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The trim is the least important aspect to optimising your barefoot performance. A bad trim does not correct an unhealthy structure whereas a good trim (with appropriate diet and exercise) will encourage the recovery of an unhealthy structure. For example a thin sole cannot be “cured” by a trim but a good hoofcare practitioner can ensure an appropriate trim, allowing your horse to perform within its current limitations by also looking at the horse as a whole, i.e. the diet, exercise, movement and environment.

You cannot trim the hoof to health. The shape of the hoof is only an outward sign that it is functionally correct, it does not tell you about the inner health of the hoof. You cannot trim a foot to perform beyond its natural capabilities or structural development. The trim should be safe, effective and non invasive, and should not be limited to any one particular trim. The trim should be relevant to the horse’s needs to stay sound, even if it does not look pretty!

A healthy barefoot hoof will be centrally loaded and engage the back of the foot on landing, with the frog, digital cushion and lateral cartilages being able to absorb shock to protect tendons and ligaments.

In comparison an unhealthy hoof will have poorly developed structures due to peripheral loading (as with a shoe). This will decrease the hoof's natural shock absorption whilst at the same time increasing the concussion.

It takes time to build a healthy hoof so be prepared to listen to your horse and how they are coping. It can take up to 9 months for a new hoof capsule to grow down to ground level at which point your horse should be much more comfortable, if not before then.

I do not follow one trim method because I believe each horse is an individual and needs to be treated as such. Trimming is just one of the tools helping to develop your horse’s foot to its maximum performance capability, reducing the chance of injury and improving performance so you and your horse can have a happier, longer life together.

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