Most barefoot horses do not have perfectly matching feet. Why? Often, the shapes of the coffin bones inside them are very different. When the bone angles vary by up to 15°, is it any wonder that the barefoot hooves are shaped differently?

Matching horse hoof angles when bone angles are significantly different has an inherent risk of causing unwarranted lameness because the forces within the foot are drastically altered.

If you try to make feet like these match externally through barefoot trimming, you might create a horse hoof problem. It’s a mistake to think that forcing one to match the other or making both conform to a vague standard will make them healthier. A horse’s feet can be perfectly healthy and functional at very high levels of competition without matching each other or some “perfect” standard. They just have to be in equilibrium with their internal structures to stay “happy”.

–Ric Redden, DVM, with Christy West (

Chris Freeman


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