No two horses are the same. Neither are two hooves on the same horse.
The trim that is truly founded on the best interests of the horse respects the flaws and unique characteristics of the individual horse at all times. The natural trim mimics the natural wear patterns of wild horses, but respects the fact that we can never truly recreate them.
Trimming incorrectly WILL make a horse sore - when the wrong parts of a hoof are trimmed, or incorrect areas are left to overgrow, or trims are too aggressive.
There is more to trimming than some people realise - in many ways it is an art. Guiding the hoof towards health, while keeping a horse as comfortable as possible along the way.
Cause No Harm
In the ideal world no trim would result in a horse becoming lame at any point. When a trim respects what the hoof is already trying to do - and works in a way to support this its very seldom that a horse will experience any type of discomfort.
However, this world is not ideal and there are plenty of very sick hooves out there.
With so many variables at play even the most qualified trimmer cannot guarantee a horse will not experience periods of tender-footedness and possibly even lameness at some point during their transition to a healthy hoof. One never intends a horse to be sore after a trim, but on occasion improved circulation will bring inflammation, bruising and inevitably tenderfootedness.
Ones interest is always to create a healthy and sound hoof. (There are plenty of barefoot horses out there that appear to be constantly sound, but their hoof health is in a terrible state - this is a topic for another discussion.)
All work with the horse and their hoof should be done alongside the laws of nature and common sense principles founded on how these laws operate.Trims done in such a way will create hooves that come back to life and regain nerve function, sometimes when this happens to an unhealthy hoof it can get tender for a period.
Hooves are not blocks of wood, and horses are living breathing animals. Incorrect trimming can and will make a horse sore. While correct hoofcare will promote healing alongside soundness.
Despite domestication, there is no difference in hoof form or function when compared to a wild hoof. Except that most domestic hooves have been deformed and maimed by human interference in the name of horsecare. What is worse is that many of these hooves are not recognised as being unhealthy until it is too late.
A true barefoot trim aims to mimic the natural wear patterns of wild horses. Never takes too much, and never removes too little, respects and takes into account upper body development, injuries and muscle wastage, and supports the hoof in such a way that takes all of this into account.
If a hoof is genuinely healthy, and trimmed in a way that supports this, ones horse should be able to be ridden immediately after a trim.
Guidelines like these can be helpful - but they should also be respected as guidelines only... there are always exceptions to the rules.
1 - Leave what would naturally be there 2- Only remove what would be worn away in the wild 3- Allow the hoof to grow what should be there, but isn't due to human interference 4- Ignore all pathology (Jaime Jackson)
Respect the Healing Power of Nature
Give the hoof time to heal, and it will do so.
A trim is simply a single step towards the direction of whole horse wellness. It is the platform with which rehabilitation is made possible. Horses that are kept in a way that honors the elements of natural horse care have significantly improved recovery times. When compared to those who are left to more conventional methods.
But how does it work? When your trimmer does their work, the hoof is trimmed in such a way that mimics the natural wear patterns one would expect to see in horses found in the wild. With respect to each hoof in its current state.
After the trim, the hoof begins to grow new horn, now shaped by these new wear patterns.
This is the period of healing. Each new trim stimulates growth patterns that move the hoof closer to its optimal function. Over time, the hoof becomes increasingly natural in its shape. (A word of caution. There is in fact nothing natural about "natural hoofcare" as it is always shaped by individual belief, opinion and past experiences.)
Once natural balance has been established, the horse is then free to experience its real feet, and explore its natural gaits.
Use of these gaits reinforce correct wear patterns and encourage freedom of movement.
With continued natural movement, hooves continue to be shaped. Natural muscle groups can now be developed and the horse begins to function as a whole.
If you simply give the horse the opportunity to heal, and the environment to do so, its amazing what can be achieved.
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Content and photographs copyright EquiCare 2013-2016 - Stock Images used with permission - Ghost Saddles used with permission. ConTact C.A.R.E, Flinchlock, and Flinchlock Release Therapy are all registered trademarks of Dale Speedy Ngatea ConTact Care and have been used with permission. No part of these articles may be used in part or in whole without the written permission of the author