Natural Barefoot Trimmers

Standards of Education & Practice

Alberta Association of Complementary Equine Therapy (AACET)


Education and Practice Standards for Natural Barefoot Trimming


Glossary of Terms:



A standard is a description of a minimum level of performance one is required to demonstrate in the achievement of a task.

A standard is stated in observable and measurable terms.

It must be precise and clear to the therapist who is held accountable for accomplishing it.

It must also be clear to the clients and to the public (who are assessing the therapist's ability to accomplish a task as measured by the required standard).

Standards include one or more of the following measures:

● Technical Quality

● Interpersonal Quality

● Safety



The use of the word client will pertain to the animal owner or caretaker.



The use of the word patient will pertain to the equine to which the trim is being provided.


Natural Barefoot Trimming:

Natural Barefoot Trimming refers to a health profession concerned with optimal trimming of the equine hoof capsule which enables its proper function as well as identification and treatment of related pathology and disease. The goal is to obtain total hoof health by providing a functional barefoot trim as well as educating the owner on the importance of diet and lifestyle.



A method of hoof trimming that shapes the hoof capsule back into a natural form, promoting optimal function and health of the equine hoof.


Treatment protocol:

The complete plan that the practitioner feels is appropriate to provide the desired outcome for the patient.


Standards of Practice:


AACET has approved the education and practice standards created by its equine natural barefoot trimmers.

Through the development and use of these standards, AACET continues to display it’s commitment to serving its members while promoting the highest possible quality of natural hoof care performed in a safe and ethical manner.


The AACET standards of practice for natural barefoot trimming were developed to assist the equine professional Natural Barefoot Trimmer to:

- provide safe consistent care

- determine the quality of care provided

- support/preserve the basic rights of the clients and professional Natural Barefoot Trimmers

- assist the public in understanding what to expect from a professional Natural Barefoot Trimmer


This document allows the professional Natural Barefoot Trimmer to evaluate and adapt performance in his/her equine trimming practice. The professional Natural Barefoot Trimmer can evaluate the quality of his/her practice by utilizing the standards of practice in conjunction with the AACET’s Code of Conduct, Bylaws and policies, as well as the precedents set by the AACET Incident Inquiry subcommittee and the Board of Directors.


The standards of practice have been developed to describe the expected conduct as well as all treatment protocols that the professional Natural Barefoot Trimmer is required to perform while operating within the respected scope of practice. These standards have been created to reflect the specific high expectations of AACET and the public. This live dynamic document will evolve as changes in practice require it to and or as AACET’s Bylaws require.


It will serve as a reference tool for:

- the professional Natural Barefoot Trimmer to better understand their job requirements

- educators to address as objectives in curriculum design

- AACET members

- complaints investigations

- discipline hearings

- quality assurance

- client relations

- the public

Scope of Practice:

The scope of practice in Natural Barefoot Trimming is:

In their practice, the professional Natural Barefoot Trimmer will perform one or more of the following:

1. Trimming to the natural shape of normal hooves addressing all aspects of the hoof with the trim (heels, quarter area, toe, frog, bars)

2. Assess and perform corrective trimming for compromised hooves

3. Educate owner on dietary and lifestyle issues that may be negatively affecting the hooves

4. Address trimming issues by assessing hoof wall deviations, cornet band, and condition of outer hoof wall, frog and sole

5. Discuss the findings with the client throughout the treatment.

6. Discuss with the client any dietary concerns based on findings in the horses’ hooves. 

7. Make suggestions to the client about preventative care and maintenance that may assist the future of the equines wellbeing and health. 

8. Release of information regarding a client or patient, to any person except as required or allowed by law is considered to be misconduct. in an effort to facilitate a diagnosis or treatment, involvement of associated therapists or a veterinarian may be required. This is permissible only with prior client or caretaker consent.

9. Inform owners of imbalances which may require further treatment (body work, veterinarian, saddle fit)





Level 1 Practitioner

Equine course(s) based in Natural Barefoot Trimming with a minimum of 48 hours of instruction.


Level 2 Practitioner

 Equine course(s) based in Natural Barefoot Trimming with a minimum of 100 hours instruction, 2 dissection clinics and 1 year practice.


Level 3 Practitioner

Equine course(s) based in Natural Barefoot Trimming with a minimum of 200 hours of instruction, 3 dissection clinics and 3 years trimming experience.


Continuing Education Requirement for all Practitioners

Included in AACET’s required CE hours, we expect 8 hrs will pertain specifically to Natural Barefoot Trimming. Proof of these hours must be submitted to the Natural Barefoot trimming Department Head yearly.



The Natural Barefoot Trimmers therapists must have an understanding of the following:

- contraindication as it relates to Natural Barefoot Trimming

- basic hoof anatomy and function

- proper foot form and function

- correct lifestyle and living condition

- importance of the natural equine diet

- subclinical (mild), chronic and acute laminitis as well as founder

- diseased feet

- recognize damage and limitations based on patient history

- proper assessment of gait analysis

- hoof protection options

- safe handling procedures of the patient






1. Safety - for you, the equine and the client

2. Recent Trauma or obvious signs of patient distress.

3. Application of metal or composite shoes to equine hooves.


Communication Standards:


The following is required to be discussed with the client:

1. Fees

2. Patient Information including breed, age, sex, discipline, history and know medical conditions, previous lameness issues and hoof care history

3. The practitioner’s treatment plan and the steps required to carry out the treatment.

4. Any suggested post treatment owner care for preventive measures and maintenance.

5. Horses must be caught and ready for session (it’s not the practitioner’s responsibility to catch horses).


Operation Standards:


  1. Ensure the safety of yourself, the equine and the client to the best of your abilities before commencing your work.
  2. Always ensure that someone is on the premise when performing trimming services.
  3. An understanding on the clients part that to have a success with natural hoof care depends on their commitment to trimming, diet and lifestyle.

4. Educate clients on the work you are doing and explain what you are trying to achieve with every trim on each individual horse. 

5.  Educate client on the difference between shoeless trim/pasture trim and a natural barefoot trim.

6. The practitioner will do a general analysis of stance and movement of the horse to assess overall wellbeing in relation to foot form and function. 

7. The client must understand to build healthy hooves can take time, depending on condition of horse, hooves, diet and lifestyle. 

8. Move the patient after the trim is completed; make notes of any changes and issues to follow up on the next trim.

9. Advise client to treat thrush, change feed and/or living conditions if needed.

10. Make client aware of any conformational issues and/or need for care from another modality or professional.

11. Give horse multiple breaks on set up trim and /or when required, allowing the horse to adjust and find comfort.

12. Try multiple positions (ie place equine uphill or downhill) on compromised horses who may need additional support.

13. Be compassionate toward client and patient.


Ethics Guidelines:


Although the practices of these guidelines are not required, it is highly recommended that all Natural Barefoot Trimmers adopt and incorporate them in their treatment regime whenever possible.

1. Always act as an advocate for the patient.

2. Advise clients to encourage movement after trim.

3. Refer client to a saddle fitter, body worker as necessary.

4. Prioritize primary care issues that may relate to veterinary care.

5. For your own safety ensure you are not working alone.

6. It is advisable to take pre and post trim photos of the patients hooves and body.