Research Supports Physiological Trimming

Eighteen-month study suggests loading the palmar region of the hoof leads to beneficial reshaping of feet, additional support

Shoeing and trimming methods come largely from the experience of farriers, leaving plenty of room for debate about what works and what doesn’t. Meantime, researchers warn that there is actually very little scientific study to back any particular approach to hoof care.

That might help explain the buzz among attendees at the recent International Hoof-Care Summit after a presentation by noted equine veterinarian and researcher Hilary Clayton.

She offered new scientific evidence suggesting that the so-called physiological trim moves a horse’s entire foot back under the bony column, creates shorter, more upright heels to support the bulbs and might increase the support length of the foot, all without changing the toe angle.

Equine veterinarian Robert Bowker, an anatomy professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University, developed the physiological trim several years ago. He has continued to study the trim in recent months with Clayton, also an MSU veterinarian and researcher at the McPhail Equine Performance Center, and Sarah Gray, a graduate student at the university.

In a physiological trim, the foot is trimmed to the plane of the live sole to level the P3, and the heel is trimmed to the widest part of the frog. The frog is not trimmed. To facilitate breakover, the toe is beveled, initially from the white line, then from the front of the sole callus after the callus develops.

Physical Foundation

The name physiological trim comes from the method’s focus on the functions of the palmar portion of the foot…

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Ron_perszewski

Ron Perszewski

Ron Perszewski is a freelance writer and former associate editor of Ameri­can Farriers Journal.

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