Total disclaimer here: I am in no way an expert, everything I've learned has been self-taught from books, articles and trial and error. Scarcity of barefoot trimmers willing to come to my barn, and horses with no major conformational issues (like club feet) was a powerful incentive for me to to learn for myself. If you are serious about becoming barefoot savvy, there is a lot of info out there - educate yourself and seek professional help if and when necessary.
Resources I found helpful:
Pete Ramey's books/videos
Iron Free Hoof (waaaay better pictures than mine!)
I like to start with a willing participant. If your horse is not 100% on board, a twitch or even some Dormorsedan (available thru your vet) might be necessary for your own safety.
Have sharp instruments - unless you are the Hulk, a dull file is not doing you any favours!
I do have a hoof knife - but I try to use it sparingly, and only to remove dead or flaking tissue.
Start with a clean hoof - dirt is only gonna dull your instruments faster.
Take stock of what needs to be done. This hoof is getting a bit long overall to my eye.
I also see some media-lateral imbalance, the outside of this hoof is slightly longer than the inside, can you see it too? (also notice that Tess wears her hinds in the opposite way, the inside is higher than the outside - super common due to how the hind leg swings)
First, file down the extra length underneath. The frog at the heel should skim the ground when the horse is standing. The white in the photo below is the water line. The yellowish/dirty line just inside that is the actual white line. If the toe is long, you trim thru the water line all the way to the white line at the front. Sometimes, if the toe is very long you will see red in the white line indicative of bruising where the white line had begun to separate from the lamina. I used to always be afraid to file further, but if you do not correct the break-over (within reason), the separation will continue to occur, and will be painful to the horse. I never see bruising when I trim now.
Assess the balance - the heel hairline should be straight, there should be some concavity to the foot, and all the edges should be level. If it's not, keep filing and checking, a little bit at a time.
Once you have the length to you liking, use the file at a 45 degree angle all around the hoof to start a mustang roll.
Then put the hoof on a stand and roll the entire outside edge. There should be no sharp edges, and everything should be rounded.
|Closer hoof nearly done, further hoof yet to be done!|
It is hard work, so be sure to take breaks and straighten your back frequently. I used to only be able to do 2 hooves at a time, but now I can do both girls back to back. It is always in progress, and the great thing about trimming yourself is that you can make little adjustments more frequently. I like to take pictures when I'm done, sometimes it is easier to see the angles in a photo, that leaning down in the cross-ties :)