This usual procedure I have followed when using acrylic extensions with foals begins with evaluating the foal with the veterinarian.

Together, we devise a plan regarding the extensions and surgery sites for the periosteal elevation (PE). At this point, I write down what I’m going to do with each foot. Early in my career, I became confused with a foal about whether a foot was to get a medial or lateral extension. I got it wrong.

Luckily, we caught it before the acrylic cured — but it was very embarrassing.

Once the plan has been drawn up, the foal is anesthetized — usually with Ketamine — and laid down on a clean air mattress, outside the stall where the mare can watch.

In this example, a foal is to have two lateral extensions and two lateral PEs.

Let’s say the foal lays down on its right side as the anesthesia takes effect. Generally, the vet does the PE first on the top leg (the left in this example) and bandages the incision. I then clean the foot and apply the extension, working on the lateral side of the foot on top. This is much easier than trying to apply it upside down.

The foal is then turned over and the same procedure is done on the other side. I preferred using a polymethylmetharylate polymer product because it can be shaped to the final configuration without any further need of rasping or finishing.

In cool weather, a heat gun can be used to speed the cure time. As soon as the extensions are firm, the foal is dragged back into the stall to recover under the watchful eye of technicians and its mother.

Total time down under sedation is usually about 15 minutes with another 10 to 15 for recovery. After the foal is steady on his feet, he is re-evaluated on a firm surface and sent home.  

Read more thoughts on foal extensions in the July/August issue of American Farriers Journal.