Hoof Manicures…not for the weak!

by Terri S. on August 24, 2009

Horse Hoof Care

Horse Hoof Care

I don’t know how my farrier does it. He trims 20 horses on an average day. I didn’t realize how much physical strength that would require until I tried it myself a few weeks ago.

I try to get my horses trimmed every 8 weeks, so there I was the first week in July and my girls really needed to be trimmed badly. I called Roger to make an appointment but the first appointment he had would be 3 weeks out. 3 weeks! Their hooves would be a cracking splitting mess by then. Months earlier, I had been talking with him about buying a decent hoof nipper so I could trim them up a little bit myself in between his visits. I did have a farrier training class while I was in college so I do have some knowledge on how to do it properly, but that was a long time ago!

I did some searching online, where I found the whole gamut of cheap to expensive nippers. I just needed something middle of the road and one that didn’t require me to bench press 250 lbs. Roger warned me not to get one of those cheap $20 ones because they are “junk!” Since I didn’t want to wait around to order online and wait for shipping, I picked up a pair of 15” Diamond nippers from Fleet Farm. Armed with my new nippers and hoof knife and rasp which I did already have, I started on my mare Zoe first.

Since she is the horse that I normally trail ride, I wanted to be sure her hooves were trimmed down at least to where I could ride her in the next 3 weeks before Roger was due to come out. I cleaned her feet and scraped out some of the sole with the knife and went to work on trimming her front hoof. I was able to trim her well enough and then realized I needed one of those hoof mounts to set the hoof on so I could file down the front outside of her hoof too. I found a tree stump that my husband was using to chop wood on so that worked as long as I could keep her foot steady on it. Meanwhile Zoe was pretty patient with me (surprisingly!) She was probably thinking “that’s not how Roger does it!” but she put up with me.

So after trimming both front hooves, I was exhausted and decided to wait until the next day to trim her back feet. I have a girlfriend that used to be a farrier when she was younger, but now she just trims her own 2 Belgians. She admitted that she can only trim one hoof a day now so I didn’t feel too bad for getting 2 smaller hooves trimmed up. I trimmed Zoe’s back hooves the next day. They weren’t perfect but they would keep her feet healthy until Roger could trim them right. I was pretty proud of myself for having accomplished this much.

I worked on Pearl’s hooves also a couple days after this, but she has a bad habit of leaning on me as I’m trimming her. If I thought trimming Zoe was exhausting, trimming Pearl and holding up 1100 lbs at the same time gave me a whole new respect for my farrier! The day of my appointment, Roger was there on schedule as always and gave the girls their professional manicure. He makes it look so easy! We also scheduled an appointment for 8 weeks later in case he gets booked up when they’d be due next.

Horses’ feet do grow faster in the summer so now I’m prepared! Roger says the only way to stop their feet from growing is to stop feeding them! That Roger’s a funny one!


About the author: Terri and her husband Ron have 2 horses, Pearl and Zoe, and 2 Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Cooper and Doc. She has an Animal Science degree from UW-River Falls and is a Merchandising Coordinator at Drs. Foster and Smith. See more articles by Terri S.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

kim August 31, 2009 at 1:16 pm

Terri –
Thanks for sharing! Can’t imagine little you acting like a kick-stand for a 1000 lb horse…are you nuts!!! The things we do! :)-

Monica S. October 1, 2009 at 10:59 am

Thanks for sharing Terri! Isn’t it a great feeling knowing that we can help to keep our horses feet healthy between farrier visits? My farrier goes all over the U.S.A. so its sometimes VERY hard to get her. She has taught me how to use the knives to keep their bars trimmed down & how to remove flares. It really comes in handy!

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