Ask a Farrier: My Horses Are Backyard Horses - Do They Really Need to Be Trimmed Every 8 Weeks?

brown horse - ask a farrier - do my horses need to be trimmed every 8 weeks

I get asked this question often, especially when I pick up new clients. Honestly, I can't give them an accurate answer until I've trimmed their horses a few times. I need to see how fast their feet grow and if they grow evenly. Six to eight weeks is just a general guideline. There are many variables to take into consideration, and every horse is different.

How Your Horse Affects Their Trimming Schedule

How old are your horses? As they get older, the rate of hoof growth slows down. My two horses are twenty something and thirty and really only need trims two or three times a year.

What are your horses eating? Their feet will probably grow faster if you have them on extra supplements. The type of grass or hay they're eating could also affect how fast their feet grow.

Do your horses have any medical conditions or conformation issues that might require more frequent trims? A horse with laminitis or navicular disease will probably need to be trimmed or shod more often to keep them comfortable. 

Do any of your horses have an old hip, shoulder or leg injury that causes them to limp or just not stand or walk straight? That usually means they're using and putting more weight on the other three legs to compensate for the sore one. The hooves on the three sound legs will probably be more worn down than the hoof on the sore side, but depending on where the old injury is, they could be wearing them down unevenly.

How Your Horse's Living Conditions Affect Their Trimming Schedule

The season and where you live are big factors that will affect how fast your horses' hooves grow. If you live in a dry, rocky or sandy area, your horses feet may grow slower and wear down faster, which means they won't need to be trimmed as often as horses that live somewhere on soft green grass that gets a lot of rain. Horses' feet tend to grow faster in the spring and slow down in the winter.

Another thing to take into consideration is your farrier's time. If they're ridiculously busy, or you live an hour's drive from them, they may have you on a set eight week schedule along with all their other clients in your area.

So, how can you, as the horse's owner, tell when they're ready for trims? Clean their feet out often and watch how long it takes the hoof wall  to grow out past the sole to the point it might need a trim.

This is our monthly feature, “Ask a Farrier,” a Q and A with farrier Karen McMann. Karen has been a full-time farrier for 18 years. She graduated in 2002 from the Canadian School of Horseshoeing, where she studied under Pat Cullen. She serves on the Advisory Board of Equi-Health Canada and Equi-First Aid USA as a Farrier/Hoof Health Support specialist. Karen lives and works outside of Okotoks, Alberta.

If you have a question you’d like to ask a farrier (about horseshoeing, farriery, hoof and horse health, blacksmith tools, working as a farrier, etc.), email or leave it in the comments below. Every month, we’ll pick one question to answer in our feature.

Image credit: Zahaoha


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