Ask the Vet: Foal Care

Question: How old should a colt be before he receives his first set of shoes so as not to damage the hooves?

Answer: A horse should only wear shoes if needed. Many horses never need to wear shoes. Shoes are only required if the hoof wall is being worn faster than it can be replaced, added traction is needed, or if there are some therapeutic reasons (e.g. founder) to have a horse shod. Many horses wear shoes as the owner likes the way the feet look. Additionally, show horses are often shod to improve the appearance of the feet or to alter their way of going for certain equine disciplines. If you elect to shoe a horse, do not shoe a horse that is growing unless needed for therapeutic reasons. Shoes, even when applied correctly, limit hoof expansion. The restriction of a shoe is particularly concerning in young growing animals, therefore; only shoe a young horse that is being ridden or driven and only if absolutely necessary.

Question: What would you recommend feeding a nine-month-old colt? He is currently being creep fed.

Answer: It is impossible to determine what your colt needs nutritionally, without additional information. In general, the diet should meet the NRC requirements for a 9-month-old of his breed and size. Additionally, good quality forage (hay/pasture) should be the primary part of the ration with concentrates/grains only fed as needed to balance the ration.

To get more specific feeding recommendations for your foal, speak with your veterinarian or equine nutritionist.

Courtesy of AAEP
Answered by Judy Marteniuk, DVM, Michigan State University