Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: North Dakota, USA
When we got Harley, you couldn't touch his back legs. The only way to trim them was to tie them outstretched to a pole or tree. Then I started working with him. First, getting him accustomed to being touched back there. Started with touching his butt and slowly working down his leg. Then I worked on HIM picking up his leg. I emphasize that he is the one to pick it up because I want him to choose to do it.
There are several ways people ask a horse to pick up their leg. The most common are squeezing the tendons above the fetlock or pulling on the fetlock. This is how I do them. Start with your hand up by their body and slide it down the leg. Front legs I use the chestnut to cue them to lift. Once there, I squeeze the chestnut and if the don't lift I will twist it. The back legs I do the same but use the "knee" part, not sure of its correct name but the joint that sticks out back. If that doesn't work, I will slide my hand down to just above the fetlock where you can feel the tendons. I will squeeze with just my fingers, then my fingernails and finally, if needed, I will push the hoof pick into there. As soon as they lift, let go and rub on their body. With practice they will lift when you slide your hand down the leg.
The idea is not to hurt them. It is to ask, sliding the hand down. Suggest, squeezing. Tell, create uncomfort/pain.
Back to Harley. After I did this with him, he will lift his back leg before I even slide my hand down. All it takes is practice and consistency.
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