The first and most obvious answer to this question is to schedule your horse or pony for regular trims between 6 – 8 weeks apart depending on your horse and the season. However, this can vary from horse to horse for a variety of reasons including diet, workout regime, footing type, season and climate. So it is important for horse owners to know how to recognize when your horses feet are in need of a trim.
One thing I have noticed with my clients is that they primarily determine if the horse needs a trim if the wall looks long or cracked from the outside view. Although this view can be a helpful indication, often the outside of the hoof will look okay, when really the hoof is need of a trim.
When looking at the horse’s hoof as a trimmer, the first thing that I look at is the bars of the hoof. Using the bars as an indicator is an easy way to quickly determine if the hoof is over grown. The bars when over grown will look over pronounced and will be closer to being level with the wall than level with the sole. It is important that the bars have room to drop down and absorb shock, as the horse bears down on the foot.
The next thing I look at is the amount of space between the wall, white line and sole. The wall should not appear to be far taller than the sole, when freshly trimmed, the wall and the sole are at about the same height. The wall should also stay tight to the white line. If either of these things appear to be an issue, then it may be a sign that the horse is in need of a trim.
I ask myself so many questions, before I get to the outside of the hoof: is the sole healthy or is is thin and lacking blood flow or over packed with material that has not been shed? Do the heels provide a solid landing point for the foot, or are they uneven, long or rolled in? What does the frog look like, is it providing shock absorption? It is only once I have made a full understanding of the underside of the foot, that I begin to look at the outside view of the hoof. And begin my question asking all over again.
And it is only once I have an understanding of the health of the foot, the horse’s job and lifestyle that I begin to set to work in maintaining or improving the hoof health.
So when should you trim your horse’s foot? I recommend every 6-8 weeks, or on any plan that has been developed with a hoof care professional to benefit the health of your horse.