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Rock hard soles

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  • Rock hard soles

    How do you trim soles that are like concrete? The hoof knife sounds like a knife scraping a sidewalk.

    Any tips would be great.

  • #2
    I never touch the sole. Good hard, tough, calloused sole is a beautiful thing.

    IF there's false sole, however, I allow the body to ditch it when it's good and ready. When the body sloughs it off, it's because there's good sole underneath ready to be exposed.
    <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


    • #3
      While it's a great and wonderful idea to never touch the sole, in some areas (like sandy FL, or any sandy coastal area), you can end up with hooves that look like big blocks. That sole often just doesn't shed out on it's own. There just isn't enough wear to the hoof.

      What I do is run the hose onto the hooves in question, just near the bottom, and let the horse stand on that wet concrete for about 5 minutes. Make sure that the ground under the hooves is wet, as those blocky feet leave no room under them for the water to run.

      Then make sure you knife isn't horribly dull, and start trimming. It might be good to have gloves, as it is still going to be hard work.

      If you get to a point where it's still a bit too hard, run the hose again and let the horse stand for a few more minutes.

      I personally will not leave a horse with hooves like that. With that much old sole, that's hard as a rock, they just don't seem to be very healthy. I always notice a lot more thrush in that type of foot, and sometimes to the point where the whole foot will squish in when you squeeze across the heels. Get ride of the blocky hoof, and you get rid of the really bad thrush with just minimal treatment, instead of it being a constant battle.

      Just make sure you're not over trimming the sole either of course. But helping the horse out with a ton of rock-hard sole that isn't going anywhere on its own isn't a bad thing.


      • #4
        Sounds strange can soften soles that are rock hard by heating, carefully and briefly, with a propane of those little hand torches that screws onto the top of the one small propane containers. Heat a bit (just pass flame over the sole area for 2-3 passes at moderate speed) and then trim....can get really soft if you hold heat too long so go carefully. Learned from a farrier out here on the desert where rock hard soles are the norm.

        If in an area where feet wear well I would be reluctant to trim sole very much....seldom do it here unless I have one that just isn't wearing very well for some reason.
        Colored Cowhorse Ranch
        Northern NV


        • #5
          Soaking helps....warm water for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Hard soles are all well and good, as long as there is a healthy hoof attached to them and they are hard in response to the conditions they are in. My barefoot horses (different breeds, conformations, ages and work loads) all experience cycles of hardness/pliability depending on the ground conditions, season and access to standing water or snow to get their feet wet periodically. The thing to be aware of is whether the hoof is able to move dynamically (flex with weight bearing). Hoof mechanism and the resulting improved blood circulation withing the hoof will help keep the entire foot healthy, including helping keep thrush at bay.


          • Original Poster

            I am trying to trim my three horses myself because it is something that interests me. Today was my first real time doing it. In the past I just shaped with a rasp between real farrier visits. So I get out there today and low and behold I cannot get the nippers through the hoof. Granted I bought the shorter ones but the hooves were so hard I had to have my husband squeeze the nippers. It was pathetic. I shaped the hooves with the rasp and then started to clean up the soles and frog area and the soles were so hard I left them alone. It took me three hours!!! Now I am wondering if it really interests me that much. My hope is to get a good balanced hoof and then just weekly go over with the rasp.

            Thanks for the tips on soaking. Honestly, being a beginner I don't feel too comfortable hitting the hooves with a torch. Knowing my luck I would probably lean over too far and set my hair on fire and while screaming and running in circles I would get kicked in the face or something dreadful.


            • #7
              Really really be careful with blowtorches around hooves. I know of a horse a farrier almost crippled by over-softening the sole. There are times to remove some sole...I do it once in a while...but until you get a bit more experience you are best to do that with your trimmer or farrier's guidance.

              What kind of nippers do you have? A good set of GE's will cut through almost any hoof.


              • #8
                When I lived in southern AZ, where there is very little rain, the shoers used to tell their clients to let the water run over the trough for awhile so there was always a puddle of mud that the horses had to walk through every day to get a drink of water.

                I still do this in the summer in NC.

                Works wonders for keeping the feet healthy and easier to trim. The hooves were not soft, just had a bit of give when you cut with the knife or nippers.

                ETA: by the way, that is natural ... in the wild horses have to go to the watering holes and they walk right in to get a drink. Keeps their feet more pliable rather than rock hard which is not good even for a wild horse (won't absorb concussion well), let alone a civilized one.


                • Original Poster

                  Originally posted by Daydream Believer View Post
                  What kind of nippers do you have? A good set of GE's will cut through almost any hoof.
                  I bought the Diamond brand but they are pony size (12") because I have to do two full size and a small pony. I think that I am going to invest in a second pair of 14" and buy the best I can find. The leverage just is not there in the shorter pair but it worked great on the pony.


                  • #10
                    And congratulations on keeping that old GA Craigslist QH. Is he 26 or 27 now? (And thanks to 2Jakes for her notice about the horse.)


                    • #11
                      There is a huge difference in cheap nippers and quality ones. You will find that you get what you pay for pretty much. Most farriers and trimmers use GE's. I am using 12" size but 14" inch is a good size that many prefer.


                      • Original Poster

                        Originally posted by Daydream Believer View Post
                        There is a huge difference in cheap nippers and quality ones. You will find that you get what you pay for pretty much. Most farriers and trimmers use GE's. I am using 12" size but 14" inch is a good size that many prefer.
                        The ones I bought were $85 or $90 so not cheap cheap but not the most expensive $200 ones either.


                        • Original Poster

                          Originally posted by cloudyandcallie View Post
                          And congratulations on keeping that old GA Craigslist QH. Is he 26 or 27 now? (And thanks to 2Jakes for her notice about the horse.)
                          He will be 27 this year. We have really grown to love him even though he is not a lovey dovey horse. I think he still needs time to realize that he is here for good. Our other two are all over us, curious, wanting kisses and hugs but he is more reserved. Dignified is a perfect word to describe him.

                          Once he got here I had the good luck of finding his papers through the registry and finding out where he came from. I actually called a doctor in California who had bought Zippo as a 3 year old for her daughter. She said that her daughter rode him everywhere in just a halter and was not going to believe that he was still alive and doing well. He spent about 16 years at some sort of training/lesson barn in CA where I am sure he earned his keep and then onto GA for a few years where he turned up on CL. Kind of a sad life. Loved, sold, worked, sold, loved, given away. But at least he has found a soft place to land and end his days being loved even though he hates it. Just kidding - he is like a drill instructor who has to keep a tough exterior.

                          Was it 2jakes who found him? Thanks for that.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Weighaton View Post
                            The ones I bought were $85 or $90 so not cheap cheap but not the most expensive $200 ones either.
                            The GE's run $175 to $200 these days. They do last forever though and are easy on you to use.


                            • #15
                              You may also want to look at "Buds Nippers"....they are available on-line, not sure if anywhere else yet. They are a leverage action (kind of like a pair of vice grips) with a replacable blade....takes a lot less muscle power and with the replacable blade they stay sharp. Around the same price.
                              Colored Cowhorse Ranch
                              Northern NV


                              • #16
                                Using a torch on a hoof sounds CRAZY to me. I let the water run out of the bucket every day so there's some wet ground for them to stand in. I also have let them stand tied in a wet spot for a few minutes before trimming. It's important to know the difference between the live and dead sole, but I'm assuming you do know or you wouldn't be attempting to trim your horses. But since I don't know you... You never cut into live sole. And I apoligize if you already know.
                                "Humans will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple,
                                or more direct than does Nature." ~Leonardo da Vinci


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Weighaton View Post
                                  How do you trim soles that are like concrete?
                                  Power tools . . .



                                  • Original Poster

                                    Tom, that is hilarious because that is about what it would feel like.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Daydream Believer View Post
                                      There is a huge difference in cheap nippers and quality ones. You will find that you get what you pay for pretty much. Most farriers and trimmers use GE's. I am using 12" size but 14" inch is a good size that many prefer.
                                      Yep. Hubby mainly uses his 12" GE nippers but has a pair of 14". Just sent them out to be sharpened & rebuilt. They last forever if you take care of them.

                                      MFC also makes a decent nipper and is about $40-$50 less. Try browsing here:

                                      Using Diamond nippers is like using a butter knife to cut through a thick steak.