It feels like it never ends! This is the first time I have ever had three of my own horses going at one time. With two horses competing, and one that is struggling to grow a brain, it never seems to end- not that I’m complaining about the riding part. Now not only do I always have someone, or someones,  to ride, I always have at least four, if not twelve, feet that need trimming! Oh my!

Luckily I believe in a long rest period after an endurance ride, which gives the horses plenty of time to recoup and forces me to focus my riding time on “the others.” Now of course just because one is on vay-cay, doesn’t mean the feet don’t need tending. After an endurance ride such as Canyonlands, where we rode 200 miles, my horses’ feet always seem to grow extensively. To combat the extra growth, I trim the horse after pulling their boots, and then again a week later. While the horse is on rest I will pull them out once or twice a week and check things over, usually always finding a little something to touch up. Sounds easy enough, right? Well that part is. The part that isn’t, is realizing that during the few weeks leading up to the big ride, the other two horses have been ignored for the better part and are now in need of a total trim.

Khopy and his barefoot buddy, Granite, both enjoying vay-cay after Old Selam.


Plenty of exercise for these boys!

I like to keep up on feet every other week or so. I hate going three, and abhor going four. It’s a lot more work! Of course this time that is exactly what I did! Now luckily Khopy has shown pretty slow hoof growth, but man oh MAN Topper can grow some foot! As we had some rain last week, I used it to my advantage and trimmed the ponies. The rain always helps soften things up and always seems to help dislodge the rock-hard false sole our horses develop throughout our dry desert summers. I thought I trimmed him well, but imagine my surprise when I went to clean out his feet after our weekend ride and found MORE exfoliating sole. I am not one to clean out all the false sole when I trim, so I know there is more in there, but this was ridiculous!

This picture shows the bar material really well. Can you see how it is different from the rest of the foot? (Look at the little striations on either side of the frog). 


I used my hoof knife (that is so dull it can hardly be called a knife) and my nippers to dislodge the stuff begging to come out and when that was all said and done I had at least a quarter of an inch of wall to take off. I feel like I just did this with him last week! Now I know I could probably prevent having to do such frequent trimming by going down to live sole every trim, but I am just not comfortable doing that and I know how much each horse “needs” to be comfortable riding completely barefoot on training rides.

You can see the huge chunks that just popped out. 

After the loose stuff comes out, you will see the excess hoof wall. It makes it so much easier to know how much to take off.
Of course I didn’t take pictures after I was done, but I hope helps someone! I remember the first time I had a bunch of obvious hoof wall to take off! I was super scared that I would do something wrong, but if you just take a little at a time, you will find the barefoot hoof is very forgiving. Barefoot trimming is something that you cannot learn overnight, but it seems that once you “get” the confidence, it comes easy, quickly. Of course, like the ever evolving hoof, the knowledge is always changing and growing as well. It’s up to us to take the knowledge and let it grow us. Never think you know it all!

‘Till next time!

Amanda Washington
SW Idaho