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Hi! I am Anya Lavender of Lavender Hoofcare. I am a qualified, professional Equine Podiotherapist (DipEPT) This site is dedicated to one large part of my services That of an experienced Hoofcare Practitioner. You can also visit my training & care site for information on training & other animal care issues.

This site is evolving and the working links are in blue or purple. If you can't get what you want, you can always ask me.

I appreciate feedback on what you've read here, and being notified of any broken links. If you believe there's a site you think I should list, please let me know. Contact me.


Who am I ?My experiences & journey in Natural Hoofcare. Why I have chosen this path.
High Performance Barefoot Horse? What this means & How to achieve it. By Anya Lavender
A few diagrams & photos of feet good & bad
Harmful Effects Of ShoesLearn what effects even a well shod horse suffers. Link
Advice To Horse Owners Under "Resources" on the linked page
Donkeys The similarities and differences between donkey & horse hooves
Do Not Believe... Appropriate life advice from Buddha

Principles of Hoofcare


In this day and age, especially in Western countries, the horse is used mostly as recreation and sport. They are seen these days less as a utility and more as a pet. Therefore their health and happiness is important to us, not just from an economic point of view.

Horses are usually kept in steel horseshoes and hoofcare is something that the vast majority of owners are quite ignorant of. They employ a farrier to carry out trims and shoeing and often blame these professionals when their horse's feet become damaged or too weak to keep shoes on, etc.

It is therefore vital, for the sake of our horses, that we educate ourselves as best we can, to make informed and objective decisions on their care.

Below are a few articles & papers to consider. Whether you're a 'beginner' or another professional, I am interested to hear opinions on what I've written, so don't be shy!

Contrasting Structural Morphologies of 'Good' and 'Bad' Hooves. A look at the differences between 'good' and 'bad' feet and the factors & theories that influence the differences. By Anya Lavender

This paper above is rather 'heavy', but worth the effort I have been told!

'Hoof Balance' by Anya Lavender
Minimising the Damage of Horseshoes by Anya Lavender
Prevention and Healing of Hoof Problems and Lameness From weak, chipping feet to 'navicular disease', founder and sidebone. Learn how you can prevent and rehabilitate problems. By Anya Lavender.

Hooves May Be Causing Your Training Problemsby Anya Lavender.
Bad Conformation?Is it unchangeable? Are you sure it's not a hoof imbalance? by Anya Lavender


Horses are also often kept singularly, in small paddocks, yards or stables, often on soft ground or bedding, and only 'worked' for an hour or so each day, if that.

Horse owners are often in ignorance of what damage is being done through these management practices. Even those owners who understand that metal shoes can damage horse's feet generally look upon them as a necessary evil. I am here to tell you there are now effective alternatives.

Natural Hoofcare is a holistic management philosophy. It involves the whole horse and it's environment, not just the hooves. The horse needs to be kept as naturally as possible, preferably running with a herd on large acreage and moving around as much as is possible.

Lifestyle as it Relates to Health by Anya Lavender
Easycare boots A real alternative for hoof protection


Even some farriers and vets may not have adequate knowledge of the complete workings of the equine hoof and how a metal shoe effects it, as much of the scientific information has only recently been available thanks to modern testing equipment!

Look at some recent studies;

Physiological trimming & Hoof Function by Dr Robert Bowker.
How Hoof Form Relates to Hoof Function from Gene Ovnicek
NEW THEORY MAY HELP AVOID NAVICULARMichigan State University News Release March 1999
More Hoof Ideas from Dr Bowker by Yvonne Welz
The Wild Horse's Foot by Ric Redden
Natural Balance trimming & Wild Horse Research by Ovnicek


So it stands to reason that if we want to ensure our horses have the best care, it is up to US to learn what that is, and to maintain it ourselves, or find a professional to maintain that quality of care.

WHAT I WRITE BELOW ARE PRINCIPLES. They are general guidelines and as such SHOULD NOT BE FOLLOWED WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING OR ADHERED TO WITHOUT CONSIDERATION of what conditions or exceptions there may be.

What are the principles of natural trimming?
  • We can see hooves in optimum condition, able to stand up to extreme conditions if we look to the wild ones for our model. Brumbies and Mustang are not genealogically different in the hoof department, only their lifestyle and environments differ to the domestic horse.


  • The hooves need to be trimmed in a physiologically correct way, so that they can work most effectively - that is, trimmed for optimum hoof function including the ground surface of the coffin(pedal) bone being close to ground parallel. Please take a look at some of my diagrams and photos to help you understand.


  • Foot trimming is done far more regularly than is the norm. Sometimes this means weekly, but usually somewhere between 3-6 week intervals is sufficient. It is always preferable where possible, to ride more - giving your horse a truly natural trim - and trim less.


  • Sole and frog material is NOT trimmed routinely, and as minimally as necessary. Thrush is one reason paring the frog may be necessary.


  • Walls are short, level with, or close to the outside rim of the sole. It can depend on the environment and health of the hoof as to how short, but we're striving to avoid peripheral loading


  • The hoof wall should be balanced in relation to the live sole plane, which often leaves the quarters slightly 'scooped' when looking at the hoof standing on a flat surface.


  • Walls should be straight from coronet to ground surface, not dished, twisted or bulging, which indicates unhealthy pressure and leverage forces, with the outer edges of the ground surface 'rolled' to relieve the outer walls from active weight bearing and reduce the chance of chipping, splitting and leverage forces. The toes usually need to be 'rolled' or 'backed up' more strongly.


  • The heel buttresses should be level and short enough for the bulbs of the heels - back of the frog - to have ground contact when the foot is weightbearing. The length also depends on working environment and state of the feet.


  • The front feet tend to be rounder, with a toe wall angle usually between 48-60 degrees, while the back feet are pointier and should be slightly steeper in angle, usually between 50-62 degrees.


  • The bars are near level with the sole plane. They will taper down from the heel with the sole and only the very rear will have ground contact. They should not be gouged out or shortened any more than this.


  • It is a really good idea to take pictures and make notes of measurements before and after the first trim, then periodically after, so that you can gauge what is happening to the foot, and also to have a good reference to show any professional that you need help from. Include whole body shots and notes, as these are also relevant when assessing feet, and vice versa.

    Best Angles for Pictures

  • Pictures should be taken of clean feet, on a firm, flattish surface, NOT covered in mud or in deep bedding! Shots of hooves on the ground should be taken from near ground level & squarely front- & side-on.


  • MOST IMPORTANTLY, I remind you again that the above are principles and guidelines of a healthy hoof. They are NOT RULES to be forced onto a foot.


  • The trimmer needs to be knowledgeable and experienced enough to 'read' what each different hoof needs. It is simply not enough to follow a set of rules without adaptations.


  • **A hoof that is unhealthy and/or different from the above should be worked on little and often so as to gradually bring it closer to the correct model, **ASSUMING it should be changed at all - there are many exceptions and conditions.


  • It is beyond the scope of any website to adequately address all the issues of 'problem' feet and specialist hands on help should be sought.


  • Severely or suddenly changing the shape and angles of a hoof to make it conform to a preconceived mould can have detrimental and painful consequences for the horse.


  • Visit Andrew Bowe's site Mayfield, Pete Ramey's site Hoof Rehab and Dr Bowker's site Corona Vista Equine Center and Pauline Moore's site for more.

    I am available for hands on hoofcare, help and instruction if you are within reasonable travelling distance of Healesville, Victoria.

    Please contact me if you're interested in services or learning more.

    For further information on Natural Hoofcare please refer to mylinks page as there are some great sites already out there & I do not wish to re-invent the wheel!

    Hoofcare for Horses & Donkeys
    High Performance Barefoot Horse * Harmful Effects Of Shoes * Bad Conformation? * Minimising the Damage of Horseshoes * Donkeys * Hoof Problems and Lameness * Trimming Principles * Lifestyle as it Relates to Health

    * Best Angles for Pictures * Links & more info ~ feel free to suggest further sources to add!

    Humane Training
    >Why train? * Basic training principles * Why reward based * Punishment

    Preparation, Management and Care
    Managing your Horse * Feeding and Caring for your Horse

    My Business & Getting Help From Me
    My Training Experiences * My Hoofcare Journey * Champ's Story * Benny's Story
    My Animals & I

    This site began life on 24/2/05 and you are visitor number...Outdoor Furniture