Grace likes having her feet trimmed. Ponies hooves grow all the time, just like human nails. In a natural world they would get worn down as the ponies roamed for miles, but in the ponies domesticated lives and because they are mainly on soft ground, they have to have their feet trimmed regularly. The blacksmith (or farrier as he is sometimes called) comes every six to eight weeks to trim the ponies hooves.
They all patiently wait their turn. Grace was first today and, as usual, was well behaved. The blacksmith scrapes out the underneath of the hoof and checks it for signs of injury, trapped stones or thrush. This is a disease of the ’frog’ which is the middle part of the hoof and which acts as a cushion. There is a lot of weight constantly going on the hoof, even with a little pony like Grace who is only 32 inches tall.
When the underneath of the hoof has been cleaned, the blacksmith has a look at the outer hoof. He rasps it round the edges to make sure that it’s growing evenly and that the pony will stand ‘square’ on it. If the hoof is out of balance then the horse or pony won’t be able to walk properly. An odd shaped hoof can lead to lameness.
Chloe was next and even though her feet were trimmed last time they were ready again for a re-shape. Her feet must grow a bit faster than the others! Chloe is used to having a pedicure and is no trouble at all. When ponies aren’t used to it they can be difficult to handle and sometimes kick. Being a blacksmith can be a dangerous occupation but they are experienced and know how to calm a frightened pony.
Getting young horses used to having their feet picked up is essential from a very early age. A little foal needs to be taught that it doesn’t hurt although it might feel a bit strange to begin with. We never put shoes on our horses unless it is for medical reasons. Occasionally we have ponies with injuries or poor hoof structure or laminitis, which is fever in the feet. Putting a light horse shoe on can make them more comfortable. You can buy boots for horses and these are useful too, although they’re expensive and inevitably they lose them in the field.
Our only problem pony this time was Bridget, who isn’t as used to having her feet trimmed as the others. She fussed and stamped and then gave in gracefully. Well, she isn’t called Bridget the Fidget for nothing!
It costs £20 per pony for hoof trimming – the mini-pony club are all sorted for now – it’s the turn of the medium sized ponies next and then the ‘biggies’ the week after. Any help towards horse care would be greatly appreciated. Can you sponsor one of our rescued ponies? Our adopt-a-pony scheme helps us to look after them. We’ll send you a photo, their story, adoption certificate and a Pet Samaritans Badge. Just let us have your name and address (or recipient if it’s a gift) and choose your pony from the Mini-Pony-Club pages, we’ll send your pony pack straight out.