It doesn't hurt the horse when you take of part of it (a flake not the skin itself!). I pick it because my horses just look more "better" with them off in the show ring, spiffy and cleaner looking (I suppose). You can leave a horse's chestnuts alone though too, it doesn't do a bit of harm. In the wild I suppose they just get dry and fall off..Or when the horse is running and it's leg brushes up against the chestnut comes off...?
If there was money to be made in chestnuts, I'd be making it with my draft cross, Cody! His grow about an inch a month!! The fastest way to shorten them, I've found is to use my hoof rasp, makes them nice and smooth and seems to bother him less than picking at the big, scaley things. Dogs love them!
Thanks. Yea my dogs love hoof excesses that the farrier files off. One of my dogs has a weak intestine because he ate a plastic glove (the one I use to clean the horses' sheaths with), had to have a $900 surgery to remove it, and if he swallows things like hoof pieces again he'll die....so I have to keep them away from him lol
Normally a horse's chestnuts will slough off or peel off as needed; however there are those (namely older horses) who will grow really long ones, and they may need 'trimming'...you can either peel them off, or snip them off using a hoof nipper. Some farriers will do that for you if needed. Or you can rasp them, as well, just be sure not to hit the horse's legs with the rasp, or file too far!
I don't generally pick at the chestnuts unless they are really long, and seem to be causing the horse an issue.