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Farriers/Hoof distortion


Hello, Gwen.  I am wondering if you can comment on the differences between the "Pete Ramey trim" and the ELPO trim that maps the bottom of the foot.  The ELPO trim seems so invasive to me.  I thought that Bowker and Ramey were leaning towards not trimming the bars, frogs and heels unless obviously overgrown.

My horse has been bare for 5 years (Ramey trim), but still has some hoof distortion and has discomfort when making tight turns and traveling.  It seems to be internal damage/strain rather than foot soreness because he walks comfortably over gravel, but hurts when he turns.

I am intrigued by the balance mapping on Gene's Hoofcaretoday website.  I thought that by backing up my horse's toe and beveling the hoof, it would be enough to grow out his long toe/ underrun heels.  After viewing ELPO's video on the barefoot trim protocol, I realize that if I use their system, we still have a long way to go towards hoof balance.  I would like your thoughts because the trim seemed so aggressive and contrary to what Pete Ramey and Dr. Bowker are advocating.  I do not want to ask my trimmer to make such radical changes to my horse's trim until I do more research.

What are your thoughts?  Also, where is MA are you?  I am in CT.
Thank you,

Hi there.  Well, let's see how I can best address this for you.

First, I've not seen what Pete is currently doing so can't comment on his 'trim' per se. The same for Dr. Bowker. And while the ELPO offers a protocol for trimming all I can say to that is, "it depends".  

The only true expert on the hoof balance for the individual hoof is the horse, himself. If your horse is uncomfortable and has hoof distortion then whatever 'trim' is being done is not correct for that horse at that time and/or there is a pathology that is not being addressed to suit the individual. It sounds, simply from your description of discomfort on tight corners, that your horse may be struggling with navicular issues. OTOH, yes, as you suggest, it may be soft tissue issues. Your farrier/trimmer along with your vet, should be able to correctly diagnose what is going on and come up with an appropriate care plan that is best suited for *your* horse.  

You are most welcome to visit here:  you'll see the major landmarks of a balanced hoof.  

And this article:

briefly explains a "diagonal" imbalance of which many are not even aware.

One needs to truly address the INDIVIDUAL "hoof-in-hand" on the "horse-in-hand" in order to correctly care for the hooves regardless of the named 'method'.

Hope this helps somewhat.  

Yes, I am in MA ... right at the point where MA, RI and CT all meet together. I no longer actively trim hooves but do consult with farriers, vets and owners as well as work with photo consults if you're interested. Feel free to contact me via email.

Thank you.
:) -- Gwen  


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Gwenyth Browning Jones Santagate


My expertise lies in Natural Equine Hoofcare. If you're looking for answers about your horse's natural hooves, I can help you. I am a professional hoofcare specialist dealing in the pathologies of the hoof i.e. Laminitis, Navicular, Whiteline Disease and others. I can answer your questions concerning pathologies of the hoof as well as "transitioning" your horse from shoes to barefoot. My emphasis is on the health of the hooves, overall.


Over 40 years of life with horses. Trimming hooves since the 1980's and professional hoofcare since 2001. I am also a trainer/teacher of horses and have been licensed as an instructor in Massachusetts since 1994. I own and operate my own boarding and rehab facility. I also have developed, written and teach Natural Hoofcare courses, clinics and seminars to horselovers from all over the world. Am trained Veterinary Surgical Assistant and Technician for both small animals and Equine. ; Trainer for 30 years.

Past 4-H Founding Equine Leader over 10 years in FL and MA. State Director of the AMBA. Past Regional Director of PPLtd.

Contributing author to the 2001 Federal Mounted Border Patrol Equine Training Manual; Local and International Equine Publications; Contributing Editor Suite 101 Natural Horsemanship.

Specific to hoofcare: Mentored under Marjorie Smith. Clinics w/Pete Ramey. Individual studies of Jaime Jackson, Gene Ovnicek, Lyle Bergeleen, Dr. R. Bowker, Dr. C. Pollitt.

Past/Present Clients
Include local showmen as well as Eventers, Barrel Racers, Cutters, Hunter-Jumpers and Dressage. Pleasure Trail Riders and Rescues. Most clients are recovering/recovered pathological situations.

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