What is on the inside is often concealed by what is on the outside. It has been said that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Well, you can’t judge a job by its cover; nor can you judge experience by outer appearance. What may look so elegantly simple may take a scientist to unravel, and a professional to maintain. Perhaps one of the most iconic animals of the west, the horse is a biological puzzle of incredible complexity. Even just the maintenance of one piece of the puzzle takes years to understand, and thousands of hours to perfect. Where to start? How do we cope with such an overwhelmingly complicated subject? These are the thoughts of an amateur; the feelings, new experiences, new understanding, and progression of someone who is taking a walk down an unknown path.
When first I became interested in the anatomy of the horse, I didn’t see myself trimming or shoeing. I saw myself as an equine chiropractor or massage therapist. Even before that I saw myself as a trainer, delving into psychology and behavior, not anatomy and science. But somewhere along the way my focus was turned to the horses’ feet. It has been said “no hoof no horse.” I saw that firsthand with my mother’s special horse. I wanted to fix her problems, make her sound, and I didn’t have the vaguest idea where to start. I found many conflicting ideas surrounded the trimming industry, and each person seemed to have their own approach. Who was right? Who did I listen to? I had to have a teacher, for the more I looked into the hoof the more I realized that there was much more going on than I had previously thought.
To bring us up to speed, I have been trimming for about two years now. I am not a professional, nor do I consider myself able to trim for money. As someone who has four horses, who trims three of them myself, and who wanted to trim for a living, the ongoing study of the anatomy and inner workings of the hoof is essential. Soon after starting to learn about trimming, I found the need to research on a scientific level. Now, not to be confusing, when I say research on a scientific level I don’t mean researching to be a scientist. I simply mean that the articles that I found the most helpful were ones that I couldn’t understand, the science articles. Individual word studies were necessary. But once I began to understand basic terminology things began to fall into place. I got a book that has been a lifesaver, as well as an eye-opener: “The Principles of Horseshoeing II.” While I wasn’t looking to shoe my horses, the explanation of terminology, the detailed diagrams, and the in-depth studies on anatomy are an ongoing necessity to my personal advancement. I now trim five horses, and have an occasional mule to trim.
In a series of short articles, I will give you an amateur’s opinion on how to understand anatomy, the basics of a trim, and the ongoing progressions of my personal projects. I will endeavor to explain the complications that I first ran into, the confusion that I felt, and the contradictions I faced at every turn. This is an ongoing story, each hoof telling an individual tale, with only common sense and a few trusted recourses to piece together the puzzle. With no further ado, I shall now begin at the beginning. “No hoof, no horse.”