On the subject of bars

Claire C. Cox-Wilson <shotgun.ranch@...>

Do you all think they should be weightbearing at the heel and then
slope down to the sole before getting to the tip of the frog???
Do you all think that removing the bars helps relieve pressure around
the navicular area (ie. in a navicular horse) or was that strictly a
Strasser concept???
recently, somebody told me that Dr. Strasser was teaching her students
to remove all bars in every situation. I FIND THAT HARD TO BELIEVE.
And if so, would be very interested in hearing the theory behind that.
Anybody heard anything about that???
Bars intrigue me....there's so much controversy and mystery about them.
Claire from AZ

John Stewart

Hi Claire,

Controversy and mystery? Before Dr Strasser said they should be cut right down, I would suggest that they were pretty much ignored. As far as I can tell, it was she who really started the debate.

Pete Ramey has an article on his website www.hoofrehab.com (also in The Horse's Hoof Issue 26) in which he tells of his changing view about whether to reduce them or leave them.

As with so many of his articles, I find this thought provoking. I don't think that I agree entirely with him, and I don't think I follow some of his arguments. Some of this relates to Dr Bowker's theories.

I am working, at the moment, on an article about the bars, (to follow the one that I have on my website www.johnthevet.com Horse Feet/ the Bars) which will consider some of the arguments in Pete's article. One of the differences is that more of my clients have their horses shod, with all the problems that that brings, and many of the feet don't look like any that are in his article.

You can also see on my site what should actually be "Quotes on bars" rather than "Related Articles on Bars"
comments from about a dozen vets, farriers and trimmers.on bar trimming. (find it via The Bars or via the Site map.)

My opinion is that the bars should be cut down if overgrown - my opinion of being "overgrown" being more than most. I have found that what we see of the bars when looking at the bottom of the foot can fool us into thinking they are not too long, but I think that looking at the foot shape and length can give us an indication.
This is what I am working on - Examining horse's feet and trying to work out what they tell us. Too many vets will leap to some fancy (and expensive) machine or other to diagnose foot problems, when the foot is already telling us what the likely problem is. I have to admit it is often hard to pursuade owners that this is the case.



goddess03259 <threecatfarm@...>

Hi All

If you want to read the research behind the bar discussion you can find Dr Bowker's article
"The Adaptive Capabilities of hte Hoof Wall and Sole" at


This was presented at the AAEP meeting in 2003 and is still part of his presentations. Here
is an interesting quote: "The bars appear to be important in that not only do they aid in
the support phase of the stride during movement, but on a microscopic level they appear
to form tubular horn and contribute to the hoof wall as well as the sole."

The full article shows how he arrived at his conclusions.

Many of you may have seen his article "Physiological Trimming for a Healthy Equine Foot"
written in 2003. Relative to bars he says:

"Leave the bars so they are a little bit lower (shorter) than the hoof wall -- with a little bit
meaning a fraction of a millimeter. But obviously if the bars have over grown the horn,
they need to be trimmed, but not removed -- again this is a matter of common sense."

You can find the full article at


Claire, I have followed some trimmer discussions who have worked with Dr Strasser. It
appears that she has not/does not always routinely remove the bars in every case.
Whether this is a change on her part, I do not know and I recognize I'm giving you third
hand information. But regardless, the perception is still out there.

Nancy C and Beau and Gabe in NH

Some of this relates to Dr Bowker's theories.

Eleanor Kellon, VMD <drkellon@...>

I'm glad you posted that Nanc, because there is a huge difference
between this:

is an interesting quote: "The bars appear to be important in that
not only do they aid in
the support phase of the stride during movement, but on a
microscopic level they appear
to form tubular horn and contribute to the hoof wall as well as the

and the "translation" that appears in a post on EC and the Easy Boot
site that says:

"~Most of the sole comes right from the bars and is growing forward.
If bars
are removed, you remove sole regeneration. Bars provide keratinized
horn for
the sole."

Nowhere in the presentation he gave does he say that the sole comes
right from the bars, etc. He describes a transition zone between the
end of the bars and the sole, where there are interdigitations of
tubules from the bars with the sole tissue. These likely
send "messages" to the sole, through intercellular comminications and
mechanical forces, that can influence the production of sole by the
keratinocytes of the sole, but the sole doesn't come from the bars.
Big difference.