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The condition of the foal's feet should be evaluated when the foal is four to six weeks of age. A veterinarian or farrier is the best source for this appraisal, but if you are independent-minded, here's what to look for:

 

All four feet should point forward and toe-out just a little. The knee and hock should be in line with the rest of the leg, from the point of the shoulder and the pin bone at the haunches to the bottom of the hoof. Foals are often cow-hocked and knock-kneed, which is normal to an extent. Over-correcting normal toe-out in foals by trimming the hoof lower on the outside often results in pigeon-toed adult horses.

                                                                

The point of the frog should be centred in the sole of hoof. The hoof wall at the toe should be the same slope as the pastern when viewed from the side, with the foot on the ground and the horse standing and squared up. When you look at the hoof from the front, the hair line and bottom of the hoof should be horizontal.

The foal's hoof should look much like a full-grown hoof, just smaller. Take care of any twist or deformity as soon as possible. For this you may need professional help from a farrier or a veterinarian.

To trim the soft baby hoof, all that is generally needed are a sharp hoof knife and a rasp. The baby hoof will grow out in 5 to 10 months, to be replaced with stronger hoof growth requiring hoof nippers to be trimmed. Trim the hooves on a regular schedule. Every 4 to 10 weeks is normal, depending on hoof growth and wear. Two important rules: The hoof wall should not be cut deeper than the sole. The sole and frog are not cut away , only  the loose stuff is cleaned away.
Greenacres Stud are  advocates of not shoeing before the horse is two years old. Our own preference is to always engage a qualified farrier. Early hoof growth should not be restricted by shoes. If however a horse has a problem that shoes can help, or if you are advised by a veterinarian, then shoeing is acceptable.

 

   
 

 

 

 

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