I keep my horses barefoot. It’s not a religion for me. I do think it’s better for them to be barefoot. But I also think that there are horses and circumstances where shoes might be better. I just don’t have any of those horses or any of those circumstances. And frankly, it’s just way cheaper to have barefoot horses and boot them when they need a bit of extra protection. Typically, I have my farrier trim every 8 weeks, and keep Dressy and King trimmed myself every few weeks in between. I’m not really good about staying on top of it unless I’m riding regularly, so having the farrier in regularly catches everyone up.
However, my regular farrier is quite ill right now, and has taken six months off for treatment. I figured it was a good opportunity to save a bit of money if I just do the horses myself. Which means I also have to do Nikita (my pony). And then of course, Ares arrived. So now I have four to do. And I let Dressy and Nik get a bit overlong. So the job was looking a bit bigger by the day.
I was reading some barefoot sites and happened to read about horses being trimmed with an angle grinder with a flap disk. A flap disk is basically just overlapping sandpaper, so it’s not too aggressive. That sounded like it would be a whole lot easier… assuming a horse would stand for it. And as it happens… I have an angle grinder. All I needed was a flap disk, so I picked one up. Watched a few videos to see how it’s done.
Today I put it to the test. Starting with King. Now King has a fascination with power tools, so I sort of figured he wouldn’t mind too much. At least up to the point where I actually put the grinder against his foot. But to be safe, I turned the grinder on at the other end of the barn. King was standing in the cross ties resting one hind foot, half asleep. He didn’t even wake up when I turned it on. So I brought it to him. Still nothing. Gave him a push to stand him up on both hinds and asked for his front foot. He gave it to me and stood calmly while I sanded the hoof, Other than one moment where he tried to get his nose down to the grinder to see what it was doing, he never moved at all. I don’t even think he found it that interesting. I did all four feet with the grinder, then finished off each foot with the rasp to make sure I didn’t get too carried away. It worked really well.
Dressy was much the same. Though she did get somewhat alarmed when Diego got all upset at the noise of the grinder and started spinning in his stall. I don’t think she knew what he was afraid of. But after Misha took him outside, Dressy relaxed again and let me finish.
I was prepared to do some clicker training to get them to accept the noise of the grinder, but it wasn’t necessary at all. Neither horse was worried about it. Amazing what horses will allow us to do sometimes!
Of course, Nikita and Ares may be whole other story, I don’t know. But at least it reduces the amount of labour involved if I can do two of them with half the effort.