Tools recommendations please

Maria Duran

Hi all,

I am working on a mare´s hooves since several months ago. The mare was unshoed 9 months ago and after being very sensitive, she is doing great now. Her hooves have changed to what begins to appear healthy.

The problem is that hooves are now hard rock to trim and I am guessing besides this, my tools are not the best. Soaking the hooves doesn´t help much.

I would like some advice before buying a new hoof knife and for a more aggressive hoof rasp. This one I think I will order Cody James one unless you say something different, but my biggest problem is choosing the hoof knife.

- Is it normal that I have to sharpen it after doing 4 hooves where I only trim the bars a bit? Is this because of the steel is not good or why?
- Can you please recommend me a good one? I will try to find it here in Spain.
- What do you think about the ones that are sharpened at both sides? Or is it better to have two different hoove knifes left sided and right sided? I am not very skillful using the same hoof knife for everything and don´t like the looped ones.

Thank you very much in advance.

Maria Duran.
Madrid, Spain.

Bobbie Day

Hi Maria
We have that same problem with our hooves, rock hard!
We try to let their water troughs run over a little but doesn’t (obviously) help in winter and I have literally tried every hoof softener on the market and haven’t found anything that helps much.
But I second the Cody James rasp, I ordered some for my husband, his hands are pretty bad these days and he loves his. Nippers will not help in our case.
I also bought him some hoof knives from Scott Davidson that is on the hoof rehab page. They’re custom made but will last forever and they were reasonable. If you want his contact info message me !
We feel your pain 😊

Lavinia Fiscaletti

Hi Maria,

Great that the mare is doing so much better now.

Cheap knives do lose their edge extremely quickly, so investing in a better quality knife is worthwhile, but even a good knife will noticeably lose its edge on those types of feet.

An angle grinder can get at those types of bars very easily, if the horse will allow you to use it. Can also try a Dremel with one of the grinding wheels. Otherwise, plan on needing to sharpen the knife quite frequently.

Jan 2005, RI

Moderator/ECIR Support

Josephine Trott

Hi Maria
I like the Shorty knife made by JH forge. I think the website is
i spray on a mix of vetrolin linament and water right before I trim. Onto cleaned soles/walls. I swear this works to make nipping possible without popping a hernia. Once you’ve nipped even a little off then rasping is possible. I live in CA where it doesn’t rain for 8-10 months of the year. So dry it’s ~10% humidity a lot of the year

Davis, CA 12/09

Maxine McArthur

Hi Maria
Our summer is finally drying up here and we have hard feet as well. Dangles has bars like rock. My trimmer retired, so I'm "it" for the moment.
I just bought myself a small Proxxon angle grinder. It's battery-powered, lightweight enough for me to use one-handed, not too noisy. I tried it for the first time this morning and think I'm in love... Definitely worth the investment. Probably not enough grunt for a pro, but for an owner with only two horses to trim, it's great. 
Maxine and Indy (PPID) and Dangles (PPID)

Canberra, Australia 2010

Maria Duran

Thank you very much all!

I am not confident about using an angle grinder, I am scared that the mare mooves and I can easily hurt her :(.

Trying to find something similar to the hoof knives you recommended, I have some questions however:

Do you find best having two different hoof knives for each hand or one sharpened at both sides?
Do you find best shorter hoof knives or curved and longer ones?
What kind of sharpener do you reccomend?

Maybe you can take a look at what I have available and tell me which one do you find of best quality?

Thank you all for you help.


Hi Maria,

As to sharpener, I was using a sharpening stone on my hoof knife, but you can't get into the hook with that. Farrier supply stores  sell sharpeners for the hook, but I found that they were really expensive. So this is the solution that I came up with - a sharpening kit for a chainsaw. Here's an example:

I find that it works really well. One of the files will be small enough to get into the hook and you can use the same file to sharpen the whole length of the knife. You can also just buy the smallest file separately for even less. The 5/32" file is the right size for my knife. Obviously you don't use the guide on a hoof knife.
Susan in BC 2020
Copper and Ella's Case Histories
Ella's Photos


Hi, Maria. My trimmer, who is a strong man and uses a knife frequently, sometimes uses a Dremel on the bars. I haven't found the exact bit, but it has this shape:
I believe that rather than this tool with a diamond surface, it is a very fine file. Or maybe it's just worn down. He uses it with great finesse to gently buff away tiny amounts of bar without gouging the sole. 

Cass, Sonoma Co., CA 2012
ECIR Group Moderator
Cayuse Case History                Cayuse Photos
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Maria Duran

Thank you Cass and Susan,

I have something similar to the rounder ones Susan, different finishes from soft to hard, those look great. I have a Dremel, Cass so maybe in the future when I feel more confident I can use it, but by now I am a bit scared.

Would someone take a look at the link I provided with a variety of hoof knives and tell me which one looks like working best?

Thanks a lot all for your help.

Lavinia Fiscaletti

What's going to work best really depends on the user.

You need a knife with a handle that fits comfortably in your hand and with a blade length that works with your strength and range of motion.

Jan 2005, RI

Moderator/ECIR Support

Maria Duran

Thank you Lavinia, my biggest fear is the quality of the blade as current one seems to be of a very bad quality.

Thank you all for your help.

Maria Duran

I finally bought this one

I am very happy with it, it makes trimming soooooo much easier and smooth, it has nothing to do with the other one.

I am wondering if any of you have a good video on how to sharpen it correctly, I don´t want to ruin the edge in the future with a bad sharpening.

Thank you!