Take No Short Cuts with Your Hoof Knives

Craftsmen share their tips for better use and sharpening techniques

Farriers punish their hoof knives.

The blade runs through or into all manner of debris that never were meant to touch it — dirt, manure, rocks and an occasional nail. That’s all before paring sole and frog, which take a hefty toll on an edge in their own right.

“I can’t think of another knife that works harder,” says Frank Ringel, owner of Ringel Custom Knives in Florence, Mont. “I’ll talk to other guys who make hunting knives and they’ll say, ‘I dressed out three animals with my knife and it’s still sharp.’ I think about what the bottom of a hoof looks like and what farriers do with the knife. It always makes me smile when they tell me how long their knives hold up.”

While hoof knives can more than hold their own against their brethren in other disciplines, proper use and care go a long way toward performance and longevity.

Common Mistakes

It might be the hardest working blade in the knife business, but the edge needs to be protected.

“The hoof knife is a delicate tool,” says Neal Baggett, owner of Baggett Hoof Knives in Bishop, Ga. “The foot needs to be cleaned with a wire brush before it’s even touched with a knife. Get rid of all the grit and sand.

“Don’t try to use it as a hoof pick. Even if it’s designed with a hoof pick on it, you’re going to drag the edge through the dirt and grit down there at the…

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Jeff Cota

Jeff Cota has been a writer, photographer and editor with newspapers and magazines for 30 years. A native of Maine, he is the Lead Content Editor of American Farriers Journal.

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