Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Great Trim of 2011 - Part 2

The Great Trim was originally planned for last Friday, but my hoof knife was so dull it was like trying to cut a tire with a butter knife... needless to say, I had to find a way to sharpen it. I made due with it today after buying a sharpener that wasn't really the right tool for the job, so now the search is on for the appropriate sharpener. I think I just need one of those old fashion knife sharpening V thingies...

Anyways, back to the Great Trim... I learned a lot today:
  • I have never used "hoof trimming muscles" in my life and I dread how my arms are going to feel tomorrow.
  • Even though the temperature says 45 degrees, dressing like it's actually 35 degrees and then trimming hooves is a bad idea. It got a little toasty under all those layers!!
  • Just because I can see that it needs to be trimmed, and I understand how and why I need to trim it, doesn't mean I'll actually be able to figure out how to get my hoof knife in there and make it happen.
  • If I'm going to do this sort of thing with any amount of frequency, I desperately need a hoof stand!
I think things went fairly well this morning, considering. Lilly was in rare form today and definitely not in the mood to have her hooves trimmed. She wasn't "bad" necessarily, but she didn't make it easy on me at all. I begged her to show a little compassion, but she doesn't seem to be in the Christmas spirit yet. I try to be as easy with her as I can, and I give her breaks often... I even boot the hoof I'm not trimming to try and make her as comfortable as possible. When I tried to use my knee as a hoof stand, she couldn't comprehend the concept that I was NOT there to support her entire body weight and I ended up using a small bucket instead. So let's just say I was limited as far as hoof wall rasping is concerned.

Of course I took "after" pictures of her hooves, and now that I'm looking at them, I can see some areas that need more work. It's amazing what you can see in pictures that you can't see with your naked eye. I tried to take a "less is more" approach today, though, because I would much rather have to go back and take more off, rather than have her sore. So without further adieu, here is my handy work! Normally I would ask that you go easy on me, but that's no way to learn!

Left Front Hoof:

Right Front Hoof:

I can see that I left more heel on her right front than I did on her left front. With both hooves, I was trying to keep the heels just above frog level, but I think I need to take more heel off... or did I take too much off the left hoof? I'm also curious about the heel buttress area of her hoof because it seems so BIG. Here's a closeup of her right hoof:

There's that whole flat area that I figured is considered part of her heel, but in the typical horse, is there that much of a platform, or will all of that "migrate" back as her new hoof capsule grows in and we get her heels underneath her?

I also notice that I didn't do a very good job rolling the toe on her right hoof, and I wish I could have backed up the toe a bit. The bucket hoof stand just wasn't cutting the mustard. I didn't touch any part of her sole that I didn't think was bar, and I did nothing with her toe callus. Hopefully the hoof walls are at an acceptable height too... After the trim, I took her outside and walked her around on the concrete. She was very comfortable and not short at all, so I'm hoping this is considered a partial success, with more work to do in the near future.

It took me over 2 hours and I didn't even do a whole lot on her rear hooves! I only trimmed the bars and did a little bit of heel and hoof wall rasping. I guess I'm not ready for prime time yet. :)

I'm looking forward to your comments!


  1. Looks pretty darned good to me for a first timer!

    I saw a homemade hoof stand on Ebay for $35 (+shipping).

    For sharpening your hoof knife; Pretty much any hardware store will carry metal files. I have a 1/2 round and a small diameter round file. Hold the hoof knife, blade up in one hand. Lay the file almost perpendicular to the knife blade and draw up. Only use the file one direction and be careful not to roll it over the edge as you draw up. Work the length of the knife blade with the 1/2 round file and use the round file for the hook. Like any knife, if the edge is very dull, it will take some work to get an edge on it. The cheaper brand hoof knives do not hold an edge very well, so will need to be sharpened pretty much after every use. A hand held straight stick knife sharpener works very similar and is effective if your blade is relatively sharp to start with. The problem with the V-shaped knife sharpeners is due to the hook on the end of the hoof knife blade, you will not get the entire blade sharp and on a hoof knife you are only sharpening one edge. Unlike a regular kitchen knife that is beveled on both sides.

    Other than that, the only thing I *think* I see is -

    It looks like the outside wall on Lilly's left front foot is higher than the inside. That is the leg that she wants to lean in on the most. What you can do is take a tape measure and measure from the hairline to the edge of the hoof wall on each side and see if the length matches.

    I really have to say...that doesn't even look like the same feet as when I first started reading your blog. WOW!!

  2. Not only do you need a SHARP knife, you need two- a left and a right. They really do make life easier. Good job on the bars so far but you're only half done. I know that's due to the knife being duller than dirt, but you still haven't gotten to the bar's white line, which means that bar is still laid over.

    Take a look at that wonderful heel shot you took of her left fore. See how much higher the hairline is on the medial side? Keep an eye on that, it might be because the bar is jammed on that side. Watch it and see if it "grows" really fast once you've taken it down.

    About the heel purchase, James Welz thinks, and I agree, that a big heel purchase like that is a good thing because it increases the landing area the horse has. So don't worry about that.

    Other than that, I think you did really well for your first trim! That she walked off happy says a lot :)

  3. Cowgirl, thank you for the hoof knife info! I ended up buying a chainsaw file and it seems to work pretty well... I hope it's sharper now! I worked on her heels a bit more and posted some new pictures.

    Smazourek, I was thinking about getting one of those hoof knifes with a blade on both sides. Do you think it's easier to have one of those, or is one of each better? I didn't get a chance to work on her bars again now that I have a sharp knife, but I'll probably do some work on those tomorrow.

    Thank you both for your comments and help with all of this! :)