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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?
 

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I've looked at some YouTube videos. I've got to admit, the horse's feet on the videos don't look much like my horse's feet do. Here is a picture of one of Mia's hooves...not a lot of white stuff, etc like the videos have. It is at an angle. I didn't realize that until I looked later.

Any thoughts?

 

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To save money on tools, here is my suggestion. Buy the very best you can afford upfront, otherwise, in all likelihood, you will end up buying the best you can afford after you spend more money on lesser quality. Get long handled nippers.

Knives, idk. If you are just super handy dandy at sharpening things, that might change the game. But, I have an expensive knife and middle of the road (price wise) knives, they all get dull...so I am not so sure the super high pricey knives are worth it. To me it is the "size" of the blade and comfort of the handle..AND how sharp you can get it. Never mind me.
 
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That is b/c all the pretty feet dance in the rain, bsms. Mia has a very healthy "arid territory" looking frog, btw and imo.
 

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The hoof looks in pretty good nick considering it hasn't been trimmed a while. When our horses go longer than five weeks or so, their toes start to overgrow and if we didn't correct that, the heels would get deformed. Our paddocks are mostly sandy, so not much natural wear. And when I go on a trail, in the forest it's so rocky the wear gets excessive, and stone bruising is likely, especially when feet are soft in the rainy season, so I use Renegade boots. In summer I experiment with taking him barefoot over some less horrendous trails, at a slower speed, to get some natural wear and acclimatisation. This has toughened up his feet considerably. Your horse's feet seem to be an advertisement for the benefits of exercising barefoot in the right kind of terrain. You have far less work in front of you when you start trimming, than I did.
 

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Really need side and front photos level with ground to comment on hooves, but to me the heels look long.
 

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Speaking of tools: Someone gave me a really narrow hoof knife especially for trimming the sides of the frog near the heel. It's much easier to use than the standard hoof knife. My father has this kind of barber's knife with a blunt handle which he sharpens on an angle grinder and uses for that area, and loose flaps near the heel, and in conjunction with a hammer to tap cracked sole out way more easily than with a hoof knife.

He says to me, "I don't understand how you can even try that with a hoof knife in summer." But that's because I haven't progressed to having enough hands free to hold a hammer as well. :hide:
 

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If the biggest issue you are having is getting farriers to schedule, then PRE schedule each next visit at the time they are there for the current one. Most farriers prefer to do that because are fully booked at least 6-8 weeks in advance,especially in the summer. That is why you can not get them to return a call if you call only just before or when you need them. So when they are there, ask to schedule the next appointment THEN. And call to confirm that appointment a day or two before it is to occur. It is a lot harder for them to cancel or not show up if they got that call from you saying " I am just calling to let you know I confirming our appointment for this Wednesday and have already scheduled that day off work to insure I will be here for your arrival".

As well I know there is at least one certified ELPO farrier in the Tucson area, perhaps he has some room in his schedule for another client.
 

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And just an FYI before you invest in tools... in the Arizona desert feet can be too hard for a novice to trim correctly . Those hooves have a lot of dead hard sole in there and it is very doubtful that a beginner will be able to adequately trim them. The frog will likely need nippers to trim using special nippering techniques, (rather than a knife) and the layers of dead sole are going to be like rock, that is not an amateur task in your geographic area.
 

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I know this feel--it sure was nice when I had BO scheduling farrier visits for me xD Too bad they don't do that here in Colorado.
I'd be so scared to try trimming myself. I know so many people do it successfully, but it just looks like this foreign, scary art in my eyes xD

It sounds like you've used quite a number of farriers--maybe one of them would be willing to give you some "Lessons" or let you apprentice for a couple of visits (for a price, of course xD)
 

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call this farrier if he is near enough you . I know him personally and he will know how to correctly trim those feet.

R. Tyler Basinger Benson AZ
85602

USA

520-507-5884
 
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