"Horse Crazy" Infects 10 Out of 10 People Exposed to Horses

Hello! My name is Holly Jonsson. I have huge shoes (or boots, I should say) to fill as the newly appointed Director of Sales at EasyCare. While I come from a background in international sales, domestic sales, training, R&D, quality control and everything in between, I am first and foremost a horse lover. It doesn't matter the breed, the discipline, the size of horse, or the country your horse is in: I love them all. For me, it started very young...and it has made me happy ever since.

I had a 9hh mini stallion that I would take jogging in my neighborhood. He hung out with my Weimaraner and I would often come home to find them both passed out on the cold tile floor in the room adjoining the back yard. My little stallion taught all my dogs that apple slices were worth begging for.

While I had ridden a little over 3,000 miles in endurance and even more on trails, for the first time I had to rethink shoeing my "horse". Who made shoes that tiny? I figured leaving him barefoot wasn't that "bad" because he didn't weigh as much as a normal horse, so probably wouldn't hurt his feet with no protection. Little did I know.

Queue my largest horse, a 19.2h Shire rescue.

For the first time in my life, I had a horse that weighed a literal ton and feet the size of frying pans. When I first went to "try him out" I saw his feet were a mess. "Of course they were! He had no shoes on!" But seeing as he was happy and sound and his feet needed loving, I held off on shoeing him. In my mind, I invented excuse #2, "If you aren't riding them much, you probably don't need shoes." I thought I was being cheap. Little did I know I was doing the right thing. He was the first to show me that, regardless of size of horse, they were happier barefoot.

In fact, it wasn't until I had seven horses and the cost of shoeing was a bit too much did I take a step back and try to confront feet. I knew of no horse owners who tended to their own feet and felt like a foreigner. I was lucky to have a familial mentor who showed me the basics of mapping a hoof and lent me a book by Pete Ramey. I was hooked.

I trimmed nearly as often as I cleaned out hooves. It became second nature to just tidy up feet. While my horses were in decent sized turn-outs, I knew that they needed a bit of assistance with light rasping, especially for my girls that weren't being ridden.

When I got Emmitt, a 2 year old halter show filly, they advised me that she really "sparkled" with the right help. That "right help" being a 5 quart bucket of Diet Coke and a large bag of Doritos. She was like flying a kite on a string. I figured I already had my hands full with her, so why not bite the bullet and be her trimmer too? I quickly found how happy a horse could be, once their toes (and diet!) were happy.

She taught me so much in her behavior and with her feet (all four were different: who'da guessed!?) that I knew I would never go back. She was the most happy and easy-going horse I've owned and she was never shod with steel shoes a day in her life.

Along my path I accumulated three PMU foals, a Friesian stallion, a Gypsy stallion, more Arabs than you could shake a stick at and several Gypsy mares and crosses. I currently have my first ever Quarter Horse! I am very passionate about the happiness of the horse and it is abundantly clear to me that happy feet are the start of it. I've seen so many different feet, shapes, and health conditions that affected the hooves. 

Whether you are jumping, doing dressage, doing gymkhana, endurance or simply enjoying your horse on nature trails as a team, I will strive to keep you and your horse in partnership and happy. As Winston Churchill said, "There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man." While I know not everyone can have a horse, it doesn't keep me from thinking everyone should. Just as there is a hoof for every horse, there are a number of great hoof function, performance and protection products that I am now very happy to be partnered up with.

To a great 2014! Kiss your horse, get muddy with your pony and, if you don't have horse hair on your clothes; the happiest part of your day is yet to come.
 

Holly Jonsson

easycare-sales-director-holly-jonsson

Director of Sales

Through a lifetime of "horse crazy" and the fortunate experience of riding nearly every shape and size of horse, I got to see a wide array of hoof shapes and sizes. No Hoof, No Horse is very true to me. I want to ensure that horses on every continent have a variety of footwear to pick from, to ensure the best match is found. I want your partner to be happy from the ground up!

Gluing. Simplified.

Gluing boots is probably the biggest concern I hear from friends and acquaintances wherever I go. While there are plenty of ways gluing can turn into a disaster, there are a few simple steps that can make the process pain-free and downright easy! 

Yesterday I decided to glue boots on Topper for the upcoming City of Rocks endurance ride. We have been having trouble with him this summer as he has been abnormally sore-footed. I was concerned enough to have digital radiographs taken a while back, which showed very thin soles. On a positive note, his angles looked GREAT and his coffin bones are lovely. While I can probably be blamed for his thin soles, I can also take credit for balancing him nicely, keeping his toes back and his angles correct. I can be pretty hard on myself so it is a good thing his feet weren't a total disaster! He has since grown some foot and with some pointers from a few different and very talented trimmers, we're looking better and better all the time. I still wanted to offer him as much protection, concussion relief and stability as I could, so gluing it was! I don't know what I ever did without Easyboot Gloves and Glue-Ons! Oh right, I had someone else shoe them. Those days I do not miss. 

Unfortunately, the weather didn't get the memo. Like many parts of the country, we are suffering through a pretty significant heat wave, on day five of 100+ temps. No worries, we could do this! The biggest thing I was concerned about was my Adhere setting up in .002 seconds, instead of the normal .2 seconds. To prevent this, I put the cartridge of Adhere in a box with an ice pack to keep the temperature cooler. It worked  like a charm and my Adhere set up at a reasonable rate without giving me any anxiety attacks. 

 

While gluing takes a little work and preparation, the more organized and prepared you are, the better the outcome. I repeat- get yer shit together first! Running around like a chicken with its head chopped off is not ideal!

Here is how I make things work: 

First off, gather all of your supplies. By all, I mean *all." The last thing you want is to realize you forgot your mallet as the Adhere is drying in the boot and you have no way to fully seat it on the foot. No bueno! My box has the shells I need (extras if you're really good, sometimes you just never know what's going to happen!), a tube of Adhere, Vettec gun, plenty of tips, a tube of Sikaflex, a box of latex gloves (never underestimate how many you might need. For real.), hoof pick with brush, rasp to prepare the foot, hoof knife to trim up necessary frog/bars/etc, nippers to open the glue, rubber mallet to whack on the boot, a towel to wipe up and a partridge in a pear tree. 

 

The next thing I do is prepare my area. I like to glue on a flat surface with rubber mats, and obviously today, shade was NECESSARY! Thanks Sally, the use of your trailer for shade was muuuuuuch appreciated. I owe you. I also hang a full hay bag, put out a bucket of water and sweep up all the debris that mostly just irritates me. After preparing the horse part, I lay out all my stuff so it's within easy reach and do a double check to make sure I have everything. Today on my double check I realized I forgot to bring over my mallet and my gloves! After my third check, I go get my horse. 

Ready to rock! You can DO IT!

I set right to work when I bring the horse over by thoroughly cleaning up the feet that are going to be glued, and after cleaning the feet, I score the hoof wall with the edge of the rasp in a diagonal pattern to create a better bond between the glue and hoof wall. I then try on my shells, to make SURE they fit! I was incredibly embarrassed when EasyKev was gluing boots on Nero at the Owyhee Fandango ride and I realized the size boots I thought fit his back feet didn't actually fit! The last thing you want to do is find this out with a boot full of glue. Not ideal! After confirming your fit, you are good to go and on the downhill slope. 

The first thing I do when I'm ready to actually start gluing, is put on four pairs of latex gloves. Serious guys, I put two pairs on each hand, which makes it really easy to just peel one layer off for a fresh layer if necessary. I abhor glue on my hands! I then open up my Sikaflex and apply a thick bead around the inside where the wall of the boot connects to the sole, as well as a frog-shaped triangle on the sole of the boot. Then I squish the Sikaflex on the wall making sure there is enough, and peel off that first layer of glued gloves. The beauty of Sikaflex is that it takes forever to cure, so doing this all at once doesn't hurt anything. I then take whichever boot will be going on first over to the side of the horse, as well as my ready-to-go Adhere. Squeeze some Adhere onto the upper wall of the boot and get ready to move fast. 

Boots with Sikaflex. I leave the yellow stickers in for good luck!

Place the boot on the foot, taking care not to let the toe of the foot drag the Adhere further down, twist on and whack with your mallet. I like to make sure the boot is fully set on the foot and then put the foot down and immediately pick up the opposite foot. When watching the EasyCare crew glue, I saw they hold the foot up until the Adhere cures, which may be a better method, but I've always put the foot down. While holding up the other leg, I spread the oozing Adhere around the top of the boot, creating a seal. If there isn't enough at this time, I'll do a seal on all my boots when I'm done with the gluing process, in order to save Adhere tips. I can be cheap when I want to be! Rinse, repeat and set. 

The actual gluing process takes minutes and goes quickly. I know I'm not the only one with ridiculously impatient geldings, so in order to save patience I like to get the horse right before I'm ready. Because the horse needs to stand quietly (HAH!) tied for about an hour or so after your done gluing, it can make for a long time tied and crabby ponies if you get them out too soon. If you were short on time or heavy on fidgety horses, you could increase the amount of Adhere used to really set that boot. Luckily, when it's over 100*, even impatient young geldings stand quietly in the shade munching their hay. Positives in everything, ya'll!! After letting Topper stand for an hour and a half, I turned him out and cleaned up my small mess. 

I know I said this before, but it deserves to be repeated: A little PRE-organization and preparation can make or break your day. Make it! Don't break it! You can do this!

There Is An Easier Way – Some Thoughts On Grinder Trimming

By: Lisa Morris, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

 
I am a Barefoot Hoofcare Practitioner in the San Antonio Hill Country area of Texas. In my spare time, I am pulled in many directions. I have a busy family with three lovely kids. We live and work a ranch that has been in my husband’s family since 1867. I am active with my children's school. My time is precious and in short supply.
 
Mary Alice and Buddy
 
My daughter Mary Alice has inherited the horse crazy gene.
 
I enjoy recreational trail riding and I have begun training my naturally gaited, barefoot, Tennessee walking horse, Gator for ACTHA Competitive Trail Challenges. He is my steady riding companion who had a previous life as a Field Trial horse in Mississippi. Gator graciously agreed to model grinder trimming for this blog.  
 
 
Gator rocks his Easyboot Epic hoof boots with 12 mm medium comfort pads. Rack on.
 
I board a few horses, include the occasional soundness rehab project. So, in addition to trimming 15-20 outside horses on average per week, I maintain the horses at home. Last summer was brutal; the temperatures in Texas during the drought were record-setting. I was in survival mode to try to get everything done without getting heat stroke. To add injury to insult, the hooves were rock hard from several months of drought. I got serious about using an angle grinder to trim horses. The result is that my own personal horses, and the client horses that I have introduced to the grinder are fine with the process. Grinder trimming is very fast and effective. It’s easier on me physically than wielding traditional tools. A nice quality, new rasp and sharp GE nippers are hard to beat, but it is nice to have alternatives. Even when I lug my traditional tools around to work at the local barns on customer horses, I enjoy the change of using a grinder to trim our own horses.  
 
 
Gator has his tail tied in a knot and secured with a hair band for grinder trimming.
 
Here are some observations that may be helpful if you have considered stepping away from your rasp.
 
1. Consider the temperament and training of the horse.
If your horse is well trained and desensitized to body clippers, more than likely it would accept the noise of the grinder without any due regard. If the horses panics with clippers touch him, don’t even think about using a grinder until that is resolved. Even if your horse is a sleeper, introduce it to the grinder in a very logical approach and retreat manner; train it to accept the machine. I find that it is easier for the horse to accept the noise if it is constantly running, rather than off and on. Keep it running steady when possible. Start by having a helper hold your horse and touch your horse with your right hand, with your left hand holding the running angle grinder. Touch him in the safe zone of his shoulder and wither area. Your horse will feel the vibration of the machine in your free hand. When he relaxes, and accepts the grinder, back away and turn off the machine as a reward. Rinse and Repeat, both sides of the horse until it could care less. Don’t force the issue, look for acceptance and retreat. This is a nice situation to give your friend a cookie as a reward for accepting the noisy machine.  
 
Start the trimming process with the back hooves. As odd as it sounds, the horse accepts it more readily. I think the air from the grinder blowing on the belly is harder to accept for most horses. Some people also desensitize their horses with a blow dryer before they trim with the grinder. I usually start by trimming from the top, keeping the bevel low on the hoof wall. I then put the hoof in the hoof stand cradle and balance the bottom of the hoof. If the hoof is rather long, I usually just use my nippers and give a rough trim first.  
 
 
Working on the bottom of the hoof, trim in progress. HIs hooves were overdue.
 
2.  Consider your own training and expertise.
Are you already experienced with trimming horses with conventional tools? Can you map out the strengths and weaknesses of the horses hooves and objectively balance them correctly? If you are a beginner trimmer, it is best to continue practicing with quality conventional tools. If you are frustrated with your tools, perhaps it is because they are cheap and ineffective. Invest in quality tools. The angle grinder is a great tool, but it is easy to over due things quickly. If you are not experienced at handling horses in spooky situations, I would skip the grinder. You and/or your horse could get hurt.
 
 
Angle Grinder with trigger switch, hair bands, safety glasses, 60 grit flap disks.
 
3.  Invest and use the right equipment.
Even if you are just experimenting with grinder trimming it is best to have the correct things you will need. The lighter the grinder is to hold, the better off you will be. Compare the weights and hold them when shopping for a grinder. I like an angle grinder with a paddle switch or a trigger. A grinder that has a constant on/off switch only is much more dangerous when things go wrong. With horses, things will eventually go wrong. If you are working anywhere around water, like a wash rack, use an extension cord with a circuit breaker GFI plug. Cordless angle grinders are great, but much heavier due to the battery packs.  
 
I use 60 grit flap disks and I only trim a couple of horses before replacing the disk. They get dull rather quickly. I am also one who is quick to change out a rasp if they are somewhat dull. Use a quality hoof stand with a cradle; do not use a tripod type stand. Do not attempt to hold the horses’ hooves in between your legs or in the traditional farrier stance. If the horse spooks you do not want him tangled in your legs, extension cord.  
 
TFTT
 
Keeping the bevel low on the hoof wall. I can release the trigger in the event of a spook and my grinder stops.
 
4.  Obtain and use safety equipment.
The trimmer should use gloves, I like the latex gardening gloves, ear protection and eye protection. I have longish hair, and I always wear it pulled back and in a hat. You do npy want your hair or your horse’s tail wrapped in a grinder. Don’t wear loose or flapping clothing.
 
Tie up your horse’s tail in a knot and secure it with bands. Have a horse savvy helper hold your horse. If you must tie him, only use a quick release ring like the famous clinicians promote. Make sure the area you are working in is safe and free from anything that could injure your horse if it decides to spook or otherwise have a tantrum. Have your horse treated with fly spray so it isn't stomping flies.
 
Tied Blocker Ring
 
Gator with a safety tie ring and tools, we are ready to trim.
 
Be conservative when trimming. Always stop before you think you need to and check your work from different angles. Give your horse mental breaks when he needs it. Summer is coming and I will probably start using my grinder a bit more again. I am glad I have an easier way for trimming when needed.
 
Have you tried using a grinder to trim your horse? What was your experience? Do you have any tips that I missed here? What equipment works for you?
 
Lisa Morris

Thinking Outside the Box (Or is it Bottle?): A Glove Twist/Loss Solution

Are you still twisting those hind hoof Gloves, or, worse yet, losing them completely? Even with the proper use of Mueller Athletic Tape and a good trim and boot fit? I do... Why? Well, look at my mare's legs in the pictures, and you will see why! She is a great horse, but took the philosophy that a little cow-hocked is fine in a horse, and ran with it a bit too far. Thus, she toes out a good bit and with her nice, Morgan/QH rear end (wish her brains were there too: lately the Arab half has come out on that end), she powers along with a good twist to her hind leg movement.

This means every boot (EC styles and competitor brands of all kinds) has not stayed straight on her hoof, and can come off altogether at a canter. Glue-On boots solve that for multi-day rides, but for a single day ride, I don't want the hassle or expense. So I had to come up with a solution for her. I tried varying ones (Goober Glue, Vet Tech products, etc) and finally found a cheap and fairly easy solution: a bottle of Gorilla Glue and some athletic tape.

How it Works
1) Use athletic tape on the hoof as you usually would (see how she toes out? Add a "twist" with every push off of the hoof, and you have a lot of torque on the boots).

GG1

2) Put on the Gloves as usual. I put power straps on the inside here, but also use them on the outside. With Gorilla Glue, the boots are totally re-useable. This is the fourth gluing on these particular boots.

GG2

3) Gather your tools: Gorilla Glue, flat head screwdriver (smallish is better), gloves for your hands, and more athletic tape or duck tape if you prefer.

GG3

4) This is where it can get tricky if your horse is new at it. Having a helper hold up one of your horse's front feet to keep them from picking up the rear one or walking off can help until (like my mare) they figure out you want them to keep the foot down and still.

Insert the screwdriver between the hoof wall and the boot, gently prying hte boot away from the wall and exposing a gap. Start near the back where the gaiter attaches and work all the way around the hoof (see photo below).

GG4

5) Insert tip of the GG bottle into the gap, and squirt glue down into the boot. You will figure out with trial and error how much you need. Just like with Adhere and Glue-On boots, some horses need more or less. Try at home before you go to an event. Do this all around the boot from gaiter edge to the other gaiter edge. I have not needed any in the rear of the boot so far, and a little will flow back there anyway on its own. Using two hands works best. I had to take a picture with one hand, so had to figure out how to balance the bottle and screwdriver in the other.

GG5

Below is a close-up of the glue down in the gap. GG foams up as it dries, expanding and thus filling in some of the gaps that cause the rear boots not to fit as well, as well as providing 'stick factor'.

GG6

6) Take your roll of athletic (or other) tape and wrap it around the top edge of the boot, all the way behind the heels and the front. A few times around is usually plenty. This helps keep things in place while the glue dries (it takes a few hours) and puts a little pressure on the boot to help the glue foam into all the gaps, instead of out the top of the boot. You can see the foamy old glue on the outside of the boot.

GG6

Both feet finished and waiting to dry. Do this after a ride or anything else that will cause your horse to move around too much. Remember, it takes a few hours to really set up nicely, and you don't want it to set up twisted on the hoof. I do this the night before an event and just leave the gaiters loose overnight, then tighten in the morning.

GG7

Removal and Cleanup
Removal works just like with Glue-Ons. Using a flat-head screwdriver and a rubber mallet, carefully pry the boot away from the hoof. This works best if you stick the screwdriver head between the hoofwall and the athletic tape. Once you get the boot off, just pull the tape out of the boot, which removes most of the glue.

I actually like some of the glue to stay in, as it creates a custom shimming in the boot, so I can use the boots on training rides with minimal twist and no glue. Just mark the boots so you know which goes on the right and left hoof. The glue comes out pretty well, and it is 'softish', so leaving some residue in the boot (even on the soles) doesn't bother the horse.

This was a shot of the boots after three gluings, just before I put them on for this one.

GG8

You can see how the glue and some left over tape has lined the inside of the boot, making it somewhat of a custom fit boot.

GG9

And the other boot: much less glue stuck to this one. You can see the power strap a bit better on the inside as well.

GG11

I hope this helps a few of you. It works great on my horse, and we tried it on a little gaited horse that also twists off Gloves. It worked great for her too!

Natalie Herman

Cheap Horse Boots

Hoof boots sold cheap on eBay

Do you own a hoof boot that doesn't fit your current horse?  Do you have a hoof boot that is ready to be retired?  Don't throw it out!  Send it in and get an EasyCare hoof boot at half price.

EasyCare has a Hoof Boot Upgrade Program that allows hoof boot users to send in non-EasyCare hoof boots in exchange for an EasyCare hoof boot model.  The program has been successful because it allows the consumer to send in a boot that may not fit their horse correctly or isn't working on their specific horse.  Worn out or used boots can also be sent in for exchange on a half price purchase of an EasyCare branded hoof boot.  It's a great opportunity to try the lightweight and agile Easyboot Glove.  The exchanged boots are then listed on ebay at a cheap price and sold as a complete lot. 

Cheap Horse Boots

The complete photo of the exchange hoof boots that will be sold on eBay.
The current eBay selection has the following boots.

2 Delta Hoof Boots
10 Swiss Horse Boots
2 Marquis Hoof Boots
5 Davis Barrier Horse Boots
11 Renegade Hoof Boots
47 Cavallo Simple Boots

Swiss Horse Boots Cheap

Swiss Horse Boots


Cavallo Simple Boots at a cheap price

Cavallo Simple Boots


Renegade Hoof Boots for sale cheap

Renegade Hoof Boots

All boots are in various sizes and different conditions.  Some are slightly used and others more used. 

This is a great opportunity for a horse rescue or barefoot trimming school.  Shipping weight is roughly 80 lbs.  Winning bidder pays shipping via ground transport.

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President & CEO

I have been President and CEO of EasyCare since 1993. My first area of focus for the company is in product development, and my goal is to design the perfect hoof boot for the barefoot horse.

Uno Gets a Mega-Trim

During the week before Virginia City 100, in two separate evening sessions, I trimmed and stuck Glue-ons on Uno's front and back feet. It took me about 20 minutes to trim and glue the rears—and an hour and a half to do the fronts. Why? Because I was desperately trying to smoosh Uno's large front feet into a size too small boot.
 
This was a gradual trap to fall into. Each time I'm trim him, I'd have to take a bit more off until I'd crossed that line from "slight reshaping of hoof to get a nice snug fit" to "complete resculpturing of the foot to get them on" <grrr>. I'd also made a mistake about two weeks previously: during a moment of inattention, I'd trimmed one heel on his right front too short (I have to work really hard to not be over-enthusiastic with my new nippers), so had to even them up.

What a dummy <sigh>. Just what we needed before Uno's first 100. I wasn't terribly surprised when we lost both front glue-ons about 45 miles into the ride. It kind of reminded me of a pair of riding tights I made for myself - I was warned to be sure the calf was good and tight and of course made it too tight. As a result, the stupid things are always slipping down. You want your boots snug, but if they are too small they'll just tend to boing off.
 
Realising that it was time to take a step-back and that Uno was on break for a month anyway, I let his feet grow out for nearly seven weeks    =8^o   (<-- that's ASCII artwork showing "hair-raising") so I could start again from scratch and see what was really going on.
  
So here's my attempt at a step-by-step trimming example.
 
If you're a new trimmer and considering starting to do your horse's feet yourself, I'd recommend not doing it this way. It's way harder to trim a horse with 72"-long feet, than to touch-up an existing un-out-of control foot, so better to get a "Hoof Care Professional" to get the foot where it needs to be and then work from there.

What you will need:
  • A rasp (this is crucial)
  • A hoofpick (I like those ones with the spiky brush on the other side to get the bits off the hoof)
  • A hoof-stand (trying to trim without a hoof-stand is possible, but it's about 50 times harder than with a stand, and much, much harder to do a competent job without becoming demoralised)
  • A hoof knife (I like a narrow-bladed one to get into the nooks and crannies of the frog). 
  • A horse with feet.
In addition, a pair of really good nippers is wonderful. Having said that, for the first year or so, I didn't have nippers and did everything with a rasp. This works fine until you don't get around to trimming someone for many weeks and then have to remove half an inch of hoof wall in the middle of the summer.  Can you say "sweat and biceps"? 

If you're worried about shelling out lots of money buying expensive tools for something you're not sure you're going to be able to manage (and you won't be alone - I was that person once), get the hoof-stand before the nippers. The hoof stand will make your life so much more pleasant and you're more likely to feel like you are capable of trimming your own horse.

Anyway. On with the show. My caveat is that I'm self-taught and this is meant to show how I trim my horses - knowing how they grow, how they move, how much work they're going to be doing, on what kind of terrain, what has/has not worked in the past. I'll probably forget to mention some super-important detail, so please don't follow this as gospel and lame your horses because of it. This is just what I do.  You need to read as much as you can (I highly recommend Pete Ramey as a common sense, non-radical, real-life trimmer), think about what you read, discard things that don't work for you, and experiment to see what does. 


1. Above we see Uno's right front pre-trim at 7 weeks. Euw - bull-nosed toe (I'd rasped and rasped to get it in the stupid boot. Remember - do not try this at home, it works really badly), and very long and spatulate-like.


2. To start with, clean the crud out of the foot, so you can see what's going on. I scrape most of the mud off the outside of the hoofwall, as well as the underside of the foot. Clean out the frog so you really know where the mud ends and the foot starts. Then take a look at what needs to be done. 
 
In Uno's case, I see is horrendously long heels, overlaid bars, lots of sole, and raggedy-thrushy frog.

3. He was shedding some frog at the front, some of the rear portion had lots of funky flaps and pockets for thrush to hide in, and there were some flaps along the groove, so using my hoof knife I trimmed all the rubbish off. 
 
My objective with the frog is to leave it as much alone as possible (although you couldn't tell that, looking at this example), but at the same time I'm trying to avoid hidey-holes in which for thrush to develop - so what/how much you cut off becomes a judgement call. If I know the horse is going to be ridden barefoot exclusively so will self-wear (or if the horse hadn't been allowed to grow out for 7 weeks and get completely out of whack) then I'd be much less aggressive in my frog sculpting. What you see here is way more radical than I would normally be comfortable with.
 
But, yikes, trimming off that frog made his heels look even longer!

4. Another view showing his long heels.

One question that comes up is "how do you know how much foot you can trim off?" My guideline is the seat of the corn (see red arrow) - this is the little corner of sole which sits in the V-shape of the bar/hoof. On a horse with lots of overlaid bar, it can be hard to find sometimes. This is part of the heel area that you're trying to trim down to move to the back of the foot for support. I clean that area out down to proper sole (as opposed to mud or crumbly sole) and that's my limit - I go no deeper than that.

For the rest of the foot, towards the end of summer most of the horses are hiding proper sole under lots of dry, dead, false sole which presents a problem. Do you dig around and take it off, or do you leave it?

Ideally, you want to avoid paring away sole - you're hoping to get that nice barefoot callous going. But in reality, if your horse isn't housed on rough terrain there is usually a time when you need to get the old sole off because it's packed in there (by the end of summer, my horses are living in fluffy dirt in their dry lot - the chances of anything wearing off their feet are slim to none).

So the answer to that question depends on the horse. A few months ago, a friend and I trimmed four horses between us, aggressively removing false sole from all of them. Given how much I'd taken off, I expected mine to be sore but surprisingly they weren't. Of my friend's two horses, one was fine, while the other (trimmed in the same way) could barely walk for about a week.  So the trick is know your horse - and experiment little by little.

When I first started trimming I took very little off. The only thing I used on the sole was my hoof-pick - if the sole didn't come off with that, it could stay there. Now I'm more enthusiastic (did I mention my new nippers?) and have to mentally curb my desire to hack away at the sole. I'm guessing the ideal is somewhere in between the two.


5. Here I've taken my nippers and worked on Uno's overlaid bars. He grows lots of bar and if not kept under control, it starts to flop over onto the sole. I've also trimmed off some of the more upright parts of the bars. On some horses you can do this with a hoof knife. Not Uno, though, he grows bars of steel.


6. Here I've gone a step further. I'm gently poking around on the sole to try and ascertain what's healthy sole and what's junk. Because Uno has been allowed to grow out and because it has been wet here, his feet are very soft and crumbly underneath. In reality, until I get some of the loose sole off, I can't tell what's what, so I'll just scrape away any obvious excess junk sole. If I were to look at his feet again in a week or two, there will probably be more sole to take off, but I'm going to err on the side of caution here and not go bananas this time around.

Again, if Uno was working, if it was drier here, if he was walking on rockier stuff, etc, his soles would be nothing like this - they'd be hard, shiny.


7. Here's my first pass with the nippers. Now the foot is starting to get where I want it.
 
In the olden days, pre-nippers, I'd have to rasp off all the excess hoofwall, so being able to chomp my way around it is a good thing (provided I am very cautious about not taking off too much heel <grin>).
 
The red arrow is indicating some bruising that I found under his overlaid bar - if too much of it builds up, it's like a stone in your shoe - not comfy. 
 
The blue arrow is showing a crease in the sole - this is a slight separation between bar and sole and was initially completely hidden by the overlaid bar. Some crud has got in there. 
 
His hoofwalls are nice and thick, although there's some separation along the white line on the inside quarter (the black stuff along the edge of the hoof below/left of the red arrow). The longer the hoof, the worse this can become - the hoof is being bent away from the foot and stretched. This will result in the horse getting ouchy, unwanted crud working its way into the resulting groove, and your horses feet never improving. So the goal is to keep the feet nice and short to avoid this happening.
 
One area that is fairly sacred is the toe-callous - it's the area of sole closest to the toe, between the end of the frog and the front of the hoof. You want good, thick sole there to protect the front edge of the coffin bone on your barefoot horse, so always consider carefully if you feel the need to take anything off that area. Often I'll leave it completely alone. Here, however, I've been quite aggressive because I know Uno is long and grows lots and lots of toe. But this would be an area for caution on a horse you don't know.
 

8. Once I've gotten this far, I switch out the cradle on my stand for the rubber stopper and work the hoof from the top. In the old days, pre-nippers, I would do most of my work from the top - it's easier to take off extra hoofwall working from the top than the bottom, so if you're nipper-less consider that.

This is also the point you would be looking for any flare on the hoofwall and removing it. In Uno's case, there isn't much flare on his fronts, so I'll have to wait for another example to show that.

To start, I took off a bunch of that nice thick toe - good to have it as protection, but not so good in terms of faster breakover and strain on the tendons - I like my toes really short. Another consideration is that having short toes, especially on a toe-y horse like Uno, you're far more likely to have success keeping your boots on than if you have long toes.
 
Uno still had globs of Adhere Glue (the black stuff) stuck to his hoof walls from his Glue-ons at Virginia City, so I chiselled that off a little, and worked my way around the bottom edge of the hoof, bevelling it slightly.


9. And this is what it looks like on the underside now - much less toe and hoofwall, and no sharp edges to snag hoofwall. And bravo, Lucy - you have resisted hacking away at the still-too-long-heels in favour of a slightly more finessed rasp-approach – still to come.

Looking at this photo, it's a pretty radical trim and not what I would do on a horse that didn't grow as much foot as Uno. Again, it's a case of knowing your horse and knowing his characteristics. I will try to take a photo in a week or so to compare with this to show how much he grows.


10. One thing that is worrying me at this stage is how deep a groove he has (where my index finger is pointing). I don't know if this is because he has excess sole still to shed, or if I need to trim more off. For now, I'm not doing more, but will watch this to see what happens. He's very flat-footed - I seldom see much concavity in his feet - and even less right now. Again, how much of this is a product of letting him get so long?


11. Here we're much closer to being finished. I'm working from the underside again.

Holding the leg by the fetlock, let the hoof flop vertical and sight down the foot. What you're looking for is any unbalance from side to side. Is one heel higher than the other? do you have a bulge of foot somewhere that needs to be taken down? When the foot lands, will it have a nicely-balance platform?

I've taken a rasp and rolled the entire outside edge, filed down the heels, and have paid special attention to that separated area on the right in this photo - I don't want the hoofwall there to get snagged on anything, so roll it extra specially. When I think I'm done, I'll run my fingers around the bottom edge to see if I can feel any areas that might get snagged by rough ground and chipped/bent and touch them up into a nicely smoothed bevel with my rasp.

As a final step, if the foot was thrushy, I'll treat it with some magic potion before letting the horse go out to play. My potion of choice is Coppertox, but I know many people feel it's a bit too toxic, you end up with green hands, green horse and green stall, it's stinky, and it's not that cheap. This is an area for research - see what others are using and decide for yourself.


 12. The finished foot, compared to its neighbour... ah, that's better.

For me, figuring out what the foot should look like is a little bit like being able to recognise good conformation in a horse. To begin with it just looks like a horse. Then gradually you start to recognise "well, that horse's back is rather long"... and your mind starts to filter out "horse shape" and see "good/bad conformation horse shape". Same with trimming. Eventually you won't just see "horse foot", you'll start to notice "too much heel", "too much toe", "flare on the outside"... etc.

13. The finished right front foot.
 

14. The untrimmed left front neighbouring foot. Ack.

Because I let him go so long, I will probably check again in a week or so to see what's happening. That's one of the neat things about doing your own hooves - you can keep poking at them and see what happens.

You know what you're aiming for: short heels, short toes, no flare, minimum chipping, and lack of thrush. By working towards those goals, the feet should eventually turn into what you're hoping for - it might just take a while. But one day you'll look at them and think "Huh, all that [insert whatever hoof problem your horse had] is gone and I didn't even notice". 

If you make a mistake (as I did, over-trimming Uno's heel... and then did exactly the same thing a couple of weeks later with Roop), the foot regrows. Your horse may not be too impressed with you, but so long as you learned from the experience, you can try to avoid repeating it.

In the early days, I would take off much less foot, unwilling to get too carried away, but invariably would look again a few days later and wonder why I thought I had done enough - a fresh eye often shows you things you didn't notice at the time - either in terms of uneveness or just not taking enough off.


This is actually Fergus, who got trimmed next. Patrick bought me this little rolly-stool which I sometimes use for initial foot clean-up. Whilst it helps my back, I would caution the use of one of these - you need to consider your particular horse/trimming situation carefully and make sure you aren't inviting a recipe for being trampled. As an example, I would never use it on a windy day <grin>.


If I know I've got plenty of time to trim the entire horse (sometimes I'll only do the feet two at a time and come back later to do the other two), I usually work my way around the horse, instead of doing both fronts followed by both rears.

My reason for this is that if you do the feet in pairs - both fronts, then both backs - a mysterious force means that the right rear foot will always get done last. Since the right rear foot is the only one that ever does any work, it's usually the one the horse is least comfortable on, so better to get it over and done with earlier on while you're still fresh and can cope with a wriggling horse.

In Uno's case, this time around, I did RF, RR, LR, and LF.

It takes me about an hour to trim each horse - depending on how dirty they are; how long the foot is; how cooperative they feel; how my back feels (this weekend I did three horses and my back was pretty sad by the end - I don't do this for a living. I take lots of breaks to untangle mane, watch the chickens, admire my horses, etc). It also depends how much time I spend staring at the foot to see what needs to be done - Fergus has a wry foot; Roop is toed-in; Jackit grows high heels; Provo grows long curly toes but no heel; Uno just grows and turns into dinner plates; and Hopi, who has the best feet of the whole herd but is the hardest to trim because he's Hopi, gets done too infrequently.

If you poke at the feet more often (once a week? ...much easier to do in the summer when they aren't covered in crud), you'll do yourself a favour and it'll take a lot less time because you're just touching things up not having to do a complete overhaul as I have here.

Oh. And what did I discover at the end of this session? The whole reason I left Uno so long was to discover what size Glove he should actually be wearing - and as suspected he's grown into a size 2 (I put a shell on and then couldn't get it off - always an encouraging sign). Luckily, Fergus wears 1.5s on this back feet, so Uno's front 1.5s can go to F and I'll have to get Uno some 2s. This should really help prevent my recent struggles and help avoid boot-losses. Yay. Mission accomplished.

Basic Tips for Natural Hoof Care

Here is some good knowledge about natural hoof care for horse owners from farrier/trimmer Keith Seeley. Every horse owner should have a basic idea of hoof care so that he/she can be aware of issues that may or may not be serious. Catch them early and they won't be serious. You will be able to assess the hooves and have a good idea of what is going on.
 

Basic Hoof Care Tips for Basic Owners
by Keith Seeley 

Hello. Is this Ms. Henrietta Horseowner? Hi, this is Franky Farrier.
Mr. Farrier, thanks for calling me back so quick. I got your name from Susie Q. We work together. She’s been using you for a while and speaks highly of you. I have X horse and I think I have a problem. My horse’s feet are all split and chipped up. He doesn’t seem to be limping or anything, but I think there is a problem. I admit I don’t know much about horse’s feet, but can you help me?

Ladies and Gentlemen, the story you have just read is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent…. This is a common scenario for many farriers. The range of hoof problems described to us over the phone varies widely, but most of them seem to fit at least one of several categories: split / chipped feet, foundered feet, horse seems lame but don’t know why, or can’t get the current farrier back out. There are others, but for me, these seem to be the more common.

I’d like to provide you with some hints and tips that will hopefully help you keep your horse’s feet healthy and ol’ Skippy happy. After all, it doesn’t matter if you own a pasture pet or a Triple Crown winner, if your horse’s feet are deteriorating and in pain, your horse isn’t worth the hide his old bones are wrapped up in. To be more precise, No Hoof, No Horse!
 

Basic hoof care is one of those things that many people overlook, but is vital to keeping your horse healthy. By performing routine cleaning and care procedures, you will be able to spot changes much more quickly and you will more easily recognize when your horse has a problem or is just developing a problem. Most people know when their car has a problem because they drive it daily. They know when something doesn’t sound right, or when it’s pulling one direction or another or if the brakes don’t seem to stop smoothly and efficiently. The reason for this is they are at least somewhat observant, but mostly because they are in it and around it continuously. Some people practically ‘sleep’ with their cars! The same theory works for horses and their feet, too. The more time you spend with your horse and handling it’s feet, the more aware you will become about what’s normal and what’s not. No, I’m not suggesting you be like those fanatical people who sleep with their cars and sleep with your horse, though I’ve known a few folks who have. I’m merely suggesting you be more aware about your horse’s condition. There are many books, videos and Internet sites devoted to horse care and hoof care. But this article should be a good start for you.

I will discuss a number of common hoof problems that I’ve encountered in the past, how to identify them and what YOU, as horse owners, can do to help your farrier in the care and maintenance of your horse’s feet. Remember this, YOU are responsible for your horse’s feet, NOT your farrier. Your farrier is a service provider, not a miracle worker. You see your horse daily, your farrier sees him once every six weeks at best. The problems I’m about to discuss CAN NOT be fixed by your farrier alone. You have to follow your farrier’s instructions and tend to your horse’s feet between visits.

Thrush:

This is a nasty, smelling, greasy black gunk that affects your horse’s frog and usually embeds itself in the trenches (known as commissars or collateral grooves) beside the frog. Virtually all horses who are left in unkept stalls for any amount of time, who walk though muck and mire for any amount of time, or who’s feet are not tended to regularly, will likely get some amount of thrush. Thrush is a maintenance issue. It’s not life threatening, but it can become a serious problem for your horse if not tended to. Thrush, if left unchecked, will deteriorate the frog and commissures. It can completely eat away at the rubbery frog until there is virtually nothing left, leaving the coffin bone susceptible to bruises, punctures, or worse. The horse’s frogs may bleed freely if the condition gets bad enough. If the frog is eaten away and is not able to perform it’s function, the hoof is very likely to become contracted, blood flow in and out of the foot will likely be lessened and the horse will not perform at it’s optimum.
Prevention: Clean you horses feet at least every two to three days. Daily is better when treating problems like this, but a regular routine will help insure that this condition never gets a good foothold. Use a good hoof pick and clean / brush all dirt, manure, and any other foreign matter from the bottom of your horses foot. Don’t be bashful about it, get in there and clean! Now, you’re not trying to dig to China, but you do want to thoroughly clean the commissures and the toe area. These areas are the most susceptible to problems.
Treatment: My number one recommendation is always good, sound, proper trimming. A balanced body and balanced feet will be better able to ward off problems. But, should your horse have thrush, there are several things you can do to treat it. First, clean the foot regularly as described above. Second, you may need to fight the thrush with chemicals. The idea here is to dry the bottom of the foot out and disinfect it. So, Iodine, Betadine, 10 to 1 solution of Clorox (10 parts water, 1 part Clorox) or Coppertox are all some of the more preferred methods. Personally, I like Apple Cider Vinegar or something like Listerine. They are cheap and easy to come by and are not overly harsh to your horse. Apply any of the above liberally to the affected areas. You may want to use a shallow pan (such as a tin pan, the bowl / plate of a frozen dinner or any of the hoof soaking products on the market) to soak the foot in for a few days. About 20 minutes a day should help you get a handle on the problem. Should you have specific questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact a farrier. They can assist you with specific problems.

                                 
 

Seedy Toe:

This is a condition that affects the white line at the toe of the hoof. USUALLY, your farrier will be able to spot this condition without ever picking the foot up. There will be a crack visible at the toe while looking at the foot on the ground. NOTE: Not all cracks in the toe, or the hoof, indicate seedy toe. There are numerous reasons for cracks and splits in the hoof. This is simply a common occurrence, especially in the southeastern region of the U.S. Seedy Toe is largely an anaerobic bacteria / fungus combination that affects the white line (the normally thin, tan line that separates the outer hoof wall from the sole of the foot when observed from the ground surface of the foot.) Oddly enough, structurally speaking, the toe is the weakest point of the foot. In a normal, supple, healthy hoof, the toe will flex as weight is born and released on the foot. If the foot is out of balance, too dry or too wet, the toe area looses suppleness and becomes prone to this condition. Seedy toe is not life threatening, but can become so bad as to cause the horse to loose its outer hoof wall.
Prevention: Sound trimming principles, always. Also employ qualified, certified farriers to work on your horse. By doing so, you are better assured that your horse’s hoof health will remain in check, or it will begin to improve with regular maintenance. Your horse is less likely to be affected by seedy toe if its feet are trimmed and balanced on a regular basis. Most farriers recommend that interval to be every 6 to 8 weeks. More sever cases, regardless of the ailment, may require a shorter frequency. You can help by keeping the feet regularly picked and cleaned or even touched up between farrier visits. Regular maintenance is the key to this one. It also doesn’t hurt if you move to a less tropical region of the country. But, if that’s not in your plans, you may have do deal with it from time to time.
Treatment: There are several methods for treating this seedy toe. They each depend on the severity. In moderate to extreme cases, resecting the hoof, totally eliminating the affected tissue (such as when surgeons remove tissue for treating cancer patients), treating the remaining area with a strong antiseptic, and rebuilding the missing hoof with any one of several epoxy or acrylic compounds available to farriers may be in order. Other methods my involve digging out as much of the ‘cheesy’ material that is packed in the hole that is beginning to work it’s way up the hoofwall and packing it with strong chemicals such as iodine crystals. The idea is to clean, disinfect and dry out the affected spot. Your farrier should be able to identify this condition and recommend the appropriate treatment. Follow your farrier’s instructions. This condition will very likely require you to perform regular maintenance until it’s gone. How long with that be? That will depend on the severity of the case, how fast your horse grows new hoof and how diligent you are with the recommended treatment.

Founder:

Folks, this is a huge topic, too much to go into thoroughly in this article alone. But I will try to hit some highlights. There are several degrees of severity to this condition and each horse needs to be dealt with on an individual basis. There are perhaps as many opinions of and treatments for founder as there are farriers, vets and owners. If your horse has never foundered, be grateful and do what ever it takes to keep your horse from foundering. Don’t over feed, don’t give all vaccinations in one shot, break them up over several weeks, and keep an eye out for any signs of sever stress to the horses system. Be careful not to ‘kill him with kindness’. If he has founded, please contact me. This has become my area of specialization. Founder and lameness cases now make up just about half of my business, but it's growing more day by day.
Prevention: Since there are so many things that can bring on a case of founder, the best thing I can say is make dietary changes slowly and in moderation. The single largest reason for horses to founder is an abrupt change in the horses system. People tend to believe it’s from fresh spring grass. That’s usually just the last straw. The horse’s body coming out of winter is very likely only use to having hay and grain. People tend to feed too much or don’t back off as winter is waning. Therefore the horse is likely still too heavy, carrying too much fat stored up before winter. His body hasn’t had the chance to shed weight and get ready for the new year. So, an abundance of fresh green grass, often combined with spring vaccinations and wormings, is too much for their bodies to handle. This causes a build up of stress and toxins in their system, which the body is forces to do the best it can to prevent the internal organs from being affected. So, the toxins are sent to the lowest points of the body; i.e., the feet. This starts the chain of events for founder into motion. There are dozens of other reasons for a horse to founder, some of which are colic, stress, overfeeding, feeding too rich for the horses use and exercise, and even something as simple as taking away it’s pasture buddy or bringing one in. The research group BOGHS has many years of experience with founder and lameness issues. Look them up and seek out their help if you can.

Dry / Cracked hooves:

There are numerous reasons why a horse may have dry and / or cracked hooves. Some reasons are arid, sandy terrain, damp nights and mornings in the pasture then parched conditions by afternoon (this one is great for loosing shoes. The feet swell at night from the moisture, and then shrink by afternoon. Repeatedly done, this loosens the nails of the shoe, causing it to no longer fit properly. This is very aggravating for farriers!). Other reasons include improperly balanced feet, or changes taking place within the inner hoof capsule. Note: it is possible to have perfectly supple hooves and still have cracks. Cracks could be due to old hoof or coronary band (the area of the hoof right at the hairline) injuries. Consult a farrier for these type problems.
Prevention: If you’re in the southern region of the U.S., this may be tough in the summer time. The best prevention is maintenance. Keep your farrier coming every 6 to 8 weeks. Try not to let your horses feet get overly wet then overly dry in a given day. Most of the time, this will not cause any problems for your horse. It’s more of a cosmetic problem. But if allowed to go unchecked, problems can develop. By applying hoof moisturizers to the coronary band on a regular basis, you can help lessen this condition. Applying conditioner to the hoof wall rarely does any good for the horse. Mostly, it makes you feel good. The wall is too thick for any of the chemicals and oils to penetrate deep enough to be effective.
So that you don’t misunderstand this condition, let me make this statement. Dry hooves are not a problem. Generally speaking, your horse is designed to handle dry conditions. But repeatedly going from wet to dry to wet to dry, etc., etc., is what allows problems to occur. BUT, just because your horse is in this type of environment doesn’t mean your horse will develop problems. It’s merely opening the door for problems, such as seedy toe. Again, consult a qualified farrier should you have questions or concerns.

In case you’ve not seen the pattern that has developed in this article, the key to having a healthy, happy horse is for you to perform regular, diligent maintenance on your horse’s feet AND to employ a qualified, certified farrier to work on your horses feet on a regular basis. If you already have a good farrier that sets your next appointment before he leaves and shows up close to the time he’s given you and is keeping your horses feet healthy, great! Do what you can to keep him or her safe and happy! If you don’t have a qualified farrier, I’ll supply you with the number of the BWFA where you can call and get the name of a certified farrier nearest to you. Should you have problems that you can’t identify or feel you need additional information about a specific condition or problem, please contact the BOGHS research group or me.

I mentioned one scenario at the beginning of this article that probably affects the health of your horse, but has nothing to do with a specific ailment. This situation tends to be more prevalent with new horse owners or uninformed horse owners. Folks, if you are going through farrier after farrier to come out and work on ol’ Thunder, your problem may be with the ‘ground manners’ of your horse. No farrier wants to, or can afford to, work on a horse that has poor ground manners. This condition is a matter of discipline, training and respect. Your horse is likely short on all count. Little or no discipline, little or no training will almost guarantee a horse that has little or no respect the a human. I’ve personally worked on dozens of horses that the owners have said ‘I can ride him and do anything I want to with him. I don’t understand why he’s giving you such a hard time.’ The answer to this is, I do. Your horse has been trained well enough to ride, but not to stand for the farrier. You see, a horse doesn’t stand on three feet for an extended period of time naturally. It has to be taught to do that. A horse is afraid of falling, and therefore doesn’t like to have to pick up and hold one of its feet. To him, he’s about to fall, therefore he has to get that fourth foot back on the ground. You may be thinking to yourself that Thunder will let you pick his feet up and clean them out when you ask him to. If that’s true, he’s been taught to be comfortable with lifting a foot and allowing you to clean it. That takes less than a minute usually. But if you handle the foot in the same manner as the farrier does and you handle it longer than a minute, you’ll likely get a completely different reaction from your horse. So if you are going through farriers faster that you can use up that carton of milk in fridge, then your problem may be due to your horse’s behavior. If this is the case, talk to you farrier about what you can do to train your horse to stand better or to pick up his feet easier. I’m sure he’ll be happy to discuss it with you. Because if you don’t, you may be looking for another farrier, again… For you it’s a headache, for us it’s a matter of health.

I’ve only touched on the problems your horse can develop and the treatments for them. Always seek professional guidance and assistance. And remember, horses are people too. Happy trails,
Keith Seeley

Nancy Fredrick

easycare-office-manager-nancy-fredrick

EasyCare Office Manager

As the office manager, I make sure the general operations of the organization run smoothly and seamlessly from A to Z. I have been on the EasyCare team since 2001 and have first hand product knowledge as my horses are barefoot and booted.

Looking for Cheap Horse Boots?


Everyone loves a bargain so be sure to check out EasyCare's Bargain Bin. Although the inventory changes daily you can find some discontinued styles of the Easyboot Glove, Easyboot Epic and Easyboot Bare at 50% off the retail price as well as some boot accessories and EZ Ride stirrups.

All the items in the Bargain Bin are brand new but are not returnable or exchangeable. If you are purchasing boots please make sure you have measured the hooves accurately.

Bargain Bin orders are for orders placed through our on-line store only, no phone orders please. Inventory and sizes are limited so hurry and place your order now.  If you don't find what you need in the Bargain Bin, check out our on-line store for all your natural hoof care needs from our Save Edge hoof rasp to our HiTie system.

As always please call EasyCare customer service at 1-800-447-8836 if you have any questions.

Shari Murray

easycare-customer-service-shari-murray

Customer Service

If you call the customer service help desk, you’ll probably get me on the phone! I process repairs, returns, credits and exchanges that come into EasyCare.

Trimming Tools and the Art of Maintenance

There are many reasons for that development, but the fact is that more and more riders and horse owners are now trimming their horses hooves without the help of professional hoof technicians and farriers. Protective horse boots are replacing traditional horse shoes in ever increasing numbers. The Glue-On horse hoof boots and Easyboot Gloves are being used more and more in all equestrian disciplines.

Besides acquiring the necessary knowledge and training for hoof trimming, the horse owner also needs to know what tools to get for starters. Looking through tool catalogs, a newcomer might get quickly overwhelmed.

Out of all the available tools, I've selected five that I consider essential for successful hoof trimming:



These five are a must. Without having all five available, do not even start trimming your horses hooves.

Hoof rasps come in a range of prices from $5.00 to $25.00; hoof knives from $3.00 to $75.00; nippers from $35.00 to $225.00. Like in many areas of the tool market, you get what you pay for. Do not buy any cheap tools: you are wasting your money. They will not work well, make life hard and sooner or later you will throw them out to get something that works. Believe me, I have been there and learned the hard, or I might say, the expensive way.

Get some good tools, GE nippers are arguably the best, depending on your hand size, get nippers between 12 and 14 in. 15 in are also available, but I would only recommend them if you have very large hands and long arms. SaveEdge rasps are a good value. Get a handle with it. Purchase a hoof knife that fits your hand: middle to upper price range will suffice here; there are a lot of good knives around. Before buying a hoof knife, spend several minutes holding it, feeling it. Carry it around the store for a while, mimic trimming movements to get a feel for it. It has to feel right in your hand.

The hoof jack is a one time investment, yes, somewhat pricey, but you have to have a hoof stand. The hoof jack is one of the best. It comes with a cradle as well, so it saves your back. You would be wise to get one right away, not after you suffered already for a year and your back is out. By then, you already will have spent more money than the hoof jack costs on body work, massage and chiropractic. The big advantage the Hoof Jack has over other hoof stands is the stability. It won't tip over if you have an unruly horse or one that constantly tries to pull the hoof away from you. Furthermore, you can stabilize it even more by placing your feet over the base. It is really solid then, no other hoof stand lets you do that.


These five tools are necessary to do good and effective hoof trimming. At the Global Endurance Training Center in Moab, we have been using and testing these tools for years and found them to be very useful and also sufficient for most hoof trims. They all have quality and they all last well. Let's say you invested $400 to $500. Now you need to take care of them to increase their life expectancy and usefulness.

Below are some maintenance tools that are inexpensive to acquire but will save you lots in the long run.


We have sharpening tools for your hoof knives, the Swissistor tool works the easiest. Chainsaw sharpening files are also popular, work really well to sharpen the curve of the hoof knife. Stones and metal files do not work as well for the curved tip.

Your rasp should always get stored in a piece of cloth or a protective sleeve. I like to use piece of irrigation pipe. It works great and doesn't cost more than a dime at the most.


A new rasp should last you for about 20 horses; let's say about 80 to 100 hooves. Provided you are following a few tips and tricks to extend the life of a rasp:

1. Always clean the hoof before rasping. The hoof below is in no shape to put your expensive rasp to work.


First use your hoof pick to clean as much as possible, then the wire brush to remove all sand and grit.


Now the hoof is ready for using the nippers or the rasp.


2. Use your nippers more than your rasp. It is easier and time saving.

3. Use the whole rasp. Too many people have a tendency making short strokes, make long and smooth strokes.

4. Use the rasp in a singe direction. No back and forth scrubbing, but instead in the forward cutting way, the way the rasp pattern is designed to cut. Look at the rasp so you understand the way it cuts.

5.When switching from using the nippers to the rasps, don't just toss your tools around on the ground. Place them carefully on a soft towel or board. You can also use the magnets of your hoof jack to lean the tools against when not using them.

6. After finishing your trim, brush your rasp clean with a non metal brush. Wire brushes will dull the rasp. Then store them in a dry environment. Rust will shorten their life.

7. Have all your tools protected when in transport. Don't let them bounce around in a box.


A word on the nippers: good nippers can last you many years. The same rules apply for protection as with the rasps. Don't use them on a dirty hoof, treat them with great care and use some oil or WD 40 to keep them protected from moisture. Rasps should not be oiled, however, it compromises the cutting and makes them collect dirt. Even when you take good care of your nippers, eventually they will dull. You can send it in to have it refurbished. Do not attempt to sharpen the nippers yourself. You will end up ruining them. Guaranteed. It takes great skill and knowledge to sharpen nippers. There are also mail-to services available to sharpen your rasp, but to make it cost effective with shipping, you should mail in several rasps together.

After you are done with your trim, wrap your nippers in a sleeve or protective cloth piece.


Hope these tips will help you getting most out of your investment.

Till the next time,

Your Bootmeister


DIY - Maintaining Your Trim

Sprung from the recent Easycare Webinars are discussions left and right regarding trimming and maintaining the trim, as well as the status of Duncan's bachelorhood (he is a hottie-patottie and could probably find 864 dates in 0.2 seconds given the comments on the webinars). I have heard things such as "Trimming should be left to a professional" and others such as "I want to learn as much as I can about this." Some people want to learn and fully take over the trimming duties, and others want to gain knowledge to know what is going on with their horses' feet, despite not being the main trimmer. Others, like myself, are submerged in Cowboy Country or rural areas and lack competent barefoot professionals. While things are progressing around here, several years ago, there weren't many options in barefoot trimmers unless you wanted the dreaded "pasture trim" from a farrier. 


I started trimming about six years ago, under the guidance of a good friend, who had been doing her own trimming for several years prior. She went through a barefoot trimming course and was truly one of the very first barefoot endurance riders in our area. Although I listened intently, and read/watched all the literature I could find, I didn't truly *GET* it. I was terrified to mess up, scared to really rasp and wouldn't touch nippers or a hoof knife. I don't know when exactly things changed, but once they did, I was hooked. I think it was about the time I purchased a horse with naturally good feet. You see I had been learning to trim on my sweet gelding, who had horrible feet. Not only did he carry a classic case of high/low syndrome, he was borderline clubby on the right front, and eventually was diagnosed with navicular syndrome, backed up by radiographic changes with the navicular bones of both front feet. Not an easy set of feet to work with. Coupled with the dramatic difference in hooves, my gelding was never truly comfortable barefoot, which was not good for my confidence. 

When I started really trimming my big National Show Horse gelding, my confidence grew by leaps and bounds. Not only did he have large, gorgeous feet, he was never footsore and went beautifully barefoot or in boots. Although he was generally a pain in my *$@, his feet taught me so much. Because he has amazing feet, I knew I didn't want to put shoes on him. And as I didn't have many options for barefoot hoof professionals, I had to get in there and do it myself. Luckily I had my friend to check my work, even though the only thing she really told me was that I could take more off. I learned that you really have to be aggressive to cause harm to your horse, and that you can generally always take off more toe!! 

Eddy the day after his shoes were pulled. The farrier did his trim. We had lots to work on but the overall shape of his hoof was good, and we naturally maintained a very balanced trim. 


Three years after the above picture. His feet were gorgeous.. 

A few things are imperative when trimming or even maintaining your own ponies trim. The number one thing I can think of is having good quality tools. As a fairly small woman, I have to giggle when other girls say they aren't physically strong enough to trim feet. While, yes, it may be more difficult than it would be for a stronger man, it is possible!! Most of the problems stem from an old rasp, a dull knife and a cheap pair of nippers. While I am nowhere near qualified to offer trimming advice, I feel like I can offer insight to technique. As stated above, get good tools! I use my rasps for far too long, and every time I get a new one, I ask everyone in sight, giddy, why I didn't replace this rasp a long time ago? A sharp hoof knife is also a necessity, and I have the scars on my wrists to prove that. My hoof knife has since been prohibited from use, and I am a bit spooked to purchase a sharp one, and have resorted to using my nippers during the "hard hoof season." Nippers are another tool that you will eventually need. My husband gave me a pair of GE Forge 14 inch racetrack nippers which are completely appropriate for my small hands, and my ponies hoof growth, as I never let a month go by without doing some trimming. 


Aside from some gloves, those are really the necessities for trimming your own pony. Of course there are some luxuries that really make things easier. Now I don't own a Hoof Jack, but sure wish I did! I got to use my friend's Hoof Jack the other day and realized how much easier it made things! Dang!! I *really* need one of those! The other optional tools include a dremel, which you can use to maintain the bars, and an angle grinder, which takes the back-break out of rasping. I haven't purchased any power tools for trimming as I only trim three head and am constantly keeping up on their feet so an overhaul is rarely needed. 

Right now our horses feet are rock hard from living in the arid desert. I have found that the best time to trim my mare is right after pulling her glued-on boots, or after a rare summer rain.

Khopy looking miserable in an August rain. Not only did it rain, it was 56 degrees out!! The ponies were freezing, but it made for good trimming weather.

Regarding trimming after pulling off boots, of course if you wait longer than an hour or so, her feet are as hard as they would have been if she hadn't had boots glued on! This time I waited a few days after pulling her boots from the Pink Flamingo Classic due to time constraints. I was surprised to find her exfoliating her sole, again! My youngster (who has never been booted) was ALSO exfoliating again, so it was not due to having boots glued on for five days. 

You can see the cracks and fissures in the false sole of Replika's foot. She was also mildly imbalanced, which for her means high on the medial side, very slightly. 


I very gently use my nippers to dislodge the false sole. What doesn't flake off willingly doesn't get forced! 


I then bring back her heels. This picture does not show the final foot, I increased her break-over more than this, but forgot to get a picture.Taking pictures with one hand, while holding the foot and your tools with the other is difficult!! 

While a more experienced trimmer might have taken out more false sole, or may have been more aggressive with the bars, I have been doing my trimming much like the trim above for the past few years. It works for me, and the longer I keep working at it, the more comfortable I feel in doing it. While I wouldn't recommend everyone to randomly start doing all of their horse's trimming without some guidance, I think it is empowering and wise to start doing some of the maintaining. Not only will it keep your boots fitting better, but it will stretch the amount of time between trimming appointments and will allow you to start understanding what you might hear when listening or reading about barefoot trimming. Aside from all that, it will give you ownership and pride in just another area of natural hoof care! 

Happy Trimming!
~ Amanda Washington
SW Idaho