Thought you might as well just see the following which was an article I wrote for somewhere else:
"One of the most important aspects of horse care is looking after their feet. We all hope that this is an easy part of horse ownership, but alas this is not always the case. You can NEVER start too early with regard to teaching a foal to pick up his feet – though for some this is easier said than done.
Remember a horse is instinctively a flight and fright animal and as such it doesn’t want to disable itself by standing on 3 legs and giving up its best chance of survival if things go wrong. So its up to you the owner, to convince the horse that you are not the enemy and he can ignore his natural instinct and allow you to pick up his feet.
Be assured with quiet insistence and confident and consistent handling this is an easy job to do.
There are too many horses that fidget, lean, snatch their feet away or worse still kick when the farrier is attempting to trim their feet or shoe them. This can be frustrating for both the owner and the farrier and could potentially cause a breakdown in the relationship between yourself, the farrier and your horse. Finding a good farrier is a job in itself without him refusing to come back to shoe your horse as it has just taken him hours even to pick your horse’s hoof up! (Farriers see many horses during the day and so are busy and in demand.) They cannot and should not risk getting injured because someone has neglected to train a horse. It’s the owner’s job to train the horse and the Farrier’s job to work with a co-operative and knowledgeable owner and horse to optimise to the performance requirements.
If a horse is not trained to stand and lift its feet and to behave, things tend to deteriorate as the owner, the farrier and the horse get more anxious and upset about a visit from a farrier, creating a circle of frustration for all concerned.
The answer for a lot of people is to sedate the horse, and in an emergency situation I am not against this. Indeed I’d recommend that as essential in the best interests of all concerned. However it must not be a long-term solution. It is your responsibility as the owner to train the horse to willingly lift his feet and allow the farrier to work on them. This can be accomplished fairly quickly by not asking too much too soon of the horse, this applies to young and older 'remedial' horses.
Where to start:
Firstly we need to look at the reasons why horses can be difficult when handling their feet.
1. Horses first line of defence is to flight, this is difficult if we have hold of a foot! He feels vulnerable.
2. The horse has not been taught properly how to lift his feet.
3. Maybe he has been mishandled in the past or he doesn’t trust his owner
4. There could be a physical problem making it painful for him to, either lift the foot you are working on, or put his weight on the other three feet.
Keeping these points in mind lets try to see things from the horse's point of view, and train him rather than blame him.
When training a horse to have his feet worked on, we need to break the training down into small steps. So although ultimately we want the horse to stand quietly whilst having his feet held up and worked on, this is unlikely to happen in the first training session, just as you wouldn't expect a recently started four year old to do a perfect dressage test! We need to look for small improvements and end every training session, (in some people's eyes too soon), but on a good note, rather than ask for more than the horse can understand and risk confusing him.
All horses are individuals, but anywhere between 5 and 20 minutes twice a day. If you don't have time for two sessions a day then once a day will get results, but it will take a longer to end up with a calm well-behaved horse. As with all things training related the important thing is practice duration and repetition.
Whilst your horse isn't behaving, ensure you always stand in the correct position - even with his hip and close to his body facing him. Not too far forward or you may get cow kicked and remember because you are close to watch your feet and personally when I'm training horses I always wear steel toe capped protective boots.
Also initially work with the horse in a safe enclosed area, this can be a small area of field sectioned off with electric fencing (turned off!), a ménage. Then if the horse somehow gets away from you, it cannot get into a dangerous situation and you don’t have to go chase it! Do not work with the horse tied up at first, this can cause a horse to panic if he feels that he cannot get away from something that he thinks may put him in danger. In addition to a safe area if you know the horse as been very spoilt and very difficult, it would be a good idea to have a bamboo cane about 1metre long with some padding on one end, you can even make it into a false arm using an old glove to look like a hand, and a walking stick with the curved handle padded.
Start with the front legs: To begin with stroke the horse on the neck and slowly make your way down to the shoulder, if he is happy and hasn’t moved away, stop and take your hand away. Then gradually work your way down the front leg, taking your hand away each time you go a little further, to reward him, giving him a good pat and nice stroke – NOT FOOD. Working like this you will soon be able to touch all the way down the leg to the hoof, with the horse remaining relaxed. If you find that you can only get to the knee during the initial sessions, that’s fine, finish on a good note and attempt to get further down the leg in the next session.
When working on the back legs: use the same technique. Place your left hand on his hipbone – and use this to push him away if he moves suddenly, or kicks out. Having your hand there also helps you to feel he might do – you will tell if he’s relaxed or tensing his muscles getting ready to move. With your right hand, starting high on the buttocks, work your hand down to the back of the hock. With your right hand, starting high work down to the back of the hock. Again there are nerves and tendons on the inside of his hock that you can stimulate with your fingers. When you find them, he will lift the leg and you will slide your hand on under his cannon bone of the right hand to the inside or underside of the horse, cradling the leg. Then swing your left leg under him and slowly shuffle out behind the horse to stretch his leg out. Your shoulders are square to him and you are looking the same direction his tail points. Then you can reach down with your left hand and cup your fingers around the end of his toe. Keeping his fetlock flexed until you are in a position to rest his leg across your left hip in between your legs will help to control his leg.You should keep the horse's hips level by squatting with your knees (don't bend over at the waist as this causes stress and strain on your back), and you should have his leg positioned out straight behind him.
This is a safe position to work from, because if he pulls his leg back from this position, he will actually shoot you out from under him to safety. If you pull his leg out to the side and he wants it back, he will pull you back underneath him.
Be sure to get the horse's hips level across the top, because if you hold his leg too high he may get tired of it and want to put it down and may pull away. If you hold a horse's leg properly, at the right height, he can stand a very long time, quite comfortably, on one hind leg.
If he’s known to be a VERY difficult horse and/or you are very uncertain, then start with the false arm. If the horse kicks out or steps away, try to keep the arm on, or at least near, the leg. As soon as the horse stops, take the arm away to reward the horse for doing the right thing (in this case stopping kicking or moving away). Whilst doing this work keep yourself calm and relaxed, as this will also help the horse. As with the front legs it will not be long before you are able to touch all the way down the back legs and around the fetlock area with the false arm.
Once you are happy with how the horse is reacting to this you can try to touch down the leg with your own hand. Do alternate between legs during a training session to keep things a little more interesting for the horse (and you). This will also help to get the horse happy having all his feet lifted. There are a lot of horses that are really good having their nearside front leg lifted, and gradually get worse as you work your way round. There is no rule that states what order the horses feet need to be lifted in though my preference is to have a routine that the horse gets familiar with and I always start with Front Left, then Hind L, H Right, FR.
Once he lets you touch all his legs whilst standing calmly. You now need to be able to pick his feet up. For the front legs, run your hand down to just behind the knee and, whilst standing a little to the side, gently pull forward. As soon as the horse lifts his leg put it down and give him a stroke. Continue like this, holding it up a little longer each time. Once again do not ask for too much too soon, it’s best to do too little than risk upsetting the horse and undoing all the previous good work. When you are able to lift and hold the leg up by pulling it forward, gently try getting it into the more usual position by bringing the hoof back and under as if you were about to pick it out. Again reward the horse by putting the foot down, and go to the other side to do the same with that foot. Now try gently picking the front feet up in the normal way. If the horse finds it difficult, go back a step, lift the legs forward again and repeat the above, he will soon get the idea.
If he’s shows previous intent on kicking out, then with the back legs, using the padded walking stick, stroke down the leg and hook the curved handle around the fetlock. Gently pull forward, when the horse lifts his foot immediately put it down and remove the walking stick. Repeat this several times, gradually increasing the time you have the foot lifted. Again when you are happy with how the horse is coping with this, lift his foot with your hand, but do, at this stage, lift it by pulling forward as you did with the walking stick.
Once the horse is happy having his feet lifted and held up you can start to get him used to having them held as the farrier would hold them. So do take note of the positions that the farrier uses.
Also if your horse is to be shod, get him used to having his feet tapped and the sound of hot metal in water. Maybe have him around when another horse on the yard is being hot shod, to let him see and smell the smoke and experience the noise (obviously ask the owners of the other horses first!).
Finally, do keep practicing, as this will instil in the horse that it is a completely normal part of life to have his feet worked on!" - TE Fletcher©
Last edited by hoopla; 02-22-2012 at 02:16 PM.