How-to Articles

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"The best things in life are free! We hope these articles help your horses.

Ivy and Pete Ramey

Modifications of Easyboot Gloves and Glue-On Shells   (05-20-17)   Pete Ramey

Since they were only prototypes in 2008, the Easyboot Gloves and Glove Glue-On Shells from Easycare, Inc. have been my primary tools for hoof protection. There are many great boots and gluing options out there and I have tried a majority of them but these have remained my favorites.

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Breakover    (2-15-05)   Pete Ramey    with 2018 edits

The breakover point on the horse’s foot is the area at the toe that the horse pivots on and pushes from as the heels leave the ground. It is not necessarily the farthest-forward part of the foot – think of the ball of your own foot, which bears the brunt of pushing into the next stride, vs. your toes, which are actually farther forward, but doing little-to-no work as you pivot, leap or run.

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Heel Height the Deciding Factor (10-13-05)                 Pete Ramey    with 2018 edits

When horses are in motion, it is important that they impact with the feet flat with the ground at the walk. At faster gaits, including a fast, animated walk, they should land distinctly on their heels. Almost every energy dissipating feature of the foot requires this use of the back of the foot to function properly.

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Understanding the Horse's Soles   (8-16-05)                Pete Ramey    new material added 2018

The sole of the foot is the most abused and misunderstood part of the domestic horse (with the possible exception of its digestive system). I’ve been guilty of it, too. As a horseshoer it always seemed necessary for me to routinely cut the sole at the toe, and in my early days as a barefoot trimmer I thought it was desirable to thin it at the back of the foot. When I began both professions, I was taught to view the sole as an idle passenger;

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Feeding the Hoof   (7-30-08)   Pete Ramey

If you are having horse problems of ANY kind, this may well be the answer......

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Mediolateral Balance    (10-22-04)   Pete Ramey         with 2018 edits

When I was first learning the farrier trade, I was fortunate enough to be taken under the wing of an old shoer right before time caught up with his wrecked body enough to put him out of business. He had been taught decades before by another old shoer, and I doubt very seriously that either of them had ever read a paragraph of a farrier text and definitely not a veterinary paper.

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Auburn Vet School Studies   (3-14-09)    Pete Ramey 2018 Updates

Documentation of laminitis rehab.

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High/Low Hooves: a Whole-Horse Issue                       (11-10-13)  Pete Ramey

It is fairly common for horses to have mismatched pairs of front feet. When the lower-angled foot seems to be the "problem foot," most people call the horse a high/low or refer to that foot as having under-run heel or long toe/low heel syndrome. Others will say the horse "can't grow heel," when in fact an excess of heel length is typically being grown - it is just growing forward, instead of down toward the ground.

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The End of White Line Disease   (5-5-05)   Pete Ramey

This article, along with the Wall Cracks article, doubles as a Wall Flare discussion.

First of all "white line disease" is a misnomer. It is not a disease at all. It does seem to be an epidemic, though, so teaching farriers/trimmers to deal with it has become my top concern. The telltale signs are stretched white lines and deep grooves filled with rotting material

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Wall Cracks   (8-17-07)   Pete Ramey

This article, along with the The End of White Line Disease article, doubles as a Wall Flare discussion.

Most cracks in the hoof wall are present because the hoof walls are not properly attached to the coffin bone and lateral cartilages. The hoof walls simply aren't strong enough to withstand impact without the backup of well-connected, healthy epidermal and dermal laminae.

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Frog Management   (4-14-06)  Revised 1-8-06   Pete Ramey

Recent (Dr. Robert M. Bowker) and not-so-recent (Dr. James R. Rooney) research has shown us that problems in the navicular region are caused by unnatural use or specifically a lack of use of the back of the foot.

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Club Foot   (2-28-05)  Revised 1-8-06   Pete Ramey

(Published in "The Natural Horse" magazine)

A “club footed” horse is defined by most people as a horse with one hoof that grows more upright than the one on the other side. Normally we’re talking about the front pair of hooves. Most farriers have treated it as a hoof problem and worked to make the pair of hooves match each other, but it is my opinion that this is a backwards way of looking at the problem.

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Laminitis Update    (5-20-05)    Pete Ramey         Important new research added 8-7-07

Laminitis research is a fast-moving field, with new discoveries being reported almost every day. I am not a scientist; just a farrier who specializes in founder rehabilitation. I spend my days working on foundered horses and my nights reading veterinary research papers, so I’m writing this only as an interpreter; providing reference to some of the latest understandings of laminitis to help farriers keep themselves current. Also of great importance are references I will make to human medicine.

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Digging for the Truth about Navicular Disease             (12-12-04)   Pete Ramey

One of the most mind boggling areas of hoof pathology for a farrier to attempt to research is navicular syndrome. Every old text contradicts the next, and mountains of new research are being done every day. The good news is that farriers studying the hooves of feral horses and trimming domestic hooves to a closer facsimile to what nature intended, have been routinely restoring soundness to hopeless navicular cases.

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Hoof Care for Angular Deformities    (6-17-07)           Pete Ramey

Little has been written about hoof trimming for angular deformities. Most writers have avoided the subject and with good reason. Every situation is different, and nothing could be written that would work every time.

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Boots and Pads: A True Breakthrough in Healing       (12-28-05)    Pete Ramey

When I started my own journey away from metal shoeing and into the barefoot world in ’98, for a while, I thought of hoof boots simply as a crutch to help me through transition. When you pull shoes off a horse with truly healthy feet, or if you start natural hoof care with a foal there is little or no need for boots.

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Thrush Treatment    Pete Ramey

Often overlooked, central and collateral groove infections cause severe lameness in the back of the foot, which can then cause chronic toe-first impact, which in turn can cause distal descent of P3, thin soles at the toe, subsolar abscesses, hoof capsule rotation, wall flare, wall cracks, navicular damage, ligament and tendon injuries throughout the distal limb....

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Toe and Heel Length    (11-25-06)   Pete Ramey

Most hoof care professionals were taught to trim hooves to certain parameters based on toe length and heel height. The target ranges vary from method to method, but most call for toe lengths from 3 to 3-1/2 inches and heel lengths from near zero to 2 or more inches.

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Reversing Distal Descent of P3    (1-12-05)                    Pete Ramey

In the healthiest of equine feet, the hoof walls should be firmly attached to the coffin bones and the coronet should lie at the same level or even slightly below the coffin bone (P3). This allows proper uninhibited motion of the coffin joint. It also ensures the horse can have a naturally short hoof capsule, while at the same time have thick callused sole to protect the inner structures.

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One Foot For All Seasons?    (9-8-06)    Pete Ramey

When many people first study the deep solar concavity of most desert feral hooves and healthy domestic hooves, they get the idea that the soles and frog are passive - lifted off the ground by the bowl-shaped bottom of the foot. This is not true.

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Newly Discovered Shock Absorber in the Equine Foot     (7-24-07)    Pete Ramey

Robert Bowker VMD, PhD has been teaching for many years that the blood flow in the equine foot acts as a hydraulic shock absorber.  Most of his focus has been on the back half of the foot, but more recently he's paying more attention to energy dissipating features in the front half of the foot as well.

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The Bars    (10-25-06)   Pete Ramey    with 2018 edits

Like most natural hoof care practitioners who learned at the same time I did, I came from a traditional shoeing background, then studied the early barefoot works of Jackson and Strasser and took their early insights to the horse, searching for more answers. For years I routinely trimmed the bars and the sole ridge that extends from them (along the frog) to the level and flow of the rest of the natural, callaused sole plne without giving it much thought.

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Is Barefoot an Option for Your Draft Horse?   (1-10-06)   Pete Ramey

(Published in Rural Heritage Magazine)

It is so difficult to keep well connected hoof walls on draft horses, many owners and trainers have incorrectly decided draft horses are supposed to have flared, split hoof walls. The weight of a heavy draft is often more than the walls can take and the very finest shoers can really struggle to keep everything held together. On top of this, the expense of draft shoeing often causes owners to “stretch out” the shoeing schedule to save money. This makes the farrier’s job of keeping the hooves healthy almost impossible.

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Wild Horses   (2005)   Pete Ramey

After all these years, my family and I made our first trip to see the wild horses of the western United States. My work has been dramatically influenced and inspired by the study of these horses and their hooves. The reason I waited so long to go there and see for myself, was I thought that by studying the works of others I had picked up most of the information I needed.

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Hoof Casts   (5-12-08)   Pete Ramey

After years of study, practice and the comparison of various trimming and shoeing methodologies, I am convinced that there is no better way to grow well-connected walls onto flared or foundered horses than with routine, competent barefoot trimming and careful attention to the horse’s diet and lifestyle.

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"Western Horse Review" magazine; April 2006:

"New Thoughts On Navicular Syndrome" by Susan Kauffman

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You can also check us out in:

"Dressage Today" magazine; Feb 2013: Barefoot Dressage with Shannon Peters by Kelly Sanchez

"Western Horse Review" magazine; April 2006: New Thoughts on Navicular Syndrome by Susan Kauffmann

"Horse and Rider" magazine; Dec 2006: New Ways To Beat Laminitis by Debbie Moors

"Practical Horseman" magazine; Dec 2005: Can Your Horse Go Barefoot by Elaine Pascoe

"Horse and Rider" magazine; Feb 2006: Is Barefoot Better by Jennifer F. Meyer

"Horse and Rider" magazine; Dec 2007:  Interview with Pete Ramey: The Benefits of Barefoot  by Jennifer F. Meyer

"Horse and Rider" magazine; Aug 2008: New Strategies for Going Bare  by Jennifer F. Meyer

"Clinton Anderson's Downunder Horsemanship" RFDTV Show; Natural Hoof Care With Pete Ramey

                      (A second show debuts on March 6, 2007)  

Please Read:

Timing and Rate of Skeletal Maturation in Horses ©2005 By Deb Bennett, Ph.D.    Read Article

And They Call Us Horse Lovers, By Robert M. Miller, DVM

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Please Read:  Finding and Testing Low Sugar Forage by Kathryn Watts

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When you get done with that, study Kathryn's whole website!





Horseback Magazine Series  (2013-2014) Pete Ramey

This will be a 12-issue series of (1,000-word Q&A format) short-but-informative articles published in the paper and online versions of Horseback Magazine. These articles are written for a lay horse-owner audience and feature pictures from the new book Care and Rehabilitation of the Equine Foot . A great introduction to general hoof care.

Link to Article Index

“Making Natural Hoof Care Work”  Updates              (updated 7-1-05)                   Pete Ramey  

I am declaring the book Making Natural Hoof Care Work obsolete. While I still do not consider anything in the book remotely harmful, I have learned too much since 2000 (and so have hoof researchers and the rest of the hoof world) to consider it a valuable resource. In spite of our contract, which expressly gave me the right to take the book out of print at any time after 5 years of publication, the publisher is still printing and selling it against my will.

Please refer to the new book Care and Rehabilitation of the Equine Foot for all schools, training programs and for personal education.

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Hoof Care In The 21st Century (10-01-10)   Pete Ramey

(Published in "The Horse's Hoof" magazine)

A letter to "Natural Hoof Care Practitioners"

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Hoof Rehabilitation Protocol  (05-21-09) Pete Ramey

This is the basic protocol written for the "Methods and Materials' of Dr. Taylors navicular and laminitis studies. It is too condensed to be much of a teaching tool, but is an effective, brief overview of what we do and might be a good handout for veterinary hospitals. You are welcome to print it out for viewing.

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