Who Should Trim Your Horse?
When I met my husband over 20 years ago, he’d recently finished farrier school. So naturally, when we started dating, he took over my horses’ hoof care. It wasn’t long before he realized he didn’t have much interest in pursuing farriery professionally, but he continued to trim/ shoe all of mine and occasionally, he’d take on a few outside horses as well. For me, free hoof care was a nice perk of being married to him!
As the years passed, it became more and more difficult to pin my husband down for hoof care. Sometimes, six weeks would turn into eight or nine weeks between sets of shoes, which isn’t usually a good thing.
As I’ve explained before, when I became interested in the ‘barefoot trim’, my husband suggested I learn to do it myself. I thought it was a crazy idea at first, but after meeting a female trimmer at acupressure school, I began to seriously entertain the idea. Maybe my husband was right–maybe I was capable of trimming myself.
So I began to study. I ordered Pete Ramey’s book and DVD set. I read every barefoot article I could find online. I joined barefoot groups to ask questions. And when I finally felt ready to try trimming, I had my husband come out and watch me. I started small–meaning, I only used a rasp. I was careful not to do anything too aggressive. Slowly, I began to feel more and more comfortable with what I was doing. Comfortable enough to use a hoof knife (when needed) and nippers as well. And before I knew it, I was a full-fledged owner-trimmer!
In time, other people began to ask me to trim their horses, and I did (and still do) on occasion, but trimming is hard work (especially when you’re 5’4 and not much over 100 lbs). I realized trimming one of my four horses per week was about all I wanted to do.
I’ve gotten stronger over the years, but trimming is still work. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it. I find it extremely satisfying knowing that I can provide my horses’ hoof care and no longer have to depend on anyone else to do it.
I know my horses. I know which ones need a tad more wall left in place because they get sore if I take too much. I know which ones need trimmed more often, and I also know how each needs to be trimmed according to their own specific needs. There is no cookie-cutter trim at my house.
I’ve heard many people say that owners could never possibly know enough to trim their horses’ feet–that they should leave hoof care to the professionals. But I disagree. Anyone can learn to trim if they so desire, and nearly anyone can do a great job. The key is being willing to learn and do the hard work. Attend workshops, keep learning, and ask for help when you need it, but don’t let others tell you you shouldn’t do it.
Of course, in some cases, it is better to hire someone else to maintain your horses’ feet. Maybe you’re not physically able to trim. Maybe you have too many horses. Or maybe you just don’t have the interest. There’s nothing wrong with any of these scenarios. In this case, ask around and find a dependable trimmer you’re comfortable with, who will answer your questions, and who will keep your horses’ best interest at heart. Sometimes, the owner isn’t the best person to trim.
My point is this: YOU know your horses best. YOU should be the one to decide who is best fit to care for their feet. Even if your vet recommends someone or even if everyone at your barn uses the same farrier, if you’re not comfortable with that person or their work, don’t be afraid to part ways.
Be it a farrier, barefoot trimmer, your uncle, or yourself, find someone who truly cares about your horses’ well-being and soundness.
At my house, this just happens to be me!