When it comes to selecting the right hoof knife for your hand, Jim Hurlburt, of JH Custom Knives in Stowe, Vt., suggests measuring the width of your palm may help you decide what type of knife handle will be most comfortable. In a video on his website (www.jhforge.com), Hurlburt demonstrates that one of his knives with a 4-inch handle fits very comfortably in his hand, which also measures 4 inches across the palm. When the same knife is held by a person with a palm that's an inch shorter, the fit doesn't work. That farrier's thumb can't reach the notched handle, meaning he or she won't be able to get as much leverage.
Hurlburt also demonstrates the different effects the curve of a blade has on a farrier's wrist. Those who like to work with the wrist parallel to the hoof wall may prefer a flat blade. His curved belly blade seems to be preferred by farriers who want to do their knifing at more of an angle to the hoof wall, say 45 degrees. His spud knife, which has an even more pronounced curve then the belly, can be used with the wrist at almost 90 degrees, perpendicular to the hoof wall.