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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been watching a lot of trimming videos, focusing mostly on videos by people or organizations that I trust. Here are some "rules" I have gotten out of them so far: (1) trim relative to where the live sole is, because (2) the sole grows straight out and is parallel to the coffin bone, and you want the hoof wall to be parallel to that. I may not be stating that entirely correctly, but I think it's more or less correct.

Something I've noticed is that people who are trimming horses that are going to be barefoot believe that you shouldn't take a lot of sole off. At least... that's what they say. I swear, in all of the videos I've watched so far, if the guy says "OK this is a pretty thin sole and you really don't want to take ANY of it off," he still goes in and scrapes some of it. And if the guy says "generally you don't want to take too much sole off," he goes in there with his knife and pretty soon the coconut chips are flying off at great speed.

So. With respect to my first paragraph, I have this question. If the sole grows straight, then why do these ELPO guys scalp it all in order to figure out where to trim? In a couple of videos, to be fair, it was hard to see where the white line was without exfoliating the sole. And they wanted to be sure they were getting a consistently thick hoof wall, so they needed to know whee the white line was. OK. I get that. But in a lot of their videos, they just cut and cut and cut. If the sole grows straight, then shouldn't you be able to trim the hoof wall relative to the solar surface, and thus your angle would be correct?

And once you start "exfoliating" that sole, how do you know that the surface you cut down to is still parallel to the coffin bone? I mean, once you start scraping stuff off, it seems like it would be easier to accidentally scrape more on one side than the other.

My second question is, am I misunderstanding what these people are saying when they say things like "I don't trim very much sole," or "I am not going to trim any sole?" I will admit that I am somewhat of a literalist -- is there some context I'm missing there? Are they saying one thing and doing another? Or does that phrase "I am not going to trim an sole" just mean something different to them?

I think this basically all comes down to me asking, how should *I* treat their soles? My instinct is to not take anything off, unless there are bits that look like they want to come off, and to cut down the bars when necessary (which is a whole other question). But seeing that none of these guys seem to do that worries me. Presumably they know better than I do.
 

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Don't trim the sole of the foot. It grows slow, and is a horses' protection from the ground. I would say trimming the sole is one of the easiest ways to lame a horse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Don't trim the sole of the foot. It grows slow, and is a horses' protection from the ground. I would say trimming the sole is one of the easiest ways to lame a horse.
See, that's what I think, too. And as a newbie, I'd rather do too little than too much.

But why is it that all of these trimmers I'm watching seem to be doing it?
 

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See, that's what I think, too. And as a newbie, I'd rather do too little than too much.

But why is it that all of these trimmers I'm watching seem to be doing it?
Honestly? Probably because people can't leave a dang thing alone.

My horses honestly have the "ugliest" feet in the barn, but that's because I use a barefoot trimmer that cares about the conformation and usefulness of the hoof, not the appearance. But, they are never lame, don't require special supplements, and don't require shoes (like 90% of the other horses!).

I once tried a trimmer, once, that trimmed my gelding's soles. He has thin soles, and most of the time, he can't walk on gravel without tip-toeing. Well, after she visited he was lame for two weeks. And she was never invited back. The other trimmers I've tried would touch up the soles when things would get a little funky, but otherwise leave them alone. My current farrier doesn't touch the soles at all, and my gelding can comfortably go on road rides and walk on the gravel shoulders without so much a funny step.

Maybe there is a time and a place for sole trimming, but my horses are all-terrain, all-discipline horses, and need their feet for protection. Their soles are their protection.
 

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Oh boy, where do I start. First I'll say I relate to your confusion. Been there.


Quote from you: And once you start "exfoliating" that sole, how do you know that the surface you cut down to is still parallel to the coffin bone? I mean, once you start scraping stuff off, it seems like it would be easier to accidentally scrape more on one side than the other.


When they talk about exfoliating, they are talking about dead, retained, non-fuctional sole. If you've watched many of Gene O's videos, he talks about the live sole beginning to show through the dead chalky sole. "See, it's starting to look waxy, that's live sole, be very careful NOT to take any of that off at all!" (that's Gene O talking)


Confused, I once posted a question years ago much like yours. Patty, who probably knows more than Gene but is not as skilled at trimming, emphasized, "You don't need to exfoliate ALL the sole EVERY time you trim"


She actually certified trimmers for ELPO. Part of the certification was being able to exfoliate an entire sole without touching the live sole. That was to prove you could recognize the live sole. I don't know any other time the entire sole was exfoliated.


But at a minimum of four points, it does need to be exfoliated just to find out exactly where the live sole is so the hoof may be trimmed relative to it. That would be a small spot adjacent to the hoof wall at each quarter to trim for medial lateral balance. Then at the corns to adjust for medial lateral balance on the heels.


If sole thickness needed to be evaluated, then the seamless live sole connection between the frog apex and sole needs to be exposed to find out what the true convex amount is as measured from the quarters. The deeper the convex, the deeper the sole. Plus exposing that which is the 'true frog apex' that is referred to gives you a place to measure from that will give a statistically very accurate approximation of where the front edge of the coffin bone is on an average sized hoof and hence where the breakover should be located as well as an indication of whether there may be a long toe.


Gene exfoliates in front of the breakover which I have never quite understood and would like to ask about but he's not here. If the toe measure too long, I just take the wall back to the lamina at a 45 angle.



What I've printed has been long time hard fought knowledge garnered from abounding confusion.


I am learning all over again now on the fores as the live functional sole is harder to find with Hondo in boots 24/7. Before when he was running around in the rocks it was a cinch. I have always wished I could have taken instructions from an ELPO instructor on finding the live sole. If your new trimmer uses it, you should definitely ask to learn the finer points of exfoliating 'to' it but not beyond to us as an unfailing guide.


Whew! My fingers are getting sore.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Maybe videos aren't the best format for it, or maybe I just don't have a good eye, but there was only one hoof (out of about 12-15 I've watched so far?) where, when the guy pointed out the difference between waxy part and chalky part, I could see it. Except for that one part, it all looked waxy to me.

The cadaver hooves that are used in the most recent ELPO video make me feel sad / creeped out (I never wanted to do dissections in biology either), but at the same time I can imagine that practicing on them would be great. I could just exfoliate that sole as far down as I thought, and if I got it too far, well, I'm not hurting anyone.
 
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I don't trim the soles at all.

Horses naturally manage their soles differently from one another. For example, on one of my horses he gets a thick callous at the toe and the chalky parts, or corns at the heel crumble off on their own. My other horse retains the sole in his heels, but his toes get layers of sole and when it's time for a layer to come off it just separates on it's own and comes off, usually 2x a year for him.

There may be horses who retain more sole and do better with it being exfoliated instead of it building up and putting excess pressure on the coffin bone.

Different soles will have different textures to some extent too. My personal feeling is that the waxy and chalky thing is more of a guideline than a rule.

ClearDonkey is right, they probably couldn't just leave it alone and wanted to make it pretty. I too have seen these videos.

Hondo mentioned finding the apex of the frog, which is one reason for removing sole. I found that after a while I could read the foot and didn't need to do that so much to find my bearings.
 

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I treat shedding soles the same as flappy frogs — if it’s lifting, it’s coming off because I don’t want fungus/bacteria getting between the new sole and the shedding sole or frog. The old soles generally pop right off or require very little shaving with the hoof knife.

I live in the moist/humid SE. My horses have very large acreage and come in at night to dry stalls? They will shed their soles and frogs almost on a quarterly basis - I’ve never really kept track but I know all of my horses (RIP Duke, Streeter & Sultan) shed more than twice yearly since moving to southern Middle Tennessee.
 

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(1) trim relative to where the live sole is, because (2) the sole grows straight out and is parallel to the coffin bone, and you want the hoof wall to be parallel to that.
Yes, the *live* sole plane grows parallel to the palmer aspect of P3. Bob Bowker's research shows that the sole tubules don't grow *out* from the corium so much as forward from the bar laminae. The intertubular material seems to grow out though.

if the guy says "OK this is a pretty thin sole and you really don't want to take ANY of it off," he still goes in and scrapes some of it. And if the guy says "generally you don't want to take too much sole off," he goes in there with his knife and pretty soon the coconut chips are flying off at great speed.
Guess it depends who you're watching, because just like conventional farriers, there are many & varied ideas & practices out there. And maybe this 'the guy' was a conventional farrier & just can't stop himself doing as he was trained, despite 'talking the talk' otherwise. **Not that I'm saying that's the case - not saying 'the guy' is necessarily doing wrong, as I don't know 'the guy' or the eg.

Just as you wouldn't want anyone shaving the extra skin from the soles of your feet, particularly if you want to go barefoot, yeah, you don't want to do that to a horse either, but leave them to callous thickly, if they're able. But there are reasons to trim sole too, such as when extra wall length has 'locked in' too much of it for eg. And IME bar wall tends to need regular trimming along with the rest of the wall, and this can cause extra sole to build up unnecessarily around them. If a sole is already too thin, then I *might* remove any lumps & bumps that may put extra pressure on small areas, but generally I say you shouldn't remove ANY, which means I DON'T remove ANY.

If the sole grows straight, then why do these ELPO guys scalp it all in order to figure out where to trim?
If the foot/sole is all healthy, then there is no need to pare sole in order to work out how to trim the wall. If the sole is thin & there is no excess dead stuff, then you shouldn't need to pare extra in order to see where to trim. But frequently hooves become distorted, &/or develop uneven, excess dead sole that for whatever reason is not exfoliated, which can 'disguise' the true shape of the foot/edge of the sole, just like the apex of the frog can be 'disguised' by a flap of frog callous overhanging it. In that case, sole may need to be pared in order to find the 'landmarks' accurately. *This should not need to be done repeatedly, as once you've 'found the true foot', you should know how to trim *that* foot in future, and if kept well managed, it shouldn't become 'disguised' again.

If the sole grows straight, then shouldn't you be able to trim the hoof wall relative to the solar surface, and thus your angle would be correct?
The *live* sole grows a uniform thickness. But often the live sole has a buildup of dead sole covering it, which is not even.

And once you start "exfoliating" that sole, how do you know that the surface you cut down to is still parallel to the coffin bone? I mean, once you start scraping stuff off, it seems like it would be easier to accidentally scrape more on one side than the other.
Because you shouldn't be trimming into live sole *at all, ever*, and if you don't know the diff between live & dead, you shouldn't take a knife to the sole regardless.

I think this basically all comes down to me asking, how should *I* treat their soles? My instinct is to not take anything off, unless there are bits that look like they want to come off, and to cut down the bars when necessary (which is a whole other question).
Go with your instinct. As for bars, essentially they are just an extension of the walls & should be treated as such. Daisy Alexis Bicking, who I've discovered thru FB & seems to have a very good understanding/approach wrote something recently about addressing the bars that put it very simply & clearly. Can't share a FB link here tho so you will have to look it up yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yes, the *live* sole plane grows parallel to the palmer aspect of P3. Bob Bowker's research shows that the sole tubules don't grow *out* from the corium so much as forward from the bar laminae. The intertubular material seems to grow out though.
I was literally, just 15 minute ago, reading Pete Ramey talking about that. It's sort of making my head hurt right now. I've been thinking about feet all day. I was grating cheese for something earlier, and I thought, "Diseased frog," as it was quite soft cheese and sort of mushed around instead of being grated property. I'm thinking I should take a break.
 

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Maybe videos aren't the best format for it, or maybe I just don't have a good eye, but there was only one hoof (out of about 12-15 I've watched so far?) where, when the guy pointed out the difference between waxy part and chalky part, I could see it. Except for that one part, it all looked waxy to me.
Yeah, depends on situation & horse, as some can accumulate a lot of dead sole that does indeed look like live. Donkeys and minis and 'cushings' horses are common cases in point, IME, and the 'seat of corn'(funny it's named for a problem) aka heel corners, but any area that becomes compressed under constant pressure as with conventional shoes tend to retain waxy sole. And while this may occasionally benefit from being removed, generally it's best left, IMO, and again, if you aren't experienced/knowledgeable enough to know the difference, definitely best not to touch it.

The cadaver hooves that are used in the most recent ELPO video make me feel sad / creeped out (I never wanted to do dissections in biology either), but at the same time I can imagine that practicing on them would be great. I could just exfoliate that sole as far down as I thought, and if I got it too far, well, I'm not hurting anyone.
Yes, if you have a knackery close by, it's a great learning tool & I recommend you make the most of it. If you wrap the cut end of the leg in a plastic bag & duct tape, you don't have to see(or get it in unwelcome places!) the glup.
 

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Ha ha. Yep, when you're grating cheese and think oh no diseased frog it's time to go take a walk outside.


That's the thing about the videos and live sole and why I have always wished I could have had one on one instruction on determining the live sole.


What I did at first and still to some extent is to scrape gently at an eraser sized spot at the seat of corn or quarters with usually my resect loop knife, not cutting, but scraping. Anything that comes off that way is not live sole. If you go to actually cutting, better have some training to know exactly what you are doing. But I did get fairly adept, I think, at recognizing the wax beginning to appear and that's where I would stop. Same on the other side leaving me the feeling that balance was made.


Yes, in a rocky environment with lots of movement a healthy foot will tend to balance itself. Gene mentioned with the high wear on the Clogs, the horse will tell you if he is off balance. And it has been an important indicator with me now for Hondo.


But even with lots of travel in rocks, a club foot will not wear evenly. Same for cow hock etc. Straight perfect legs and feet, yes, others not so much.


Yeah, it's been a few years now but I remember Pete thinking, yeah, abscesses always migrate toward the front. Why didn't I think of that then?
 

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Ha ha. Yep, when you're grating cheese and think oh no diseased frog it's time to go take a walk outside.
Thanks for that thought! I didn't need to be put off cheese. Just like I'm still adverse to eating sunflower kernels, after living up north & regularly pulling cattle ticks off the dogs...
 

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^:shock::rofl::rofl: (where's the sick emoji gone??) Yeah, after working in a dairy I should have gone off cottage cheese, but never got mastitis myself, thankfully. Tho I did use cabbage leaves liberally...
 

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I have one horse who grows very thick sole and I do take some of that off because it just builds on itself. Anything with cracks or lines/flakes that comes off easily is fine for removal.
 

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The cadaver hooves that are used in the most recent ELPO video make me feel sad / creeped out (I never wanted to do dissections in biology either), but at the same time I can imagine that practicing on them would be great.

Pete Ramey declared in one article that a hoof should never be buried, that there is always something to be learned from it.


How about this. A college friend that went on to medical school and became an MD said they were assigned a human body connected to a rope with the assigned students name in a large vat of formaldehyde. When dissecting the body would be pulled over to the edge and lifted with some sort of contraption.


Winos/alcoholics, at the time at least, could sell their bodies or $25 or so to buy more booze. Always wondered what percentage of sales actually wound up in a vat.


I didn't have a big problem dissecting rats in zoology, but I might back away from hoomans.


On another note, until one can find and identify a spot of live sole, there is no way to really accurately know how much dead sole is retained on top of the live sole. Tight retained sole offers a lot of protection for horses and should not be removed. But with not enough travel on rough terrain for natural trimming, the live sole is needed as a reference for supportive human trimming.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
OK I have a followup question. One advantage I could possibly see to exfoliating / trimming the sole is that it can reveal bruises on the sole that otherwise wouldn't be apparent. However, in the videos I'm watching today, the farrier rarely even points out when he has revealed bruising. Is that because they don't consider it important?

What I'm wondering is, is there any practical use to knowing that bruising is present? Might it suggest problems with the hoof, or that the hoof should be trimmed differently? If so, how would you know about this bruising unless you took off some sole? I think I'm seeing a lot of horses with what looks like bruising in the toe area, for instance. If I saw that in one of my own horses, would it tell me anything useful?
 

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Yes, there would be some practical reasons to know about bruising being present.

It *could* let you know if there is an area of excess material putting pressure on the sole. Maybe a rock from the past that was enough to deal some damage. In the past I've seen bruising under the bars of one of my guys. On him they bend and grow over the sole. In the past when I've trimmed them down I've occasionally seen bruising there which told me what I was doing wasn't good enough and there was too much bar left that was pushing on him there, enough to leave a bruise.

Bruising in the toe could mean thin soles or a toe first landing. It could probably mean other things too but I'm not sure what else it would be indicative of.
 

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OK I have a followup question. One advantage I could possibly see to exfoliating / trimming the sole is that it can reveal bruises on the sole that otherwise wouldn't be apparent. However, in the videos I'm watching today, the farrier rarely even points out when he has revealed bruising. Is that because they don't consider it important?

What I'm wondering is, is there any practical use to knowing that bruising is present? Might it suggest problems with the hoof, or that the hoof should be trimmed differently? If so, how would you know about this bruising unless you took off some sole? I think I'm seeing a lot of horses with what looks like bruising in the toe area, for instance. If I saw that in one of my own horses, would it tell me anything useful?
Bruises can come from stones to mechanical forces to laminitis attacks. By the time a bruise becomes apparent, it is long after the actual cause happened.

Pink in the toe or outer wall (to me anyway) indicates a laminitic event.

Bruised frogs or pink more in the center of the sole indicates bruising from another source— I may need corrected on my thinking, however:)

Poor trimming and poor showing can also cause bruising.

I get upset because it’s my horse, lol. My therapeutic farrier does not get upset because, by the time a bruise appears, it is way after the fact and that could be why the instructors in the videos don’t think about pointing the bruises out.

And yes, this is why, IMHO it is not completely wrong to shave off some of the sole but how much to shave is a sticky wicket and depends on each horse.

Joker being foundered, still grows a lot of false sole on the front. Now that he is in shoes/wedges/pour in pads, that all comes off.

Rusty is barefoot and even with his diagnosed Less-Than-Grade-One Club hoof, has hooves like a goat and sole growth is neither excessive nor poor. He has great cup to all four soles.

Once I awhile I will see a pink spot on Rusty’s sole, well away from the edge — his is a stone bruise. He has never come up lame, so it was a big surprise to me to see the bruising.
 
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