Danniboy with our blacksmith and Jenny
Every eight to ten weeks our blacksmith calls to check the ponies feet and see if they need trimming. All our horses are used to having their legs picked up and hooves cleaned so they rarely make any fuss. In the natural state a horse’s hooves would wear down as they travelled many miles a day. The land most domestic horses and ponies graze on is mostly grass and there are no hard stony surfaces so their hooves would grow long without attention. If ponies hooves are neglected they get overgrown and crack and break which can lead to infection and lameness.
Daydream is well behaved
Some horses take exception to having their feet trimmed and can be difficult to handle. It’s best to train your horse or pony to stand quietly when the blacksmith starts work. We train a young or difficult horse by picking the foot up regularly and giving titbits or a feed at the same time as a reward. You can also tap the hoof and clean it out with a hoofpick, talking to the horse all the time. They soon realise that it doesn’t hurt and there’s nothing to worry about. A horse’s hoof is only sensitive on the inner part, the outside is horn without any feeling.
Surrounded by ponies!
They all seem to want to be next. Our little ponies do like attention and queue up to be Ben’s next customer! We rarely put headcollars on our ponies, they like people and are placid in nature. Most horses are like this if they haven’t been ill-treated. Sometimes being ridden is very stressful for a horse, it’s not a natural state and they have to be ‘broken in’ to force them to allow a human on their back. Breaking a horse in should be a slow and gentle process and then there will be little fear for the horse or resentment. Sadly, it’s so often quite different. Our little ponies are never ridden and have not been broken in, they are our friends because they want to be.
Daydream, Earl and Favour
The two ponies who are a little hesitant are Earl and Favour. They are the youngest and not so used to hoof trimming as the others. Our blacksmith, Ben, is excellent at handling them and his quiet and reassuring manner gave both ponies a lot of confidence.
Krystal waits her turn
It’s much easier for the blacksmith to trim the bigger ponies hooves, there’s not so far to bend down. Krystal is well behaved and seems to like having her hooves rasped. She has white hooves that match her white socks, most of the other ponies have hooves that are black. Although Krystal is standing by the gate she is not tied up to it. Fastening a pony by its lead rope to a gate is a very dangerous thing to do, if they run back quickly they may lift the gate of the hinges and become terrified. Only fasten horses to secure rings and with a quick release knot so that if they are alarmed you can let them go free with one pull.
Volunteer – Craig with Danniboy
All our horses and ponies are members of our sanctuary ‘family’ – Craig is one of our dog-loving volunteers who also likes to meet the ponies. Danniboy used to be afraid of people but he’s getting more confident and settled now – he may look like a macho pony – but he’s really a wimp!
Thanks for the hoofcare
We’re very grateful to our blacksmith for all his hard work trimming the ponies hooves – thanks Ben and see you next time.