Saturday, May 12, 2007

You Can Do It, Whatever It Is

True enough, I do not come to being able to do this from nothing. I have been around horses my entire life, I have studied bone and hoof structures, I have watched farriers ad nauseum. And I don't do much, really. I don't have to make their hooves perfect, just better; I don't have to do it all at once, but a little at a time. And I have found that doing that, I have pretty much have their hooves in better shape than they ever have been. Not perfect, just better.

Size Matters
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

From the size here, you can perhaps see why I do a little at a time. I'm in good working shape, strong, but I can only do two of the big guy's hooves at a time, and only a little at that. So if he needs some work, he just gets worked on often. We built a shoeing stock that the hired farrier used, but I find the process of doing a little at a time and seeing the results then doing a little bit more to work for me right now.

That little tool is called a hoof knife. The only other tools you need are nippers and a rasp.

Hoof Knife, off fore
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

The hoof knife cleans up, takes off the excess sole, and lets you see what you are doing. I never take off excess frog myself although I've seen farriers do it.

Nippers, off hind
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

The nippers take off excess hoof wall. There isn't a lot of excess hoof wall on barefoot equines. Still, donkey's feet had overgrown before I started this process and so I do take some off on him. And sometimes on the horse, he'll have a long toe that the nippers help with. Dogs love the trimmings as treats.

Rasping Rear Near
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

The rasp takes off more, like a super duper nail file, and cleans up. The things paramount to keep in mind are flatness of the bottom, and "in line-ness" of the hoof, meaning that the outside hoof wall and pastern are at the same angle. Make sure you look at the hoof from the front and back to make sure you don't have one side shorter/longer than the other.

Rasping Tableau
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

Dirty Girl
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

There is nothing better in the world.

Ah, but here is the cautionary part of the tale:

Rasped Knuckle
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

What the rasp will do to anything that gets in its way. That hoof knife is really sharp too, so don't go and slip with it, at least not toward yourself. And it really does take a strong back to begin with.

Oh, and I don't feel bad about always coming away bloody either. I've never known a paid farrier who ended a session without bloody hands.


Anonymous said...

Dang yer hide for using Flickr. I can;t see these photos from work.

I HAVE, however, snuck a peek from home (between the 1,000 things and a little time playing Age of Mythology).

Banging up ones hands is the cost of doing business. It took many days for my wrists to recover from the constant hammering and drilling of coop-and-run construction. Magically, I didn't feel a thing whenever I was around the birds.

I was too happy.

the Contrary Goddess said...

I find the posts easier to edit with flickr photos for some reason, probably cause I know diddly about html. Although I do miss having the time at work to fool with the blog -- I'm so much busier at home! LOL!

Anonymous said...

That makes two of us. The vast majority of my writing-oriented posts are done at work between cases.

The photographs are typically uploaded from home.

Fathairybastard said...

Cool pictures! So totally respect the fact that you can do all that stuff. I'm a generatiuon or so away from knowin' anything about that stuff, and I miss it.