Here at Assiniboine Park Zoo, we take pride in providing the best care for our animals, and that commitment extends to our magnificent equine residents as well. Recently, our horses were treated to a special visit from skilled farriers, who brought their expertise to ensure the horses are as comfortable and healthy as possible.

Join us on this hoof-tapping journey as we explore the vital role of farriers and how they help us provide high-level care at the McFeetors Heavy Horse Centre.

1. Calm and Gentle Approach:

Horses, with their keen senses, can be sensitive to new experiences. The farriers who visit the Zoo approach their work with a calm and gentle demeanour and have earned the trust of our equine companions. This positive interaction is crucial for the success of the farriery process.

2. Precision and Expertise:

Farriers wield a unique set of skills honed through years of training and experience. Their visit starts with a thorough examination of each horse, taking note of hoof health, conformation, and any specific needs or concerns.

3. Hoof Maintenance:

The hoof-trimming process begins with meticulous care. The farriers remove the old horseshoes and expertly sculpt each hoof to maintain proper balance, addressing any issues such as overgrowth or imbalances that could lead to discomfort if left unattended. All of the horses are trimmed every 6-8 weeks regardless of being shod (having horseshoes) or not.

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4. Shoe Replacement:

Just like people, horses have individual needs. Our farriers craft custom shoes for each horse using a forge, which allows them to shape it by hand, using a hammer, anvil and other tools. This ensures a perfect fit that promotes optimal comfort and functionality.

Farriers have specialized training, so they know where to place the nails to secure the shoe in the proper places on the hoof. Horses do not have feeling in their hooves (aside from the triangle-shaped part in the center, called the frog), and like human nails, the hooves will grow indefinitely if not trimmed or worn down.

Shoe replacement happens as needed to ensure the horses are comfortable. Some horses wear them out faster than others, depending on how they walk or if there is general wear on the shoe.

5. Opportunity for Education:

As the farriers worked their magic, visitors could watch and learn about the importance of proper hoof care. It was an opportunity to share insights into the intricacies of farriery and inspire a greater appreciation for the well-being of these magnificent creatures.

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The dedication of these skilled professionals alongside our Animal Care Team here at the Zoo ensures that our horses can continue to inspire all who visit. The next time you find yourself visiting McFeetors Heavy Horse Centre, take a moment to appreciate the unseen care and expertise that happens beneath the hooves.