Stephanie Trimming a Client’s Horse
Many of us have experienced waking up in the middle of the night thinking about our horse’s soundness. Are we doing the right thing? Is there a better way? You think about all you’ve learned from reading information on natural hoof care and about learning the wild horse trim as well as watching some great videos & DVDs. You may have even attended a natural hoof care clinic.
Over the months of searching for a natural hoof care professional you finally find someone who can help you, however, they live too far away from you to come to your home for regular trims.
The frustration builds and then you think if only I knew how to trim using the wild horse as a model I could trim my own horse.
With the shortage of competent natural hoof care providers, this is a common thought that enters the mind of many horse guardians. You may have either read or “heard” that you can easily learn to trim your own horse.
Some people think it’s as simple as putting a mustang roll on their horse’s hooves and that’s all they need to learn. This is a stereotypical belief, not only by horse guardians, but also by traditional farriers who know nothing about natural hoof care.
Depending on how you approach learning to trim, it can produce either positive or negative consequences. It’s important to consider all the factors and, of course, your situation before making the leap.
Factors To Consider Before Making The Leap
Although the idea of trimming your own horse may sound wonderful, there are some factors that may cause you to reconsider.
Will it really save me money?
I believe that over the long haul it will save you a lot of money not to mention the peace of mind it brings. However, the up front investment can be substantial. For example, it can easily take a dedicated student up to a year to become confident and somewhat competent if you are only trimming your own horse once every 4-5 weeks.
Quality tools will cost $300 or more. If you are taking lessons from a competent hoof care professional, which I highly recommend, you will need to factor in that cost. Other additional costs would include DVDs, online courses and consultation fees.
You have to be very physically fit to trim a horse.
You must be in good physical shape if you want to trim your own horse… and it’s a different type of physical fitness.
For example, I use to play college basketball. Being in top physical condition for playing basketball requires a different type of physical fitness than, for instance, long distance running. You’re using different muscles. One is long distance versus short starts and stops with bursts of energy and strength. This is similar to trimming horses. You’ll be using muscles you probably don’t often use.
So, even if you “think” you’re in great shape, getting under a horse and performing a trim may cause you to think twice.
Trimming a horse’s hooves can be dangerous.
Trimming is one of the most dangerous jobs a person can perform when it comes to horses. You’re putting yourself and the horse into a very vulnerable position. If you don’t have great horse-man-ship skills (unless you’re one of those lazy clowns who tranquilizes a horse for every trim/shoeing), it’s easy to get into a situation where the horse won’t stand for you and you could get injured… even with your “gentle” backyard pony. People without proper horse-man-ship skills often become frustrated in this situation, which can lead to injury.
It takes practice to become good.
It can be difficult to build and maintain your skills since your horse only needs trimmed once every 4-5 weeks. It takes practice to become good at anything. If you only practice once a month, you’re not doing your horse, or you, any favors.
The most difficult part is learning to read the hoof.
Learning to read the hoof, its shape, wear patterns, etc. is the most difficult part of the trim for anyone to learn. Usually this comes with time and experience.
Even very competent trimmers still strive to improve this skill. If you’re not good at reading what each individual hoof needs, then it’s easy to make mistakes that could cause severe imbalances over time or cause your horse to become sore.
There’s no cookie cutter approach.
There’s no way to teach trimming with the “if this happens then do this” approach. It’s not cookie cutter. Natural hoof care looks at the whole horse. No two horses are the same, and no two hooves are the same.
There’s a big difference between technique and technician.
– Pat Parelli
Are You Really Ready To Take On Such A Task?
It takes a certain type of individual to commit to trimming her own horse. I’m not going to sugar coat it, because I’ve seen too many people who won’t admit to their own limitations. On the other hand, I don’t want to discourage you from wanting to learn.
Here are a few characteristics I usually look for in a potential student:
- She has dedication – you must be willing to immerse yourself in learning away from your horse and separate from your lessons.
- She wants to be a great, not just a “good”, student – a few characteristics of a great student are dedication, paying attention, not making assumptions, asking questions if something’s not clear, focus and willingness to stay in physical shape between trims and lessons.
- She understands it’s not just about the trim – the actual trim is a very small piece of the puzzle… it’s an important piece but there’s so much more to understand. Knowing a technique or two will only get you so far (if you’re lucky).
- She understands that it won’t be easy – frustration and impatience will usually get the best of you if you don’t understand that it takes time and commitment when learning to trim your own horse.
Summary – Still Want To Learn To Trim Your Own Horse?
If you’re still interested in learning to trim your own horse, next week I’ll cover in detail my recommendations for getting started.
If you have any questions that you would like me to address, please share them in the comments section.
Keep it soulful,