When reading this page, PLEASE remember that you cannot just trim your horse’s problems away. Most of the time the real underlying cause of a problem is the diet or the exercise, not the trim, even though a bad trim can certainly add to your frustration. Also, bad feeding or exercise will show in the feet, so if you concentrate on the trim only you are treating the symptom and not the cause.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to working with flare. One promote the trimming (dressing) of the hoof walls to remove the flare, the other does not. Whichever way you decide is entirely up to you. There are no rules here.
Flare….something we all deal with and probably the surest way any person can tell that there’s something wrong with a horse’s feet.
Flare is painful for the horse to stand on and move on. Before you even think of anything else in your trimming sequence, you need to address the flare to make the horse comfortable to stand in order for you to do the rest of the trimming.
So what is flare?
Flare occurs when the laminae that holds the hoof wall to the Pedal Bone (Dermal and Epidermal Laminae), get’s inflamed (Laminitis), let’s go and then dies off when unobserved and left untreated. The result is that we have “stretched” whiteline” and that the now unattached hoof walls grow outward away from the Pedal Bone. This makes our job a lot easier as it is easy to spot, check and correct.
How do we spot a horse with Flare? Can we spot flare on a horse on the cover of a magazine while they’re going over a jump?
We look at the top 1/3 of the hoof wall. This is where the walls are well connected to the Pedal Bone via the laminae. If you follow a straight line to the ground in line with the tightly connected top third, you will not only see the flare on the outside but also what the true hoof really should and eventually will look like.
Take a look at the picture below and see if you can see the top third true growth and the bottom two-thirds flared:
In the picture below I have marked it up for you. Is this what you saw?
I use my rasp to check the flare at the toe or around the quarters as you can see in the picture below. The upper half is now straight hoofwall. We can still see a flare in the bottom half that needs to go.
Until you have straight, well connected hoof walls, hoof health is not at it optimum (yes, this is the same foot as above…lol)
Once I have removed the flare, the hoof wall is straight from the top all the way down to the ground.
Remember, we have removed the flare by rasping the outer hoof wall straight. Inside the hoof we still have the separated laminae and at ground level, the stretched whiteline. This we will deal with in Removing Flare (Stretched Whiteline).
This is where there are two schools of thought. Some say to leave the flare on (only beveling enough to not let the wall touch the ground) to protect the hoof from knocking against hard objects. Others, like myself, like to see the walls straight and think that it helps the walls grow down straight. Whichever way you decide is fine by me, they’ll both work. You have to do what you are comfortable with. You can see in the picture with the rasp that there is more than enough hoofwall thickness for the odd bump and horses do not just go around bumping into things unless by complete accident.
The main issue, and the only way to get rid of the ongoing ripping and tearing of the laminae, is to keep the hoof walls off the ground as described in Removing Flare/Stretched White Line . There you will find directions on how we trim to remove stretched White Line (which is Flare from underneath) and the only way I have found to get a tight connection to grow in all the way to the ground over time.
Without a tight connection of the laminae all the way through the white line to the ground, we cannot expect to see a hoof healed completely and the horse sound on any terrain.