VIDEO: Horse’s severely overgrown hooves trimmed at Chichester rescue

  • Lisa Walker, a farrier, carves away at the severely overgrown hoof of a mini horse rescued to Chichester’s Live and Let Live Farm on Wednesday. NICK REID / Monitor staff

  • The hoof is shown after it is cut away from Sugar’s foot. NICK REID—Monitor staff

  • The hoof is shown after it is cut away from Sugar’s foot. NICK REID / Monitor staff

  • Lisa Walker, a farrier, and several volunteers at Chichester's Live and Let Live Farm worked to correct the severely overgrown hooves of a mini horse that was rescued Aug. 12. NICK REID—Monitor staff

  • Sugar, a roughly 10-year-old mini horse, is seen walking in the yard of Chichester’s Live and Let Live Farm after she underwent her first visit with a farrier in several years. NICK REID / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 8/26/2016 1:41:17 PM

For the little horse in the quarantine of a Chichester animal rescue, Lisa Walker needed a non-traditional tool for a farrier: a hack saw.

The roughly 10-year-old mini horse that stood for the operation required the unusual approach because her hooves were allowed to grow so long they distorted the way she walked. She was named Sugar when she arrived at Live and Let Live Farm on Aug. 12.

Sugar’s rescuers know little about her former life at a Peterborough-area farm, where a passerby called police to intervene when she saw Sugar’s abnormaly curved hooves, said Teresa Paradis, the rescue’s director.

Walker, who came from Clarendon, Vt., guessed it could have been as long as two years since Sugar received routine hoof care.

“It was just extreme neglect that allowed the hoof to continue growing,” she said. “All she needed was a hoof trim.”

At the end of her carving, Walker lopped off a chunk of hoof the size of a person’s fist, sat up and let out an exasperated sigh. A rotten odor filled the air.

She passed it to a volunteer who estimated it weighed between 1 and 2 pounds. The sedated horse stood calmly by, as there were three more to go.

In her 16 years as a farrier, Walker said she’s only seen a handful of comparable cases, when mini horses’ and donkeys’ hooves were allowed to grow so long. Full size horses naturally wear down their hooves better than smaller equines because of their weight, she said.

Having seen X-rays of Sugar’s feet, she knew where she could begin to cut away at the hoof without hurting Sugar, similar to a person trimming his or her fingernails.

“The blood supply stays right close to the bone, so as long as I had the X-rays and I knew where the bone was, I knew that anything beyond that little blood supply area to the bone I could just cut off,” she said. “There’s no reason for a long rehab. You can just go ahead and cut if off.”

A team of volunteers huddled around Sugar so she could lean against them while Walker slowly clipped and dug away at the hooves until they appeared almost normal.

Less than two hours after the operation began, Sugar was out walking in the yard, appearing slightly unsteady and cautious of her newly reworked feet. But within minutes she looked more confident. Walker said Sugar may be trotting again as soon as next week.

Nevertheless, Walker said she intends to return in six weeks to fine-tune Sugar’s hooves. By that time, they’ll have grown in again to give the farrier a chance to hone their shapes.

It will be up to police in the town where Sugar was removed to determine whether her owner should be charged with animal cruelty, Paradis said, adding that the man involved claimed Sugar and two other horses were abandoned on his property.

Walker said the case is a reminder that horses require significantly more care than cats and dogs.

“If you ignore their feet, they’re going to be in a severe amount of pain like this, and it can happen quick,” she said. “They need hoof care, and they need dental care. They’re not pets. You can’t just feed them. You have to take care of other aspects.”

(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325, nreid@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at
@NickBReid.)




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