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We all have to begin somewhere and if this is the first time you are going to hold the rasp…congratulations!

Below is a list of tools you will need to get the trimming done.

Tools and Equipment (some optional):

  • Patience (not optional)
  • Camera (or phone these days)
  • Gloves
  • Hoof Pick
  • Ruler
  • Wooden Handle Wire Brush
  • Sharp Rasp
  • Sharp Hoof Knife (flat or curved blade)
  • Diamond Sharpener or Small Chain Saw File
  • Hoofstand
  • Loop knife, nice but not essential
  • Nippers
  • Apron is nice but not essential.
  • …. More Patience! (still not optional!)


Absolutely the best tool in your box…and it will serve you well along this road, even more than with your children or your dog!

When working with and around animals, patience and timing will always stand you in good stead.


Also, you have to learn to wait for the healing process of the horse to do its natural magic. DO NOT try to cut your way to concavity, wider heels, whatever else people have dreamt up…just give it time and have patience.


You need to keep track of what the hooves look like all the time. They can change dramatically from one trim to the next or you see something that wasn’t there the last time.

I cannot stress enough the importance of pictures and yes, it’s perfectly all right if you use your iPhone, but read my instructions on the Taking Pictures page.

There could come a time when you start doubting if all your trimming is really changing your horse’s feet. That’s the time you will be thankful you kept records and can see what the hooves looked like before and now. It’s like a tree growing on your lawn. You don’t notice every millimeter of growth, but one day you look at the tree and can;t believe how big it has become.

Here are before and after pictures of the same foot. If the pictures weren’t there, would you have been able to think for yourself (let alone convince someone else!) that this is what was?

Take pictures. Take lots of pictures, it’s free!


A have to have item. Without them, you’ll be scarred in no time and the pleasure of trimming will go right out of it. In South Africa we do not work with gloves to do anything…it’s for women in a garden, right?…Wrong!

It will protect your hands from being cut by the rasp, the knife end even the freshly rasped hoof wall! Wear them. I bought a pair I’m trying from “The Horse’s Hoof” catalogue and they’re rubbery and close to the skin without being hot. So far I like them.

Hoof Pick

We all know hoof picks, but get one that can really clean out the join between the frog and the sole, not flat tipped, more of a point without being sharp.

Hoof picks come in all shapes and sizes. The top one has a magnet in it which is really handy. The middle one has a ruler on it, but I prefer the ruler below as it is very thin and can get right into the joins of the commissures.

You want to know that you’re keeping those areas disease free, not just debris free!


If you’re going to be working on hooves, you want to know certain measurements and want to, out of neccessity or interest, keep track of them.

Measurements you need to know every time you trim is for instance the depth of the commissures.

Out of interest is for instance measuring the width of the heels and keeping track as to what happens to them over time…are they expanding or contracting?

Wooden Handle Wire Brush

This is absolutely what works the best for cleaning the hoof after picking and before trimming.

It makes for better pictures by far and will save your rasp and knives too!!


Be sure not to brush so hard that you take away any solid false sole. It is there to protect the live sole until it is ready to come off. Get one and use it!

Sharp Rasp

Like with a hoof knife, the sharper the better. This does not mean that an old rusty one won’t do the job, it’s about ease of working for you. You will sweat enough under the horse, no need to make it any harder! Handle or no handle?

That’s personal choice. No handle makes it easier to turn in your hand as it’s lighter. Handle is nice and can stop you from poking your horse with the pointed end of the rasp when you’re working under him.

Sharp Hoof Knives

Nothing can be more frustrating than a blunt knife, no matter where and that’s equally true for when you need to cut the frog or bars and the knife’s wants to jump instead of cut.

Use a small diameter chainsaw file or a diamond file and make sure you can slice paper or shave your arm hair by the time you’re done.

Be careful with the chainsaw rasp. Don’t make the edge serrated. You want a smooth edge that is less of an angle than the knife comes with and therefore sharper. Granted the edge doesn’t last as long, but you have to pick your battles and in this case, sharper is better!

Small Chainsaw File

A small chainsaw file (with handle) is an essential item in your toolbox. You need this to sharpen your knives…and it gives you a good reason to take a breather when your back is about to give up on you!

I like mine to be small enough to get into the crook of the knives, so if you’re uncertain as to what size you need, take your knives with when you go to buy the file.

There is a way to use these which we’ll get to later…just so you know.

Hoof stand

An absolute must for beginner as well as pro. I made it from the agitator of an old washing machine I found on the scrap yard and a few improvisations….is there a word like that? Lol

I like it as it is plastic and can’t hurt the horse if things go bad. It’s also light to hold up for the horse to sniff/inspect and to rub all over him/her before expecting a hoof to be kept on it.

Loop Knife

I enjoy a loop knife. Since it has both sides sharpened, you can cut the frog on either side while holding the knife in one way in your hand. No need to change hands and knives.

While it is good practice to teach yourself to become ambidextrous when using the tools around the horses, it’s a lot easier with the loop knife. They are also much sharper from the factory, so the edge is already less of an angle.


For the longest time I trimmed only with a rasp and knife, but as I got more experienced I realized there are easier ways to do things.

One of these included Nippers. This is a pair of straight nippers I found in an antique shop…I like old tools, there’s something special about them!

I sharpened it and it does the job every time. It’s a big time and energy saver…I guess a grinder is next on the wanted list!


A tray is an essential item (unless you like walking back and forth!).

This is a simple hardware store edition plastic tray.



If it rains or someone hoses their horse carelessly next to where you work, keep your tray away! The last thing you want is water all over your tools and in your tray.

If that happens, make sure you dry and spray your tools with silicon spray to remove all traces of dampness, else it’ll be rusted come morning. Also remember to wipe the residue silicon from the tools before using it!!!


A leather apron with Velcro instead of buckles is a nice bit of protection, but old jeans work well too…you just have to be a bit more careful. Do not be tempted to buy the nylon types or anything else for that matter…leather is better!



MORE PATIENCE……still not optional, but beautiful when you have it!!!

Now that you know what you need, let’s get you using those tools, shall we?

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