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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am considering trimming my horses feet instead of using farrier.

Back story is I have used the same farrier for a few years now. All went well with only a few issues. During the last three trimmings there were some problems. In one case the farrier wanted to come out at night and trim in the stall (it was poring down rain). I did not like the idea as we need to use head lamps (no electric in stall) and the horse is still young (4 yr) and can be skiddish. Well the farrier and farrier's wife were in the 12 foot x 12 ft stall along with me holding the horse. The wife was moving all around behind the horse and the horse spooked and threatened to cow kick. When this happened, the farrier and wife got all worked up like it was surprising the horse spooked with three people milling around with head lamps shinning all around. We calmed the horse down and finished the job. The next time the farrier came out and while trimming the horse gently pulled his leg away and the farrier then wacked the horse on the under belly with the rasp. The horse did not react badly when hit and the farrier completed the job. I know some farriers do hit the horse with the rasp, and I can see in some situations in may be warranted, however this was not the case. I understand also some would never hit the horse with a rasp. Now the farrier had just finished the horses rear right leg and apparently went to pat the horse on the under belly to indicate what a good boy he had been (farrier still in the knelling position). I was holding the lead to the horse when the farrier patted the belly and the horse whipped around and bit the farrier in the chest pretty bad. I think the horse thought he was about to bit struck again with the rasp and said enough of this BS and decided to stop the farrier. The farrier actually cancelled his remining work for the day as he was pretty shaken up and in some pain. In any case, not a whole lot of choices with farriers where I am, and the current one I have tends to bad mouth all the others saying how they screw up all the hoofs they work. The other issue I have is my current farrier is always indicating he wants my horse for himself, I find this interesting. My horse does not wear shoes and I am currently lightly rasping the hoofs weekly to keep them in trim (afraid to actually start clipping the feet for now). So can I keep the horse in trim my just using the rasp say weekly?
 

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You can learn to trim your own hooves. However, it is something that requires time and dedication, so should not be entered into lightly. You'll need to learn how to read the hoof and trim it correctly, and also how to use the tools. If you use a rasp regularly it can help keep the hooves trimmed, but sometimes you do need nippers to remove excess growth that is very hard, and also you'll need a hoof knife for overgrown bars and frog issues.

A good resource is the Essential Hoof Book. It is a book I think every horse owner should have, even if you don't trim your own hooves.
The Essential Hoof Book: The Complete Modern Guide to Horse Feet - Anatomy, Care and Health, Disease Diagnosis and Treatment: Kauffmann, Susan, Cline, Christina, Ovnicek, Gene: 9781570767326: Amazon.com: Books

ELPO has some good resources for evaluating hooves.
Equine Lameness Prevention Organization, Inc. - Powered by AMO

The Easycare blog has many good articles on hoof trimming:
Hoof Trimming Archives - EasyCare Hoof Boot News

Pete Ramey has good articles:
Pete Ramey Hoof Rehab home. Horse hoof maintenance and care.

There is also Jaime Jackson's organization, the ISNHCP, which has training programs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You can learn to trim your own hooves. However, it is something that requires time and dedication, so should not be entered into lightly. You'll need to learn how to read the hoof and trim it correctly, and also how to use the tools. If you use a rasp regularly it can help keep the hooves trimmed, but sometimes you do need nippers to remove excess growth that is very hard, and also you'll need a hoof knife for overgrown bars and frog issues.

A good resource is the Essential Hoof Book. It is a book I think every horse owner should have, even if you don't trim your own hooves.
The Essential Hoof Book: The Complete Modern Guide to Horse Feet - Anatomy, Care and Health, Disease Diagnosis and Treatment: Kauffmann, Susan, Cline, Christina, Ovnicek, Gene: 9781570767326: Amazon.com: Books

ELPO has some good resources for evaluating hooves.
Equine Lameness Prevention Organization, Inc. - Powered by AMO

The Easycare blog has many good articles on hoof trimming:
Hoof Trimming Archives - EasyCare Hoof Boot News

Pete Ramey has good articles:
Pete Ramey Hoof Rehab home. Horse hoof maintenance and care.

There is also Jaime Jackson's organization, the ISNHCP, which has training programs.
Thanks for the advice, I plan to pick up the books and learn as much as I can.
 

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I started trimming my own horses about 13 years ago because I had difficulty finding good farriers. At first it was difficult, but I learned through studying and practice, and soon was trimming other peoples' horses as well.

The problem you describe is a common one. Not every horse that needs trimming is experienced or well trained yet, and farriers have difficulty with those situations. Many times farriers are not experienced horse handlers or trainers. They may not be able to read when a horse needs gentle reassurance versus a hard smack. Lots of my friends and acquaintances have needed assistance with green horses to help them learn to be trimmed so a farrier can take over later. I agree that since the farrier hit the horse in the belly, the horse was thinking he was about to get hit again, and that is why he bit. Of course horses should never bite humans, and hopefully the horse was reprimanded. But to the horse it was justifiable.

My latest horse is a pony that was unhandled until this year, and she is ten. She has had to learn to have her feet handled and trimmed, and is still learning. A farrier would not be willing to come trim her at this point, but thankfully I have the knowledge and have been trimming her myself. She's almost to the point where I could have a farrier trim her. Still, a person can do a much better job if they know the horse and know their hooves and what all the little issues are, so I will continue trimming her myself.

Many horses don't go from being untrained to standing quietly while a farrier works on them for a half hour in a session or two. It can take many months of work to get a horse to learn to be calm about having their hooves trimmed. Meanwhile, the horse needs their hooves trimmed, so it is a dilemma for many horse owners.
 

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IF you decide to trim your own, do your horse a favor and take a class somewhere. Learning through experimentation IS NOT good for your horse. Its very easy to cause long term issues and sometimes not easy to correct. There are plenty of schools across the country that offer short programs to teach you how to trim your own. You can also use The American Farriers Assoc. (farrier finder) section to locate certified farriers in your area. The Brotherhood of Working Farriers offers a similar option. Heck, some of them may be willing to teach you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
IF you decide to trim your own, do your horse a favor and take a class somewhere. Learning through experimentation IS NOT good for your horse. Its very easy to cause long term issues and sometimes not easy to correct. There are plenty of schools across the country that offer short programs to teach you how to trim your own. You can also use The American Farriers Assoc. (farrier finder) section to locate certified farriers in your area. The Brotherhood of Working Farriers offers a similar option. Heck, some of them may be willing to teach you.
Thanks, went to the AFA site and it actually had two farriers within 5 miles of me, I will contact them and see how that might work out.
 

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It's not "super easy". Especially if the horse has really hard feet. Years ago, my late in laws had a gelding that they used to stand in the creek overnight to try and soften them up some. I also knew the shoer, as years later, he was my shoer too.
You can do your horse a grave disservice if you don't know what you're doing if you do it yourself.
Would you try to make your own shoes? Or sew all your own clothes? Then why are you going to do your horse's feet yourself? It's FAR more than just nipping off a bit of length.
Not to mention that most women don't have the upper body strength to do it. Some do, but MANY do not. I know I don't, an never have, and I used to be younger and a lot stronger than I am now.

Do your horse a favor, hire one that knows what they are doing.
 

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I agree with getting some hands on training. I will add, that if you intend to work them barefoot, learn from a good barefoot trimmer rather than a regular farrier.

There is a great difference in trimming in order for the horse to work barefoot, and trimming in order to easily put shoes on later.

Upper body strength was mentioned earlier. But there are many women farriers and barefoot trimmers working today. Doing it professionally is a tough job. Doing your own horses can be managed so that it doesn’t have to break your back.

I’m old, and scrawny. I’ve taken a suggestion from the Crones and Codgers bunch in this group. I do one pair of hooves in a day. Fronts first, then rear. If I keep a good schedule, I don’t have to trim much each time.
 

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Why do you believe that a farrier is unable to differentiate between trimming for barefoot and trimming for shoes??? We adjust for a horses job all day every day. The only difference is that we can continue on if a horse needs more than a trim
 

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@dustyk, it is fairly common for farriers to trim hoof walls flat to the sole as if preparing for a rim shoe. Horses left barefoot require a different trim that leaves the sole ridge alone for protection and a rounded hoof wall for proper breakover in all directions.

As a small woman I will say that hoof trimming is mostly about technique and quality, sharp tools unless you are shaping shoes. Rasping is about technique and friction, and sharp, quality nippers can be used by wimps like myself.

It is not simple, but of course anyone can learn how to sew clothes, or use woodworking tools. The main problem is that many so-called experts cause serious hoof problems, and many horse owners can't assess if their farrier is doing a good job or a poor one.
 

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I understand what is necessary for a good barefoot trim. I have book full of healthy happy barefoot horses. The question your post leads to is this, if you are unable to assess your farriers work how do you pick up some sharp instruments and do it yourself??? Wouldn't learning what you are looking at be the very first step??? I have seen plenty of so called trimmers leave serious hoof issues behind also. That doesn't rule out the whole group
 

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@dustyk, it is fairly common for farriers to trim hoof walls flat to the sole as if preparing for a rim shoe. Horses left barefoot require a different trim that leaves the sole ridge alone for protection and a rounded hoof wall for proper breakover in all directions.
Yes! We have a really good farrier who comes to my barn. He's very knowledgable and thoughtful, and he has given me really wonderful feedback on what I'm doing. BUT ... he trims feet like he's going to put on shoes. It's like his default. Pare the soles, leave the hoof walls flat to the soles.
 
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Hi. I'm always sad to hear these type of stories.

You sound like a great horse owner. I trim my horses feet but my farrier is amazing and she spent 7 years trimming my horses while training me in the proper way to manage the horse while she trimmed. She then trained me on how to trim, and finally I invested a considerable amount of money in a hoof stand, farrier rasps (including a Cody James), nippers and additional equipment. By the time I finally bought a farrier apron, I was trimming everyone in between her visits. Finally, 7 years into our relationship, my fabulous farrier insisted that I trim my own horses feet entirely by myself. I asked her to please promise to return to check my work which she did. All was pronounced good. In fact, my standardbred Mama who was always lame is no longer lame. My farrier says it's because I trim her every three weeks. Every six weeks is too long even with me trimming in between (before I got really serious I only trimmed once in a while). Evidently, one front hoof grows faster than the other which caused 6 years of lameness.

Lessons: In your case, please find another good barefoot farrier before embarking on your own. There is much to learn. Take classes or apprentice with a barefoot farrier and absolutely invest in the books mentioned. I cannot recommend the Essential Hoof Book enough. Get the smaller rasps and begin to rasp your horses feet between farrier visits. Invest in a hoof stand and see if you can train your horses to use the hoof stand for YOU to trim. Funny what they will do for a farrier they might not do for you alone.

I ground tie my horses and can trim them, even my mustang. They are all rescues, and all came with terrible feet. Their feet are sound now, after regular trimming, good nutrition, and years of running up and down our mountain. Oh, they also have complete freedom from stalls.

You are welcome to reach out to me if you want morale support.

Jules
 

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Yes! We have a really good farrier who comes to my barn. He's very knowledgable and thoughtful, and he has given me really wonderful feedback on what I'm doing. BUT ... he trims feet like he's going to put on shoes. It's like his default. Pare the soles, leave the hoof walls flat to the soles.
Not saying it doesn't happen, but doesn't happen with every farrier. As I said I have seen owners and trimmers mess feet up badly, no reason tp throw the group out
 

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I'm a former standardbred guy. Gave it up when Chicago racing went down the tubes. Do you know your girls breeding?? They are some pretty amazing horses. My wife still rides one that we raced
 

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Not saying it doesn't happen, but doesn't happen with every farrier. As I said I have seen owners and trimmers mess feet up badly, no reason tp throw the group out
Agree!!! Farriers in general are good people. They work very hard for their money, each and every one of them. A lot of farriers get injured from horses who's owners cannot restrain them properly. My horses have a "horse castle" which accommodates five horses and is a run in shed. This works well for trimming when it's dumping outside and we can all stay safe. I can see how a small stall would not work well but we used to use a small stall. My quarter horse at the time was not dangerous, since then I've had dangerous horses (we have rescues) who are no longer dangerous. It's my responsibility to keep my farrier safe, and if i cannot do that, the farrier will not be happy.

Find a good farrier who you relate to well, discuss your horses, your concerns, your horses personalities and learn from that farrier. Keep that farrier safe. If you are not comfortable with the farrier hitting the horse, then tell your farrier up front. The smack with the file might have been a knee jerk reaction after a long hard day of trimming lots of annoyed horses in the mud, who knows.

Jules
 
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