Are your Horse's Feet Being Trimmed Correctly?

September 10, 2007 (published) | October 24, 2016 (revised)

I know that most of you do not trim your horse’s feet and that most farriers do a good job of trimming.  However, I still see very long toes in some horses that have recently been trimmed, and that can lead to all kinds of problems.  After your farrier trims your horse’s feet next time, pick up the front feet and look at the bottom.  If there is a large space greater than 1/8 of an inch between the hoof wall and the sole at the toe, it is likely the hoof wall at the toe was not trimmed short enough.  Also, on the front feet, the foot should be about as wide as it is long and this should be measured.  Use a tape measure and measure from the widest part of the foot across the sole and then measure from the heel to the toe.  On a front foot, these measurements should be pretty close to the same.  The toe should at least be no longer than ¼ inch when compared to the width.  And if you look at the dorsal hoof wall after the trim and the hoof wall is dished and curved toward the toe, the toe is too long. 

Long toes predispose horses to toe cracks. I see horses come in commonly with toe cracks and the cause in many cases is just that the toes are simply too long.  Also, the wide white line at the toe is the major cause of hoof abscesses because this gives dirt and bacteria a place to enter the hoof.  A long toe delays breakover and places more stress on the navicular bone, which can predispose some horses to navicular syndrome.  And finally, a long toe can be detrimental in foundered horses as it increases pull by the deep digital flexor tendon on the coffin bone.  Horses that have foundered commonly have long toes.  So after your horses are trimmed next time, pick up their front feet and make sure the toes are trimmed correctly.

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