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
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.
The American Blacksmith