Howdy Friends! I’m often asked about trimming barefoot horses. It’s important to note, here we’ll be talking about the routine maintenance trim. Not repairing, or transitioning from shod to barefoot. Routine hoof care truly is pretty basic, and actually easy.


First step is to have a look at the underside.

Have a look at the underside to get an idea of shaping needed. You’ll notice my mare Rosie needs very little shaping because I trim every 3 weeks or so. This is a good look.

Just to see the growth and wear pattern. Routinely, I do little to nothing on the underside. NEVER pare the sole. EVER. Almost never trim the frog. Almost never touch the heels. And the new fad to trim the quarters, is in my book an ABSOLUTE OUTRAGE! I’ll never do it. Will always protest it. Most times if we are trimming correctly, and housing correctly, there will be a very SLIGHT arch in the quarter. BUT we should never enlarge it. To each their own. But that’s my thought and practice.

Set the foot on the stand level with the ground.

Set the foot on stand so you can see it level to ground

In this way as we look down onto the foot, we can see the shape and angle down from the hairline all the way along the hoof. And simply shape the hoof. ONLY rasp that edge you are removing. NEVER rasp the entire hoof wall, as so many do. I put the bevel edge on as I go. There should be no flares if you’re trimming on time. But if there are, simply rasp them off.

I shape from the back of the foot toward the toe. First one side then the other. Then finish with a nice final touch to shape the entire foot. In all I usually am taking off about half man inch, or even less.

A routine maintenance trim should only require a rasp. I never use a nipper. I feel if a nipper is needed, the trim went too long. The white line (Lamina) gets stretched as soon as the hoof gets the least bit long. I trim every 3 to 4 weeks. Takes only moments. Perhaps 3 minutes a hoof.

Length of toe

Easy, measuring from back of heel, to tip of toe – No more than one third of the hoof should be in front of the apex of the frog. And this is very important. And the heels, if the toe length is correct, the heels will take care of themselves. Nothing needed done there. Everything is done from the outside on the edge of the hoof wall.

Measure the toe length

Here you can see how easy we can measure correct toe length

What else?

Important to note, correct habitat for a horse is NOT only nice grass. They need hard packed earth and yes indeed stones, and round rock to walk on. And they need to walk. All part of routine maintenance hoof care.

A few more notes

Pictured here is my 22 year old mare Rosie’s foot.

Miss Rosie’s foot post trim today. All healthy & beautiful. And healthy.

A Paso Fino we rescued 4 years ago. He feet were so overgrown she walked on her ankles. And her heels were grown so far forward they were in front of her frog! All good now, and has been for two years. I believe every horse can and should be barefoot. And every foot can be corrected. If we simply do what the horse, and her feet need, to be healthy.

So That’s It

A routine barefoot trim is easy to do. Don’t let anyone complicate it for you. And I believe every horse owner can learn to do it.

~ Gitty up, Dutch.




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