I’ve been asked by clients to put together a list of trimmers in the areas I serve, as well as post online resources and a discussion of how I trim my own horses.
I have researched many different trimming methods over the past few years. I have cherry picked from each method the techniques that most helped my own horses and muscle tested well for them. You will notice that my list includes different approaches to trimming, and even approaches that contradict each other. Again, I have taken what resonated for me and my herd. I encourage you to make your own informed choices based on muscle testing, function and results.
Here is a collection of websites that I found educational:
Before you hire a trimmer, consider educating yourself on the basic hoof terminology so you can have productive discussions with your potential trimmer. There are many websites and diagrams explaining the hoof.
Even better, take a hoof mapping class that involves dissection. Daisy Haven Farm in Pennsylvania, USA offers amazing hoof classes at a variety of locations around the country. ABC Hoofcare also offers a very good, and somewhat different, hoof mapping and dissection class.
Here is a list of trimmers in the areas I travel to. There are of course many other good trimmers. I will only vouch for those whose work I have personally observed. Again, go with the person that resonates with you. Different trimmers have different styles, and their approaches may not suit every horse or owner. Each of the trimmers listed below also have slightly different theories and approaches. In fact, they might even disagree with each other on their personal approaches. I know that some of them have different opinions than my own on nutrition and energy work. I have personally met all but two of them. Several of them have trimmed my horses, or talked me through trims. I have personally seen their work on multiple horses. Talk to them yourself. Ask about their training and examples of their work. Feel how you resonate with them.
Daisy Bicking (and students) – travels all over the USA and sometimes overseas Emmy Carruthers – mainly serves Virginia, USA Joe Wolfe – mainly serves Virginia, USA
Dan Rupert – mainly serves eastern PA in the USA Heather Young-Cover – mainly serves the southcentral, PA and northern Maryland areas of the USA Michael Glen – mainly serves southcentral Pennsyvania, USA and will travel further Henry Heymering – serves Frederick and Washington counties in Maryland, USA Dana Colestock – southcentral PA
In general, there are a few key measurements of a quality trim that I look for. What I look for may be different than what others will look for. Some of these basic principles may help you as you evaluate how your own horse is being trimmed.
First, I look for a balanced hairline. David Birdsall and Lyle Bergeleen were among the first to talk about balanced hairlines. Courtesy of Gwen Santage at Penzance Equine, in the photo below the dashed blue line shows a hairline displaced upward at the quarters. I’m also looking for a coronet angle of roughly 30 degrees on all hooves.
From the side, I’m looking for a front toe angle of 45-50 degrees and a rear toe angle of 55-60 degrees. This is my preference. There is debate about angles. Here is an interesting article from Henry Heymering suggesting a steeper angle.
Hint: if you aren’t sure, get yourself a simple angle gauge from Harbor Freight.
On the sole, I’m looking for several different measurements and proportions, a plump healthy frog that is not pushed to one side, healthy tissue, and I’m looking for correct bars. The definitions of healthy tissue and proportions are a bit complicated to get into in a brief paragraph. I personally prefer the ideal hooves as shown at ABC Hoofcare. My suggestion is look at several of the websites listed above and build a picture in your mind of the average ideal hoof.
Bars are a controversial topic in some trimming circles. So I will repeat my earlier caveat. This is what I look for, based on my own research and experience. Do your own research and decide what resonates for you. I want to see a bar that ramps down from the heel to the toe end of the frog sulcus, roughly parallel to the frog. Bars past the sulcus tip, flared bars, long bars – I usually consider all those signs of incorrect trimming and unsoundness brewing. Some of the trimmers I listed above may disagree with this philosophy, and that is fine. We each must draw our own conclusions.
Finally, symmetry symmetry symmetry. I always look for symmetry. The angles should match, the limb lengths should match. If things don’t match up when compared left side to right side, then there is some investigating to be done.
Now, after looking at your horse’s hooves and seeing potential problems, before you decide your trimmer isn’t doing the job, please talk to your trimmer. Your trimmer may have very good reasons for doing what was done. It may take multiple trims to get a hoof where it should be. There may be conformation issues affecting the decisions. There may also be something about your horse’s health, nutrition or environment affecting the trimming strategy. Open communication is key.
Now for my own horses hooves:
I personally no longer use metal shoes on any of my horses. That being said, there may be a time and place for them. I defer to the muscle testing to make that decision – do shoes test as beneficial for that horse at that time, and can the horse tolerate shoes. I have not yet researched or used glue-on shoes or boots. I suspect that may be my next project, as one of my mares appears to need something beyond barefoot. I will post when I learn more.
I will also add that my own trimming style is a mix of techniques and principles I learned from the trimmers and websites above, and so my end result will likely not be exactly like any single one of them.
And as I have mentioned ABC and bars several times now, I will address the controversy about some of the more unhealthy and distorted hooves that ABC trimmers have helped with rehabilitation trims. If you do enough internet searches, sooner or later you will find this controversy discussed. I myself received private messages of horror and warning when I posted information about ABC. I personally have tremendous respect for the research that went into the approach and the sheer volume of hooves studied. For me, the method makes logical sense AND resonates well with me. The method has also helped my own horses. I do not do extreme rehabilitation trimming. I do not suggest that ANY inexperienced trimmer attempt a rehabilitation trim. That work should be done by well-trained experts under veterinary guidance. Please do NOT interpret my endorsement of ABC hoof balancing principles to be encouragement to aggressively trim your horse’s hooves without proper training.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or American Veterinary Medical Association, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your veterinarian about any changes to your animal’s health program.