Let’s think through why trimming is necessary in the first place. In the wild the hoof is designed to grow at the same rate at which it is worn by nature’s “emery board.” In other words, the horse’s daily movement required for survival in the wild over natural terrain self trims the hoof capsule. Domestication of horses restricts the daily movement and types of terrain available to horses. Domesticated horses are often stalled for many hours per day and when turned out are turned out on soft pastures with limited space. The domesticated horse’s feed and water is most often nearby, eliminating the need to travel daily in search for food and water. This combination of limited movement and terrain variation allows the domesticated hoof to grow more than it is worn by nature’s emery board, which is why trimming is necessary for domesticated horses.
Now let’s think through the differences in how the hoof maintains itself in the wild and how the hoof is maintained for domesticated horses. Since the hoof is constantly wearing in the wild, the tubules of the hoof capsule are worn at the same rate at which they grow; this results in the hoof always maintaining a consistent shape, size, and balance. In contrast, the domesticated hoof tubules are not worn at the same rate at which they grow which means the hoof tubules growth continuously changes the shape, size, and balance of the hoof until the hoof is trimmed. Trimming is supposed to “reset” the domesticated hoof to the shape, size, and balance that is always maintained through self-trimming in the wild horse. So, through continuous self-trimming the wild hoof’s shape, size, and balance never changes, while the domesticated hoof constantly changes shape, size, and balance and must be regularly “reset” through trimming to the shape, size, and balance it would have constantly maintained on its own in the wild.
This growth and reset cycle in the domesticated hoof can result in the tubules of the hoof becoming unorganized and distorted; it is the role of every trimmer to maintain the balance and organization of the hoof capsule. I am in the works on an article which will include information on common hoof pathologies caused by this distortion and loss of organization, but for now try to visualize how the individual tubules would migrate away from their location in our ideal hoof capsule during the growth cycle of the domesticated hoof. Then visualize where the tubules would be located after being trimmed based on your trimmer's trimming style...you may begin to realize how some hoof pathologies can develop on your own.
I hope you have enjoyed this blog series and feel you have a better understanding of your own horse’s hooves!