How to Trim Horse Hooves

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When you trim horse hooves your goal is to return the hoof to the proper shape and length. The horse hooves should be level across the bottom with the walls on each side should be the same length.
Most full grown horses hoof length is usually 3 to 3 ¾ inches. This is measured from the top center of the hoof wall to the center of the toe where the hoof meets the ground.


Step 1

Trim the hoof wall with nippers to remove any excess over growth.

Nippers should be used to remove the excess hoof wall from the hooves. The nipper’s blade should be parallel to the horse’s foot while trimming. Make sure you have one hand on each handle of the nippers while you are trimming to get a smooth even cut. The handles should be straight up and down from the foot when cutting not at an angle.

When trimming the hooves you should always start from the heel and work to the toe on one side then move to the other side and work again from the heel to the toe. You should only attempt to trim the hoof wall at a rate of half the length of your nipper blade. This will allow you to make sure you line the cuts up and give a more even finish to the bottom of the hooves.

** Make sure you keep a straight line when trimming the hoof wall. You should keep in mind the hoof its self will curve in so do not follow the sole of the hoof but rather the line you are creating with your nippers from the heel to the toe.

** Since your starting point if the heel many people will tell you to trim the heel to the widest part of the frog and this is fine but if you are new to the practice or unsure it is safer to leave a little extra than to trim too much!

Step 2

Use a rasp to smooth and level the bottom of the hoof.

When using the rasp to smooth the bottom of the horse hooves make sure you go from the back or heel of the hoof toward the toe. Each stroke should go the complete length of the hoof to make sure there are no ridges or uneven pieces left. Go over the complete hoof with smooth strokes and even pressure. When using the rasp tool you should use one hand to push the rasp and the other to pull the rasp across the hoof. Making sure to apply equal downward pressure from both hands while moving in a steady forward position.

Make sure the rasp if level on the hoof making contact on both sides prior to moving the rasp.

** Never use the rasp from side to side; only from heel to toe (you can go from toe to heel if needed but its best to stay in one direction if possible).

** The rasp will remove a lot of tissue with each pass. Make sure you are checking for levelness with every couple of passes. If you do not check the level you could very easily remove more than intended and harm your horses hooves.

Step 3

Trim the sole of your horses hoof also known as lowering the sole with a hoof knife.

You should only trim the sole of your horses hooves as needed. This is only done to remove excess dead tissue. Any tissue that is living, elastic feel when stretched between your fingers, should not be trimmed. Also do not trim your horses sole to an unnatural shape or too thin as this could cause the sole to be easily irritated. The main goal in trimming the sole of your horses hooves is to relieve pressure from the sole and frog areas and return it to the hoof wall where it is naturally intended to support the weight of the horse.

Step 4

Trim the frog section on the sole of the hoof with a hoof knife

Again you should only trim the frog area of the hoof as needed only removing the dead tissue. The frog should touch the ground when the horses hooves are on the ground.

Step 5

Rounding the hoof walls with a rasp

After all the excess dead tissue has been completely removed from the horse hooves you should again rasp the entire hoof to ensure the surface is level and uniform across the complete hoof. Next you should rasp all the edges of the hoof to make sure the edges are rounded, this will help prevent the hoof wall from chipping if it comes in contact objects like rocks.

You should only round as much as necessary to remove the edge. Never round the hoof so much that you are rasping all the way to the hairline as this will remove the waxy coating (periople) that is necessary to maintain moisture in the horses hoof.

Step 6

If at any point you cause your horse to bleed you should immediately clean the wound and add a covering to protect it for possible disease organisms. Next you should consult a veterinarian for assistance.


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