Chapter Six

Fitting Hoof Boots

Chapter Seven

Booting Different Sized Horses

Chapter Eight

Using Hoof Boots for Rehabilitation

An introduction to who can trim your horse

We recommend that your barefoot horse is correctly and regularly trimmed by a farrier or trimmer who understands the type of trim required for a working barefoot equine

This ‘barefoot trim’, ‘performance trim’ or ‘natural trim’ is not the same as a basic ‘pasture’ trim given to a non-working horses at grass. We look at the specifics of trimming in other articles on this site, and here will indicate WHO may trim your equine.

Many newcomers to barefoot rightly wonder who can trim their horse - farrier, barefoot trimmer, or equine podiatrist? There’s certainly no right or wrong answer, and while it is true that many farriers do perform a different, less desirable ‘pasture trim’ to the ideal, ‘working/performance trim’ for a barefoot horse, they must not be discounted completely, as there are farriers in the UK, where we are based, who are very ‘pro-barefoot’, and have advanced their knowledge base in this area.

EPs

In summary, Equine Podiatrists base their trims on the ethos of KC La Pierre, which maintains that trimming to ‘represent the true biomechanics of the hoof’ is ‘the ideal’. KC’s High Performance Trim method (HPT) is based on this ethos. The USA’s Institute of Applied Equine Podiatry (IAEP) was founded by KC, and its practices ‘strive to expose the equine hoof to proper environmental stimuli, making every effort to promote proper structure and function.’ Graduates of this method are known as Degreed Applied Equine Podiatrists (DAEPs). Visit - http://www.appliedequinepodiatry.org

Members of the Equine Podiatry Association (UK), or EPAUK, are also advocates of the ‘structural’ philosophy, and utilise a list of key markers that enable the ‘EP’ to fully assess the health of a horse’s feet. Their website states: “The approach is somewhat different to traditional farriery, educating owners so that they can understand how different factors influence the health of the hoof.’ UK-based EP training is provided by Equine Podiatry Training Ltd, in order to gain a Diploma in Equine Podiatry. Graduates are known as qualified Equine Podiatrists. Visit - http://www.epauk.org

Trimmers

The American AANHCP was founded by Jaime Jackson, and follows the ‘wild horse model’, based on the research and findings of wild, free-roaming equines. It’s UK equivalent, which is a stand-alone organisation, is UK National Horse Care Practitioners, or UKNHCP. They state that they are: ‘An organisation... focusing on whole horse health and improving barefoot horse performance.’ Practicing trimmers using this ‘minimalist’ method are commonly known as Certified Natural Hoofcare Practitioners, or sometimes more informally, Barefoot Trimmers. Visit - http://www.uknhcp.org.uk

Farriers and other trimmers

In addition, there are hoofcare practitioners who have taken inspiration from all of the trimming and hoofcare advocates, and offer a service that they feel takes the best bits from the major barefoot hoofcare groups.

Finally, there is the farrier - they are the first person most people think of when it comes to maintains horses feet, and a good farrier that is knowledgeable about and embraces the option of barefoot trimming (and management) as well as shoeing is invaluable. However, at the time of writing, farriers are not automatically trained in such so care needs to be taken that a pasture trim is not used as it is not appropriate for a working barefoot horse. With a pasture trim, excess length will be removed and chips tidied but flare is not always properly addressed. The bevelled edge (sometimes called a mustang roll) is not always applied. Crucially, non-farrier barefoot practitioners commonly discuss diet and environment at each visit, where as some farriers may not, but more farriers are choosing to learn about this too so never discount a good farrier!

Opinions vary on whom to choose of course, but the most important thing to consider is that the chosen hoofcare professional must do no harm, and should work with you to create a sound horse. It is also advisable to ask for references or to see examples of their work, and also to check that they have the relevant insurance in place.

Remember that lots of barefoot horses benefit from the use of modern hoof boots ; they not only give total protection to the sole of the barefoot horse, but with the use of specialist pads inside the boots, replicate the support and feedback that the horse would receive when worked barefoot on good going.

USEFUL TIP

Farriers must not be discounted - there are farriers who are very ‘pro-barefoot’, and have advanced their knowledge base in this area.