, the hoof wall is simply there to protect the underlying structures, together with acting as a touch sensor. If we remove the hoof wall such that it is not making contact with the ground, we are not affecting the locomotion of the horse – on the contrary, we are helping the horse attain an ideal locomotion. Leaving hoof walls long or trying to “balance” the hoof is counter-productive; we CANNOT balance a hoof – that is a job for each individual horse. Thus the use of all manner of mysterious techniques, trying to determine P3 location and “correct” heel height is all really propagation of a farrier’s fallacy.
Time then to forget the nonsense and approach the subject scientifically. And the basis of all science is physics – biology answers to the laws of physics.

The Other Approach…

It is interesting at times to take a look at how ones “colleagues” go about their profession. It has a couple of benefits: you can pick up tips and tricks – particularly in those activities that you only carry out once in a while; you see someone else’s technique – again to compare with and maybe even to hone your own; you can catch up with the latest thoughts and trends.

Obviously, you can also be surprised or even horrified by what you see… Happily this does not happen too often but just now and again you see techniques where you can seriously start asking questions about the “knowledge” being applied.

Last weekend, I spent a day with a trained farrier who was demonstrating how to trim horses’ hoofs. He was certainly in a position to demonstrate – after all, he is also a teacher at a farriers’ school! Basically, the man had a reasonable technique, albeit rather rough and ready and an eye for what he was doing – but I missed several fundamental points.

To begin, his approach was not to trim the hoofs so much based upon their wear as upon the “incorrect” gait of the horse. If the horse walked in a certain – unacceptable – way, then he would trim to “correct” this inadequacy.

Secondly, he only used a trimming knife and hammer to trim – including cleaning out the “bowl” in the sole of the hoof. Naturally he also used this knife to rigorously cut back the frog.

Thirdly, he made absolutely no attempt to trim the quarters – necessary for the hoof mechanism to be really effective.

Fourthly, if he wasn’t trying to correct any particular “inadequacy”, no attempt was made to insure the even height of the heels.