How To Trim Horse Hooves

In this article you will learn important guidelines on how to trim horse hooves. You will learn the tools you need, and common safety tips and practices. This article also explains the importance of maintaining a schedule for trimming and what are some common injuries and infections you might see when you clean and inspect the hoof prior to trimming.

Some tools you will need:

  • An apron or chaps
  • A hoof pick
  • A hoof knife
  • A rasp
  • A block (optional)
  • A trimming stock (optional)

A horse will gain many benefits by being on a steady trimming schedule. The first and foremost thing one needs to understand when learning how to trim horse hooves is this gives horse owners the opportunity to clean and examine the hoof for thrush, grass founder, quarter cracks and stone bruises so treatment can be implemented as soon as possible in order to prevent further injury or deterioration to the hoof.

The prime goal in when learning how to trim horse hooves is always safety; safety for the horse and safety to you. The first consideration you must evaluate when learning how to trim horse hooves is your own knowledge of a horse’s hoof and how to trim on the proper angles and degrees.  If you are confident in your knowledge, then having another person present to hold the horse is always best. Always watch for pawing when trimming a non-receptive horse and when you are trimming the back feet avoid situations where the horse can pull his foot away and kick out resulting in injury to you, the horse or both. If you are not confident, don't try it. Call your farrier to do it for you.

Steps to follow when trimming the hoof:

  1. Use the hoof pick to clean the hoof. Clean out the dirt and debris from around the frog, which is the softer middle part of the hoof, and off of the sole of the hoof to give a clear view of the overall condition of the hoof. Chaps makes it possible to hold the hoof between your knees. This allows the use of both hands.
  2. Inspect the hoof for any injury or infection, and for dead tissue still clinging to the frog.
  3. If no injury or infection is found use the hoof knife to cut away dead tissue on the frog but avoid cutting into live tissue.
  4. Use the nippers to cut away the excess hoof wall on the outside edge of the hoof. Avoid cutting to far into the hoof quarter at the heel. Start at the heel. Use about half the length of the nipper blade as a measurement for how much of the hoof wall to remove. Cut in a straight line upwards toward the toe, round the toe and then continue cutting downward in a straight line toward the heel. Avoid cutting into the quick of the hoof.
  5. Place the hoof on your leg and use the rasp to remove burrs and sharp edges. A large wooden block is very helpful in this part of the process because it supports the horse's foot and allows for easier rasping. Another option would be the trimming stock.

A good trimming schedule for pastured horses is every ninety days. Because horses were originally desert animals, it is a natural process for horses to wear down their own hooves to some degree if they are free to roam the pastures. But in many areas of the United States they are not in a desert environment. They live on farms and ranches with lush, green grass and soft grounds so the amount of wear to the hoof through roaming is decreased.

Horses that are stalled, however, are much more prone to infection. This is another key factor to consider when learning how to trim horse hooves. They live in close quarters with other horses and walk in their own urine and feces regardless of how well stalls are cleaned. A schedule of every thirty days for these horses is best in order to ensure the healthiest hoof for the horse.

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