The “Tilt and Trim” for horses!

When I first saw this contraption, I thought, “Hmmmm, primitive thing, what is it?”

With a raised eyebrow, I decided to click on the image and read the caption.  And, much to my consternation, it only read, “Tilt and Trim”.


So, I followed the image trail and realized that this device is used to squeeze a wild or frightened horse (and we know squeezing calms them from Temple Grandin’s research), slowly rotate him horizontally which exposes their hooves for trimming or medical care.

Wow.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about it but I wanted to learn more!


I saw these photos of the Tilt and Trim on Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue’s FB Page.  (Here is a link to their website.)

I am aware of Lifesavers because they rescue BLM Mustangs as well as large groups of Reservation horses from kill buyer feedlots.  Of course, Lifesavers saves many other types of abandoned or straight to slaughter horses as well.

If you might recall, just before Christmas 2010, Jill Starr, the Director of Lifesavers, rescued 96 Paiute Reservation mares and foals from the Fallon Feed Lot.  Then, a few days later, assisted by Jill, the ‘Saving America’s Mustangs’ (a nonprofit organization founded and directed by Madeleine Pickens) saved another 235 stallions and pregnant mares from the same Reservation.  And, if that wasn’t enough, 56 foals that were pending sale to the killers, were rescued a few days later.

Now, if you can imagine this, Lifesavers is presently housing and caring for over 600, mostly wild, horses… Yikes.

Hmmm.  Me thinks a ’tilt and trim’ might come in very handy!


This is not a new concept.

While researching the equine Tilt and Trim, I found that cattle ranchers and sheep ranchers have been using Tilt and Trims for years.  For example, here is a very old article on dairy cattle hoof trimming using the table…


From the old article showing a tilt table and a dairy cow

And here, under eHow, a very current question/answer website, are directions on how to use a Tilt and Trim system.

Gosh, I felt totally out of the ‘know’ on this one.  I had never heard of these…  However, I will say in my defense, that I couldn’t find any articles on a Tilt and Trim for horses.  So, I don’t know if this is new for the equines or if no one is talking about it.  In any event, if I had 600 wild horses and several of them needed hoof care, I think I would use a Tilt and Trim…

I mean, of course, we’d all like for these horses to stand quietly for a trim.  And, we’d all like them to not have fear or need to be ‘squeezed’ in order to have their hooves trimmed/cared for.  But, let’s be realistic here.  How in the world will they be able to safely gentle all the wild ones that need hoof care immediately?

So, in this application, I think the Tilt and Trim is ingenious and way more palatable than roping and tying.


A tilt and trim table for sheep


Actually, I found no place to purchase or lease except the Bowman Livestock Company who says they have an equine version but I couldn’t find any pictures or information.  Here is the link and if you were interested, you can contact them.

The cattle tilt and trim from Bowman Livestock Equipment Company

I did find this one farrier in Canada who has the Tilt and Trim chute and says he is booked out weeks in advance, it is that popular (linked here).  Here is a caption from his website.

“Tilt Table Service:
We have a custom built portable equine tilt table which we have used to trim thousands of horses over the past 10 years. Using the table offers a safe, quick way to get feet trimmed for large herds or “not-so-quiet” horses! We can trim ANY size of horse and have also done cattle. Appointments fill fast so please book well in advance.”


So, here is a photo journal from Lifesavers as they used the Tilt and Trim to care for some of their 600 wild horses.  It looks like the farrier designed this one himself but I don’t know that for sure.  Obviously, it takes a few people to work the device and handle the horses… The farrier uses a dremel tool which evidently works faster and gives a very even and accurate trim.  Once the quick trim is finished, the horse is let down gently and released!


The Tilt and Trim arrives at Lifesavers

The next photo on the website was this one where the farrier has attached a rope to a hoof

As you can see, it is important to keep the hoof stable during the trim

Here you see the farrier working on the second hoof while the helper holds both legs to avoid any injury to both horse and farrier.

Here is closer view


Chute closing the newly trimmed wild horse...

And there he/she goes! As you can see by this pic, no one has gotten close enough to groom him/her or treat whatever is going on with its fuzzy tail top. But, the feet are DONE and that is a great thing!


I can already hear it… Some of you are going to claim that this is barbaric.

I understand.  It does look barbaric.

However, in my humble opinion (since I have a wild and untouchable mare here), if my wild mare was hurt and I needed to tend to her feet, you can be SURE that I’d be hunting down this contraption.  And believe me, I’ve tried for 2 years to gentle her.  So far, I’ve made great progress.  She now lets me touch her from the neck forward and she will accept a treat and wear a halter.  But, there is no way I would be able to pick up all fours.  And I only have ONE wild horse here.  I cannot imagine trying to tend to the feet of whichever wild horses needed care at Lifesavers!

So for me, I would much rather put a wild horse through a few minutes of confusion in a squeeze, than let him suffer some injury, lameness or discomfort from hooves that won’t trim themselves naturally.  No hoof = no horse.

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!




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HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

10 comments have been posted...

  1. Danny Thomas

    I am a farrier and I am going to buy one. I’m looking around for a used one that is top quality and I will make it a mobile one.306-715-4989 I will pathfinders fee for the right one..

  2. Jill Starr

    Thank you for this article explaining the humane use and need for a tilting squeeze chute for wild horse trimming and treatment. It has been a Lifesaver for us. (pardon the pun) We purchased it from Flying W Livestock Equipment out of Watonga, OK. It cost $20,000 and we were granted the funds to purchase it from ASPCA. Another Lifesaver. I’d like to share a little slide show of the first time we used it on a wild crippled horse who couldn’t stand on three legs.

    Honestly – I wish we didn’t need this piece of equipment. I wish we could give all our rescued horses thousands of natural acres to roam on and naturally trim their own hooves. But – since that’s not an option yet – we need to do whatever we can to keep our horses healthy.

    Kind regards,
    Jill Starr
    Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue

  3. Kristie York

    I think it’s a great ideal. This way the horse is getting the right treatment and it’s less stressful to them since they can’t handle having their hooves done. I know it takes three people to hold our miniature horse down just to get his hooves done each time and it’s hard even with three. So imagine a tool that will cause less stress for you and the horse.

  4. Holly

    I’ve seen tilt machines used for cows. Wow-their feet look SO different than our horse’ feet! Holly

  5. RiderWriter

    Now that is interesting! I guess I have wondered how ppl could tend to feet, when you can’t touch the horse. Solution: a squeezy tilt table and industrial sander. I also thought it wasn’t a big concern with mustangs, that they were “self-trimming.”

  6. peg

    What would be barbaric would be not trimming feet because the horses are wild.. I think something like this is used on bucking stock,bulls and horses both..

  7. rose

    I “heard” that this is used to trim the feet of PMU mares. I figure that horses need hoof care even if they aren’t trained for it. I mean what else can you do? Use a blow dart to knock them out? Teach them deep relaxation breathing? lol

  8. Ronnie

    This is the same method that Monte Roberts used when training Racing horses. Except they didn’t tilt. The learned to be very calm in the starting gate. Temple Grandin also used it, for herself. I see nothing inhuman about using this contraption. I have used this method, without the contraption, on all of my animals: cats, dogs, horses, goats. Hug, release, walk away. Release before they want to be released. Eventually they get addicted to it.

  9. JM Friedman

    This is in no way barbaric. I’ve seen it used with cattle and smaller livestock, and they were perfectly fine with it. It never occurred to me to use it with a horse, but I can promise that when the oldsters in my herd get to where it’s impossible to comfortably pick up their feet for trimming, I’ll hunt down one of these myself! Great post!

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