Thoroughbred Hoof Care: Foal to Racehorse to Sport Horse

To help your Thoroughbred perform to his potential, tailor his hoof care to his specific age, needs, and job.

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shoeing racehorses
Miller advised trimming and reshoeing racehorses every three to four weeks because of the high speeds at which they work. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse
Thoroughbreds are born to run. But to satisfy this need for speed, the horse must have a strong foundation on which to gallop—we’re talking about his hooves.

South African farrier Robbie Miller, ASF, has decades of experience trimming and shoeing race- and sport horses. He shared his hoof care suggestions with industry members during the 2014 Cape Breeders Club seminar, held Jan. 27-28 in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Starting with foal feet, he followed the horse’s natural progression to the sales, races, and, ultimately, retirement from the track.


“This is the basis from where your racehorse or sport horse is going to kick off from,” Miller said of the very early stages of hoof care.

He said farriers should trim foals’ hooves every four weeks, starting at 4 weeks old, to keep pace with their fast hoof growth rate. They should avoid addressing any carpal (knee) or tarsal (hock) angular limb deviations until the foal is 12 weeks old, he said, at which point the distal third metacarpal (lower cannon bone), proximal P1 (upper long pastern bone), and proximal P2 (upper short pastern bone) growth plates will have closed

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Written by:

Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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