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With a little luck, you should now be the proud owner of a pair of hooves. Two things remain: modelling putty isn't really hoof coloured, and at the moment there's a bit of a discontinuity where your hand enters the hoof. Time for a little cosmetic surgery!

Fig 1 again.

First you need to paint your hoof. Nothing very delicate here. Acrylic paint is best as it's fast drying and durable. I use Rowney "System 3", which is a lovely thick, high-pigment paint, available in conveniently large plastic bottles. Relatively speaking, it's cheap too. Artist-grade acrylics are hideously expensive, whereas this grade (and I use this for all my artwork too) costs about five pounds a bottle and will do you endless sets of hooves!

A decorators brush will be fine for application: you want a brush about an inch wide with coarse bristles. Mix yourself a good 'dollop' of appropriate hoof colour (this varies tremendously: siena, tan, black, grey, etc, or a mixture of these). Don't dilute it: the perfect texture is something like a paste, because you can use the coarseness of the brush and the rigidity of the paint to improvise a convincing laminated texture to the hoof: remember those growth rings?

Apply the paint quite generously, and paint with light, horizontal strokes, leaving the brush marks in. Try to make them even: no sudden changes of direction. Many hooves are patterned or striped: to add a strip, paint a vertical line in the appropriate colour, then blur it with horizontal strokes. Don't be afraid to experiment: mistakes can be painted over or even scraped off: you have nothing to lose!

For the sole, simple use a darker and wetter shade of the same paint. The sole should be smooth, and the clefts around the frog emphasised with dark colour.

Allow to dry thoroughly.

All that remains now is to disguise the join of hoof with hand, and for this a pair of socks works wonders. This is another of those simple-theory-difficult-practice bits, and it may be easier if you have someone to help you.

Put one of the socks over your right hand like a glove puppet. Draw it up as far as it will go, then put the right hoof on, tucking your fingers under the flange. Make sure the sock isn't twisted. Note where the sock makes contact most strongly with the walls of the hoof. Now apply a suitable adhesive (Evostick and Araldite are both suitable - 'Superglue' is NOT - don't risk using a glue that might soak through the sock and see you with hooves permanently!). Apply it in fairly generous quantities, then put the hoof on again, pressing the sock into the glue. If possible, wear it for a while until the glue has gained at least some hold, then very carefully, remove your hand and leave to dry thoroughly. Repeat this with the other hoof.

Now, have a look at Fig 1 again. To make a convincing join, and a realistic 'coronet', pleat the sock over the edge of the hoof. Don't do this until the previous stage is completely dry: it helps a lot if the sock is firmly anchored first. What you need to do (and it may be easiest whilst actually wearing the hoof) is to first apply a line of glue along the outside top rim of the hoof - be careful it doesn't drip and run down the sides here. The tricky bit is then to fold a band of sock over this strip. Be warned! The sock will almost certainly not want to cooperate with this venture, and you have to be careful not to let the wrong part of the sock get in the glue! This took me several tries and a lot of deep-breathing exercises!

I finally decided the best method was to turn the entire sock inside out over the rim of the hoof, and leave it that way until dry. If anyone can find an easy way to do this stage, please let me know!

When the glue has dried, you should be left with a sock secured inside the hoof and pleated just a little over the coronet rim. Congratulations! The hoof is now finished. Repeat for Hoof Two, and you're done. You should now be the proud owner of a pair of half-realistic fore-hooves.

Hope you have as much fun with them as I have!

If you want to take the challenge, wearing hooves I've managed to dress, type, write with a pen, read a book, and pick up individual nuts from a bowlful! Oh, and the most fun of all, totally freaked out my riding instructor! Sorry, Debbie!

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