Veterinary Advice


This is Daisy Bicking, Equine Foot Rehabilitation
Specialist, giving Donum Dei, 3 weeks old, his first
pedicure, or hoof rasping. For more information, go to

 This photo illustrates the importance of early foot care intervention in perfectly normal foals.  If these horses lived in the semi arid Western United States, their feet would probably be well self manicured by the hard, rocky terrain they lived on. In the North and South Eastern United States, however, horses are kept on lush green pastures which are soft and wet because of the frequent rainfall and heavy dew in the evening and early morning, or they are stabled in softly bedded, often damp and manure contaminated stalls. Consequently, the feet of horses which live in these conditions sink toe first in the soft ground, mud, or stall bedding. They become too wet, too soft, and have no sole
support and no automatic toe filing removal system. These horses develop the proverbially long toe, low and underrun heels, with flat sole and thrush syndrome. The chronic thrush infection can invade the internal structures of the foot causing more destruction of soft tissue with concomitant heal pain, which is then frequently and incorrectly diagnosed as navicular disease.

So to prevent the old adage, “No foot, no horse” which is a major problem in the Mid Atlantic States, we cannot simply leave baby horses with the mothers on lush green pastures to grow up. We have to address the feet of the baby foal from Day 1. This means we have to create firm footing in some part of the babies’ environment, which will allow the feet to get out of the constant wet, so that they can get hard.
We have to maintain the proper hoof shape by trimming off the excess toe or whatever part of the hoof needs to be trimmed in order to maintain a symmetrical and balanced
foot. It is a lot easier to grow a horse foot properly if it is maintained from birth, than to try to come back when the horse is a yearling or older, and attempt to try to fix a
deformed hoof capsule and internal soft tissue structure.


Two years later, and Daisy is still trimming baby GQ’s feet.  She must not be taking enough off, because he measures 17 hands 1″  at only 2 years of age.  I can no longer hold him with one arm around his chest and one arm around his rump, and when I try, I can’t see over his back.  So, here is a picture of GQ with Daisy, still trimming, and me holding, but ducking under his neck so as to be seen in the photo.  Horses grow until they are about 6 years old.  I am worried about his fitting into the barn next year.  This year, he has to duck to get inside as it is.

Here is an interesting horse behavior phenomenon:  The first picture shows how I used to restrain GQ when he was a baby.  He was little, and he learned that I was bigger and stronger than he was when I was in that position.  When I would hold him like that, he would stay perfectly still, because he knew he could not get away.  Well, as you can see in photo #2, at 1500 pounds, he is now certainly bigger and stronger than I am.  However, if I put one arm around his chest, and one on his back (because I can’t reach his rump) he thinks I am holding him still, and he does not move.  I assume that one day he will learn that he can get out of my body hold, but for now, I’ll take his submission to what he still believes is my superior strength.


Find us on the map