Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: North Dakota, USA
Whatever cue you are going to use, you have to be consistent when doing it. There are many different cues you can use. Personally, on the front legs I use their chestnut and on the back legs I use their knee. It will take time and practice to get him to lift by just touching the back of his leg.
Always start at the top of the back of the leg. It doesn't matter if you are doing the front leg or back leg. Slide your hand down to where you want to cue them to lift. That is your first cue to lift. Next, you will apply pressure and start to make the horse uncomfortable, second cue. By applying pressure, what I mean is the you'll start squeezing that part of the leg, just slightly. Keep squeezing and slowly increase how hard you squeeze until the horse lifts the leg, final cue. As soon as the horse lifts the leg, release the pressure and rub him where you squeezed him and then up on his body, his reward for doing what you asked. DON'T try to grab his leg and hold it up, not yet. All you want from him is to lift but you want him to do it easily, which he will in time. After rubbing him, slide your hand down the leg and repeat from the beginning. Do this 10, 15 or 20 times on one leg. When he starts to give his leg pretty easily, go to the next leg and start over. Repeat for each leg. When you finish the fourth leg, go back to the first leg. Now you can ask him to lift and then hold it to clean it. Do this each day you go to groom him. He will get to the point where you'll just slide your hand a little and then lift.
Here's a tip: Don't always do the same order of which leg you do first. Let's say you do left front first, left rear, right front, and finally right rear. If you do the same pattern everytime, he may not lift a leg if it's out of order. I had that with one of ours. He wouldn't lift the back without lifting the front first. If you did the front first, he would lift the back without touching it. But what if he injured his back leg or you needed to lift his back leg and couldn't do his front first? Doing them at random helps avoid this problem and enforces him listening to your cue.
Everyone should be allowed at least one bad habit, and that's NOT owning a horse! Mares RULE! Geldings drool!