All newborn foals should have their legs examine closely. Foals can have a number of leg issues that should be addressed early in their lives. Look at the foal’s legs while the foal is standing and walking to check for any lameness or unusual gait. Watch for outward rotation of the leg causing the feet to point outward more than normal. Also, make sure the limbs are relatively straight when looking at the foal from the front and the back. When looking from the side, the leg should be mostly straight with a normal hoof pastern axis. Some abnormalities require immediate treatment while other problems may correct with limited exercise.
Foals should have their first hoof trimming at one month. The sole should be cleaned with a wire brush and only a rasp should be used at the heels so the heel is on the same plane as the frog. You can round the toe but do not remove any sole at this point because the sole is very thin and sole removal can lead to lameness and other problems. You may have heard to lower the hoof wall on the outside of the hoof if the foal is toed out and remove the inner hoof wall if the foal is toed in. Dr. Tracy Turner DVM, MS, Diplomate, Am Col Vet Surgery, Diplomate, Am Col Vet Sports Med and Rehab, Fellow, Am Academy Thermology, said in The Practitioner that this is incorrect. The foot should always be trimmed level as trimming unevenly may cause skeletal problems later in life. There are multiple potential problems with a foal’s legs including rotating outward, deviated inward or outward, laxity of tendons, or too much contraction of the muscles and tendons. Each of these requires specific treatments so if you have a foal with an unusual leg issue, call your veterinarian to determine the best course of action. Do not wait as some treatments are age and time sensitive.
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