It is important to remember that the outside is lateral and the inside is medial, and it does not make any difference if you are viewing the hoof as it is standing on the ground or if you are looking at the bottom (solar) view with the hoof in your hands. Nor does it matter which way you are facing. The outside is the outside.
So many people get it wrong by thinking that when they pick the hoof up, they have to trim the opposite side of the hoof from when it was standing on the ground – if you find it’s confusing, just mark the side of the hoof to be trimmed with a marker pen.
IF the hoof is:
PADDLING – the leg swings outwards so to correct it, trim the outside or lateral side of the hoof.
DISHING – the leg swings to the inside, so to correct it, trim the inside or medial side of the hoof.
SPLAYED (in the front hooves) – toes are pointing out, so trim the outside 2/3rds of the hoof.
PIGEON TOED fronts – toes are pointing in, so trim the inside 2/3rds of the hoof.
COW HOCKED hinds – toes are pointing out and hocks bent in, so trim the outside 2/3rds of the hoof.
BOW LEGGED hinds – toes are pointing in, so trim the inside 2/3rds of the hoof.
Trimming the outside 2/3rds causes the inside heel to land first, which places the hoof on the ground with the toe pointing straight forwards.
This principle is exactly the same if we trim the inside 2/3rds on the pigeon toed horse which causes the outside heel to land first which again places the hoof on the ground with the toe pointing straight forwards.
STANDING OUT on any hoof – trim the outside flare, which is causing it.
STANDING IN on any hoof – trim the inside flare which is causing it.
STANDING BACK on any hoof – lower the heels to correct it.
STANDING FORWARDS on any hoof – shorten the toes to correct it.
Another misconception is the difference between lowering and shortening. They do not both mean the same thing.
For the TOE – The difference between lowering and shortening the toe is that you shorten the toe from the front (when taking the hoof forward) and you lower the toe from underneath by rasping the ground bearing surface. Lowering or shortening the toe in a normal hoof result in two totally different effects.
For the HEEL – When we lower the heel we lengthen the heel. Thus a high heel is shorter in length to the toe Pic 1.
Geometry in the hoof shows that generally in the normal hoof if you lower the toe 2mm, you shorten the toe by around 4mm. And if you lower the heel by 2mm you lengthen the heel by 4mm. This is why I keep on to students to “Back off with that rasp – go gently with the rasp as once it is on the ground it is too late.”
Remember that the rasp is the fine tuning implement in your tool box.
Geometry applies all around the hoof. In the horse with long toes, If we shorten the hoof at the toe on either side (ie we rasp to control any flares) we also actually lower the hoof wall because of the acute angle of the long toes. Likewise if we lower the hoof from underneath we have also shortened the toe and narrowed the sides. Refer to diagram 2 to understand why. So we need to think very carefully and understand what we are going to do before doing anything at all.