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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I learned of this website from someone on these forums. I just wanted to share it. Rockley Farm: Key blog posts

It specifically speaks about not trimming the horses hoof and allowing the horse to dictate what type of trim it needs, which ends up being the perfect shape for the horses own personal conformation.

I've only been practicing this for maybe 5-6 weeks. But my horse has been setting his own breakover and keeping his long toe trimmed back. The rear of the hoof is beginning to strengthen up already while the heels widen out as the frog is beginning to grow in nice and large. All my trimming tools are collecting dust, and from what I've seen happen already it appears that they'll be collecting dust for a very long time. :D

I can't say much about it, because I only have somewhere around a month's worth of experience with it. One thing I've noticed though, is that my horse is setting the breakover in the position that he needs it in, which is a different location from where I was setting it. It's not shorter or longer but slightly off to one side. I think the lateral side on all four hooves?.???.

But once you read through that blog this stuff just makes so much sense. I sure did a good job trimming while I was doing it and got lots of praise and compliments. But one thing that has been a revelation to me is that no matter how pretty I can make the hoof look, it still may not be what the horse wants and needs to allow them to move comfortably.

Something that I feel to be necessary, is that you need to find footing that your horse is comfortable moving over, with heel first landings. And consistently, and gradually if needed, begin to incorporate some rougher terrain for your horse to move over to help condition the hoof. And it's my opinion currently that this works really well if you're riding your horse consistently throughout the week. If you only ride maybe once or twice a week then you may need to incorporate some trimming.?.?.? Though I don't know for sure, it's just an opinion I have. But if the horses hoof is strong, then I imagine you would only need to go for a ride over some gravel roads if the hooves began to get long.
 
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It specifically speaks about not trimming the horses hoof and allowing the horse to dictate what type of trim it needs, which ends up being the perfect shape for the horses own personal conformation.
Yeah, that's the true natural trimming idea. I think it's ideal personally. It generally works well in ideal circumstances - desert mustangs & brumbies are a shining example of this, as are some bare endurance horses. If you have this sort of environment & lifestyle for your horse, that's fantastic IMO!

Trouble is, most domestic horse's 'real worlds' are a far cry from this ideal environment & lifestyle, so you get horses developing the more common 'perfect shape' you see, such as... This pic is of a horse who was previously well managed, until his owner/trimmer got sick about 4 months ago. He lives on varied, rough, hilly ground of around 50 acres in a herd where they get a lot of movement, probably as much as the average weekly trail ride. It's been winter here, but not overly wet where he is, and his frogs were healthy, dry & thrush free, if a little contracted, about 6 months ago when last I saw him.
 

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I follow Rockley blogs, they are very informative.

I think the horses must be in work for this to work effectively. Loosie, for me that hoof would need to be used on roads and made to travel the distances to self trim, not just be out on a rocky terrain. At Rockley Farm they have to use long tracks in order to get their hay and water so they are kept moving and they are ridden is sound enough.

I have two horses that never see a trimmer, but they both get plenty of roadwork to keep them in shape, my youngster and small pony have to be trimmed to keep them in order as they don't get the work.

The most interesting posts on that blog are about the horses who must have odd shaped hooves to balance old injuries or odd shaped limbs, the hooves trim to the shape they need and they stay sound - remove the flair and shape the hoof to the "acceptable shape" and they go lame. Hooves are a marvel of mechanics that can correct a problem a horse has higher up the leg, a sort of self correcting lameness mechanism for when things go wrong in the body.
 

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I think the horses must be in work for this to work effectively. Loosie, for me that hoof would need to be used on roads and made to travel the distances to self trim, not just be out on a rocky terrain. At Rockley Farm they have to use long tracks in order to get their hay and water so they are kept moving
Yep, absolutely & my point. BTW, the horse I pictured also lives on a track around the 50 acres, a semi-paddock paradise affair, with water down the opposite end to most of the grazing. But it's obviously far from enough for them.

The most interesting posts on that blog are about the horses who must have odd shaped hooves to balance old injuries or odd shaped limbs, the hooves trim to the shape they need and they stay sound - remove the flair and shape the hoof to the "acceptable shape" and they go lame. Hooves are a marvel of mechanics that can correct a problem a horse has higher up the leg, a sort of self correcting lameness mechanism for when things go wrong in the body.
Absolutely & fascinating to consider. I believe it's obvious we can't do away with 'corrective work', but perhaps if we could give our horses the ideal deal then we could.

I didn't mean to 'come down on' the site & info there at all. I believe it is very important to understand the hows & whys of ideal, *effective* truly natural hoofcare - be that feral or... manufactured. But I think it's just too different from what most people can give their domestic horses to be a general answer IMO. We can all learn from it though & consider how it can help our horses with that knowledge.
 

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"The most interesting posts on that blog are about the horses who must have odd shaped hooves to balance old injuries or odd shaped limbs, the hooves trim to the shape they need and they stay sound - remove the flair and shape the hoof to the "acceptable shape" and they go lame. Hooves are a marvel of mechanics that can correct a problem a horse has higher up the leg, a sort of self correcting lameness mechanism for when things go wrong in the body."

I know nothing of this blog, and altho I am not a fan of "barefoot" trimming as such, I have not and will not have a horse with shoes if it can be at all avoided-with the exception of the occasional sliders I use for reining shows. Anyway.....my old draftX
if the perfect example if NOT trimming off the flares.....he was born, some 23 yrs ago, so badly cow hocked the vet recommended putting him down. Breeder rigged something up with PVC...and he was go to go for some 18+ yrs. Never took a lame step until about 5 years ago, when he developed arthritis. I retired him from active work and free leased him to a local therapeutic riding academy. I missed being there for ONE of his trims at this place.....and Wala-the farrier removed his flare on his right rear.......I WAS LIVID. He was no longer sound on his supplements, they sent him home, and I allowed the feet to correct themselves. He did come sound again-it took about 6 months.....and is now leased again to another facility with SPECIFIC instructions after I met with their farrier. However-his left leg has rotated quite a bit as a result of this (and probably some due to his age....) and even tho he stays sound, is really getting quite bad. I will never forgive these idiots! You cannot just trim off flares that have been there and all of a sudden try to "fix" something! If it ain't broke......UGGH.

I am not and will not be a "fan" of those who call themselves "barefoot" farriers-IMO a good farrier is a good farrier, and as such knows how to trim without some fancy cliche name. I had a REALLY bad experience with one such person-never again. I will stick with my good "regular" farrier. No more "emu oil" (AKA snake oil to me...) for me.
 

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"The most interesting posts on that blog are about the horses who must have odd shaped hooves to balance old injuries or odd shaped limbs, the hooves trim to the shape they need and they stay sound - remove the flair and shape the hoof to the "acceptable shape" and they go lame. Hooves are a marvel of mechanics that can correct a problem a horse has higher up the leg, a sort of self correcting lameness mechanism for when things go wrong in the body."

I know nothing of this blog, and altho I am not a fan of "barefoot" trimming as such, I have not and will not have a horse with shoes if it can be at all avoided-with the exception of the occasional sliders I use for reining shows. Anyway.....my old draftX
if the perfect example if NOT trimming off the flares.....he was born, some 23 yrs ago, so badly cow hocked the vet recommended putting him down. Breeder rigged something up with PVC...and he was go to go for some 18+ yrs. Never took a lame step until about 5 years ago, when he developed arthritis. I retired him from active work and free leased him to a local therapeutic riding academy. I missed being there for ONE of his trims at this place.....and Wala-the farrier removed his flare on his right rear.......I WAS LIVID. He was no longer sound on his supplements, they sent him home, and I allowed the feet to correct themselves. He did come sound again-it took about 6 months.....and is now leased again to another facility with SPECIFIC instructions after I met with their farrier. However-his left leg has rotated quite a bit as a result of this (and probably some due to his age....) and even tho he stays sound, is really getting quite bad. I will never forgive these idiots! You cannot just trim off flares that have been there and all of a sudden try to "fix" something! If it ain't broke......UGGH.

I am not and will not be a "fan" of those who call themselves "barefoot" farriers-IMO a good farrier is a good farrier, and as such knows how to trim without some fancy cliche name. I had a REALLY bad experience with one such person-never again. I will stick with my good "regular" farrier. No more "emu oil" (AKA snake oil to me...) for me.

That's interesting. This blog is not about trimming at all, unless the trimming is done by the horses themselves (they are not anti trimming, but just that it has it's place and prefer to give these needy horses a chance to grow a hoof that works for them). I have used trimmers and farriers, but currently use a farrier as what he does is fine, but mostly I prefer my horses to work their hooves as they need them (and living in the UK we constantly have to do roadwork which does the job nicely).
 

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I just had a big load of coarse sand brought in, some for the round pen and about a 6' wide, 100' long strip on a good grade, covering a frequently travelled path. I too am frustrated with our trimmers so here's hoping the sand will help self-trim. Snow is surprisingly abrasive too and we get plenty. After a few months the hoof edges are quite rounded.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
After a few months the hoof edges are quite rounded.
I've never even considered the thought of snow as being abrasive. I'm eager to see what the hooves are going to look like after there's been some snow on the ground. :D
 

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this is the first time i read that blog and for all i knew was that horses needed to be shod my wife has always argued with me about getting my horses shod me personally i will keep my paso fino shod since he goes with the sound of the hooves to dance but i would try that out with my wifes mare since she doesnt have shoes on right now and see how that works out
 

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this is the first time i read that blog and for all i knew was that horses needed to be shod my wife has always argued with me about getting my horses shod me personally i will keep my paso fino shod since he goes with the sound of the hooves to dance but i would try that out with my wifes mare since she doesnt have shoes on right now and see how that works out
Diet plays a huge part in the success of being bare too, some people make alterations to their horses diets before taking shoes off to give the hooves the best chance of coping with the transition. Hope it works for you.
 

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I am not and will not be a "fan" of those who call themselves "barefoot" farriers-IMO a good farrier is a good farrier, and as such knows how to trim without some fancy cliche name. I had a REALLY bad experience with one such person-never again. I will stick with my good "regular" farrier. No more "emu oil" (AKA snake oil to me...) for me.
IMO a good 'farrier' is a good farrier, regardless what the lable & it seems that my experience of the vast majority of them being bad farriers around these parts is such a common one. IOW... as you demonstrated with emus, 'snake oil' can come under different lables too!:wink: Cheers to your good farrier - look after him, cos he's not a common garden variety beast!
 

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Hi Luigi,

Yes, as with virtually everything, there are 'cons' that go with being shod conventionally and it's well worth looking into thoroughly & considering alternative management.

BUT it's something that needs to be approached in an educated, prepared manner, as to just 'try it & see' commonly doesn't work and may actually be detrimental to the horse - as said, virtually everything has cons. So understanding what's what & considering all factors, all pros & cons, is how I'd advise going into it. On that note, Mayfield Barehoof Care Centre Home Page is one of many good sites you can begin learning from.
 

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This is so interesting! I don't like shod feet, it's unnatural and idk. But I've always assumed our work for horses could never be enough to keep from trimming their hooves.

I will actually show this to my instructor.

*dramatically* I HAVE HOPE
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This is really interesting...I got the farrier out quite a while ago for a barefoot trim, he looked at my horses feet and said "what do you want me to do?"

My horse is on twenty rocky hilly acres and we ride on rocky ground. He has beautiful strong feet. The farrier showed how to file any rough edges myself and said I might as while save my money for vet bills!

So my horse hasn't seen a farrier for about six months and people always comment on his lovely strong feet!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Agreed....horses which are stalled up or that are ridden maybe once a week on soft ground or arena dirt probably aren't going to benefit from never seeing a rasp again. :) Horses are definitely designed to move many miles every day to forage for food on a multitude of terrains.

I purchased a book that Nic Barker co-authored. I'm liking it so far. The common theme I've noticed to build hooves on a horse that are strong and capable of moving over very rough surfaces.....is to build the structures in the back of the hoof, including the internal structures. "And of course diet plays a vital role here." The internal structures seem to be most important because the outer material hardens up pretty quickly, but it's the internal structures which need to strengthen up to handle the load. I've actually been experiencing this first hand. I bought some hoof boots a little while before I found this site. I thought the hoof boots would allow one of my horses to take larger strides and land heel first on more concussive ground. Didn't make a difference, and my guess is because it's the internal structures which need to build up and become strong to handle that type of ground.

So far I'm really enjoying seeing the progress my horse is making. I've been riding maybe 4-5 times per week for about two hours or more per ride. So he's seeing lots of movement on all sorts of terrain.
 
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You have to have the right kind of footing, and the horse needs to be moving a LOT for self- trimming to work. Most domestic horses do not have that luxury.
I hack my TB twice a week for a couple of hours (maybe more in the summer), but a lot of that is roadwork which is a great medium for self trimming and I find it stimulates the right amount of growth too so as long as I keep to the same work levels, growth keeps up with work. If I were to increase work and hack out more often then I might have to do so slowly so growth would get a chance to speed up to match the new work levels. The other tracks we ride are largely flint and gravel so again quite abrasive so self trimming doesn't take that much of work for us, but if on soft ground I think most horses would not be able to self trim.

So many domestic horses in the UK which regularly hack out on roads probably can achieve movement levels to self trim if allowed to do so.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
It's been two months since I've put down my trimming tools. And it appears that I won't be looking back. :D

In reality, I'm just trying to bump this thread to the top because I feel that many people who are wanting to have their horses barefoot could find tremendous benefit from this blog.

Two months really isn't that much experience, but the results I'm seeing so far are enough to show me that it's much better than what I was doing before. But it's only logical to understand why.....I'm actually kinda embarrassed to admit that it's taken me so many years to accept what I already knew. Horses in the wild trim their own hooves, so considering this, why would I be trying to trim the hoof when my horse can do it himself. Of course I'm saying this from a perspective that I know horses are designed to move many miles every day over all sorts of terrain, and I need to do my best to replicate this fact.

I've probably already said this so it may start to sound like a skipping record in here, but the key to making this work is getting heel first landings. So find the ground that your horse can travel on and get those heel first landings and then ride many many miles to build up the structures in the hoof. Then progressively add in more concussive/rough ground, but still look for the heel first landings even if it requires to slow down and drop gait. Of course diet plays a role here, but I know little about that subject....I just do what I can with what I have and try to replicate a wild horse's diet as best I can by providing more than just fields of grass. So for the most part I focus on proper movement, and if you study barefoot trimming long enough you'll find that a common theme is to get those heel first landings.....so that's what I've been focusing on....and I'm liking what I'm seeing so far. :D
 
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That site is great!!!!!!!¡¡!!!!!!!! It makes things make sense. Reading that blog was a awhaw moment! I think my babies are getting a lot more road and gravel.

Does anyone have any advice for my gelding though, we go on gravel about 2 a week and I don't run him its like 1/4 mile that we walk on. However he is sensitive and kind of limps going over it. He has been barefoot for probably 7 or so years now. Also he doesn't limp on pavement.
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Yes Sask, I wouldn't advise making him walk on gravel without hoof protection. Comfort is vital, not just from the point of view of being nice, but if he's not comfortable he won't be moving correctly so won't be building up the back of his feet and may be doing further damage.

Depends exactly what is wrong & also on his lifestyle & environment as to whether if by protecting his feet where necessary to allow good hoof function, he will improve & become a 'gravel crunching' horse. Many don't & will always need boots or such in those environments.

I agree 1000% the principles of that website are sound, but like I said, that is the 'ideal' world & many(most) domestic horses live in a real world that's too far removed to get by with their practices. It is absolutely valuable to learn about them & consider what you can change & impliment in your own situation though.
 
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