Thursday, September 3, 2015

Trimming update, hind feet part 1

I started trimming Nimo's feet myself a little over 2 years ago.  At the time, I was armed with a couple of books, some website information, a few blog posts by other riders, and a rasp.  I remember the first time I trimmed Nimo's feet was brutal.  It was August, it was hot, and I realized that Nimo's feet were like granite, so it took forever to rasp the smallest amount.  Also, I think it had been at least 8 weeks since his last trim, so his feet were chipped, flared, and long.  Looking back on the pictures, I can see that I could have taken more hoof off, but then I might have ended up in the hospital with heat exhaustion and dehydration...

So fast forward two years, and I managed to scrape together some comparison pictures for you.  The lighting isn't that great because it was night, and it's possible that it was 150 degrees with 1200% humidity, so some of my camera work is a little shaky, but hopefully you'll get the idea.  My plan is to walk you through a full trim cycle, starting with the hooves right after the trim, and then at one week post-trim, two weeks post-trim, and three weeks post-trim.  Finally, I'll try to get some pictures of my trimming process to show you how I do it.  Then, I'd like to repeat that same process with his front feet.  Hopefully, these posts will help me remember what I did as well as provide some information to those who happen to be rabidly interested in horse feet:)

I should note that I still don't know what I'm doing when trimming Nimo's feet.  I've read some more, talked to more people, changed the way I trim more than once, and watched Nimo's feet remodel over time, depending on his work load and the environment.  At this point, I think there is still so much that we don't understand about the way horses' hooves work, and while I did start out committed to following one particular method, I now believe that there is no one right method for every horse.  The resource I'm using most right now is The Horse's Hoof and the online forum associated with it because I think the magazine and forum present the widest range of ideas for me to learn about, and I can find pictures and information about feet that are not grossly pathological.  My complaint about most hoof trimming books is that they present pictures and information about severely neglected hooves or hooves from horses suffering from club feet, laminitis, or other atypical ailments, and the perfect mustang hoof (I may write a post about my feelings on the constant heraldry of the perfect barefoot mustang hoof, if I feel like offending a whole bunch of people).  That information, while valuable, is hard for me to translate into what I see with Nimo's feet.  While Nimo's feet aren't perfect, he is sound and can go barefoot over most terrain, except really heavy gravel and rocks, so I think I'm at least in the ballpark, but I recognize that there is still room to improve.

Anyway, without further ado, here are the pictures of Nimo's hind feet from Tuesday night, immediately after I trimmed them.

Nimo's Left Hind - front view

Nimo's Left Hind - lateral view
Nimo's Left hind - back view
Nimo's Left Hind - bottom view
Nimo's Right Hind - front view
Nimo's Right Hind - lateral view
Nimo's Right Hind - back view (yes, I absolutely cut off part of the hoof in this picture, but it's the best one I have)
Nimo's Right Hind - bottom view
Now, for the comparison, here are the two pictures of each hind hoof that I have from 2 years ago.

LH - front view (the camera angle isn't good, so it looks lopsided, but it really wasn't)
LH - bottom view
RH - front view
RH - bottom view


  1. Good for you for taking care of Nimo's feet yourself- they are definitely looking much improved (: And interesting timing since I'm planning on doing a hoof post too soon. I've been trimming Quest on my own since I got her and have a farrier come out and check my work every 6 months.

    Can I pick your brain about hoof boots? I'm planning on going shopping soon and was wondering how different brands work are and how forgiving they are of owner trims.

    1. Of course! I've tried Easyboot Epics, Cavallos, and Equine Jogging Shoes. My experience may be different because Nimo's feet are so big - they are more than 6" wide and long, so some models like Renegades and Easyboot Gloves aren't even an option.

      I think Easyboot Epics work best for hooves that are longer than they are wide. They are the boot I've used most and I think if they fit your horse well, they are probably the best boot for rugged terrain because of the gaiter system. However, you do need to use cotter pins to keep the buckle from coming loose. I recommend using the hoof pick that Easycare sells because it works well to release the buckle and pull the cable tight or to loosen it. You'll also need pliers (I like needle-nose pliers the best) for putting in, adjusting, and taking out the cotter pins. It sounds like a lot of work but if the boot fits, it's worth it because I've only had an Epic come loose twice and once was due to a cable failure and the other time was due to a gaiter failure. Both were on the same damn mountain on the Fort Valley ride.

      The Cavallos are great for hooves that are as wide as they are long. They require no tools and they are easy to put on. I worried about rubbing because the boot fastens above the coronet band, but I've had no issues. However, Nimo has coarse hair and sturdy skin, so thin-skinned horses might need the pastern "sock" that Cavallo sells. I have had some issues with the boots twisting on long, rugged, fast rides, but it didn't seem to bother Nimo.

      The other boot I tried, the Equine Jogging Shoe, is very lightweight, which I liked. But I could never get it to fit right and it would twist with even light riding. Plus, it's crazy expensive.

      I do want to try the new Easyboot Trails, which look similar to the Simple boots, but offer a different type of fit.

      In terms of which boots are most forgiving of time between trims, the Epics seem the most forgiving if your horse is at the smaller end of the measurements for that boot. The Epics have fewer sizes but cover quite a range of measurements. Particularly if you use the hoof pads Easycare sells, you can modify the fit to allow the boots to fit when the horse's feet have just been trimmed. (I recommend the 6mm medium or firm pads if you decide to try them. The soft pads will disintegrate after one or two short rides.) Cavallos are probably a close second. There is a hoof pad that goes with the boot, but it's quite a bit thinner than what Easycare sells (I'm planning a post on hoof boot pads soon!)

      Boots like Gloves and Trails will not tolerate the growth between trims as well because the sizing is much tighter. You can do a little rasping each week to mitigate the fit issues, though, if the boot otherwise works.

      And, be prepared to spend some money on boots you end up not liking:) Careful research and measuring help, but in the end, the best way to figure out what works is to use it. And you may find that you want to have more than one model for different types of rides or, like with Nimo, you may need a different style of boot for front feet and hinds. And be prepared to get frustrated and wonder why you don't just pay somebody to put shoes on. There is a learning curve and I recommend doing at least three full-length, full-speed rides over varying terrain, including mud, water, and rocks to really test the boots. Also be ready to tape the hoof if you're using Gloves in particular because the fit is so persnickety and if you go with boots that have hardware like Renegades and Epics, learn how to take the boot apart and install/adjust the hardware. Cables snap and buckles get warped and it's way cheaper to make the repair than buy a new boot.

      Let me know if you have any questions or send me an e-mail at if you want more info:)