How To Pick Your Horse’s Hooves Correctly

Having trouble picking out your horse’s feet before your lesson? In this article you’ll find a complete guide to help you learn how to pick your horse’s hooves correctly. We’ll also learn when to clean your horse’s feet and why it is so important!

This article assumes that your horse has good ground manners and can be tied, and stand quietly for grooming. This article also assumes that your horse will allow their hoof to be held.

If your horse does not know how to pick up their hoof, or stand quietly, please get assistance a professional horse trainer. The purpose of this post is not to address training issues or to teach your horse how to lift their foot. For your safety and your horse’s safety you will need help from an experienced horse person.

Don’t have a trainer? No problem! Check out my tips for choosing the best riding instructor for you in this article!

This post may contain affiliate links which means that I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

What You Will Need


If your are just learning to handle your horse on the ground and to groom and care for them, be sure to use the proper equipment including a halter. Don’t try to just walk up to your horse in their stall or pasture and lift their foot. Once you become more experienced you’ll likely be able to do this, but for now you’ll be safer with a halter.

Cross Ties or Place To Tie Your Horse

For the same reason I mentioned above, it’s best to make sure your horse doesn’t plan to leave the area while you are learning.

horse on crossties, horse grooming, how to pick out your horse's hooves

Hoof Pick

A hoof pick should be included in every grooming kit. I prefer the type that has both a pick and a brush rather than just the metal pick.

Proper Barn Footwear

I really can’t stress this point enough. It is crucial to dress appropriately in the barn. Loose clothing, jewelry and hair can get caught and cause injury and so can leaving your feet unprotected. Be sure to wear boots in the barn, not sandals, sneakers or other types of shoes.

Broom and Shovel

Trust me, your barn manager, riding instructor and barn mates will truly appreciate this one! When you finish grooming your horse and picking their feet, clean up the hoof droppings! If you are tacking up for a ride, be sure to sweep up and dump the mess in your barn’s designated spot before you bridle and mount your horse! If you are just grooming or untacking from a ride, sweep up as soon as you put your horse away!

How To Pick Up Your Horse’s Hoof Safely

Stand beside and close to your horse facing the horse’s tail.

Keep your feet pointing parallel to the horse instead of towards the horse’s leg to minimize the risk of getting stepped on by accident.

Using the hand closest to your horse’s leg, run your hand own the back of your horse’s cannon bone to the fetlock.

Apply a gentle pressure all the way down the leg and then gently pull up when your hand reaches the horse’s pastern. You may need to lean slightly into your horse’s shoulder to help them balance on their other leg in order to lift the hoof you are asking for.

When the horse lifts their hoof, slide your hand down to cradle the hoof.

This will be easier than holding their pastern. Keep a firm enough grip on your horse’s hoof that if they move you won’t drop their foot, but don’t squeeze too hard. Holding too tight could agitate the horse and make them pull away.

If you cannot lift your horse’s hoof:

If your horse will not lift their foot, stay patient and avoid trying to yank or pull their hoof off of the ground. You need to consult your trainer or get some help from an experienced friend if you struggle with this step.

Learning how to pick your horse’s hooves takes lots of practice. Often times if you are unsuccessful it is due to a lack of coordination rather than a lack of willingness from your horse. Especially if you are handling a horse that teaches lots of people to ride. These school masters generally know the drill and will lift their foot quietly even if not asked correctly.

How To Pick Your Horse’s Hooves Correctly

Now that you know how to hold your horse’s hooves up safely, it is time to clean them out. Use the metal end of the pick to scrape dirt and rocks out of the bottom of the hoof. Be sure to clean out the clefts carefully and thoroughly. And, don’t dig at the frog with your hoof pick or you may hurt your horse.

To avoid getting dirt in your eye, pick the dirt out away from you, starting from the heel and scraping towards the horse’s toe.

how to pick your horse's hooves, learning to clean out horse feet, picking up a horse hoof

When And Why You Need To Pick Your Horse’s Hooves

Hoof care is critical in keeping horses happy, sound and comfortable. Without healthy, clean hooves, your horse won’t be able to do his job. Failing to clean out stones and wet debris from your horse’s hooves can lead to stone bruises, abscesses, thrush and lameness.

To keep your horse’s feet healthy, clean them out every day whether you plan to ride or not. Check for any stones they may have picked up in turn-out.

If you do ride, you’ll want to clean your horse’s feet out before and after your ride. This way, they won’t be exercising with dirt and rocks in their feet and if they picked up stones or mud during your ride you’ll be able to clean it out.

I hope you’ve found this article helpful, if so, please give it a share!

Check out these related articles you may be interested in!

The Best Way To Clean Your Horse’s White Spots

How To Bathe Your Horse For Beginners

Does The StripHair Gentle Groomer Work? Find Out If It’s Actually Worth It!

Daily Grooming Routine Your Horse Will Love!

Recent Posts