Wildwood hosted a second Ida Hammer equine hoof clinic this past weekend. Ida is a well known barefoot trimmer but also educates everyone on the whole horse.

Following the success of the Gold Medal Swedish Show Jumping Team at the recent Tokyo Olympics where two of its members competed on barefoot horses, there has been a tremendous amount of interest in going “au natural.” Ida responds that barefoot horses read the ground better because of proprioceptors in the frog and digital cushion. 

The first day of Ida’s 3 day clinic was a PowerPoint presentation and discussion of the distal limb of the equine hoof. Ida had all the bones of the foot to pass around and showed how they all fit together. An impressive section of her PowerPoint displayed the difference in a toe first versus heel first landing in the normal foot fall of the horse. She cautioned that a toe first landing causes mechanical issues and can be a large contributor to navicular disease as it causes misalignment of the bones of the foot thus unnatural pressure on the tendons that attach to the bones.

Ida also explained how long toes cause problems. “Every centimeter of extra toe length equals 110 pounds of force on acting tendons.” She also confirmed the importance of a well balanced foot and how each portion of the equine foot has a specific purpose and no part of the foot should handle pressure all the time. The frog is meant to have passive pressure until the foot is fully weighted. A major job of the digital cushion is to protect the coffin and navicular bone.

The second and third days of Ida’s clinic were Beginner and Intermediate Trim. Each participant was given a cadaver leg with hoof to trim so they could practice on the real thing with no concern of doing damage to a live horse. This class is worth taking whether you intend to trim your own horses or not. It gives you better perspective on how the foot should be trimmed through Ida’s demonstrations and dissections and you begin to develop “x-ray vision” to the inside of the foot.

There is so much to learn about horses and their feet. Proper trimming is only one area besides the management of their training, nutrition, turnout, etc. One thing we learned for sure is that anything going on in the foot will present in the body and vice versa. Therefore keeping your horse’s feet properly trimmed in balance is critical and worth studying.

Everyone that attended the clinic was there for the horse. Their passion and desire to learn as much as possible to help the horse was evident. Our entire Wildwood family – Steve, Travis, Curt, Katrina, Elena, and I – participated and fully enjoyed the weekend.

 A special thank you to Ida for giving so much of herself to all of us, and to her graduate students Mary Burrows and Tina Thomas for assisting throughout the weekend.