The hoof

Hooves intrigue me.IMG_0190

So every six or eight weeks I get myself up under all 3000-some-odd pounds of horse flesh to trim twelve horse hooves.

Yep, each weighing in at roughly 1000-lbs, they and my Hoof Jack do most of the heavy lifting.

Still, it’s a workout-and-a-half!

Why pray-tell do I do this?

No, these guys aren’t begging me. “PLEASE, TRIM MY FEET…”


One reason is that I get to wear my chaps.


Sorry if you don’t believe me, but chaps are extremely comfortable and useful.

Well, maybe more useful than comfortable.

On the useful to comfortable ratio, I’d say something like 7:3.

Range Ride

In Colorado I helped a rancher-friend on her ranch.

We’d ride through brambley stuff looking for cattle. And through beautiful stuff, too.

Actually, it was all beautiful.

And chaps were no joke. They were a must.

Colorado 2010 056


Chaps are also a must when riding young horses. Well-fitting chaps are like glue. You go bareback wearing chaps, and you’ll feel like you’re wearing a saddle smeared all over your legs. So a saddle + chaps and you might be better prepared for a colt’s “poor choices” when in training.


trim2The main reason for rocking my chaps is actually to cover my running shorts.

This way I keep from rasping my knees, and I can go from a 16-mile run to a trim with no wardrobe change.

But again, why do I do this?

I have known some really wonderful farriers. I’ve watched carefully and learned from them all. One in particular was into educating his clients. A farrier by trade, he had transitioned to just barefoot trimming over the years. He came to believe that barefoot trimming was best and most natural for horses. A “barefoot trim” basically mimics the natural wearing pattern of a hoof. Or if a horse were in the wild, roaming, grazing over many miles a day, through relatively rocky terrain, the hoof would wear a certain way. This method aims to replicate that hoof.

I had this trimmer working on my horses for about a year. The whole time, with each trim, he would talk me through exactly what was up, what he was doing, and how he was doing it. I eventually took a clinic from him, which makes me by no means an expert, although it did include a dissection of a real, once-living horse hoof. So it was enough to build my confidence and for me to learn the basic angles and depths to keep these twelve feet moving – naturally.

xc race finish -294

Did I forget to mention it keeps me in close relationship with my chaps?  Mwah. Mwah. Mwah. 

You know I’m kidding, right?

The “naturally” part is reeallllly what keeps me doing my own trimming.

For the most part there is nothing wrong with good old-fashioned horseshoes if they’re done well and the horse is shod regularly. What can happen if the hoof is trimmed wrong and then shod wrong, the horse’s gait becomes all out of whack and this can cause all sorts of injuries. Much like a runner running in ill-fitting running shoes, that typically leads to injuries. My affinity for the barefoot trim totally reminds me of my appreciation for Altra shoes.


I’ve been running so healthy since using Altra shoes for almost two years. Although I cannot one-hundred-percent-for-sure directly relate no injuries to the shoes, I won’t run in anything else anytime soon. I like to think that just as a barefoot horse trim mimics the natural wearing pattern of a wild horse hoof, Altra’s wider FootShape™ toe box and, Zero Drop™ platform, which are both standard on all of their shoes, facilitate a more natural gait for me.

So here are a few of my favorite models and why:




The One² could easily be my favorite. I ran my fastest marathon in them having run very, very few miles in them prior. So there was no “breaking them in” and still my feet finished feeling the best they ever have post-marathon. I’ve run 13+ marathons so that’s pretty big-time. I had no blisters, no bruised toe nails, no problems. After a marathon I almost always have some sort of bruised or blistered toe. With these, nothing. They are extremely light but yet they are cushioned. It’s the best of both worlds! Altra recommends them for speed work and road racing, but really, I’d wear these anytime for just generally feeling awesome.





So I said the One² “could easily be my favorite” but the Torin are actually my favorite. They are just a nice, basic road shoe. They fit and function like a very traditional road running shoe. They feel like I’m running barefoot, but with a 7.8 ounce cloud beneath me. I do the bulk of my mileage in a heavier shoe and save the lighter shoes for race day. For those reasons, I love these and I like to think my horses would like them too… if they were into marathon training.



Torin 1.5

My newest favorite, however, are the newest Torin 1.5. The differences that I feel are two-fold. One, I’m able to wear an entire size smaller. I have sausage feet, and so I need lots of length. I wouldn’t necessarily suggest sizing down a whole size. I just normally wear a 12 in the first Torin and can wear an 11 in the Torin 1.5. The women’s sizing has half sizes through an 11 but then jumps to a 12. So an 11.5 would probably be good too for me but that doesn’t exist. Make sense? Basically I think they run true to size; whereas the original Torin may run a bit small. Secondly, I really love the extra snugly business around the heel. I’ve not had any problems with heels slipping, but if that has been an issue for you, I’d imagine this updated model would not slip whatsoever. The heel fits like a glove. I could wear them all day. And probably all night.


There you have it.

The three main go-to’s in my arsenal of marathon training shoes:

  • One²  
  • Torin
  • Torin 1.5

Whether human feet or horse feet I hope you try to keep it as natural as possible.

And enjoy feeling the earth, people… and ponies.


Run Fast,



One thought on “The hoof

  1. Pingback: How I’ve kicked heel pain in the butt | Flexitarian Filly

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