HomeHorseUnderstanding Basic Essentials and Procedures of Horse Hoof Trimming

Understanding Basic Essentials and Procedures of Horse Hoof Trimming

It is customary to turn out all types of working horses for a few months without shoes. This not only provides them with rest but offers an opportunity to remove their shoes, which gives the hooves a chance to grow without being damaged by nails. Horse hoof usually grows like the human nail and needs regular horse hoof trimming with expert farrier.

Healthy Hoof -Healthy Horse

When an unshod horse is out in a paddock its feet requires attention every 4 to 6 weeks as normal growth of the hoof is not always controlled by friction. The toe will need to be shortened, the heels lower to balance the foot, and the edge of the wall rounded off to prevent it from cracking. To control excessive wear and the horse is becoming footsore, a little more of the wall should be left than when hoof trimming to fit a shoe.

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The Aim of Hoof Trimming

Hoof trimming aims to balance the hoof so that the horse can stand correctly and works for its optimum level. The main aims of horse hoof trimming are as follows:

  • The structure within the hoof can work as they are supposed to
  • The feet break over at the center of the toe
  • The feet and legs are moving alignment with the direction of the body, without swinging sideways.
  • The feet have enough elevation in their forward extension to clear the ground properly.
  • There is no limb interference.
  • The foot lands with equal force on both heels of the hoof.


Hoof Trimming Requirement

Before you begin hoof trimming, you should know what a correctly trimmed hoof looks like. Viewed from the front while the horse is standing on a level surface, a correctly dressed forefoot is nicely bell-shaped. The edge is slightly rounded and trim. The hoof is perfectly level from side to side, which you can tell by its relation the verticle of the leg.

Untrimmed Horse Hoof

Viewed from the side, the slope of the surface of the hoof is the same as the slope of the pastern. This is a result of the correct depth of heel and a perfect length of the toe. The foot is also level from heel to toe. A correctly dressed hind foot may be described in the same way except that the hind foot as a different shape. It is naturally more pointed and oval.

Horse Hoof Trimming Tools

The hoof trimming tools you need a buffer farrier(for cleaning the foot), hoof nippers, a hoof knife, farrier’s knife, general purpose hammer (to drive the knife), and a rasp. A pair of farrier clamps will make the job easier.

Hoof Trimming Tools

Horse Hoof Trimming Procedure for Horse Caregiver

Hoof trimming is a very risky task and needs details knowledge on horse hoof structure, hoof diseases, horse behavior and the physical condition of your horse. The expert farrier knows everything very minutely and also expert on hoof trimming tools. There are many procedures of horse hoof trimming in many countries, but the basic rules and procedures are as follows:

1. Tie the horse’s head, or have some hold it, then criticize the feet while the horse stands on a level, stable surface. Mentally note the level, of the feet and the shape and slope of the wall with the pastern.

Hoof Trimming- Position

2. Handle the feet in this order: left fore, right fore, left hind and right hind. To lift the left foreleg, stand just in front of the horse’s shoulder, facing the hindquarter. Put your left hand on the shoulder, then run it down the back of the elbow and down to the pastern.

3. Grasp the back of the pastern with your hand cupped, lean against the horse to make it shift its weight to the other foreleg and then lift. Now move your left leg forward a step and pass the horse’s raised foot between your legs, at the same time bringing your right leg up level with your left.

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4. Support the horse’s foot just above your bent knees and turn your toes well in for balance. Keep your body close to the horse. Take the buffer and clean the foot thoroughly, using the pick end of the tool.

Use of Hoof Knife

5. Work vigorously, and you won’t hurt the horse. Don’t forget to clean the cleft behind the frog. Now you can see the extent of the growth of the horney wall above the level of the sole. This growth is not likely to be even. It may be highest around the sides, or on one side. It is less likely to be greatest around at the heels.

Hoof Trimming- Holding the Hoof

6. Tilt the sole towards the vertical plane and sight from the heels towards the toe. You will quickly see the higher areas of the growth. Remove the highest point first. You judge that the high growth of the left side of the foot is about 8 mm greater than anyone else. That’s the job for the knife or the hoof nippers. Place the handle of the knife in the palm of your left hand and wrap your finger over it. Pick up a hammer to drive the knife from the back side.

7. Start at the highest point nearest to the toe and work towards the heel. Lessen the depth of cut as the knife approaches the heel. Make sure that the cut is level along the length of the wall and across the thickness of the wall. Novices frequently let their left-hand drop while cutting, making the outside edge of the trimmed wall lower than the inside.

8. When you have removed the highest growth use the rasp to lower the rest of the excessive growth around the wall. At the toe, the wall should be rasped level with the sole, and as low as needed at the sides and heels to make the axis of the foot match the axis of the pastern.

Removal of Horse Shoe

9. You will find that the wall will be reduced to about level with the frog. Never cut the wall lower than the sole — the rasp cuts on the forward stroke, only for half of its length. So you can cut only one side of the wall at each stroke.

10. Start at the toe end, working the rasp across the undersurface of the toe and leading it around gradually in the direction of the heel. Rasp first the side of the wall nearest the horse, making sure that the rasp is held level.

11. Sight form heel to toe frequently to check the level of your work. Now rasp off the excessive growth on the other side of the wall, again starting at the toe end. When you have brought the wall growth down to the correct level, and you are satisfied with the job, turn the rasp over and finish with a light fine-rasping.

Hoof Trimming- Use of Rasp

12. The longish growth at the toe is now evident. You judge, let us say, that about 8 millimeters of the thickness require to be cut off to bring the front edge of the foot back to a bell shape. Use the hoof nippers. This tool has a non-cutting jaw and a cutting jaw, although some hoof cutters have two cutting jaws.

13. Place the blunt jaw against the front surface of the foot about 12 millimeters down from the bottom edge and start the cutting jaw about 8 millimeters in from the hoof surface. Make sure that the cut is being made outside the white line that divides the hoof wall from the sole. You will need to take several bites in an arc to correct the shape.

14. Now the outside edge of the foot must be shaped with the rasp. This is usually done by working from the top side of the foot, so you must change position.

15. With your left hand, pass the foot back between your legs and grasp it from behind with your right hand. Turn around and move forward, bringing the horses foot down on top of your right leg just above the knee, which is bent.

Mechanical Hoof Trimming

16. Now round off the front edge of the foot with the rasp, working downward and then around the side. The thickened part of the wall that you noticed earlier may be rough-rasped into shape, and then the whole of the edge may be fine-rasped. Never rasp the surface of the wall higher than about 12 millimeters from the bottom corner.

17. For the frog to play its essential role in the anti-concussion mechanism of the foot and in preventing slipping, it must be significant, firm and prominent, yet not project beyond the bearing surface at the heels by more than the thickness of the shoe. The frog must be pared sparingly-only to remove any broken or loose tags of the horn. Don’t trim it for neatness or in the mistaken idea that it should not be in contact with the ground. If it is kept pared down so that it does not make contact with the ground, it cannot function normally, and this leads to a contracted foot.

18. The sole protects the foot against injury, and excessive paring is a dangerous and unnecessary practice. Only flakes of the sole that has failed to shed should be removed. Paring out deprives the foot of its natural protection, but also reduces the bearing surface provided by its margin.


19. When you have finished, let the leg down and check to see that the level of the foot and the slope of the wall are correct. When you come to dress the left-hind foot, pick up the leg in this way: stand just behind the horse’s shoulder facing the hindquarter. Place your left hand on the hip and keep it there while you run your right side over the quarters, down behind the hock and down to the pastern. Cup your right hand under the pastern with your fingers to the inside.

20. Now push on the hip with your left hand and lift the leg with your right hand. Step forward with your left leg, bringing the weight of the horse’s leg onto the top of your left leg, and then bring your right leg up to your left. The horse’s foot may then be rested just above your knees for trimming.

21. When all four feet have been cut it is a good idea to measure the fore and hind feet from heel to toe and the width at the widest points. Write down the measurements. You will need them if you wish to have shoes made by a blacksmith or if you intend to buy machine-made shoes.

Hoof Trimming to Correct Poor Conformation

Correct hoof trimming and shoeing can alleviate many hoof conformational problems. Toe-out conformation, for instance, can be corrected by lowering the outside half of the hoof wall to shift the center of weight distribution back over the center of the foot and removing the flare on the outside. Toe-in conformation can be corrected by hoof trimming in the inside and removing the flash on the inside.

While it is useful to understand the principles involved in hoof trimming to correct faults, you must have adequate knowledge of horse hoof. Do not try to correct any severe conformational faults or hoof abnormalities, as it could make the situation worse. Take the horse to a professional farrier if a critical problem arises.

Hoof Trimming – The Concluding Advice

As a horse owner, you must have basic knowledge of hoof structure, hoof trimming and hoof problems of your lovely horse. The hoof trimming is a regular phenomenon to ensure proper care of your horse. The basic proverb related to the horse is that “No hoof No Horse.” If the hoof is maintained correctly, you will receive minimum problems from your horse. It would be best if you found out the experienced hoof trimmer in your locality to visit your horse at regular interval and trim your horse’s hoof properly.

In my above article, you came to know the aims of hoof trimming, hoof trimming tools, hoof trimming procedures and problems of a poorly trimmed horse hoof. If the above information benefitted, please subscribe to our website and share the article with your friends via social media.

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