Letter Re: How To Trim Your Horse’s Feet

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Hugh,

There’s a lot of good information in the article on trimming horses’ feet. The old saw is “no hoof, no horse.” So you have to be able to provide good hoof care. I don’t have the education or breadth of experience that RB does, but I’ve been trimming my band of horses for more than 20 years. I’ve found some things over the years that make things easier that folks may want to consider.

I prefer to trim sitting down. I’ve never developed the skill that lets me trim comfortably standing the way a farrier does. I bought a mechanics stool on wheels. It’s low and has a place under the seat for tools. On the front feet I position the seat of the stool about even with the horse’s leg and then sit down. If I’m doing the left front, for example, my left leg will be a little behind the horses leg, and I’m sitting facing about 45 degrees to the rear When the horse lifts its leg, I put it under my left knee (which is bent at about a right angle at the knee) and then let it rest on top of my right thigh just behind my knee. I do all the cleaning, trimming, cutting, and rasping with the foot in this position. I ground tie my horses and they stand quietly for the trimming. A horse that’s not familiar with the procedure usually needs the help of a handler the first few times. A horse needs to be gentle and quiet to work with them this way. If they’re not that way, that’s the first thing they have to learn. Standing for trimming and shoeing are skills the horse needs to excel at.

On the rear feet, I use a hoof stand to support the hoof and the leg. Doing so lets me work either sitting or standing without having to support the leg. The stand I use is made by Equine Innovations and comes with a cradle for supporting the hoof and a hoof jack for the bottom of the foot to rest on when it’s being rasped from the top. There are other hoof stands as well. Find what works for you.

A good source for hoof stands and all the necessary farrier tools is NC Tool. If it has to do with maintaining horses’ feet, they have it. They carry a very good selection of high quality tools and supplies, ship quickly, and have always given good service. If you’re looking for hoof knives, nippers, rasps, or anything else, you won’t go wrong.

Horses can perform at high levels without the need for shoes. For them to do so requires the trimmer to know what he/she is doing and may require transitioning the horse to being barefoot. There’s a lot of information available on this. In my opinion, this is one of the best sites. This is Pete Ramey’s website, and it has a lot of useful information on barefoot trimming and hoof maintenance. – M.

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