Our Trimming Approach

written and applied by Thorsten Kaiser

The Theory

The focus of the trimming is to establish a functioning hoof that makes the horse sufficiently comfortable so it offers a heel-first landing on the ground it lives on. By functioning I mean that the entire hoof capsule expands on loading and no lever forces exist that distort the horn tubules of the wall, bar, and sole in a negative way. A comfortable hoof then allows the horse to use its stay-apparatus properly, allowing it to use locomotion muscles for that purpose rather than controlling incorrect foot placement like one sees in toe-first landing of a hoof.

A big part of this a movement-based-lifestyle 24/7.

By implication, exactly how the trimmed hoof looks depends on a number of factors. For example: type of terrain, amount of movement, hoof shape to start with, presence of joint issues, pedal bone changes, degree of muscle tension, etc.. No one “size” fits all.

It is important to realise that correct hoof shape cannot be trimmed into the foot but rather needs to be developed.

My trimming philosophy is:

“Trim as little as needed, but as much as necessary!”.

This means, when the above-mentioned comfort and function is achieved, I can stop trimming the hoof. If the horse is not loading properly, then I have to do more tweaking until that is achieved. It is not about a certain look, but rather about how the horse uses and loads the foot.

The Trim

I liken the hoof to the truncated slanted cone model. This means the ideal hoof capsule has a diverging alignment of heel and toe horn tubules distal to the hoof with a straight coronet. The base of the hoof then is the projected shape of the coronet in the direction of that cone. This shape allows for even hoof expansion on loading. Further to that, I look for a palmar angle (PA) of the pedal bone of towards zero to allow for a reasonably equal weight distribution to the laminar corium. This may not be possible to achieve in a single trim, though. The guide for that is the sole plane as it is the most direct connection to the volar surface of the pedal bone. The apex of the bar is aimed at its natural termination based on the lamellae between bar and sole. When finished, the bar should provide a dual function: 1) provide stability to caudal hoof, and 2) allow enough flexibility for hoof function. The hoof wall should be straight (free of flare in bottom 1/3 if flare goes higher) and the quarters will be relieved in the unloaded foot so they can draw flat on loading.

Trim influenced by

My biggest influence was Dr. Hiltrud Strasser as she has always been able to come up with a sound and reasonable explanation for certain hoof issues, based on knowledge derived from aspects in physics, histology, medicine, bio-mechanics, etc.. Though, other trimming philosophies have offered me interesting aspects as well. The most important influence, however, is the horse itself. When you can see the signs of relief, comfort, and improved loading after a trim – nothing can beat that.

But it’s not just the Trim

In a typical appointment, the horse gets assessed moving – typically before and after the trim. Depending on what is going on, this may be at different gaits and directions, and/or surfaces.

Horses with long-term hoof problems typically have body issues and habits. In order to work past those, body work may be needed. Such body work may come from a professional body-worker, but typically, the horse owner gets some “homework” to do certain exercises with or on their horse, possibly even on themselves.