Q: What IS a balanced trim?

A: That’s a tough and often abstract or subjective answer. For me though, it means the whole body working in unison for complete harmony and health. Cheesy answer, I know, but it’s true. The long answer would be, there is balance at many different levels. There is balance of the feet, so that they can grow as uniformly, symmetrically, and in a manner that allows the feet to require little hoof care over time, i.e., the hoof care necessary should be only enough to keep the feet in perfect balance. That’s rare, but that’s the goal. The next level of balance to me is that of the body. Most creatures tend to be asymmetrical, but through guidance and help, we should be able to come closer to symmetry. That would mean that the shoulders, hips, spine and all the related muscles should be equal and even in relation to each ones counter part. Think of the body like that of a suspension bridge. If one cable is looser than the rest there isn’t perfect balance. If one footing is off, the bridge can’t be level, stable or in balance. If one beam of the bridge has more tension or is out of
place, there can’t be perfect balance. So, the body has to be as symmetrical as possible.

There is balance in the diet, and no, this doesn’t refer to micro-managing the diet. It simply means that the horse should be able to have available all the necessary vitamins, mineral, proteins, fats, etc, etc. that each specific horse requires, based on the amount of work he does and based on his body type. If the horse has the right diet and nutrients, then the body should be able to produce any chemical or supplement that horses body needs. We shouldn’t have to micro-manage the diet to ensure that ‘we’ feed 2 units of zinc, 4 units of vitamin C, 1 unit of fat, 1/2 unit of protein, and on and on. That’s getting in the horses way. Besides, that kind of diet regulation can get very expensive and will likely wind up driving you and/or the horse nuts. Just provide the basics and let the horse do the rest. If the digestive track of the horse is balanced, he will be able to handle extracting just what he needs from his diet. If it’s not balance, help it become so, and then get out of the way.
Let the body take over. Nature is a pretty amazing thing. Quite often, she knows better than we do. After all, she’s been managing all things great and small for a lot longer than we have, regardless of what we humans thing is best for the world.

Next there’s balance in the environment. This has to do with various surfaces for the horse to walk across, various sources of water, good air, various dirts and soils, various grasses, plants, shrubs and scrubs to graze upon. The greater the grazing area and the greater the varied plants to eat, the better the horse will be able to extract most, if not all, the food and nutrients it needs.

Nature is at work again and providing just what that horse needs.

The problem is, we don’t all have enough pasture and grazing area for our horses. So, this is where we can be inventive or creative to help mimic Nature the best we can. Just think outside the box. Oh, hills and flat land are all part of a balanced environment. Some people are lucky enough to have that naturally. Others have to create it the best way possible.

Balance means complete harmony between all interacting factors and variables. For the horse, that starts from the ground and works it’s way up. Balance can also be a state of mind. If you think in balanced terms, you should be able to achieve balance & harmony.

Q: Why do farriers / trimmers say that ‘this is just your horse’s conformation’?

A: The short answer is, this is what has been thought, taught and believed for generations based on old information. We, as humans, take things to heart because we put a tremendous amount of faith in our mentors, leaders and teachers. The fact of the matter is, the mentor and leaders are only as good as their mental thought process. If their thoughts are skewed, then their beliefs and teachings will be skewed. We, as humans, are believers and followers. Those who think outside the box and prefer to test and prove things before believing are often thought of as weird, strange or bear no weight in the eyes of society. So, when a farrier is taught that the problem with a foundered horse is that the deep digital flexor tendon is the problem and that it will pull the coffin bone through the sole of the foot, followers of said teacher believe that to be true, when in fact, it’s pathologically impossible for a ‘tendon’ to pull the coffin bone.

As for ‘conformation’, this is very tough for farriers and trimmers, because many of them believe that once a horse’s conformation is set, it cannot be changed. This, in my opinion, isn’t true. Granted, there are issues that are tough or impossible to change, but those issues have to be pretty severe. Minor conformational issues can, and are, changed by simply modifying the trim to help reset body balance, symmetry and alignment. If the body can slowly change over time due to one issue or another, why can it not be reversed by altering the trim to help the body correct itself. And it’s not just the trim that allows that to happen. Remember, it’s the whole body that’s taken into consideration and it’s the whole body that’s addressed, which possibly means chiropractics, massage, acupuncture, cranial sacral or any number of other treatments and procedures to help the body correct itself. It’s the whole body and that requires more than
just a farrier or trimmer and horse owner.