How do you learn to trim hooves online?Sep 13, 2022
Learning to trim online
Is it really possible? Read one of our student's experience!
I’ve been on my trimming journey for about two years now. I struggled to find a good, reliable barefoot trimmer who knew what they were doing, so after some persuasion from a close friend, I decided to give trimming a go. A professional barefoot trimmer had done a poor job with my horse a couple of weeks earlier by trimming him way too short whilst leaving a very long toe, and my horse was visibly uncomfortable. So - although the thought of trimming hooves was pretty scary to begin with - I figured that I probably didn’t have anything to lose by giving it a go.
The below photo is taken a week after the professional had trimmed the hooves. Realising how wrong this trim was encouraged me to start learning how to trim the hooves myself. Note that the photo is taken a bit too far forward, so in reality the toe is even longer than what it looks like in this photo!
I started to scour the internet and social media for advice, and my friend helped me too. The problem that I kept running into was that all the information that I found was either a ‘method’ that followed its own rules almost religiously, and considered their way to be the only right way to trim. Or, with others, the information they provided was put out there in an unorganised way, which made it hard for a complete newbie like me to learn.
I really needed clear and systematic teaching, so I contacted a few professionals (both farriers and barefoot trimmers) and paid to have tuition in person. It was nice to have them teach me, but there was so much information thrown at me, it was impossible to retain it all, and a couple of weeks after the training I had forgotten what I was supposed to look out for when trimming, and why.
Then I came across the Holistic Hoof Care for Horse Owners course, and boy did it change things for me! A course that teaches ALL the required basics in a clear and easy to understand way! And - I have permanent access to it, which means that I can keep going back to the videos, photos and written instructions, and remind myself of what I need to do to keep my horses’ hooves in balance and to encourage healthy hoof development.
Yes, it cost some money, but compared to other courses out there that teach the same amount of information, it was a total bargain. And since purchasing the course and trimming my two horses myself, I’ve calculated that I’ve saved well over £200 already in the first year by not paying for a barefoot trimmer. Going forward, I will save over £700 a year! I’ve even made a little table to show my calculations - you could be saving this amount too if you decide to start trimming yourself!
If you have two horses, like me:
If you have just one horse:
BUT! It’s not about saving money for me. I decided to learn to trim my own horses because I view it as part of responsible horse ownership. I wanted to understand what was happening with their hooves, when they were healthy and when they were showing signs of imbalance or other issues. Now that I know how to trim them myself, I can do it as often as necessary. Six weeks really is way too long a trim cycle, if I leave my horses for that long one will have badly underrun heels and long toes, the other will start to grow way too much heel and his hooves will start the flare at the quarters. Both will be unbalanced and uncomfortable, but in different ways.
So I trim them as often as is necessary. In summer time, this means weekly trims. In winter, I can get away with a trim every 10-14 days. I absolutely love being able to do this - keep their hooves in the best possible condition without worrying about whether I can afford to pay the trimmer to come as often as my horses realistically need it.
What I like the most about the Holistic Hoof Care for Horse Owners course is that it really is a holistic course. They start by opening your eyes to what horses are like as species, and what their very basic needs are. Whilst we cannot offer the domesticated horse the same environment that wild horses have, we can all do little things to improve our horse’s life and wellbeing.
The trimming principles that the course teaches are based on the horse’s anatomy, so there’s an entire module on this. It explains the important things in plain English and goes into enough detail that you can understand why hooves are trimmed the way they are, but it doesn’t overwhelm you with science or complicated concepts that go beyond what most horse owners need to know.
And the module on trimming tools - just WOW!! Although I had been learning to trim for a year before I joined the course, I was still apprehensive about using the tools and the techniques I should use to get the best results and make the trimming as easy as possible for me and the horse. This module is very thorough and possibly my favourite part of the whole course!
Then there’s the actual trimming module. After completing it (and repeating a lot of the videos several times since), I have a solid understanding of how to review a hoof before trimming it, how to trim (where, how much, what direction, etc) and super importantly: why. I can honestly say that after completing this module, I now feel totally confident trimming my horses, and the proof is in the pudding: their feet are improving continuously.
The course stays true to its name, and doesn’t stop at the trim. The last module talks about when and why the horse should be offered extra protection for their hooves, in the form of hoof boots. In the past, I had kind of thought that the pinnacle of healthy bare hooves was that the horse was able to walk on any surface, at any time, without any discomfort. But after completing this module I realised why that was perhaps an unrealistic (or unnecessary) goal, and I now use hoof boots on my horse every time I ride. I think of them as running shoes for horses: if I go for a run myself, I feel much more comfortable doing so when wearing cushioning running shoes, instead of running barefoot or (even worse) in shoes with really solid, inflexible soles. So why wouldn't I offer that same comfort to my horse, especially when I ask him to carry me on his back too?
In so many ways, this course has truly changed my life and the life of my horses. No longer am I apprehensive about what is happening with their hooves - the stress of not knowing is simply gone. And my horses are happier and healthier because their hooves are being cared for in a much more proactive way. It’s a win win!
Below is a recent photo of my horse's right front foot, to show our progress with his feet. There are still things that need to improve in his feet, but we are working on those issues and moving to the right direction.
Would you like to learn more about holistic hoof care? Check out our online courses!