Natural athletic ability is born into all horses: true or false? By the time we get to start training the young horse either on the ground or under saddle, we are sometimes quite convinced that this has to be the clumsiest animal ever bred, while the next one may appear to be totally the opposite.
The simple fact is that sadly, by the time many of our young horses are old enough to do anything with, they have had little or no attention by way of corrective hoof trimming, so we begin their education already way behind the eight ball.
To avoid this dilemma is really quite simple; we need to start looking at their legs and hooves as early as possible and be able to recognise any irregularities in the alignment of bone structures or crooked feet. We then need to begin to put in place a programme of preventative maintenance to be sure the young horse ends up with straight legs and well balanced hooves.
It is all too easy to simply put this task into the too hard basket, and to hope that any problems will just go away, or that the farrier will fix it later, by which time the youngster is then eighteen months or two years old and that little leg deviation is now agonisingly obvious and the hoof is way out of balance.
You now have a situation which possibly cannot be corrected by even the most educated veterinarian or farrier and you have effectively wasted the effort of breeding and all the ensuing time. The causes of these leg bone and hoof abnormalities may be genetic, in which case they should be culled out to start with, or it may be the result of a big foal with not enough room to develop in the womb and it may take time to straighten up its legs once it is born, but in the short space of time while the legs are crooked, the hoof capsule starts to bend the wrong way, and that is when they need attention.
Many times we see adult horses’ hooves start to grow crooked after an injury to the coronary band/heel area, and unless these are treated properly it can ruin that horse’s future working life.
The solution is education which ultimately reduces the fear of early decisions by all concerned with Hoof Care, thus making it possible for the horse owner, trainer, rider or hoof carer to feel comfortable and confident about making the right decisions to improve the outcome for the horse.