Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Trimming the Toes (ammy hour)

OMG, ow.

I cannot convey the level of body soreness that I have today - which I'm pretty sure it entirely to blame on my trimming lesson that I received Monday.  I had my favorite vet out for some bodywork and since she also works on feet (and has trimmed P2 well in the past) a while back I asked if she thought she could give me some pointers on how to maintain P2's trim myself.

Trimming toes terrifies the ever living crap out of me because I don't trust my own eyeballs and the notion of crippling my horse from total ignorance is enough to make me nauseous instantly.  BUT I also think that being able to evaluate and trim her myself would be a hugely valuable skill to develop

After several (several!) coaxing conversations, my vet finally convinced me that P2 has good feet.  They are pretty well balanced, hard as nails, grow fast and don't require much in the way of "correction."  In short she all but beat me over the head with the fact that I couldn't ask for easier feet to maintain on my own (panic panic panic).

So after watching (and reading) and watching some more, yesterday was the first time I put rasp to hoof for anything other than smoothing broken flares/torn hoof/etc.  We started by me watching her trim Prairie's left front, then I replicated to process on the right front (her more upright hoof).

I was pleased that from the beginning to the end I developed a much more effective stance and grip and things started going much smoother.  But holy god - I was dripping sweat.  P2 was being very patient, but not exactly holding herself up, which made my life slightly difficult.  It also took me a while to really get her leg locked down well enough that I could get several strokes of the rasp off without having to constantly readjust.

I have always had a ton of respect for good farriers/trimmers but man - I think I seriously underestimated the physicality of the job...

Anyway, I'll take pictures, but really all I had to do was back her heels down a bit (they pretty much want to be at widest point of the frog), even out her wall, take a tiny bit of flare down and bevel the edge.  My eye is getting better at sighting high points and with both hands on the rasp, it was easier for me to "feel" the high sides...

I'm lucky in the fact that Prairie's toes are pretty balanced front to back and I don't have to make any judgement calls with really backing her toe, which is something that still scares the ever living crap out of me.

Last night I ordered my hoof stand and rasp and am under strict orders to touch all 4 feet every two weeks so that I don't have to make any huge adjustments.   My vet makes it out about once a month so shouldn't be able to go too far off track without her being able to guide me back easily...

I splurged and got a HoofJack.  No nippers - but if I do actually touch each hoof every 2 weeks I shouldn't need them...
 I'm nervous but really, really excited.   I am trying to take comfort in the fact that I can always call her out for a trim, or just throw my tools down and wait for our regular farrier... It's not like I'm stranded on a desert island and need to reinvent the wheel.  I just need to remember that.

I got some seriously weird looks from some of the younger riders in the barn yesterday while I was wrestling with P2's feet.  One (very sweet) girl stopped and asked if I was trying to save money.  I suppose if this works out, in the end I will end up saving my $50 a trim... but as I was standing there, sweat in my eyeballs, legs shaking and hoof slipping lower and lower... I was thinking "honey, this is the hardest damn way to save $50 on a horses I've ever encountered."  I'd rather cut back on au natural SPF spray, or get the cheap rice bran, or I don't know... reduce the tack 'ho tendencies.  But I would never subject myself to this delightful process in the name of saving a buck.... All in the name of being an informed, capable owner, right?

hooves crossed....


  1. "honey, this is the hardest damn way to save $50 on a horses I've ever encountered." That sentence almost made me spit out my drink. Hilarious.
    Good for you for educating yourself!

  2. Haha! Love it. Cuna wears shoes all around in competition season, so I have an excellent excuse to not "save a buck" in that department.

    Random aside: The guy who invented the hoofjack was my farrier growing up. He doesn't shoe horses any more as far as I know. ;-)

    1. Well I should hope not. He's charging enough $$$ for those things I would think that the only thing he should be shoeing is his wife... in gorgeous... gorgeous, Italian designed, totally ridiculous, wonderful heels.

  3. BWAHAHAHAHA! You are SO right, trimming is REALLY REALLY hard work! It takes so much strength to do, which I had no idea until I'd actually tried it myself. As you said, it's the hardest way to save $50 ever. I'll happily hand over my money every month to my fantastic trimmer, thank you very much!

    That said, it is really super awesome to become more educated about feet. Isn't it fun to be part of the hoof nerd crowd? ;)

  4. Good for you! Once you get used to looking at your horse's feet, you will see what needs to be trimmed much more easily. If you are trimming every two weeks, you will not need to do anything drastic so any mistake will be a small thing that is quickly outgrown.

    I have been trimming my horse for several years and just got a hoof jack. The sweat definitely rolls down the brow when trimming hooves. Definitely a labor of love. Why else would you do it?

  5. Just imagine if you were me down here in the Texas summer heat doing 12 a day! Now that's a workout!
    Definitely don't both with the nippers when you're starting out. I trimmed for like 2 years before I ever even picked up a pair!

  6. I've never loved my Chiro more since fooling around with my horse's hooves. I have NO clue how people do multiple horses in a day, when I usually aim for two hooves, every other day, twice a month. It's a work OUT. I still haven't purchases the hoof jack but lust after it. Good for you :)

  7. I want a real hoof jack! Trimming hooves is DEFINITELY hard work! Especially when it's four hundred million degrees outside lol. I'm glad you're getting lessons and learning about it though. It is indeed a wonderful skill to have and the biweekly touch ups are so good for them. :D


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