Copyright Ken Harris 2008
There’s something to be said for raising your horses on the side of a hill. Leg
problems tend to straighten themselves out. Haunches grow, knees straighten. But feet don’t straighten. They tend to remain the same. That’s where corrective trimming comes in. A horse’s foot is actually one big toe and the hoof is its toenail. Essentially, a horse shoer is an equine podiatrist. Our splay footed ponies needed some expert trimming, but we couldn’t afford an equine podiatrist to come out every two weeks and trim away. That lot fell to me. Every two weeks I would trim the outsides of the ponies hind feet, just a little bit, with the hoof nippers. Then I would file them smooth so they wouldn’t chip in the rocky pasture they called home.
Until this point I had congratulated myself on being the first Harris in four generations to not be a horse shoer. My father shod horses as a young man, my grandfather, my great grandfather, even though they all engaged in different occupations, they took their turn at trimming hooves level and nailing steel plates to the result. I had escaped this fate – until Bonnet and Dancer came to live with us.
The first thing you will notice when you work on a pony’s feet is how close to the ground they are. You raise a pony’s hoof and it’s still nose to the toes time. You spend a lot of time bent over that way, even if the ponies are cooperating. Soon I was doing a whole string of ponies, Two Bits, Queenie, their foals.