I promised I would get to this at some point, so here it is. The topic of Taboo for so many.
*cue dramatic music and ominous smoke*
*shrieks and screams of horror to be heard*
(click on the picture for all 4 hooves)
This picture was found online by searching the web for images of 'sanded hoof' and is from the Horse Grooming Supplies forum. While the poster UnDun offers a simple enough routine and step by step instructions, I may be able to add a few thoughts, shorten the length of the process and minimize the damage being done, while still achieving the same final effect. **If they wish for the photos and link to be removed, email me (available in my profile) and I will do so.**
That's right, hoof sanding. One of the many things people do to their horses for the sake of a piece of silk with lettering on it and a rosette at the top. They come in several colors, blue, red, yellow, white, pink and green... Blue, red and yellow for a Championship, red, yellow and white for Reserve Champion, sometimes accompanied by a neck sash, small blanket of flowers, whatever, but the color still fades with time, the flowers do too if they are also silk- otherwise they dry up and shrivel to dust... But the horse has to stand on those feet, day in day out, regardless of the number of ribbons they do or do not bring home.
For all intensive purposes, sanding does bring out the look of the hoof and put a smooth, glassy appearance on each one. Glazed over with some polish and **ooooh shiny!** But does it really do anything to enhance your horses performance? Does it make them travel straighter down the rail? Lighter in the bridle? Perform a pattern correctly? Achieve higher scores? Mark a clear round over taller jumps in the hunter or jumper division or win more races?
I will bet NOBODY could answer any of those questions honestly with a Yes. I will tell you one thing it does, in regards to those things listed above. It could very well draw the judges attention to your horses hooves and amplify the amount of lameness they are exhibiting! Is that what you really wanted? Probably not!
Many people start with a wire brush to remove the dirt. Nothing different than you would find in a hardware store. Like these, listed by CCA Sales, Inc.-
WHY? Is the dirt in your area that thick, crusty, sticky, tar like- WHAT? Someone please tell me. Most show horses are kept in a stall, if not while in training, at least for some time before the show. Is the bedding and manure that bad? Or maybe the footing in the work areas? If so, then something seriously needs to change and quick! You have bigger issues to address than the appearance of the horses hooves.
Then a lot of folks reach for the power tools. Flat sanders, like you would use on cabinetry and a Not so favorite of mine- the flap wheel sander.
This one is from Lee Valley & veritas in their woodworking section. The replaceable strips in part B go into the wheel in part A. This attaches to an average drill, just like a drill bit. The sand paper strip comes out in front of the wire brush pieces. As the paper wears, you loosen the center fastener, pull the paper out to cover the wire brushes, tighten things up and off you go again. Usually only one grit is used (120 I think) and things go pretty smoothly. (No pun intended.)
Personally, I have burned a horses hoof once, using one of these. I did it, I admit it, and I cared for him as the hoof healed and grew out. Anyone care to guess how long ago that was? Lucky for me, luckier still for Kontender- it did not cause him any lameness issues. I kept my job, he was able to be shown, we both survived, live and learn, chalk it up to experience. Don't ever do it again if you can help it...
I was trying to remove a 'spot' on his hoof. The amount of friction created a hot spot and eventually a redness as it was 'burned' from the amount of heat being created. All on a white area of the hoof in the rear quarter. Visible to the judges eye while the horse goes down the rail in a performance class? Thankfully, no, it wasn't. If you are going to use one of these- be aware of what can happen. The burn I mentioned- that was over 18 years ago and I still have not forgotten about it. Think I learned my lesson? You bet!
I am breaking this up into a few posts, due to the length and the amount of information I will be sharing on the topic. The next posts will be about sanding and how to do it with as little damage as possible and how to prepare the hoof the day of the show.