5 Steps to trim your horse yourself without crippling them.

horseshoeing Aug 29, 2022
Horse foot with horseshoe

Have your horse’s feet ever needed a trim, but you couldn't find a farrier with an open schedule?


Wouldn't it be nice to be able to clean your horse's feet up yourself and sleep better knowing they were trimmed and not going to break.  Sometimes a day or two can make the difference of a horse foot breaking or cracking in a way that would prevent the farrier from putting on your next set of horseshoes.  If you follow these five steps, you can easily trim your horse’s feet by yourself and make sure the feet are ready for the next Farrier appointment.


  • Clean the hoof and frog.
  • Trim the excess hoof.
  • File the foot flat.
  • Trim around the outside of the foot.
  • Clean up the hoof on the stand.


  1. Cleanup the hoof and frog.

The most important point of this step is to only trim off enough frog so you can file the foot flat.  After cleaning any packed dirt or manure that is stuck in the bottom of the foot, cut a thin layer of the frog with a sharp hoof knife or hoof nippers.  There could be extra frog protruding from the back of the hoof that also needs to be clean off.  By cleaning up the frog, you are clearing a path for your file to move across the bottom of the foot.   You can also take your hoof knife and sweep a shallow cut around the front of the hoof removing a small amount of sole.  This will move more of the weight of the horse on the outside edge under the location where a horseshoe would be nailed and off of the sole.  Be careful not dig too deep into the sole which can cause lameness and sensitivity for the horse.

  1. Trim the excess hoof.

Now you need to break out nippers and trim the foot.  You will need to envision a flat plan across the bottom of the foot at least a quarter of an inch above the point of the frog.  Use the nippers to clip through the outside of the hoof and around to one of the heels.  Make sure you make cuts half the width of the nippers ensuring your cut is as flat as possible and tapper the cut to the heel.  Taking as little heel as possible is very important.  Repeat the cut around the opposite side of the hoof.

  1. File the foot flat.

Now you have the bulk of the trimming complete, but you still need to use your horseshoe file to flatten the hoof.  Depending on the amount of hoof left, decide if you need the rough or fine side of the file.  You can still easily cut too much into the sole with a file, so be sure to only file the minimum amount of hoof.  Sliding your file from back to front and rotating back and forth between the heels, smooth the hoof until you feel it is level on all three points (both heels and the point of the toe).  You can angle the hoof towards the ground and use your eye to check level.  STOP as soon as you feel like the three points are level to prevent overfilling.

  1. Trim around the outside of the foot.

In this step you will use your nippers again to round the toe and clip off any unnecessary hoof on the hoof wall.  This step helps prevent the hoof wall from breaking and causing unwanted cracks.  Take your nippers and start at one of the heels.  Clip half the outer hoof wall at a 45-degree angle all the way around the foot.  It is very important to only clip with half the width of the nippers to keep the cuts a single piece and even.  This will set you up for the final step.

  1. Cleanup the hoof on the stand.

For this step you will need your file again and a hoof stand.  Place the hoof up on the stand and file from top to bottom with the smooth side of the horseshoe file.  The object is to keep the angle of the outer hoof wall while smoothing and rounding off the 45-degree cut you made with your nippers.  Taking careful cuts with your file, you can finish the trim job in a way that will leave the hoof looking outstanding and professionally done.


Learning to trim your own horse’s feet will take time, and it won’t be perfect the first time.  But doing your own trimming is very rewarding and will improve your relationship with your horse.  If you follow the steps outlined in this guide, you will improve the condition of your horse’s feet and save yourself a few bucks along the way.


Remember to always double check that you have all the gear loaded and packed before your next pack trip.  Make sure you click the button below and sign up for our free Backcountry Gear List complete with all the items you need to make it the best pack trip of your life.  Check back soon for the more articles on Bonedout.com.

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