Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Barefoot Horse: Autumn Trim Photos

*cheese*  Oh wait.  Hay truck.

Harley's feet are looking great, despite the persistent rain and the fact that his paddock looked more like a bog than a sandy lot last week.  He has been taking his magnesium supplement with dinner for a couple weeks now.  With the changing season, hay, workload, and all the other unknown variables, I do not know if the magnesium is helping his feet or condition, but since I think that he looks great and I am paying for the supplement, my husband said that I should just pretend like I know that it is the magnificent magnesium.  Truth be told, I think that the texture of his souls has changed.  They are more pebbly or dimpled-looking.  They used to be pretty smooth, but always looked like concrete.  Now, they look like weathered concrete, at least where the pigmentation is dark.

The other relatively big change is that since this summer, I have been giving his bars more attention.  I only trim off what my horse appears to be trying to wear down on his own.

"Only take off what the horse is trying to take off himself" is almost my entire philosophy of hoof trimming.  This is where art meets science.  The other part of my philosophy is "do no harm".

Harley starts the roll at the toe and I try to continue what he is doing around the rest of the foot.  I have tried taking a little less and a little more (majorly small increments) here and there and this has led me to a happy medium with a sound, hardworking horse.  Harley offers his input by licking and chewing from time to time while I am trimming a bar or rounding off a quarter.  I like to think this means,

"Oh, that was the spot.  Thanks."

If I could provide him with the terrain to self-trim, that would be my first choice.  I am not trying to straighten or shape the bars, just as I am not trying to make his hoof a certain shape.  I trim the bars only as needed and not on the same days that I trim the hoof wall.  This allows me to take my time.  Haste and hoof knives do not mix.

Half a dozen bar trims or so in, I have observed that they feel more like hoof wall and less like crumbly chalk.  I hope that this means the bars are stronger and better able to support the lateral cartilages.  I also hope this means that the bars are not putting undo pressure on the internal structures of his foot.  This was my concern and my reason for finding my hoof knife and addressing them this summer.  I will wait and see if any other changes unfold.

Left front

Left hind

Right front

Right hind

Strike a pose.  He just cannot help himself.

It's hard being cute.


  1. I am so impressed that you do his feet yourself. I'd be too afraid of messing them up -- and its backbreaking work on top of that. You must be very strong!

  2. I'm no expert, far from it, but those are some nice looking feet! I think you're doing great! Harley too. ;-)

  3. His feet look great. It's funny to me how their hooves are ever so slightly different in the front with a more pronounced difference between the back and front. Shadow's front feet look like dinner plates *laugh* and his back hooves are shaped like big triangles (which is weird :o) Since my arthritic spine doesn't run to trimming, we have to stick with the farrier every 6 to 8.

  4. Harley does have very nice looking feet. You must be doing something right, or they wouldn't look that nice. Great job with your farrier work. :0)

  5. Make sure you taper the bars all the way back to the heel purchase, make it a smooth ramp. High points right in front of the heel purchase are uncomfortable, or so Coriander tells me. (I'm looking at two in particular on the outside of the left and right fores on Harley)

    Can I ask what you're using as a magnesium supp? I'm thinking of adding some of that myself.

  6. thank you for your kind comment Val. I hope you can read my blog, I translate everything in English word by word in the second part of every text. You can also follow us on facebook, using the fb icon on my blog.
    hope to see you soon
    ps: i love your horse!!


  7. His feet look really good.
    Love the first photo :) He is gorgeous .. it made me laugh.

  8. Annette-It is definitely tiring, but Harley is pretty easy on me. He doesn't lean very much and I can rest his foot on my knee. The tough thing is that if I wait too long to trim, it takes FOREVER to trim with just a rasp. This is mostly a problem in the spring and summer. This last trim was much more manageable. Oh, and I stared (relentlessly) over his trimmer's shoulder for two years before learning myself. She was very patient with me.

    Jenny-Yay! They came back. ;)

    Thanks Mary!

    Jen-That is funny. I did not realize the difference in shape until I started trimming feet. Now I see hoof photos and automatically think hind or front before I see the caption.

    Thanks Karen!

    smazourek-Thank you very much for the tip. I will look at his feet the next chance I get. I am using Magnesium 3000 (3000 mg or 3 g), which is not very much, maybe not enough to do anything, but I like to be conservative.

    Gaia-Oh, I did not realize you translated the content yourself. That is very cool. I am not on facebook, but I definitely need to check out your blog some more. It looks like you are on TV?

    Ruffles-Welcome! That makes me happy. Harley likes to make people laugh. :)

  9. Oh wait. Hay truck. he he he...

    Where did you get your training skills from? I'd like to get competent at trimming (my) Val. Also - what tools do you have?

  10. Hi Calm, Forward, Straight!

    I learned from a friend who trims her own horse and has several paying clients. I used to pay her to trim Harley, before she was kind enough to "teach me how to fish". One of my friends has also started rounding her horse's feet between trims. In my opinion, this is definitely something you can learn, but I recommend learning from an experienced trimmer. ;)

    I wrote about it here:

    and I wrote about some of my tools here:


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