Horse hooves need to be trimmed, when they are not they overgrow. In the case of this overgrown horse hooves story, the owner didn’t know this. If you ever see overgrown horse hooves, please do something about it.
Travel Stage: Kentucky
Date Range: May 19 – 25, 2016
I took the dogs for an early morning walk. We were camped on some property surrounded by pastures with adolescent cows that were not yet ready to join the herd in milk duty. Our spotted neighbors were hanging out by the fence that morning, chewing their cud, and watching the dogs romp around with great fascination.
It had rained the previous two days and the grass was wet and slippery. The ground had started to dry out overnight. I stopped at the fence to examine the cows. Their big curious ears locked on me as well as their non-blinking stares. Their nostrils tried to catch my scent. A brave one or two would take a ginger step forward and then the whole group would follow. One quick move and they’d pull back so suddenly they’d bump into each other.
I turned to the right to look at something moving that caught my eye – another white and brown spotted cow at first glance, but no! It was a miniature horse coming up the hill! Why was it taking such small steps? Was he old? Was he injured?
Then my jaw dropped.
He stepped out of the tall grass and I saw the longest overgrown hooves I’d ever seen in person.
It pained me to watch him labor up the hill, trying to keep traction on the slippery ground with his curled feet. Because of this little pony, we extended our stay at the dairy farm. He had been abandoned and forgotten about/not known about for about a year and I couldn’t leave him without doing something about it.
If we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt.”
― Anna Sewell, Black Beauty
Finding a Farrier
The first order of business was to get a farrier out as soon as possible. Chuck York from York Farrier Services in Burkesville, KY was the quickest to respond to my calls and could come out the next evening. While we waited for the next day, I spoiled him with carrots and combed out his knotted mane.
I also called around to some horse rescues to see if anyone would be willing to take him. Since I didn’t know anything about the little horse and he hadn’t seen a vet, the few that I got a hold of were not keen on taking a potentially foundered mini horse who would probably have more problems in the future.
The one rescue that might have taken him was a good 3 hours away and did not provide transport, but couldn’t take him at the moment because they were over capacity as it was. No matter what, he was going to need a blood test to ensure he was negative for the contagious Coggins disease.
Trimming the Overgrown Horse Hooves
I asked the farrier to bring a halter and lead rope to hold the pony with for the trimming since neither the dairy farm nor I had any pony equipment.
We were unsure of how the pony was going to react to getting this procedure done since he had little to no human contact for at least a year. He seemed friendly and docile enough while I was feeding him carrots, petting, and combing him, but that could all change once we started messing with his feet.
Luckily, he was a 250-lb mini and not a full-size horse! He let me put the halter on him without a fuss, which was a good sign. Then Chuck York got to work.
To our surprise and great relief our little pony behaved very well! Besides the normal stubborn tugging and shifting that most horses do, he seemed unperturbed by the whole business. Maybe he knew what we were about.
Chuck said he had seen overgrown horse hooves before and knew what to do.
It took a little more than an hour to cut off all that hard hoof overgrowth and shape the foot back into position. His feet looked so tiny! The good news was that he had not foundered, although the risk for developing founder was still moderate if he didn’t get proper care going forward. Founder is a common and very painful condition affecting the feet of horses. Known technically as laminitis, founder occurs when there is inflammation of the laminae (folds of tissue connecting the pedal bone to the hoof). The hoof walls of the two hind feet had collapsed slightly, meaning he was starting to walk on the sides of his feet where the hoof curled under. Overgrown horse hooves can cause all these problems and quickly lead to a horses demise. But Chuck said that we had caught it before it had gotten too bad. The coffin bone did not appear rotated, and with regular hoof care from here on out he had a good chance of full recovery! I was so happy! If you catch overgrown horse hooves in time you can save a horse, but if not they surly will not make it. This little guy was lucky to find us 🙂
Have you ever seen a horse with overgrown hooves? Let us know your story in the comments.
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