Please remember!

The information presented on this blog represents "learning in progress" on my part, a horse owner, who was not satisfied with professional farriers and took matters in my own hands. As far as I am aware at the time of the post, the information presented is correct, but may change with me understanding more about hooves, in which case I will edit or remove the post. In order to follow my learning and understand everything about Molly's hoof, you need to start reading at the bottom.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

bar anatomy - bar pool

I have recently learned something new about bars. This understanding emerged from my conversation with Maureen Thierney, from Natural Barefoot Trimming and after reading her book. The picture of the healthy hoof below, which she sent to me, serves as an excellent example to explain the situation. The picture on the right is from a dissected cadaver foot, so does not represent the same foot.

This hoof (left in picture below) had just completed a 25 mile endurance race, during which the horse walked 5 miles on rock and 2 miles on pavement. The horse finished third, barefoot. I first show you the pictures without my markings.

When you look closely at the shape of the bar it does precisely match the shape of the bar corium, from which the bar grows. As an extension of the hoof wall you can easily see the wall tubules of the bar. The bar is indicated in blue below.

One can recognize the end of the bar easily by following the "dirtline", which is just an accumulation of dirt in the white line of the bar.

The material below the bar, that looks like an extension of it, is not bar, but sole build-up. You can clearly see this because there is no longer a dirtline. Whether or not this slight sole built-up has a function or not is controversial. I would think that given this horse just raced 25 miles it certainly does not look like a liability to its performance. My own experience with this material below the bar is that it does make the horse more sound. Off course, as with everything in life, the right balance is crucial.

Going back to picture 2, I have indicated how I used to trim my horse's bars, in a triangular fashion, indicated by the red triangle. I basically forced the bars to merge with the frog at the bottom of the collateral groove.

This is how many people on the internet and in barefoot trimming schools teach trimming the bars. However, if you look at the shape of the corium, and the bar on this healthy hoof, the corium has the shape of a rhomboid and not a triangle. Since the horn grows from the corium, the structures in the hoof should match their underlying corium, which it would not do when trimming the bar in a triangular fashion. Of course there will be some variation between feet, but in general, the bar corium runs in parallel to the frog, and does not merge with it. Bars trimmed in a triangular fashion remove about half of the bars supportive wall (i.e. the other part of the triangle that would fill up to the shape of the rhomboid).

Now here is an example of what you might see when you trim the bar and disrespect the shape of its corium. I cannot show the picture on my blog, due to copyright reasons, so you have to klick HERE:

The right side of the picture shows the trimmed hoof, with a triangular bar trim. At the end of the bar, you can see how this trim exposes the inner hoof wall and white line (it basically exposes a white "blob" at the lower end of the bar), especially well visible on the right half of the hoof. This is an unphysiological state for the bar to be in.

Now there are some people, who then go ahead and say that this white material, that is exposed after a triangular bar trim represents "bar pool". They recommend removing it and I have seen people trying to do that literally for years. But they always hit blood very soon and then needed to stop. This is due to the fact that the triangular bar trim already removed half of the bar's wall, and so one operates already very close to the bar corium.

So maybe, next time when someone hears about the "bar pool" that requires removing, consider the alternative explanation, that the bar trim was unphysiologial and did not follow its underlying corium.


  1. Tina, what I find interesting is that the hoof that was on the 3rd placed endurance horse has walls all the way around the hoof that are definitely above live sole plane. It's obviously a very healthy and functional hoof - do you know anything more about how often these hooves are trimmed or are they self-trimming from all the endurance riding?

  2. Hi Josie,
    no, I don't know an anything more about that hoof. Maureen sent it to me to illustrate how much wear (i.e. NOT MUCH) a hoof is receiving after such a ride.
    It does seem to me that horses could maintain some excess wall above sole if the white line is really intact and if there is not too much movement on abrasive ground. Also, if this is a dry terrain hoof. You could email her and find out how/if this horse is trimmed.

  3. Thank you for posting this!! I've been on the A** fb page for a couple weeks I really hate what I see with bar advice. Every person seeking help gets bars bars bars. I said to a lady who had a navicular case almost had to put her horse down, leave the bars and sole alone. Because it was the flattest sole I have ever seen it was very clubby and plus you couldn't even see the bars and people were telling her its false sole because of the bars. When really it was extremely thin live sole and basically she would be cutting in to live sole. Wow did I get attacked lol.