Category Archives: Trimming



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. Continue Reading ››


Many horse owners have obviously experienced the long term effects of inadequate advice with regards to shoeing. Every horse must be allowed to go barefoot at regular intervals, especially young horses, so it is little wonder that many horses ended up unsound after having been shod constantly for years. Imagine if you were made to wear your shoes twenty four hours a day every day until they wear out, and then put on a new pair and repeat this for four years - how would you feel? Shoeing is not the problem, it is the application and management and ignorance by people that causes our horses to suffer. There is nothing better than the natural hoof. As a young stockman in the bush I worked with unshod bush horses, and most of them had developed a perfect hoof capsule to suit their terrain, which was vast and unfenced, so Mother Nature provided a hoof to suit all occasions. However the reality of today is that we now expect the horse to sleep in a soft stable and live within a fenced off area, which effectively destroys nature’s ability to condition … Continue Reading ››


I have just come back from Sport Horse Expo in WA, followed by Equitana in Melbourne. After seeing some of the demonstrations at both places, and checking out the qualifications of some of the ‘educators’ and then coming home to a backlog of emails from horse owners clamouring for enlightenment on what is right and what is wrong, I have decided that for this article I am taking a rest and will assemble some quotes.

The following extracts are taken from my Bible, ‘The Principles of Horseshoeing’ written by Dr Doug Butler and Jacob Butler. My Bible (P3 Edition 2004) is 1000 pages of technical information about horses’ hooves. Dr Doug Butler has a PhD from Cornell University, is a Certified Journeyman Farrier from the American Farrier’s Association and was the first American Fellow of the Worshipful Company of Farriers of England. He has taught farrier science for more than 40 years at universities, schools, clinics, seminars, conferences and conventions.

To quote Dr Butler:

The HOOF WALL bears most of the horse’s weight, resists wear and trauma, and cuts into the ground to provide traction. The … Continue Reading ››


BAREFOOT BLUNDER - OR MISINTERPRETATION OF MOTHER NATURE’S RULES? The first photo shows the end result after 18 months of regular attendance by a barefoot trimmer. My involvement came by way of the owner’s search for answers to explain why all of her six horses were unsound for working. The history was that her horses were worked without shoes and were sound, regularly trimmed by an experienced farrier who had retired 18 months before, and it was then that their hoof soundness began to deteriorate. When I received this photo which was representative of the status of all her horses’ hooves, it was very easy to see where it was going wrong. In fairness, this was a bad barefoot trim, and like farrier trims they can vary considerably as there are so many different barefoot philosophies. Once we really understand the anatomy of the horse’s hoof and see how Mother Nature has evolved the hoof wall to support the horse, we can understand that there can be no benefit to the horses soundness by rasping away all the ground bearing edge … Continue Reading ››


Big or small it has to be hoof maintenance for all - this has always been my motto as a farrier. However for some strange reason which eludes me, in today’s modern farriery world there seems to be a tendency to work only on selected types and breeds of horses; this is a disturbing change for us older tradesmen to understand. The old feller who taught the old feller who taught the old feller who taught me would have been proficient enough at his trade to be able to trim and shoe any horse that was presented to him; whether it was a small pony or a tall draft horse, it was considered to be all part of his skilled trade and a demonstration of his versatile ability. This modern trend to ‘specialise’ in shoeing specific breeds or types surely has to be doing our industry image no good, and it’s the same trend in the USA as well as in other countries. I am of the opinion that the real cause of this trend goes back to the lack of sound education about basic … Continue Reading ››


Little horses and miniature horses have all the same working parts as their big cousins, including their hooves. Their tiny hooves are just as important to them as a working horse’s hoof, and it is equally important to shape and balance them correctly when trimming to avoid stress problems. When trimming the hoof of a little horse, the farrier has to be respectful of their height, as the farrier’s normal working position is obviously way too high and is just not comfortable for them, so it is necessary to adapt a position to suit the comfort zone of the patient to begin with. As is the case with all horses, prevention is better than cure so it is vitally important to begin a hoof care programme as early as is possible. From as early as three weeks old if those tiny hooves are left unchecked they can begin to alter a straight leg into a bent leg, so they must be trimmed to be level. We must understand that these little horses don’t have the body weight above to … Continue Reading ››


A Shetland pony that to all intents and purposes looked as if it had foundered in the hind feet was brought to one of my early clinics. The front feet were fine which didn’t seem to be logical as most ponies will founder in the front feet first, seldom just in the back feet. If you look closely at Pic 1 you will observe from the nipper marks that someone had attempted to just trim the toes. The story was that two farriers had in fact visited this pony a month or two apart, and the last one was only two weeks before the pony was brought to me. On inspecting the pony’s feet, I found that none of the sole had been trimmed out, none of the frog had been trimmed out (refer Pic 2) and the pony was actually walking on the bulbs of the heels. On quizzing the owners, this pony had been like this for eight or nine months, in desperate need of hoof trimming and through complete lack of understanding of the horse’s hoof, neither of these farriers had … Continue Reading ››


The donkey’s hoof differs quite a lot from the horse’s hoof. The donkey’s hoof pastern angle is broken down; that is the natural and the correct way of the donkey’s hoof. From the sole view, the conformation of the donkey’s hoof also differs from the horse’s hoof; where a horse’s hoof capsule is ideally an even thickness all the way around, a donkeys hoof capsule is thicker at the toe. But the buttress of the heel of a donkeys hoof actually ends further forward from the critical junction of the frog back at the heel. The donkey’s hoof/pastern angle is not in line (not parallel) as in the horse. P3 is much more upright and so the centre point of balance is actually at the active tip of the frog (in other words it is 19mm further forwards than in the horse). My HOOF-LINE is not calibrated for donkeys, but can still be used accurately for donkeys by placing the BOTTOM of the triangle on the TIP of the frog! Trimming the hoof to a 50:50 measurement from toe to heel from that pint will leave the heel buttresses at … Continue Reading ››


Over the years as a general farrier, I have been called upon to perform hoof care on these gentle extensions of many families, and have always viewed the task as being very character building.

We have not done the donkey any favours by introducing them to the wet climate of the hills areas with the lush improved pastures which were great for dairy herds, but not really ideal for horses or donkeys.

So to start to understand the impact these factors have on the hooves we need only to clearly understand that because we have taken the donkey out of his natural environment, which was for the most part dry and stony country, and which allowed the hoof to be worn down naturally, we then have to provide him with regular hoof care to compensate.

The hoof growth rate of a donkey is the same as a horse which is about … Continue Reading ››


I haven’t come across too many mules in Australia. The mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse; the mule stallion in infertile. Much rarer is the hinny – the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey. The hooves of a mule can be either donkey footed, or like the horse, or somewhere in between so trimming the mule is open to interpretation. Wendy is an appealing mule who was brought to me recently for trimming, and she was easy and amiable about having her feet trimmed. Her hooves wore down very quickly so for the next appointment her owner decided she really needed shoes for trail riding. The front shoes went on without too much difficulty. However when it came to the back shoes, Wendy was not having a bar of it. An hour later, with one hind shoe fitted and after Wendy’s back foot had whistled past my ear one too many times, I called it quits. I had exchanged several emails with an enthusiaastic mule packer (trail rider) in Canada some years ago and his philosophy was ‘A mule will be your best friend for 40 years while he waits for that one opportunity to … Continue Reading ››