Differences Between the Wild Horse Barefoot Trim and the Strasser Barefoot Trim
By Marjorie Smith

Many people have asked me what the differences are between the wild horse trim (compiled from different sources) that I recommend on my website, and the Strasser basic trim as I learned it. Here is a list of the differences (and some similarities) with their reasons, as I understand them, along with some personal observations/ pros and cons of each that I have observed.

Dr. Strasser originally figured out her trim in order to rehabilitate severely deformed, lame hooves that other veterinarians had given up on, sometimes after years of conventional treatment. The strategy is to remove most of the deformed material and quickly give the horse a basic, reasonably-shaped hoof that will circulate blood (hoof mechanism), so that he has the means to heal his own hoof. Dr. Strasser kept the horses on rubber mats until the hooves recovered enough to go on the ground comfortably.

The wild horse trim was designed to give de-shod hooves a shape similar to what free-roaming horses produce through constant movement and wear. Since the hooves are already sound, or nearly so, the shape can be changed gradually over time while the horse continues to live on his usual terrain.

In order to quickly improve circulation, the Strasser trim does several things to increase or even exaggerate hoof mechanism. Any of these could be omitted or toned down in a "modified" Strasser trim, to suit the living conditions of the horse. In my experience, the difficulty with a hoof mechanism strategy is that it can allow an unhealthy white line to remain stretched or become more stretched, and a healthy white line to become weakened and stretched. Over several months, the result can be a dropped sole and/ or coffin bone because the white line suspends the bone firmly from the inside of the wall. The wild horse trim has no particular strategy, but shapes the hoof similar to the shape of the wild horse hoof. Lame horses have recovered well when given this trim.

1) Trimming the sole
Strasser trim: Trim the sole to simulate the concavity of a sound hoof. The reason is that the thinner sole flexes easily, which allows the bottom edge of the hoof wall to spread wider during weightbearing, thus increasing hoof mechanism. There is a possibility of thinning the sole too much, which can sore the horse. (Thinning the sole can sore the horse; Dr. Strasser covered the floor of her clinic with rubber mats.)

Wild horse trim: Trim no sole. The sole is considered to be an important structure that helps to hold the hoof together and protects the interior of the hoof from the ground. In a sound or nearly-sound hoof, there is already sufficient hoof mechanism. Leaving the sole at its full thickness prevents soreness and abscessing. Concavity will occur naturally when the white line has fully recovered from the damage caused by horseshoes.

2) Trimming the bars
Strasser trim: Shorten the bars to end halfway along the frog, with a bar height of 1 cm halfway along the bars; then slope the sole in the seat-of-corn to meet the shortened bar. This is done to help de-contract contracted heels and increase hoof mechanism. In muddy weather, provide extra traction by trimming the seat-of-corn a little shorter than the bars.

Wild horse trim: Trim the bars to the level of the sole or slightly longer, though not in contact with the ground. The connection between the bars and the sole is considered an important part of the heel structure; it helps to hold the hoof together under the forces of weightbearing. De-contraction is accomplished, instead, by backing or mustang-rolling the toe to eliminate forward toe leverage on the heels. In muddy seasons, make a "skid brake" by letting the heel and bars grow a little longer than the sole.

3) De-contracting heels
Strasser trim: Make notches or "opening cuts" where contracted heels are curved to the inside of a line from the point-of-frog to the outside of the bulbs. The reason is to move the heel posts far enough apart so that the heels are not forced inward (contraction) when weightbearing, which helps de-contract the heels and increases hoof mechanism. Depending on climate, moisture conditions, and terrain, opening cuts can result just as easily in increased heel contraction, or in white line separation from too much hoof mechanism.

Wild horse trim: De-contraction is accomplished gradually by backing or mustang-rolling the toe to eliminate forward toe leverage on the heels.

4) Trimming the heels
Strasser trim: Trim the heels to a 3.5 cm height (vertical from the back corner of the lateral cartilages). This shortens the heel if it is long which increases hoof mechanism and places the toe laminae at the best angle for the mechanical forces upon them. If you get close to blood in the seat-of-corn, wait until the sole corium recedes before shortening the heels more.

Wild horse trim: Trim the heels to the level of the hard sole in the seat-of-corn. If the heels are too long at that level, the sole in the seat-of-corn will gradually recede, allowing further shortening of the heels over time.

5) Angles
Strasser trim: Trim the hoof to a 30-degree hairline, with front toes at about 45 degrees and hind toes at about 55 degrees while the hoof is on the ground. The reason is to quickly place the coffin bone in a ground-parallel position, which gives the hoof capsule the most efficient shape for hoof mechanism, and places the toe laminae at the angle best suited to the mechanical forces upon them.

Wild horse trim: Trim the hoof wall to the level of the sole; angles will change gradually as the hoof returns to its own inherent shape.

There is one difference between the two trims, not related to hoof mechanism:

Strasser trim: Finish the hoof wall with a flat bottom. The reason is that the long, flat toe will help to bring the pastern to a lower angle, in hooves that have had too-long heels for a long time, changing joints and ligaments. A flare, or a toe "long out in front", can be backed with a vertical cut, to where the wall should meet the ground.

Wild horse trim: Finish the hoof with a rounded bevel or "mustang roll" to the water line (inside layer of hoof wall). The reason is to give the hoof a fast breakover, reduce flaring (white line separation), and remove the toe lever that pulls the heels inward. A flare, or a toe "long out in front", can be rolled as far as the inside of the stretched white line, removing the additional lever effect of the flare.

Some similarities:

Both trims arch or scoop the ground surface of the hoof wall along the quarters. The reason is to allow flexion of the hoof in the front-to-back (longitudinal) direction, which keeps the heels from being pulled forward. In the wild horse trim, arching is done only when the sole has receded along the quarters, thus giving room to arch the wall without having to thin the adjacent sole.

Both trims call for a heel that is shorter than the current long-heeled style preferred by many farriers.

Both trims call for balancing the hoof side-to-side.

Both trims recommend that the horse move many miles daily so that he shapes his own feet through growth and wear.

About the author:
Marjorie “went barefoot” with her own horses in order to trim them herself for better balance. She developed the website 'Barefoot for Soundness' at www.barefoothorse.com which presents information on how to do a natural trim.