side2.JPG               sole-2.JPG

This is a 5 yo Morgan mare. The trim was started at age 3, and the second row of pictures shows the progress after about one year.

With frequent trimming, the heel has been kept low and the coffin bone placed in a near-ground parallel orientation.  This has enabled the dish in the toe wall to grow out, and the hoof rings to become somewhat more concentric (more equal distance between them at the heel and at the toe.  When the heel grows faster than the toe, the rings are wider at the heel.   A healthy foot’s growth should be even all around with equidistant rings).  However by the age of three there was already considerable joint adaptation in the coffin joint, creating the broken forward hoof-pastern axis. 

dressage-test-corner.jpg © James Matteson

The mare recently competed in her debut dressage show, winning her Intro test amongst a class of six, as well as getting an award for second highest score of the day.  She has a bright future ahead of her as an all-around fun horse.

Foundered Foot – Trimming Suggestions

untrimmedfooff.jpgThe horse’s current hoof form is not allowing him to grow a healthy The markup shows the approximate location of the coffin bone and what it’s doing to the tissues and vessels in the foot.

Reported problems include very little hoof growth, very thin soles, and very little heel to remove. In reality there is a great deal of heel here that needs to be removed (as per markup). Its height is pathologically displacing the coffin bone. This orientation is the reason for the lack of hoof and sole growth, and the laminar wedge. The tip of the coffin bone is pointing down onto and compressing the circumflex artery, the only blood supply to the sole which is responsible for the thin soles and poorly growing, crumbly walls, and the front of the coffin bone is pressing on the sole. Pressure prevents growth.

At 4 mm, the soles are actually only 1mm less than the thinnest recommended amount (5mm), the issue is more the sinking of the bone onto the sole. As long as the circulation is compromised by the pathological orientation of the coffin bone, the laminae cannot reconnect at the top between coronary band and top of P3.     


The tip of P3 at the extensor process is also being pushed against the blood vessel that would supply the blood to the laminae. The downward pointing tip of the coffin bone causes the laminar space to be much wider at the bottom than at the top; as long as this condition exists, the laminae will not reattach in a healthy fashion and rotation and a laminar wedge will continue to be present. The laminar space at the bottom needs to tighten up to the same width as at the top, so that the laminae are not stretched and torn beyond their natural capacity and continue to secrete blood and inflammation. This needs to be done by lowering the heel to where the blue line is.

No More Ringbone

A Horse Who No Longer Has Ringbone



She is a 20+ yo Morgan mare who was grade 5 lame and retired.  The original diagnosis for the lameness was navicular. With the prescribed bar shoes, she pulled a sesamoidean ligament within 24 hours. The shoes were removed, and a second opinion diagnosed the ringbone. The treatment prescribed was retirement, with the advice to give bute the day before if the owner wished to ride her. 

Within seven months of correct trimming she has regained complete soundness and gets regularly ridden.



The long toe was  later shortened.

Improvement in the quality and appearance of the coat is visible (not so coarse, has more shine), as a result of the increased circulation to the hooves and legs.

The lateral cartilage is no longer so prominent and pushed up out of the hoof capsule, now that the heels have been brought back even with the widest part of the frog, and the walls in the quarters have been shortened. Such a displacement of the lateral cartilages can lead to ossifications such as sidebone, or contribute to ringbone. Most importantly the steep pastern has taken on a better angle by virtue of the heels being lowered and brought back even with the widest part of the frog. This steep alignment is the factor that most contributes to and predisposes a horse to developing ringbone, as it puts excess and unnatural strain on the extensor tendon; its attachment  point becomes inflamed and eventually stabilizes by calcifying.


Welcome to the Barefoot Hoofcare blog. We will discuss various ways to trim feet, present cases on a regular basis, and discuss different approaches to dealing with problems. We invite horse owners to submit their questions and cases for input from the blog owner as well as a rotating panel of experts.