Trimming (trimming) the horse’s hooves not only keeps the animal healthy, but is also a great way for its owner to build a strong relationship with his hoofed friend. In theory, the whole process is quite simple, but you will need some practice and repeated execution of the necessary (not very long) operations before you can confidently master this skill. Start your practice with short partial procedures (trimming only two hooves at a time) so that you and your horse can gradually get used to the full trimming process.
Preparation for work
Get your tools ready. Before getting started, you will need to collect the tools you need to trim your horse’s hooves. They all serve different functions and together are necessary for proper cleaning and trimming of the hooves. Make sure you have all of the following:
- gloves to protect hands during work;
- hoof ticks for trimming hooves;
- rasp for cleaning hoof irregularities;
- a hoof knife that will help remove dirt trapped in the hoof;
- blacksmith’s caps or farrier’s apron to protect the feet when trimming the hooves.
Soak the horse’s hooves. Hard dry hooves are very difficult to trim and will upset not only you but the horse as well. Before trimming the hooves, soak them in water to facilitate subsequent work.
- Let the horse’s hooves soak in the water or slush for 15-20 minutes.
- If you live in dry climates, bring a water spray bottle with you to further moisturize your hooves as you work.
- If the hooves have time to dry out during the procedure, stop and soak them again.
Remove dirt from the hooves. Hooves should be cleaned before trimming. This will give you a better view of the horny tissue and give you an idea of which areas of the hoof require special attention. Use a hoof knife to remove soil and other debris that may have lodged in the hooves.
- Hold the hoof knife in your hand with the tip of the blade down, not the way you would normally hold a kitchen knife.
- The wrist should remain straight, and all movements should be done with the hand itself.
- Also, the hoof knife can be used to cut the regrown areas of the hoof frog along the perimeter of the sole.
Study the structure of the hoof. Before you start trimming the hooves, you need to examine the different parts of the hoof. Knowing the structure of the hooves will help you understand which areas should be trimmed, how they should look and how best to trim them.
- The hoof surrounds the outer wall and defines the line of its outer contour from the sole side.
- The sole of the hoof is the entire surface of the hoof within its outer wall.
- The white line defines the inside of the hoof wall.
- The frog is a large hoof element that starts at the heel and merges into a sharp frog pointing to the center of the hoof.
Find out how much you need to trim the hoof. After the horse’s hoof has been soaked and cleaned of dirt, it is necessary to assess its condition in order to find out what areas need to be trimmed and how best to do it. Each hoof will always have its own characteristics every time you do the next trim. Therefore, carefully consider the appearance of the hoof in order to choose a further course of action.
- Pay attention to the cracked areas that need to be cut.
- Estimate the length of the hoof wall.
- Find out if you need to shorten the front wall.
- See if the outer wall has any asymmetry.
Get in the right position for the job. Correct posture when trimming the horse’s hooves will provide you and the animal with greater comfort during this procedure. Holding your hoof correctly will make it easier to control and shape as flat and correct as possible. Be sure to take the correct posture to tackle horse hooves.
- The horse’s front leg should be lifted and pulled back towards his ribcage. Place it on your thigh.
- The back leg must be lifted straight up and place your leg directly in front of it. Lean forward to reach the hoof and work on it.
- When lifting your horse’s leg up, always make sure it flexes naturally at the joints.
- Do not try to lift the horse’s hoof if the animal resists.
Trim the hoof. Hoof mites are required to trim the hoof. They are a large analogue of the horse’s hoof clippers. The excess length of the hoof wall is shortened with ticks. They are good at helping to quickly remove regrown parts of the hoof and roughly give the hoof the correct shape before finishing the rest of the areas.
- Use pliers to remove any overgrown areas of the outer hoof wall.
- To cut off the excess stratum corneum of the hoof wall, bring the handles of the ticks together.
- Work at a leisurely pace to shorten the hoof as much as necessary.
- Trim the wall of the hoof at a 45-degree angle to the front (toe) to prevent the hoof from getting too sharp.
Scrape the hoof off with a rasp. During the trimming process, a horse’s hoof can become uneven and rough in some places. The hoof rasp is a special file used to correct the unevenness of the horse’s hoof. If you run it over the hoof, part of the stratum corneum will be removed. Use a rasp to smooth out irregularities and areas where the pliers are too large to use.
- Do not rasp both sides of the frog at the same time, as this may cause the hoof to become uneven.
- Work in short strokes at first until you have better control over the rasp and more hands-on experience.
- Keep the rasp as level as possible in relation to the sole of the hooves to keep the hooves flat.
Brush your sole. After leveling the outer wall of the foot, the sole should be trimmed to slightly deeper than the wall. This allows the load to be transferred to the outer wall of the foot instead of the sensitive zone of the sole.
- The outer wall of the foot should be longer than the sole in height.
Check the appearance of the hoof. After cleaning, trimming and straightening the hoof, inspect it again. This will be the final check to make sure all problem areas have been treated, the hoof is completely trimmed, and the horse is level on it.
- Check hoof symmetry.
- Try to keep the hoof level on all sides.
- The plantar edge of the outer wall of the foot should be level and flat.
Improving your own skills
Consider taking a training course in hoof trimming. If you are interested in learning how to groom and groom your horse’s hooves yourself, you may want to take a related training course. These courses help you learn about the structure of a horse’s hooves, how to clean them, and the best ways to trim safely and safely.
Understand when to go to professionals. In some cases, it may be preferable to hire specialists to handle the horse’s hooves rather than trying to do the work yourself. By entrusting the job to a professional, you reduce the risk of injury to your horse during the procedure and get the perfect hoof trimming result.
- If your horse has an injury or any medical problem with his hooves, it is wiser to see a specialist.
- If the horse’s hooves are growing in an unusual way or unevenly, a professional will be able to give them the necessary even shape.
When doing the procedure yourself, work slowly and carefully. You may be anxious to try to get all of the hooves out in one go, but it’s best to take breaks from work and come back to work again after a while to complete the task. If you are just learning how to trim your horse’s hooves, the process can be quite stressful and difficult for both of you. Taking breaks from work will not prevent you from gaining experience and will make the procedure as pleasant as possible for both you and the horse.
- If you are new to this business, try to limit yourself to processing only a couple of hooves in one procedure. Clean only the front or only two hind hooves.
- If you are tired or starting to lose patience with trimming the hooves, pause and return to work a little later.
- Never lose your composure while working with a horse. If the horse has an unpleasant experience with hoof trimming, he will be less supportive of the procedure later on.
- Be sure to soak your horse’s hooves before trimming.
- Don’t be afraid to take breaks from work.
- When trimming hooves, never rush, work slowly.
- If your horse has any hoof problems, consult a specialist.