|Why Can’t We All Agree?
Why does one farrier say to rarely trim bars, another says always trim bars, and another says dig out bars
aggressively? Why does one say your horse has no thrush, the next say he has touch of it, and the third have a
hysterical fit over the horror that is your horses thrush eaten frog? One says a mild roll, one says a bevel, and
one says a wicked full-wall roll. To trim sole? Frogs? Proper heel height? What about founder? Navicular? And
which boots/shoes/casts are the best?
For a beginner wading through the massive amounts of information available on the internet, it is enough to
give a major headache. It is no wonder people often read one site, react as though it is the bible, and refuse to
look farther. Looking farther is confusing! All the contradictions make no sense, they make your brain want to
run for cover.
So in this article I’d like to try and explain why there are 101 Ways to Trim (or Not Trim) a Frog. I’m not going
into the theories behind each, or why they are done, or to which horse, but simply explain why there are 101 of
them and why your farrier is using #65 when you’ve read a great magazine article about #31.
First off, hooves are forged by the terrain they live on. A horse on sand has a different hoof with different needs
then a horse on rocks. They both have different needs then a horse on clay, or hard dry dirt. A horse in the
desert has vastly different needs then one living in a swamp. A horse in a stall, worked in an arena, is going to
need a completely different trim then a horse living on 100 acres and working on rocks. Even two horses living
on the same style terrain, but one of 2 acres and the other on 200 will have very different needs.
Next, most horse breeds have different feet. Drafts, ponies, Quarter horses, Arabs, Thoroughbreds, all have an
anatomical consistency but tend to have basic differences in shape and need. None are better or worse then the
others, but often different. What you watch for and work to support in teacup Quarter horse feet, you likely don’
t worry about in a Percheron. But what you work on with the Percheron, you many not worry a bit about in an
To add even more possibilities there are conformational issues, diet, health, age, body condition, and even rider
abilities and preferences.
So a farrier from Arizona who specializes in endurance Arabians can tell you exactly how to trim endurance
Arabians in Arizona with great success, but the same trim is probably not going to help your foundering pony in
Kentucky. All the farriers who say, “This is the only trim in the world that works” tend to simply mean their
It’s all confusing and takes a lot of practice and learning to get it straight. Being a farrier means being fully
prepared to discover that this horse in this situation has just proven you completely and utterly wrong.
Especially once you know you have seen it all and know everything, that horse is going to come along and make
you say, “Who’d of ever thought that”, and away you go realizing you actually know so little and that’s
maddeningly irritating. There is really only one rule in this work, “The horse is always right.” If that horse says
he’s happiest with a method you don’t agree with, it is time to change your beliefs, not bang on them harder to
make them fit that horse.
Everyone wants one trim standard. It would be wonderful, and so easy, to have one trim, one method, that
worked for every horse everywhere. That is what everyone is working for, trying to find, is that one magic trim,
or shoe, or boot (and then patent it, write the book, start the school, and become a millionaire). But in reality
there are 101 methods for a reason, and we actually need many more then that. Each horse, each situation,
each problem, is likely going to require something different.
So reading the website from the farrier in Arizona who does brilliant work with Arabian endurance horses is
great, but take it as method #68, not “The One”, no matter who claims what. Understand that asking
suggestions from a group of farriers is always educational, and usually very entertaining, but it’s not that 14 are
wrong and 1 is right. They are all, from their viewpoint, right; and they are usually arguing so venomously
because they have seen great success with their methods and want what is best for the horse, which to them
means their method.
So your farrier is using method #43 and you read in “The Best Guide to Horsey Everything” that trim method
#51 was the one and only true way to trim hooves. Before you go beating your idiot farrier with the magazine,
think about it a second. Where does trim method #51 come from? What horses are responding so well? Why is
it supposed to be the best? Understand your farrier has likely put good thought into how he works your horses
hooves, thinking of your terrain, your horse, your uses, your problems. You are getting a specialized custom job,
not just a ‘this works the highest percentage of the time’ style trim. Would you rather have a custom made
saddle to fit you and your horse, or one that fits the majority of horses and people the majority of the time? Ask
your farrier, but do it with the understand that they are trying to do what is best for your horse. Ask them for
education, don’t ask them to defend themselves.
In the end, deciding who to listen to and who to work with is complicated. It does take a lot of research and
understanding. But do it all with an open mind and listing ideas as possibilities, not absolutes. Above all, listen to
your horse. He should be, after all, the most important voice in the matter.