Monday, June 18, 2012

Trimming hooves with an angle grinder...

Hoof trimming with an angle grinder instead of nippers and rasp...  It is not new, but it is new to a lot of people. 

I have been following Phil Morrare with off and on for quite a while.  The main reason I did not want to try this on my own is #1. I had visions of something going very very wrong and me grinding off 1/2 a hoof (ACK!), and #2. I didn't want to blow money on a grinder that was too heavy, not easy to use, that had a mind of its own, or broke after a couple of uses because it was a piece of get the idea.  One of the barefoot hoof care groups I am on posted about a clinic being held at her farm - so I signed Brian and I up.  We could get hands on instruction and decide then if it is something that will work for us.  We were on our way to Henderson, TN! Thankfully they had a couple of horses for us to work on.  We would not have been able to make the trip if they didn't because it is so far and gas would have killed us.

We opted to buy Phil's grinder since he has been there, done that, and done it again to make it better and better.  The grinder he has is pretty light in weight and is easy to use.  I am a bit clumsy with it since I am not a grinding connoisseur, but I will say that I am a lot more comfortable using it now than I was when I started using nippers.  I also don't feel as beat up as I do after nipping on rock hard hooves this time of year.  Can accidents happen - yes they can.  But no more so than a wrong move with nippers (whether it is you or the horse moving).  When grinding,  a lot of hoof does not come off at a time, which relieved me.  Brian caught right on to it and I was so glad!  He is all excited about this which means I will have help.  Woo hoo!  He got an A+ for technique and I got an A-.  Hmpf, I have work to do because I want an A+ too!  :-)  Brian compared it to grinding on steel...trying to get that fine finish.  I wouldn't know....I just compare it to grinding on hoof wall and trying to get that fine finish.  Hee hee!  ;-)

I need to get one of these signs from! 

Phil worked on a horse the first day to show us what the trim was like, safety things to remember when using the grinder, and answered questions before we got started.  I believe 4 or 5 people brought their own horses and they started that first day. 

Brian worked on the hostesses horse named Glider.  He is a big Foundation QH with the sweetest face!  He was a real doll.  I do want to say that the hostess of this clinic let 4 different people trim on her horses - thank you Ellen!  They are her babies, so she was right there making sure all was well.

All her horses have great feet.  She rides on the rocky roads and they all do well (except Mia, but she has a story)

Brian is getting to know Glider before he begins.

And Glider is getting to know Brian while he looks at the first hoof.

The way it works is like this:  Phil does the first hoof or at least starts the first hoof.  We then pick up the remainder of the hoof...that way we have a guide following what he did.  Then we trim either one or two hooves by ourselves with Phil by our side making sure all is well.  He points things out and gives tips and hints on how to work with the horse, how to make the hoof better, how to read the hoof, etc.

Brian took to this like you would not believe.  I was so happy and very proud of him!
Not bad for someone who has not done much hoof work.

View from above...

Phil pointing out something for Brian to look at.  I know for myself, it was usually a sharp angle when it should all be rounded and smooth.

Two of Brian's completed hooves. 

We did not make it to Hutchinson, KS for the open house at the Correctional Facility this year, so we wore our shirts and shared our experiences with the guys and the mustangs.  :-)

I would like to introduce Mia.  She is a QH and a sweetie!  She worked her whole life, was loved her whole life, then something went wrong and she went lame.  The people that had her were going to ship her to the sale...and you all know what that means for a horse that can't walk. Ellen brought her home and has been trying to do what she can to keep Mia comfortable.  Mia is only 18 yrs old, and this girl instantly melted my heart.  I have never worked on a lame horse before so I was a bit nervous, but it all went well.  We took our time and I am huge on giving breaks when needed.  In my mind Mia needed breaks...she tried real hard to give us what we asked so she deserved the breaks.  Ellen is a lot like we are...ready to save the ones that need saving if at all possible.  I love her for that!

Mia was introduced to the world of SELF PORTRAITS!!!!  Ha ha!  

Tandee, my older mare, is old and creaky, so I try to trim her as close to the ground as possible.  I tried to do the same thing for Mia.  Ellen had x-rays of her hooves but I did not get to see them so am not sure what they looked like.
Notice the leather gloves and the arm guard on my left arm.  Both are just in case I slip with the grinder and hit my arm - which I did.  Funny how it comes straight at me and not the horse...also good it does that!  :-)  Part of learning how to use the grinder is learning what angles to be at.

They had a mini hoof jack with the full size cradle, so we used that a while.

Mia is a sweetie and was comfortable while Mom Ellen held her foot on her lap.  This is how Ellen trims her horses since she had back surgery herself.  

Here is a safety issue picture.  When I started my hair was up in two clips, but as I moved around the horse the end fell out and was hanging down.  That is a hazard because it can get caught up in the grinder while it is still moving...and I am guessing that would not feel too good at all!

Mia has pretty feet.  :-)  She was still ouchy but moved out better than she did in the beginning.  Ellen had her normal trimmer leave Mia alone the last time he was there so Phil could take a look at her.  I feel very honored to work on Mia, and that Ellen trusted me to work on her.

Ellen also has a couple Fjords!  Dang they are cute!  Sam was a rescue.  He was treated very badly and was scared of took a while but Ellen showed him that he can trust her, and now they burn up the trails!

Another safety thing:  Be sure to tie up the horses tail when working on the hind feet.  Same reasons I don't want my hair getting caught up in it, but I have a feeling a flying hoof would be part of the equasion here.

Carrie is her other Fjord and she was a little more moody with everyone milling around her but I think she did just fine.  I keep wondering how ours would have done in an environment like that.  I just don't know.  I am sure Tripp would have been fine, but I don't think he would have stood still as well as these horses did.  Which tells me I have something else to work on.  :-)

So far I have trimmed 4 of the horses since we got home.  Tripp was my guinea pig and he did great!  I make grinder noise and he really could care less...I did a couple of quick zip zip feels on the bottom of his hooves and he didn't react to that either.  While I got him done all the other stood around, so they were getting used to the sound too. 
Rico did not like the feel on his front hooves but was great with the rear.
Nevada did pretty good all the way around.
Stormy was a doll!  He moved around a couple of times, but nothing big.  More to move around to get a better look at what I was doing.  I gave him a treat and he said "Okay, I will stay here."  :-)

I am very excited about this!  The only thing I am not sure about is the heat build up, so I am careful not to grind in one place too long.  I move around the hoof quite a bit just in case...

I am so happy that Brian and I both went! 

Until later....Karen and Tripp who got to show the others that he was the first to work with power tools!  ;-)

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