Whose bright idea was it, anyway, to have ponies with good feet?! 🙂 Today I was trimming Willowtrail Winter Lad’s hooves, and his Sleddale breeding was obvious; it was a long way around his two-year-old feet. I’ve heard more than once that Sleddale Fell Ponies tend to have big hooves, and when I look around my herd, I realize there’s a lot of Sleddale blood here! It starts with Sleddale Rose Beauty, of course, and then there are her three offspring and one grandson.
I’m reading The History of British Native Ponies at the moment, thanks to my friend Judith Bean-Calhoun. In the chapter I finished last night, the authors Dent and Machin-Goodall asserted that large hooves are common to breeds that go extinct. They didn’t offer any reasoning for this opinion. They did say that large hooves were common in breeds from boggy areas because they were better able to stay on top of the ground. The one time I got close to Beauty’s home fell, there was torrential rain; I wonder if there’s a relationship between Sleddale hooves and the ground Sleddale ponies call home.
Several years ago I did a study on carrying capacity. I made use of a calculation based on coronet band circumference that allowed an estimate of weight-bearing ability. I found that, based on coronet band circumference, Beauty was up to carrying the same weight as the quarter horses in my study. Pretty impressive!
Over the years I have gotten smarter about trimming Fell Pony hooves. For instance, I wait for days like today, when the ground is moist, to soften them up. The first time I tried to trim Beauty’s hooves on a dry day, I felt inept. Trying to get the nippers through her incredibly hard and dense hoof walls left me exhausted and sore. Trimming in the summer is often about waiting for a thundershower!
If the weather holds this week, I know what I’ll be doing. Rose, you’re up next!