Saturday, 4 April 2015

Trimming: The Neurotic Edition

I was signed up for a barefoot trimming course in September, there was a freak snowstorm and it was cancelled.  I wasn’t able to make any of the other trimming clinics that were offered as make-up clinics.  

How did I feel when the clinic was cancelled?  I felt relieved.  
The idea of trimming my own horses really stresses me out.  Maybe I am just being neurotic... Here are a few of the areas that concern me:

1)      I am a picker.   Allow me to elaborate... I can’t leave things alone.  If I have a zit on my face I cannot just leave it alone and I will pick at it until there is a scar.  I recently had to throw away my tweezers so I would leave my poor eyebrows alone.  I pick at everything.  Practicing proper horse first aid is truly an exercise in restraint for me.  I worry that hooves will turn into “bad bangs” that are constantly cut shorter and shorter on each side until there is nothing left.   I am worried that I will spend 7 hours on one hoof and become a complete crazy person.
2)      I am afraid to ruin their hooves forever and have crippled horses.  And really I am afraid to cause them any pain or discomfort, but lifelong agony would be the worse-case scenario here.

3)      I have a bad back.  I have scoliosis.  And just generally I have a weak back.  It actually hurts to sweep the barn when I’m working.  It also kind of hurts my back to pick out hooves, which is why I’m such a taskmaster with my horses about having polite hoof manners.

4)      I don’t really care about hooves.  I care about hooves in the sense that I want my horses to be sound of course; I just don’t really care how/why.  I have tried multiple times to read literature about hooves and trimming to ease my neuroses about trimming my own horses.  And I find it incredibly boring.  Maybe I haven’t found the perfect hoof guru or maybe when I’m doing hands-on work it will be more interesting to me...but at the time being I find it to be kind of a snorefest. 

Okay, so those are the concerns that keep me up at night when my farrier reminds me that she still has my deposit and I should pick my dates for the spring/summer trimming clinics.  

Part of me is very confused by my fears about trimming my own horses.  I feel like in general I am happy to learn new things and am not a neurotic weirdo.  Henry was unhandled when he arrived and I was unfazed by that.  I have done all the work on my young horses myself and I will likely start them myself...with no experience doing that.  And that doesn’t bother me.  But the trimming...I don’t know.  

I would look excellent in some pink chaps ....

It would be wonderful to trim my horses for the following two reasons:

1)      My schedule is tricky and so is my farrier’s.  We really struggle to find appointment times that work.

2)      I like the idea of handling this area of horse care myself (in theory).  The cost savings would be beneficial.  And having the skills to chip away at an issue without having to wait for my farrier would be nice.

Hmmm.  Thoughts?


  1. It would scare the crap out of me too. I try to learn bits and pieces (especially when my horse is unsound and I am trying to diagnose) but info overload makes me shut down. It might be worth it for some basic knowledge or if you every have some weird trimming emergency though!

  2. I think it's important to be a well-rounded horsewoman and I try to learn everything I can. I think that makes me a better owner and rider. However, I'm also no afraid to hire professionals to things in not confident doing myself or to do things I just don't want to do.

    Trimming my horses hooves is definitely one of those things in happy to write a check for!

  3. I'm a big fan of hiring professionals. They say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. I would rather trust the health and well-being of my horse to people who specialize in what they do. I know my limitations!

  4. I will say doing your own trimming is not for everyone, and you have several good reasons for choosing not to go this route, starting with your back. If you're willing to invest in a hoof stand (Valley Vet sells decent ones for ~$80; I have one) it will be a big help, especially if your guys are really good with their feet. Even then, it is still tough on the back.

    I do 100% of my two's trimming but I'm also kind of a hoof nut. I've always been fascinated by farrier work and I always wanted to be present for appointments just so I could watch and learn. When I transitioned Lily to barefoot, I had two farriers teach me what to look for, how to hold the rasp, how to know if the angles are correct, determining sole depth, etc. I was TERRIFIED in the beginning, so I just did small maintenance trims in between farrier visits...and then the farrier that I really loved, who was considered one of the best in my region, fired the barn where I was boarding at (she did about half of the horses there) and I suddenly found myself on my own. I read Jaime Jackson and Pete Ramey and subscribed to The Horse's Hoof for a year so I could have access to their tutorials. I made the mistake of following the recommendations and trimming for perfect feet, but that is not always what the horse needs. I didn't do harm, but I did delay progress because of it. I have learned the absolute most by doing, and at the moment what I'm doing is a lot more like what you see on the Rockley Farm blog than what farriers/trimmers generally recommend. It's fascinating to me to look at a hoof and be able to tell how the horse moves based on how the hoof looks. It's a whole other dimension of horses. But that's just me. ;) It's okay to not be excited about it! It's why most people prefer to pay the farrier. Can your farrier teach you to do small maintenance trims inbetween visits, for when her visits are delayed? You shouldn't have to take a whole course for that; it's something she can show you during a regular visit. All it really is is rasping the toe a little bit on each hoof; it should take you no more than 5-10 minutes per hoof, which would save your back, be minimal enough to not cause any kind of harm, and you could time yourself so that you don't end up picking endlessly at each hoof. And if you're not comfortable with that, that's absolutely fine too. :)

    1. Yep. I trim my guy, and it will make your back hurt. Learn to use your abs. :D My story is very similar to Saiph's ^

      If you decide you want to commit to learn to trim, it's really important to get good instruction. Professionals often apprentice for years... trimming is an art. I've been taking "lessons" from my farrier for five years now, and am only just feeling competent, only on my horse. Referring to the Rockley Farm blog is very good advice. Good luck!

  5. I'd never attempt it. I leave it to someone who is a professional. Id be afraid of screwing up their feet for life. It's not for everyone. But I admire people who can do a good job for their horses.

  6. I did one of the weekend courses and found it interesting, but it didn't make me any more motivated to trim my own horses. Lately though I've been slightly desperate since gingers farrier only comes to town every 6-8 weeks and have been doing tiny trims between appointments. It's nice I'm ok doing that, but I'd prefer to be able to have the farrier do it!

  7. I've done trims between farrier visits and you get more confident the more you practice. However, you have much stronger reasons for NOT doing it than you have for doing it. I suggest dropping the idea - for now at least, you can always learn later on. Hopefully you can get the deposit back, or sell/transfer it to someone else. Even if you can't, though, you'll sleep better if you just allow yourself to drop this idea.

  8. I'm a professional BF trimmer and the very best feet I see belong to clients who trim themselves every 3-4 weeks and have me out to check balance etc every 3 months or so. I vote YES to owners at least knowing how to trim themselves.

  9. I'd say it's just something that's good to know in case you ever need it. I think most people that haven't trimmed many horses aren't going to over do it because they're scared of doing too much. You should be okay :) I don't blame you on being hesitant about your back, trimming shoeing is certainly rough on them.

  10. I'd say it's just something that's good to know in case you ever need it. I think most people that haven't trimmed many horses aren't going to over do it because they're scared of doing too much. You should be okay :) I don't blame you on being hesitant about your back, trimming shoeing is certainly rough on them.

  11. farriery is one thing i am 100% happy with leaving to the pros. i have total respect for those who do it themselves... but really do not feel the slightest inclination myself haha