Barefoot Trimming 101 - The Horse Forum
  • 1 Post By kait18
  • 1 Post By Endurance Chica
  • 1 Post By its lbs not miles
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post #1 of 7 Old 04-11-2012, 10:53 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Pacific NW
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Barefoot Trimming 101

I know there are a lot of endurance riders that do their own barefoot trimming, especially in between farrier visits. I'd like to do my own trimming someday, but have no idea where to start - at the moment, someone from my club is doing my trimming and consultation about what I need to do to take care of my boy's feet. Can someone please enlighten me about what doing your own trimming is all about and what it is you do? What about tools and supplies?
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post #2 of 7 Old 04-11-2012, 11:10 AM
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: nj
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if you want to do it on your own take a 6 or 12 week course and then try and work with a real farrier for more experience.

as for tools all i use is a rasp i hate the nippers. i am always worried about cutting to much off if someone moves by accident so i just rasp. you need to make sure you understand the hoof and the leg bones, muscles, tendons etc because you want to make sure you keep your horse balanced.

but after a course and some book reading and movie watching and working with farriers you will get the hang of it...

DO NOT TAKE THE SHORT CUT OF JUST GOING OUT AND TRYING IT...thats the fastest way to ruin your horses hooves
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post #3 of 7 Old 04-11-2012, 10:29 PM
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Location: Missouri
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I do my own horses feet being they are pretty simple and have the patience to deal with me learning on them. My mom is a certified farrier that turned to natural hoofcare as a better alternative and she taught me some of the fundamentals. I trim them more frequently so it is mostly about rebalancing the hoof than actually taking any length off. When I work on them I use the Hoofjack. Best invention ever. Has an interchangable stand with a craddle that is wonderful and really saves your legs from having to hold them up. I also found that Bellota rasps are my favorite to work with. After I run the rasp over and create a balanced hoof, I do take nippers slightly around the edge of the hoof and rasp at a 45 degree angle to get that nice roll. I use whats called racetrack nippers. They are smaller and easier to manipulate than regular nippers. Then pull it forward and clean up the outside rim. My guy has one hoof that tends to flare so I go a little more aggressive on the outside edge to keep it in check. Pick it up and let it hang naturally to double check to make sure I dont see any high spots and then I like to watch someone walk them out a few steps just to make sure they are landing evenly and call it good. Im sure its more complicated than that but this has worked well for me and my horses.
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post #4 of 7 Old 04-11-2012, 11:02 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Southeast Texas
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My barn manager and some of the boarders were interested in barefoot trimming and we were lucky enough to get Darolyn Butler over to give us a clinic February 2011. We have read up on techniques, etc. and ordered rasps and knives.

We found out that Bellota makes terrific rasps. Way better than the others we tried. We also found that round knives work for us way better than single blade knives. There is a farrier tool maker just 50 miles from here so I went over there and bought my nippers which are fantastic.

The barn has always had a rolling stool and the farrier stand so that equipment was provided which is terrific. We often do our horses at the same time so we can help each other and observe. I have always been uber careful not to take off too much - actually I should have been taking off more. Getting better each time that I do my horses hooves. My husband's horse had great feet and Biscuit's are getting there. He came to me with some chopped off hooves / old abscesses etc.

I did Sarge's feet yesterday and yes, it is hard work and my back took a beating yesterday. But, I can attend to issues immediately....I can't say it saved me tons already as the equipment was NOT cheap. My nippers alone were $160.

Get Pete Ramsey's books, take a clinic if you can locate one...get a trimming buddy. We still have farriers come out to the barn for some of the owner's horses as she owns 20. They are always more than happy to share their knowledge and bless their hearts, sharpen our knives.

We also have a foot bath for our horses - it is in the old dog kennel. We fill it with water and vinegar to get rid of thrush and just to soften their hooves before trimming if they are too hard.

It is a journey but I am learning as I go and I certainly haven't come close to hurting my horse.

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post #5 of 7 Old 04-11-2012, 11:51 PM
Join Date: Sep 2011
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I learned from barefoot trimmers. It's really not hard to learn. Took me about a week with some follow up checks when I started doing them on my own.
In reality you don't need nippers. If you're doing the trimming you should never have enough hoof that you couldn't do it with the rasp just as easy and with less chance of a mistake. The best use I've found for my nippers is for timming the ergots and hind leg chesnuts when they get real long :))

Get a good rasp/file. You'll end up very unhappy and wasting money if you don't a good one. Should run in the $20-$30 range depending on where you buy. A good set of hoof knives. I like Dick's (pronounced with a long "e"'s German). they come sharp and hold the edge well. Should run under $30 (left and right handed comes in handy) A sharpening stick (you will eventually need it) You can do it without a hoof stand (I still will for quick jobs that just take a minute), but I've never regretted mine. When you get older you appreciate anything that makes it easier on the back. Teaching your horse to stand well will allow you to sit on a stool to work the hoof on the stand and not have to bend over so much.
I've found that if I trim as/whenever needed that the main use for my knives is to cut away old frog and trim the bars. Hoof wall is taken care of with the rasp and file. I ride on the road (a LOT....on pavement almost every day) and it tends to make their feet get pretty hard after a year, so using a hoof knife becomes more work on the hoof. That leaves the rasp and file as the easiest option.
Of course I know a guy who uses a grinder and it works. while it would make the harder hoof easier to do, it's a bit more than I want to deal with. I'm more comfortable with the rasp and file, even if it is more work, because it's easier to avoid over doing it.
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post #6 of 7 Old 04-12-2012, 01:56 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Southeast Texas
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I agree with Its lbs Not Miles. If you rasp on a weekly basis you won't be nipping. I don't nip on Biscuit but don't do Sarge's as often so I sometimes have to use nippers on Sarge. Sarge is harder to do than Biscuit even though Sarge has the "best" feet. Sarge takes his name a little too seriously and thinks he is in charge!

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post #7 of 7 Old 04-15-2012, 03:29 PM
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Valparaiso, IN
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I'm hoping to keep my horses barefoot this year. I didn't ride much last year but so far Falcon's hooves seem to be doing okay barefoot. I did ask my farrier to start Falcon on a 4-5 week rotation instead of 6 so I can make sure we keep his feet in good shape. I would love to rasp my own in between farrier visits and am going to talk to him about showing me how. I don't want to do any major hoof changes, but keeping him up in between I think I can do.
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