It’s been said time and again that “it’s all about the trim.” Yet, a pile of hoof and sole trimmings on the floor is not a good indicator of a good, well-balanced trim. 

International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame member Chris Gregory suggests avoiding getting “overly excited” about paring the sole with a hoof knife.

“The sole is protection,” says Gregory, who co-owns and operates Heartland Horseshoeing School in Lamar, Mo. “A barefoot horse is going to exfoliate a lot of the sole it needs to get rid of anyway. As long as it doesn’t need to be taken out, leave it alone. Good trimming is about what you leave behind, not what you take.”

After cleaning the foot and sighting it, Gregory uses a left-handed knife and lightly trims the right side of the frog.

“That’s all this knife ever does,” he says, noting that he doesn’t use a loop knife. “It’s going to last 10 times longer than my right-handed knife and it’s serving the function of a loop knife, but it’s easier to sharpen.”

After trimming the foot, Gregory avoids immediately sighting and dressing it.

“I want to give my eye a little break,” he says. “After I give it a break, I’ll dress it and re-evaluate it. That’s usually when I fix my level or a little spot that I missed in the sole.”

Find more trimming and shoeing tips from Chris and Cody Gregory by reading “Improve Your Skills for Horseshoeing Contests” in the April 2019 issue of American Farriers Journal.