July 18, 2009

Diesel Gets a New Foot

Our best team, Duke & Diesel, have the worst feet. I once heard a very well known Percheron breeder say, "If I could only get a horse with Percheron legs and Belgian feet, I would have a perfect horse" - and he was so right. Percherons are notorious for bad feet, and Duke & Diesel, half brothers, are the perfect example of imperfect genetics.

It seems the older they get, the worse it gets. Diesel just had his shoes done but a few weeks ago, and already the epoxy on his back feet has fallen off, leaving him with barely half a hoof. Both Duke & Diesel have such brittle feet, that our farrier regularly needs to add acrylic to the walls of their feet to build them up. Although this is a common trait in Percherons, Duke & Diesel are an extreme case.

What else do we do to help prevent further damage to their feet? In the summer months, when flies are bad, they are stabled in the day, heavily fly-sprayed. This keeps them from stomping all day from the insects. They are then turned out at night in the back pasture, where the ground is soft and there aren't as many rocks. We apply a hoof dressing each day, particularly to the coronet band, to promote healthy growth (naturally, a year must go by for the hoof to grow out completely). We tried a supplement called "Farrier's Formula" for the last year, but it has been a waste of money (at $165/40lb bucket, you bet we have stopped giving them that).

Matt Lewis, our farrier, agrees that the best thing to do is be vigilant and not let them go too long between shoeing.

Photos: Top: Terry and Matt preparing the epoxy to go on Diesel's hind foot.

Middle: Once the epoxy dries, Matt rasps the foot as if it was natural horn.

Bottom: The final result. The tan color area of Diesel's foot is the epoxy.

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