I recently told one of my horse friends that the best equine gift I've ever given myself and my equine partners in the ability to do my own hoof trimming! In return my friend gave me an "are you stupid or what?" look. Yes, I believe the ability for a horse owner to do their own trimming maintenance, or at least be involved in the trimming of their horses is the best gift you can give yourself and your equines.
Not only will trimming maintenance make you a much better horse person, trimming is an excuse to buy all kinds of cool hoof care tools and accessories.
Although I've just scratched the surface of hoof trimming, I trim my own heard of 17+ horses on a 4-5 week cycle. I rarely do trimming for others and just concentrate on horses I own. I wouldn't say I have any formal training but doing my own horses I've developed enough expertise and enough skill to keep them all sound. Several of my horses compete at a high level of endurance racing.
Trimming is one of the many things that really puts you "in Sync" with your equine partners.
I've had the opportunity to watch and learn first hand from some of the best hoof care professionals in the world. People like Pete Ramey, Jaime Jackson, Duncan McLaughlin, David Landerville, Christoph Schork, Curtis Burns, Jeremy Reynolds, Ove Lind, Susan Summers and Rusty Toth. I'm far from the skill level of any of these people but have picked up enough knowledge to really like what I see after I trim.
We all have the ability to learn. Here is a learning experience we put together in my barn. Left to right: Curtis Burns, Jeremy Reynolds, Kevin Lange, Susan Summers, Christoph Schork, Garrett Ford, Rusty Toth, Dr Ben Hufnagle, Dr Hufnagle's assistant. We are all surrounded with opportunities, it's up to us to make them happen.
Don't get me wrong, the purpose of the blog is not to brag about my trimming skills or to take work away from the hoof care professional. The purpose is to convince horse owners that you can, and should, maintain trims yourself. Learning to do it yourself will help your horses, improve your knowledge and ironically help your hoof care professional. For many years I looked at trimming as this difficult task that only a select few could accomplish. Not only is it easy to learn but I truly believe it's makes horse owners much more complete horse owners. The payback is much larger than I ever anticipated.
Here are a couple of the many reasons to learn the trimming skills required to trim or provide maintenance trims on your horses.
1. Trimming your own horses forces you to get under and close to each horse. You get to touch, feel and inspect each horse every 4-6 weeks at a minimum.
2. The more horses you trim the more you learn. The more you learn the better you trim.
3. The finger points right at you. If there is anything wrong with my horses feet there is no one to blame but me. The old blame your trimmer or farrier is a standard in the equine world. Learn enough to place the blame on yourself even if you pay a hoof care professional. When your hoof care professional leaves you should both agree on the results and share in the success or failure. Don't point fingers.
4. Trim your horses when you want or when it's needed.
Maintenance trimming is hard on me. At 6'4" I'm the kind of guy who looks very odd trimming feet. My back hurts like heck after trimming 3-4 horses and I often wonder if a hoof care professional would do a better job on my horses. But in the end I think of the reasons why I trim my own horses and they always outweigh the reasons not to.
In 2013, give yourself and your equine partners the gift. Ask your hoof care professional to help: ask them to give you the knowledge to perform maintenance trims. Although I wouldn't say it, I often look at my friend and her horse's feet and smirk to myself about who is really being stupid.
Give trimming a try. You won't regret it.
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.