Foal Hoof Care

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Q: My first foal will be coming home to me when he is about 4 months old. Will his hooves need to be trimmed more often than an adult horse? If so, how often? Is there any special care involved for the hooves of a growing foal? Thanks for any information.

A: You don't say when the blessed event is going to take place. If it has not happened yet, I recommend a foal should receive its first trim at 2 weeks of age, then every 4 weeks until it is weaned at four to six months. After that a 6 to 8 week trimming schedule should be adequate depending upon your foal's needs. I have for years trimmed babies at 2 weeks of age, rounding the toes and removing the points, so that straightness of leg growth will not be hampered by forceful twisting or turning of the hoof which is often the result of pointed toes.

A diet balanced to meet the vitamin, mineral and nutritional requirements of a growing foal is necessary for strong, healthy hoof growth. Consulting with your veterinarian will assist you in
deciding just what those requirements will be.

Your youngster will need freedom and space to exercise daily in order to develop mentally and physically. You should make contact with him at least weekly, inspecting him for any injuries, parasites or other problems that might arise. This is also an excellent opportunity for gentle reinforcement of the imprinting he received at birth. If your foal has not been imprinted, I suggest buying Dr. Robert Miller's book Imprint Training of the Newborn Foal. It is never too late. Foals that are imprinted live longer, healthier and happier lives, especially when it comes to visits by the farrier. The foal will not object to having his feet picked up, trimmed or shod if he has been properly imprinted to accept this as normal. Regularly scheduled farrier visits are a must for your growing colt! Your farrier should be one skilled in his craft; one who is respected in the horse community as a qualified professional.

Very few foals are born with perfectly straight legs. Many are born with angular limb deformities such as windswept, knock-kneed, base narrow, base wide, or toed out. Most of these deformities will correct themselves in two to four months time. Some require additional time. Hence the need of a knowledgeable farrier so that he will not be trying to correct those things that nature handles quite well on its own. More often than not, attempting to fix things that don't need fixing ends up doing more harm than good.

If your foal does require corrective work, and that should be determined by the horse owner, the farrier and the veterinarian working as a team, the best results are usually achieved between two and nine months of age. Early inspection and close monitoring of the foal are essential.

As your foal develops his requirements change. If in the future I can be of any help to you, do not hesitate to call upon me. Good luck with your foal. I will be interested to hear how he progresses.

Geronimo Bayard
The American Blacksmith
Oakland, Oregon

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This entire web site is copyright protected.  1996-2001 Geronimo & Mary Bayard,  2001-2008 Mary Fitzpatrick
All rights reserved. Contact Mary for reproduction information & permission.