How to use a hoofpick
Before you even pick up a hoof to begin picking it out, you need to choose the right hoof pick for you. Some picks come with a small brush to help cleaning and clearing of the hoof, others are purely the pick, a hooked shape utensil that will aid you with the clearing of mud, stones and stable bedding from your horses hoof. Some will feel more comfortable to hold than others, possible dependant on how large or small your hands are, and whilst you are lifting a heavy horse hoof, and working in a bent over position, you want to feel comfortable.
Once you’ve chosen your pick you need to lift each hoof in turn to clear them out. Run your hand down your horses’ leg to ask him to lift his hoof. You may need to lean on your horse slightly to encourage him to lift his leg, shifting his weight over to his other legs. Once he does lift his leg you will need to support the hoof with one hand, placing your hand on what is effectively the front of the hoof, whist using the pick in your other hand to remove any dirt.
Make sure the sharp point of the hoof pick is always pointing away from you, and always work in a downwards motion in the direction away from you, from the horses heel towards his toe. Horses can be unpredictable; using the shape point toward you could lead to injury to either you or your horse.
Using that sharp point of the pick will help you break through any mud, and if it is muddy, yet warm and the mud has gone hard, you may find you have to dig in with some force. Starting either side of the frog and clear down in a V shape and making sure you remove all mud and dirt from this area. This will loosen the mud from the wider area of the hoof. Once the frog area is clear, use your pick to clear the rest of the hoof (the flatter areas), but still working from the heel end towards the toe end. If your horse wears shoes clear up to the metal rim of the shoe.
If your horse is bare foot (no shoes) once the hoof is clear you will also need to check the outer rim of the hoof. Small stones can sometimes get wedged in between the outer hoof wall and the inner hoof, and left unattended can cause problems. It does depend on the individual hoof as some are softer than others, but it is always advisable to check all areas of the hoof as part of your regime. When cleared, you should be able to see the underside of the hoof clearly allowing you to inspect for any other problems, and then repeat this for each foot in turn.