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Hoof Trimming Via Hoof Mapping

Veteran farrier finds technique helps avoid trimming too much or too little from horses’ hooves


NC Adjustable Hoof Stand

When trimming hooves for shoeing or for a horse that’s going barefoot, I see a lot of up-and-coming farriers go through stages of either trimming too little or too much hoof. The right touch is tough to learn.

When we first start to shoe horses, it’s easy to get “knife happy” and use your knife too much, as well as sink the nippers in too deep. This results in a sore horse and an unhappy customer. After a few complaints from unhappy customers, we start to get too conservative with our trim, in fear of another call from a customer with a sore horse.

Getting too conservative is almost as bad as getting knife happy. If we don’t trim enough, the horse’s hooves migrate further away from where they should be, resulting in underrun heels, flat soles and other pathologies.

Map, Then Trim

Foot mapping is a method of trimming hooves to the correct depth. With a little practice and good sharp hoof knives — including a loop knife — the mapping process helps you find the correct depth and consistency in trimming horses’ feet.

I use three different knives in this process:

  1. A loop knife for mapping (the thinner the loop the better).
  2. A hoof knife without a drop in the blade, or a flat knife to find my sole plain after the mapping process.
  3. A drop-blade knife to blend my sole plane into the concave cavity of the hoof.

The frog can be paired…

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