Need to start trimming feet inbetween the farrier's visits...advice? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 43 Old 02-22-2014, 11:30 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: southern Arizona
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Need to start trimming feet inbetween the farrier's visits...advice?

Maybe I need to train to be a farrier. Seems they have more work than they need. With every farrier I've used in the last 6 years, the story is the same: hard to get hold of, and then no idea when they will come out. The guy who did the best job usually could come out within a week, but it could take 3 weeks of calling and emails before his first response. I always had the feeling he waited, and returned my call when he was ready. The fellow doing it now just said he won't be in our area for 3 weeks.

It doesn't help to call a month in advance because no one I've used to date has ever kept anything like a schedule a month out, and I don't know if the response time to a call will be 2 days or 4 weeks.

Meanwhile, my horses can go anywhere from 8-14 weeks between trimmings. To be honest, I think Mia & Cowboy could normally go 12+ weeks, but I always get them done when Trooper needs his.

So I'm thinking it is time for me to get some tools and start trimming their feet a little...enough so they can go another 3-4 weeks if need be, depending on when a farrier is willing to come make $100-120 for 30 minutes on site. Happily, my horses all stand quietly and don't need shoes. Mia has one mild club foot, probably caused by how she stands when eating. Other than that, I'm told their feet are great.

But how to start? Any ideas? Any websites, books, DVDs, tools etc that y'all can recommend?

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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post #2 of 43 Old 02-22-2014, 11:53 AM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Arizona
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When I lived in the Valley some of the colleges had Farrier Science classes.

That is how I learned to shoe (I just trim and keep them barefoot now). But you actually got to practice on cadaver legs and the class was taught by an experienced, working farrier.

I think it was Scottsdale Community College that I took my class from if I remember correctly (it's been 15+ years ago).

I think you are in the Tucson area? Maybe there are classes at a college down there. To me, that was well worth it because you had a live mentor to help you out.

If that is not an option, well, I learned all the "barefoot stuff" online. I just went to a bunch of websites and on an idea of what theory I wanted to follow (less is more I've found!) and bought a couple books by Pete Ramey/ Jaime Jackson. I never bought their in-depth stuff, just a couple of books. But I already was comfortable working on horses feet at that point as I had even been apply shoes to my trims.

I was never a professional farrier, I only did my family's horses. But I think I do about as good a job as anyone in my area. I say go for it.
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post #3 of 43 Old 02-22-2014, 12:03 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: UK
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My Tb pretty much self trims (I rasp the odd chip), the farrier looked at them today and said they were good, I don't think he has actually touched them for about a year. If you can get the work load to balance wear then that makes life much easier.
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post #4 of 43 Old 02-22-2014, 12:26 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Australia
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Hey BSMS, I won't be that much use in where you can get your hoof trimming education as I live on another continent, but I wanted to encourage you. Three years ago my husband and I moved out into the sticks to our own place and no reputable farrier travelled that far! The people that did come didn't trim hooves correctly and charged an arm and a leg. So I decided to trim my own.

In one way my advantage was that my father had been through this and ended up trimming and shoeing himself. He learnt by observing qualified farriers and by specialist videos on corrective trimming and shoeing, and got so good people brought their racehorses to him to sort out gait problems. So I grew up with basic instructions on how to trim my own horse, and opportunity for feedback, and lots of exposure to the theory and practice of horse trimming. It's physically demanding though, especially when you have hot summers which turn hooves into hardwood, so it was nice to have an experienced family member you could trade another job, like mucking out, for this one.

Twenty years later, I decided to trim again. The problem: I have an old back injury, and I'm really tall, and I have arthritis in my finger joints, so I'd rather someone else competent did it, but that was not on offer. If you are short, and have short legs, rejoice: This will make trimming much more comfortable for you and the horse. You won't be bending your back as much. Anyhow, the best tips I ever got for making the job physically easier is to make sure you invest in really good tools that don't blunt quickly and are comfortable to use in your hands. I've used both good and bad hoof nippers, and it's a world of difference. Ditto rasps. Good leather gloves and at least wearing thick denim and long sleeves will reduce injuries to yourself as you become competent.

If you have a dry summer, trim the same day it rains no matter if they can wait a few weeks or not. The hooves are so much softer then. Some people stand their horses in a pond or go to the beach to splash before trimming.

Trim often - it makes things easier. Every 4-6 weeks. I'm sure you can find a mentor in your area, nothing beats a good mentor; or even ask a farrier if you can spend the odd day on the job with them, and observe and ask questions. There are very good DVDs and books out there; I'm sure others will point them out.

Like you I have three horses, and I'm now coping. I also do our three donkeys, who are way easier to trim! Good luck with it all. You'll get there!
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post #5 of 43 Old 02-22-2014, 12:34 PM
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: North California
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I've found similar, its easy to just do maintenance between trims with upkeep through riding and a rasp to help everything out in between. The only problem I ever came up to was cleaning out the frog, which I think I would have needed more / better tools and experience to do. I don't know a whole lot about the tools, and I make a lot of the tools myself but I've used a hoof stand, wide big solid metal rasp, hoof knife, and nippers.
The guy who trims my horse now has all kinds of gadgets that I love. One of them I'd never seen before was the hoof buffer. I've heard never to use power tools on the horses feet but I'm not sure I agree, seems easy and ok to me if used well!
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post #6 of 43 Old 02-22-2014, 12:39 PM
Join Date: May 2013
Location: State of Jefferson
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I've had the same experience with farriers -- the good ones are always busy and we get stuck with the "others" because we are so far out. In desperation I nailed shoes on our horses myself for a few years. Then I hurt my back (not horse related) and that was the end of that. I went back to the questionable farriers for a few years until I stumbled upon the barefoot movement. I have a trimmer who comes now, but I want to do it myself someday. There is nothing better than being in total control of your horses feet and not dependent on someone else's schedule.

The resources out there now are so much greater than when I learned. A search on 'Pete Ramey' or 'barefoot horse' will get you a lot of info. There are a few Utube's on the subject and a lot of info on this forum. Also, there seem to be a few members here that are a great help, and I hope to use them myself.

The cowboy that taught me to shoe (which I never really did learn) said all you need is a strong back and a weak mind -- well I still have one of those. Now that they have invented those hoof stands, maybe you don't even need a strong back.
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post #7 of 43 Old 02-22-2014, 01:25 PM
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Equine Digit Support System, Inc.

This is where I would start. We went through the same type issues with farriers about 6 years ago. I began studying the natural balance methods and philosophies that Gene Ovinek teaches and trimming or shoeing our horses using them. It has always seemed to work out well for me and our horses.
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post #8 of 43 Old 02-22-2014, 05:55 PM
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Iowa
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Pete Ramey's "Under The Horse" dvd set would be a great start.
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If at first you don't succeed, try, try again
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post #9 of 43 Old 02-22-2014, 06:07 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Ontario
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I've had two good farriers and both moved far far away. I had course sand hauled in and about 8" put down for about 50' on a favorite trail on a hill and the rest of the load went in the round pen. The sand helps keep the horses trimmed.
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post #10 of 43 Old 02-22-2014, 06:19 PM
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Location: I'm an American girl living in southwest France
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I've read the books by Pete Ramey and Jamie Jackson. They're great! And Pete Ramey also has a DVD that I just ordered going through several trims to show what the book explains. He has both a veterinary-type text and a more owner-friendly book too. I've read them both, and if I had to pick one, I'd pick the lighter owner-friendly version. The other book has a ton of stuff you don't need to do what you want.

“When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes. ” ~ William Shakespeare
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