Hoof Trimming Dos and Don'ts

A Hall Of Fame shoer’s tips on this essential footcare task

The trim is the key to establishing a level hoof and using the right tools in the right way are essential elements in accomplishing this task. No tool in the world can take the place of skilled handling. Bob Peacock, owner of Farrier Science Clinic in Hamilton, Ohio, and a member of the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame, offers this advice, based on the more than 40 years he’s spend in hoof care.

Hoof Knife

The hoof knife is used after cleaning the foot with a wire brush and/or hoof pick. The hoof knife is for trimming away loose, dried-out sole and excess frog. Be careful not to cut into either of them. Never trim live tissue is the first and foremost rule to follow and is right in line with Peacock’s signature motto, “Always leave enough hoof.”

He compares the outside hoof wall to a spring mechanism and says the horse will set the foot the way he wants it.

“By leaving as much cushion as possible, you will enable the foot to do what it is intended for: displace pressure,” Peacock says. “It’s like when you put an upside-down cup flat in a puddle. It will dispel the water around it creating an even surface.”


Nippers are used to trim the overgrown portion of the hoof wall. Optimum toe length will vary depending on breed and size. Peacock says that the old guideline of maintaining 3 to 3 3/4-inches of hoof wall — measuring at the center…

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Toby Raymond

Toby Raymond is a horse owner and freelance writer who lives in Vermont. She is a frequent contributor to American Farriers Journal.

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