The Barefoot Trim!
I have always been interested in the idea of my horses living
barefoot. When I was new to horses, something made me
gravitate towards the barefoot way of thinking. It just didn't
make sense to me that horses would need shoes. They existed
for a long time before people started putting shoes on their
feet, so why would we think they required them? I began to
research the barefoot concept, the way the horse hoof
functions, and how to care for the horse's feet. I was delighted
to find the following books and clinics.
Natural Barefoot Hooftrimming Clinic
Taught by Leslie Wells in Ridgefield, WA, Sat, June 12, 2006
Review by Bonnie Swenson
One beautiful Saturday in June, we attended a barefoot trimming clinic held by Leslie Wells in Ridgefield,
WA. Club members in attendance were: Lisa, Claudia, Bonny, Patti, Bonnie, Peder, and Pat. We spent the
morning learning the anatomy of the natural hoof, and how the different aspects of the horse’s care
directly effect the condition of the hoof. We also discussed methods and theories of trimming that can
have a negative effect on the hoof.
One major influence on the health of the horse and hoof is feeding. Research is showing that many locally-
available types of hay are too high in carbohydrates for horses. Alfalfa is so high in protein it is often too
hot for our horses that are idle most of the time. We discussed insulin-resistant horses and laminitis.
Controlling what our horses eat and have access to, combined with providing a healthy, rugged work-out
schedule can be the best treatment for horses with hoof problems. Some tips Leslie provided: Orchard
grass can be high in sugar, while local grass cut in the morning can have some of the lowest sugar
content. Some low-carb feeds are available such as beet pulp, soy hulls (as an alternative to COB), grass
pellets (as an alternative to alfalfa pellets), and SBH&F Low Carb Complete Pelleted feed (as an alternative
to senior feeds).
The other major influence on the hoof is the exercise and movement of the horse. Horses confined to
domestic life rarely get the exercise and miles of travel that wild horses do. The wild horse travels
constantly in search of food. This travel wares the horse’s hooves naturally and creates a short, healthy
hoof. We discussed the barefoot trim and how it attempts to mimic the horse’s natural hoof care.
After lunch, we watched Leslie trim a cadaver hoof. We discussed toe length, separation of the hoof wall,
strength and weakness of the soul, measuring the frog to determine the position of the coffin bone, and
had an opportunity to ask questions and see the hoof trimming up close.
We then picked out our own cadaver hooves and started trimming. Most of us trimmed two hooves each.
Though many of us felt uneasy about the idea of handling the cadaver hooves at first, we got over it and
had a great time learning to do the barefoot trim.
We also watched Leslie trim one of her horses that had been given the Barefoot trim for approximately 4
We want to thank Leslie for hosting a fabulous clinic at her lovely home. For more info on the barefoot
trim, here are two wonderful books for your enjoyment: “Horse Owners Guide to Natural Hoof Care” by
Jaime Jackson, “Making Natural Hoof Care Work for You” by Pete Ramey. You can purchase these books
by clicking on the link below to amazon.
Photos from the clinic, and of our horses without shoes:
(above, left) Bonnie's mare, Sara, shows off her freshly trimmed tootsies. She has never been shod
with traditional shoes. She enjoys Old Mac Horse Boots when we ride on rough terrain. Otherwise
she is barefoot.
(above, right) Peder's gelding, Baldur. Barefoot and lovin' it.