CARE OF RESCUED HORSES
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The little mare depicted here was not rescued by ERL,
but by a caring Virginia family who could not stand by
and leave her to this unpleasant fate. "Trouble's"
new family graciously provided these pictures to help
demonstrate what can happen when hoof neglect reaches
an extreme dimension.
For an equine, proper foot
care is as important as proper diet and adequate exercise.
A horse spends most of its time on its feet and is, by
nature, constantly on the move, even when quietly grazing.
Unlike with some other animals, this regular movement
is critical to the horse's digestive function. When the
horse cannot walk, therefore, not only is he likely in
pain and emotionally upset, but he is also prone to potentially
life threatening health problems.
Hooves, like human fingernails,
grow constantly throughout the horse's life. Some grow
faster than others, some are more brittle than others,
and some will need more attention than others. All should
be seen by a farrier every six to eight weeks. (Your farrier
will be able to explain the ideal schedule for your particular
Here then, is Trouble. The
20-year-old pony was left to fend for herself for several
years. You'll notice she is very thin, but what follows
pays particular attention to the condition of her feet.
as her rescuers found her. They received
permission to take her home on April 20, 1999.
how she is "knuckled over" on her front legs.
The muscles and tendons have become deformed to accommodate
this unnatural position, but still allow Trouble to shuffle
around her paddock.
On April 23, 1999, Dr. Raymond Hyde began to help Trouble
regain a normal lifestyle. A saw was necessary to remove
the years of hoof growth. Farrier's tools were never meant
to handle this kind of "trim."
after the trimming, the angles of her hooves were still
are not "normal." When a horse has been walking
on deformed feet long enough that the structure of the
muscles and tendons has changed, the restoration of proper
angles must be done gradually to avoid additional stress
on the musculoskeletal structure.
feet, before and after her trim.
and horses in similar condition, need frequent trimming
as her hooves continued to grow and her muscles strengthened.
Each time, her foot was "reshaped" a little
until she regains a normal gait. From now on, consistent
hoof care will ensure Trouble never has this trouble again.