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***Long story short my farrier lives 6 hours away, and it would make it easier for me and my horses if I know how to keep up with their hoof care on my own... If you don't want to read the novel you can happily skip to the next asterisked paragraph and read from there ;-)


The farrier I have used for the last 6 years has recently moved almost 6 hours away from where I (and all his other clients) live, however he does travel down every 6 weeks to do all our horses.. Because of this, and the fact that the only other decent farrier around is very hard to get hold of, I would like to learn to trim my own horses, or at the very least know how to do preventative maintenance between trims.. Since my farrier lives so far away, I can't just flick him a text and ask him to come out in closer intervals while my horses hooves are growing faster in the summer.
Plus I actually think that my horses hooves could be better shape-wise, though I have not had one lame step while using my farrier.

I already know how to whip off loose shoes and how to find and dig out abscesses, but I would like to know more.
Maybe one day I will find an actual barefoot trimming school to go to, but right now I know of none, so bad me... I'm relying on the internet to help me out... Cringe, I know.

So far the only tools I have are hoof nippers and an extremely sharp hoof knife.. But I will slowly collect a few more things before I start attempting to do my own horses hooves... this is actually kind of nerve wracking!

***I'm not planning on just getting in there and hacking away, btw.. I plan on doing a little to start with, between having a professional farrier out to visit, until I get more confident and knowledgeable.. and I will start out just on either Mitch or Gemma, DJ has funny shaped hooves and curved coronet bands especially in her back hooves after a long period of hoof neglect.. She also has twisted stifles and wonky hips, so I don't want to muck around with that until I seriously know what I'm doing (so probably not for a long time haha)

What tools would help me out? Apart from the obvious rasp/nippers/hoof knife?
And what would all you experienced people recommend doing to start with? I have been doing some research on hoof mapping, and have watched Gene Ovnicek's videos of hoof mapping on youtube, though I wouldn't be confident enough to act upon my own hoof mapping without photo guidance from more experienced people! Two of my horses are thoroughbreds, though so far they are doing just fine being barefoot and trimmed by a farrier, so I see no sense in wanting shoes on, so why not learn myself?
 

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You should talk with your farrier and see if you can be taught to at least touch them up in between visits.

I've only ever needed a rasp for my horse.
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I agree with Dancing. You really do need a rasp more than a nipper. I haven't used my nipper in a year.

When your farrier comes, ask him to teach you.
The hoof mapping is great and Pete Ramey's book is a good place to start. Ramey's book is real simply written, and gives you basic how-to.
 

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I don't know about expensive. I was talking about his first book. I haven't read any others.

I think the ELPO website is good education, too. Getting used to seeing what a well trimmed hoof looks like and why. But always keeping in mind that most hooves are a work in progress and not sacrificing angle to get that perfect foot print.
 

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Hi,

Basically, hands-on instruction from a good farrier/trimmer, who is also willing & able to adequately explain the principles behind the practice, is by far preferable, and after learning initially I think it's a good idea to still get a professional every other time or such, until you really know your way. But if no good instruction is available where you're at, I really think Pete Ramey's 'Under The Horse' series is really valuable.

I already know how to whip off loose shoes and how to find and dig out abscesses,
:shock:I would STRONGLY advise you don't even consider digging out suspected(it's often not at all clear to find them) abscesses, especially if you don't even know the principles of maintenance trimming yet!!

What tools? I'd add a good rasp(necessity) & a hoof stand & cut proof gloves to your kit. Oh & a wire brush - great for cleaning out crud the hoof pick may miss before trimming, so increasing the life of tools.
 

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That is how I learned to trim hooves, from various farriers, first when I was 12, a family friend was a farrier, then about 15 years later from another farrier and now from my current farrier who I have used for over 20 years. He critiques my trims and helps me out to correct things.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hi,

Basically, hands-on instruction from a good farrier/trimmer, who is also willing & able to adequately explain the principles behind the practice, is by far preferable, and after learning initially I think it's a good idea to still get a professional every other time or such, until you really know your way. But if no good instruction is available where you're at, I really think Pete Ramey's 'Under The Horse' series is really valuable.



:shock:I would STRONGLY advise you don't even consider digging out suspected(it's often not at all clear to find them) abscesses, especially if you don't even know the principles of maintenance trimming yet!!

What tools? I'd add a good rasp(necessity) & a hoof stand & cut proof gloves to your kit. Oh & a wire brush - great for cleaning out crud the hoof pick may miss before trimming, so increasing the life of tools.
Sorry, I should have worded that better... I know when my horses have an abscess, and I have my farrier find it and dig the initial hole for it, I just keep the hole open after that until it has finished draining and can close up without reforming an abscess. But now that I can't have my farrier out on a whim for things like that I find another farrier, or if that fails I get a vet out, I just find that they don't dig sufficient holes and the bill is 5x more expensive. I generally know where they are located, but I don't own hoof testers and I don't just go digging willy nilly in there.
 

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I'll be getting a rasp in the next few weeks at the Horse of The Year show, I figure I can't do much harm with a rasp in between trims :lol: the only reason I have the nippers and not the rasp is because my granddad gave me the nippers and the hoof knife, his rasp was old and no good however.

I would rather learn first hand off a farrier, and my farrier is great, but I feel almost awkward asking him questions that I don't already know the majority of the answer to, and I don't think I could learn from him comfortably. It's nothing that he says or does, I just don't feel comfortable around him personally.
The other farrier I use is so darn good looking I trip over my words when trying to ask questions and go bright red while paying him....

There is a barefoot trimmer somewhere around my area I would like to try once I can get a hold of her details, just for a difference of opinion, so maybe I will be able to learn first hand from her.

I have noticed that Mitch(tb, about 10 months out of shoes now) has very flat hooves compared to Gemma(mini), is that a trimming thing, or is it a genetics thing? Considering that both are always done by the same farrier as each other.
 

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The other farrier I use is so darn good looking I trip over my words when trying to ask questions and go bright red while paying him....
:rofl: You know the Cat Empire? "...Every time she walks past I start choking on my pencil & fall flat on my a***" Careful what you wish for asking him for lessons then!:wink:

I just keep the hole open after that until ... I just find that they don't dig sufficient holes .... I generally know where they are located, but I don't own hoof testers
I will never say never about this & there are times when it is best to open up an abscess. I also think soaking, to soften the tissue if an abscess is brewing can be very good. But *generally speaking* I think it can often be a lot more trouble or risk than it's worth to 'go digging'.

& yes, IME too I'm not sure vets are generally any better - & could be worse IME - than a farrier in their knowledge & skill of hoof problems. But I still look upon invading or opening up live tissue as a vet's domain & will not go there without a vet's say so. As for 'don't dig sufficient holes', I have to ask, what on earth is going on with the horse if you need 'sufficient holes'?? I've actually had the opposite experience with vets & farriers & abscesses, as it CAN be very difficult to pinpoint the problem(assuming there is a 'pinpoint'), especially if the hoof is generally sore, or the animal is 'stoic'. We have all had/seen horses who were 'treated'(dug) for sole abscesses & who burst through the coronary border or heel. I've had vets dig soles all over the shop, saying 'you need to follow every possible tract'... One horse I've seen to had a nearly penetrating sole, the vet had applied hoof testers, found it painful & started digging!!
 

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:rofl: You know the Cat Empire? "...Every time she walks past I start choking on my pencil & fall flat on my a***" Careful what you wish for asking him for lessons then!:wink:



I will never say never about this & there are times when it is best to open up an abscess. I also think soaking, to soften the tissue if an abscess is brewing can be very good. But *generally speaking* I think it can often be a lot more trouble or risk than it's worth to 'go digging'.

& yes, IME too I'm not sure vets are generally any better - & could be worse IME - than a farrier in their knowledge & skill of hoof problems. But I still look upon invading or opening up live tissue as a vet's domain & will not go there without a vet's say so. As for 'don't dig sufficient holes', I have to ask, what on earth is going on with the horse if you need 'sufficient holes'?? I've actually had the opposite experience with vets & farriers & abscesses, as it CAN be very difficult to pinpoint the problem(assuming there is a 'pinpoint'), especially if the hoof is generally sore, or the animal is 'stoic'. We have all had/seen horses who were 'treated'(dug) for sole abscesses & who burst through the coronary border or heel. I've had vets dig soles all over the shop, saying 'you need to follow every possible tract'... One horse I've seen to had a nearly penetrating sole, the vet had applied hoof testers, found it painful & started digging!!
I can't say I know the Cat Empire :lol: I've just come across another local farrier (by complete coincidence on facebook actually) and he is coming by this morning, it's been almost 5 weeks since the horses were last trimmed and their hooves are growing like nobodies business so it was good timing that he happened to be coming by this general area this morning.

The two times I used a vet for an abscess she put as little of a hole as possible, wrapped it up with antibiotic ointment and told me to leave it for a week then change it... One week later, the hole was nowhere to be seen and Mitch had an abscess re-brewing... He went through 4 abscesses that winter, 3 recurring on one hoof because his hoof hadn't been opened up to drain sufficiently, and 1 on the other hoof.

When I say sufficient hole, I mean the hole was not much bigger than a pin ***** and the puss couldn't escape through it. When my farrier digs the holes, he gives me a clean shoe nail to keep the hole open with, so still not terribly big, but big enough to keep open and I now re-wrap every day if I get an abscess. Mitch is very easy to tell if he has an one, in his world his leg is going to fall off and he will be dying very shortly... He's such a drama queen, but will only react in the spot where the abscess is.

I always soak in epsom salts every day for 5-6 days between finding the abscess and having my farrier out (not that I can do that anymore since he lives so far away, hence looking for a new one), I have soaked for longer before but never been able to have it burst through on it's own due to soaking.

I feel really bad about trying to find a new farrier, and I'm not sure what to tell my regular, he is very good and he sends out a txt every 6 weeks letting us know he will be down that week etc, but at the moment 6 weeks just isn't cutting it, especially with DJ who wears down the inside of her hind hooves and then the outsides start to flare if not taken care of in a good time frame.
That and if I have an abscess I can't just ring up and have him out, and I would rather it be that whoever generally does hooves for me is the one that takes care of everything, because they get to know the horse and what they're doing with that specific horse etc, I don't want every tom, dick and harry out every time something needs doing, I'd rather stick to just one.
 
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