Who does their horse's feet?
My girl goes barefoot (thankfully) and I want to start trimming them on my own, because sometimes it's hard for me to get my BO's husband to do them for me. So far I've been taught how to file her hooves, so I'm not even going into the actual trimming yet. I'm going to file them every three weeks and start by having my BO check my work, since she knows how to trim/file hooves and used to do it when she was younger. All I need to do is buy myself a file and gloves... which I'll be looking for tomorrow. ;)
So any tips for someone starting to do feet? And how did you get started?
I've been doing our mare's feet for years after are old English farrier convinced me that I could do them myself. I do one mare a week and just use a file, so they each get done every 3 weeks like you are doing. If you do them that often, you shouldn't need nippers. I rarely use a hoof knife, either. Also, like you, I had our farrier check my work the first few times. I've done this for years now and the girls have never had hoof problems. It's a great way to be with and learn about your girl's feet...every horse is different.
What I've learned...
- Hoof rasps are very sharp :-) Even with gloves, be prepared for a few knicks, torn gloves, and pants.
- Concentrate on the toes. Only one of our mares ever gets long in the heel. Even many farriers take too much off the heel and you wind up with a sore horse for a couple weeks.
- You don't need to be perfect...you're not fitting a shoe on the bottom. Riding will naturally clean them up a lot, especially if you ride a bit on an asphalt road (was our farrier's recommendation).
- Get a new rasp when it starts to get dull. It's a lot more work with a dull one. I replace mine every year.
- It's less work in the winter when their hooves don't grow as much.
- In the summer when it's been hot and dry around here, it is much more work. Their hooves get really tough when they are very dry.
- If you're doing the tops with the foot on your leg/knee, try getting her used to putting it on something (or get a hoof stand). Your back will thank you. I don't have a hoof stand and I've used a tree stump and a truck jack stand and they've done fine.
Good luck...I think it's great that you are doing it yourself.
Awesome, thanks! :) It's nice to have your support. If I'm able to find a safer hoof stand(the one at our barn isn't the best), I'll definitely use one. I don't know how farriers' backs hold up for so long!
Yeah be careful with rasps! It is not fun taking skin off the knuckles :(
Read, read, read... look at lots of hooves and ask lots of questions -- like you are already doing. Then you've got to put it all together and come up with what makes sense. I find most barefoot owners are far more down-to-earth than shod (I'm not putting down all the owners with shod feet here guys. This forum has an awesome community of great people!) and you will find lots of help.
There are many great forums for barefoot trims on the 'Net. Troll some of them for a while. Don't expect perfection. The wonder of horses is that they are surprisingly resilient when it comes to their hoof shape and nature knows best. If you're not sure about something, don't trim it, rasp it or cut it... ask around and then make a decision.
My only tools are a stand, rasp, hoof pick, hoof knife, stiff brush and a pair of crappy nippers that I basically never use. I only have those for a new horse that comes here with really long toes.
If you can't buy a stand, you can try to get an old table from a restaurant... the kind with one pedestal in the middle with a big base on it. Saw it off to the right height and it will get you through for now, but be VERY careful of any sharp edges... Best to round off the cut with a file. This will work ONLY for filing down the toes. Do NOT rest her foot on this type of stand to work on the bottom of her hooves.
If you only have one horse, depending on her growth, you may be able to rasp her toes weekly to keep down on the workload every 3 weeks. Depends on the horse. I touch up my two girls every week, but there is very little that I do on them each time. Once, as an experiment I let them go for about a month, but it was too much work to bring them back to where I wanted them, so I'm back to the weekly trims.
For a while, I got tired of doing the feet, but then I looked at people's horses who have to wait for their farriers to come out and I just shake my head. *How* can they possibly leave their horse's feet like that and not feel bad? I think I have a hoof fetish.
Good luck and keep asking! Your horse appreciates your care.
Thanks so much! :) That was just what I needed to know.
I bought my rasp and handle today... now to find a good pair of gloves. What should I wear when I do her hooves? I know farriers' use a kind of chaps to prevent the hoof from sliding. Unfortunately, that's not a choice for me. I usually wear breeches to the barn, but would jeans be better for this?
I wear loose or stretchy jeans and it seems to work fine for me. Personally I don't wear gloves, but it's probably a good idea. See if you can get some driving work gloves -- they are softer than the regular work gloves, but more durable than your run of the mill leather gloves.
Edited to add: by "driving work gloves" I mean the kind that heavy equipment operators use.
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