Sanding by hand? Sure it can be done, but since most horses being raised or trained for showing are kept in stalls, handled daily and are fed properly with nutrition being high on the list of priority in many barns, their hooves should be in pretty good shape to begin with. If not, well there again, things need to be considered and changed accordingly. No hoof, no horse, remember?
If their health is in line, nutrition on track and hoof care in order- there isn't much left to improve the overall appearance of the hoof before a show anyways. Many of the performance disciplines- don't bother with, let alone require sanded hooves. Clean the hoof off, cover it with polish and go in the ring.
If you wish to sand, try using just a sanding sponge.
Many can be used wet or dry, but keep in mind, that when used on a wet hoof, the wall will soften to some degree and result in more being taken off much easier than when things are dry. This particular sponge is for sale through Schneiders for around $3.
But look closely at a few things if you will. Notice the picture on the packaging? Doesn't that look like it could be the horses' lower leg, bone structure, or is it just me? "For moderate to heavy sanding of wood, paint, metal, plastic & drywall." Did I miss the word HOOF in there somewhere? Medium and Coarse grits only? Where is the Medium and Fine?
After sanding some people go to the lengths of using steel wool for an even finer, smoother finish. WHY? I have yet to see a judge reach down, grab a hoof and examine the work. This does not even happen in showmanship, where everything is closely examined to the Nth degree. Are these people this neurotic when going through their own grooming habits before leaving the house? I doubt it. What do these people have to prove by going this far in sanding the hooves?
From the picture in the last post, it looks as if the horse is due for new shoes. The hooves have outgrown the set that are on. If your horse is due for a trim or shoeing, have it done before you begin to sand. It will save you from having to go back and do it all again to remove fresh rasp marks, as well as not having to sand what is going to be trimmed away.
Once the hoof has been sanded for one show, the next show even a month or two later, usually does not require much work, (if any) to go back and touch up the job from before. Just a light buffing to take off any new rasp marks from a recent trim or anything else that may have come up since then. If you wish to clean up the appearance of the hooves, use your head and do as little damage as possible to achieve the look you desire. Less is more.
In the next segment I will cover polishing and the few simple steps to get the most from your work.