No Two Hoof Trims Alike

When scientists took a detailed look at the work of farriers, they discovered striking variations in the size and shape of freshly-trimmed horse hooves.�The study found from its measurements of hooves that no two farriers shaped hooves to the same dimensions and angles.

Even more surprising, the hoof measurements taken after consecutive trimmings by the same farrier were also inconsistent.

The European study investigated trimming done by six farriers who worked on forty adult warmblood horses. Each farrier trimmed and shoed six or seven horses on two successive occasions.

farrier trims a horse hoof with nippers

The researchers X-rayed the horses' hooves from both the side and front, before and after each trimming. The digitized X-rays were analyzed by computer to produce twenty different measures of hoof angles and distances. Measurements included the sole thickness, foot width, dorsal wall length and hoof angle. They also looked well below the surface to record distances from the pedal bone (P3) located inside the hoof to various points on the hoof such as the toe, bottom and breakover point.

When comparing hooves trimmed by different farriers, the study found significant differences in most of those measurements. The measurements even differed significantly between two consecutive trims done by the same farrier.

The various angles and distances determine a hoof's shape and can ultimately affect a horse's soundness and athletic ability. This study shows that variations in the handiwork among individual farriers, and even from trim to trim by the same farrier, do modify a hoof's balance.


Martin Kummer, Diego Gygax, Christoph Lischer and J�rg Auer. 2008. Comparison of the trimming procedure of six different farriers by quantitative evaluation of hoof radiographs. The Veterinary Journal.

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