Farriery for the Young Horse

Proper hoof care in the first weeks of a foal’s life is essential

Among the many factors that dictate the success of the foal as a sales yearling or a mature athlete are decisions and management concerning feet and limbs during the first few months of life. This is the period when hoof care helps to produce a strong foundation for the animals’ future athletic career, while influencing the growth and angulation of the limb above the hoof to some degree.

Many breeding farms have developed footcare programs that utilize the skills of a veterinarian with an interest in podiatry and a farrier working together as a team. The veterinarian uses his medical and anatomical knowledge while the farrier utilizes his technical and mechanical background. This joint venture allows a faster and more accurate diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of foot problems. Problem or suspect foals are examined on a monthly basis and followed through weaning. Many subtle problems can be detected early, leading to immediate treatment.

If this program corrects the limb or increases the athletic potential of one animal, then it becomes cost effective. This article will focus on routine farriery in young horses and those limb deformities that can be addressed through farriery.

Evaluating The Foal

Good record keeping is important. Records are designed for the individual needs of the farm or owner and should reflect the physical appearance of a foal’s feet and limbs at birth and any subtle changes that occur during development on at least a monthly basis. Digital images (pictures and radiographs) can be taken and added…

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