Various deformations of hoofs
Photo 3 a.
Photo 3 b.
In the first months of the young
foal’s life, the shape of his feet is somewhat different than by an
adult horse. The coronet band is larger than the circumference of the
bottom, walls/sole of the hoof, hence the feet/hoofs are narrowing
downwards. In about six months the shape of the foot will be getting more
like in an adult horse.
It is very important to pay great
attention to the newborn foals and to their feet as well. The insufficient
care for youngsters feet can demonstrate it self in various ways. It all
depends in what terrain the foal is moving and on his living environment.
If the foal is moving on too soft
ground, or if he is stall raised, the hoof will not wear off sufficiently
and it will grow long. Due to the fact that most foals have irregular
stand (conformation) only a certain part of the hoof is stressed. In these
areas the soft youngster’s foot will wear off quicker than in the areas
with lesser stress/pressure, which will give the beginning to irregular
foot, and in time it can become asymmetrical.
In the soft bones and pliable
tendons of the foal it can lead to serious deformities. The photo # 1
shows a young foal that was stressed with extreme pain in his left front
leg, thus overweighing the opposite leg, which then lead to extreme
hyperextension of the pastern and the “hoof” joint. This example shows
the extent of abnormalities that can come to young foals as a result of
moving apparatus malfunction and irregular strain on their legs. To a
similar changes can come due to uneven strain/pressure on the hoofs, even
though often not quite apparent in the early stages.
The photo # 2 shows a defective
front stand of a young foal caused by overgrown hoofs. The x-ray photos #
3 a. show the abnormal angling of the joints by the same horse.
It is therefore very important to
pay a great attention to the horse's feet already in his early age (about
in his fourth week). The overgrown hoof is trimmed and to the foot is
given an approximate shape. With proper, but not sudden changes in
trimming, there can be often corrected some of the irregularities in the
conformation/stand during the early stages of the foal development.
However, it is of great importance in such cases that the trimming/correcting
is done more frequently (about every three to four weeks). The intervals
in trimming are of course influenced by the quality of the youngster’s
hoof as well as the terrain on which he is moving and the living
environment. On dryer, harder pastures the trimming of the feet is less
frequent than on softer and grassy pastures or where there is a lack of
The trimming of young foals
requires certain expertise and it should be entrusted only to an
experienced farrier. By no means one should be attempting to do it
himself, even though it seems quite easy.
If the foal is moving on a harder
ground, the hoof could wear off faster than the new growth. When the sole
gets too thin it will get often bruised and the foal will go lame. In such
cases there may be a need for special shoes, called “partial
(see picture 4)
(see picture 4)
Such shoes should be thin, light, about
1 cm wide. The ends are thinned and rounded. The plate covers only the
part of the hoof that has been wearied off. It is not recommended to shoe
the foals on the hind legs if they are turned out with other youngsters to
prevent injuries when kicking.
This type of shoe should not be on
the foot longer than three weeks. After this time the plate should be
removed, foot trimmed and the shoe placed back if there is still further
need for shoeing.
If the foal wears off the sole
completely to the point that he uncovers and damages the laminae, the need
for a specialist/farrier will be required. With today technology there are
ways to fill in (form) artificial material and create a partial artificial
A young foal should be already in his early age educated for shoeing/trimming. It is recommended to clean the hoofs daily (at least couple times during the week) and lightly tap on them with hoof pick and such. By all means one must avoid any form of violence as young foals lack the comprehension of reprimand.
Written by Ludvik K Stanek a.k.a. Lee Stanek