Don't touch my feet...

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Don't touch my feet...

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  • "please don't touch my feet"
  • Why doesn't my horse let me touch her legs

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    05-16-2009, 02:14 AM
Green Broke
Don't touch my feet...

Alright, I'm reaching out for a little advice! I've recently taken on a new venture, one I've not quite travelled yet. I purchased a 2 year old. Despite the fact that I've been around horses all my life, I've yet to train a "partially broke" youngster that someone has already screwed around with. I trained my Arab mare from birth to now, so I never dealt with these issues since they were nipped in the bud when she was a baby. And I've done a lot of work with abused horses, but that's a very different route then a flat out obstinate animal who's learned she can get away with murder.

My issue is that Jynx has basically learned, both through lack of handling and utterly novice handling, that people were put on this earth to feed her. We've already gotten the nipping issue well underway (no more hand fed treats), and the leading is a work in progress but going well. She was actually trained to walk DIRECTLY behind a person, which has me just shaking my head in disbelief. Mostly because when she spooks every 30 seconds, she'll go right over top of whoever is in front of her. Luckily, she's smart as heck, because it only took two days to break that habit and show her where she's SUPPOSED to walk. She's also learned that she can simply stop whenever she doesn't want to go somewhere, but she's just as quickly learning that that crud doesn't fly with me.

ANYWAY. My major issue right now is her feet. She'll let me hold them long enough to pick them out (quickly), but if you persist in holding her leg, she will throw a complete and utter adult size 800 pound temper tantrum. When I bought her, I don't think her feet had EVER been trimmed they were so disgusting. My roommate does farrier work, and couldn't stand seeing her at such severe angles with a solid six extra inches of growth, so she tackled her. And well...let's say Jynx DID get her feet done. And I think I owe my roommate about six new lives. Shay-la is just as rawhide tough as I am, and will hang on to a leg until she's looking death in the eyes, and this mare got it back a few times from leaping back, rearing up, leaping forward, etc. all on three legs.

We did manage to get her feet looking decent, decent enough for me to work with those darn legs before the real farrier comes out. But I'm at a loss - almost every horse I've owned was born on our farm, so I'm completely accustomed to working with horses I've known from birth. I can't figure out WHY this mare is so ornery. She seems half-scared, half-just don't wanna do it!

Well, that was nice and long, cookies if you got through it! Any advice on teaching her blowups aren't acceptable would be fantastic. I'm open to pretty much any method known to man, I firmly believe it depends on the horse. Obviously nothing abusive such as taking whips to her, but do I handle this with a firm hand or a gentler one?

And let me tell you - this REALLY makes me appreciate the value of being able to raise my horses from birth! I just hope I can undo this damage and turn her out into a decent mannered animal! Thanks for reading.
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    05-16-2009, 11:50 AM
I believe that you will reverse this foot issue into anything you want. It's just going to take a lot of time and repition.

To the point. I would take her back to square one, I would try the method shown in Jay Ojay's site Successful horse training - DVDs, how to videos, advice, and tack in one of the videos he uses a rope to teach his horse to lift their feet without him getting hurt. Then after she learns to lift her feet this way without causing a fuss,then you can work with her to lift her feet when you ask with your hands touching her.
I would only ask for a lifting of the foot at first then as she gets more comfortable you can ask for her to let you have her foot for 3 seconds or so and go from there. If she causes a stink, go back a step. I would do everything in the same rotation (eg; left front foot, left back foot, right front foot, right back foot, or what ever you want).If this repition is the same then I think she will get the idea faster, thinking "oh after she wanted me to lift my front foot she will be asking for my back foot". I think repition like this builds trust and build her confidence.
I hope this helps a some
    05-16-2009, 11:57 AM
I've recently done some work with some horses that this might help, as long as you have the right stuff. First a good solid round pen and a lariet rope. We usually first put the rope around its barrel and when we put pressure on it the horse learns to stop, then we let it bounce back to the flank like a bucking strap and hold tension on it till the horse stops bucking. I've had one go around 3 times till it stopped.
But where this horse could really benefit is when we put it around the foot. When you hold tension on it and tell them woe. You keep tension on it till the horse completely gives in the pressure. Then you let go of the leg, rewarding the horse.
For another probably simplier method is just picking each foot up everyday and when she stands there nicely reward her by putting the foot down and petting her. I only ever let my horse put its foot down if I am, not the horse. Start with just lifting it then setting it down then lifting it then cleaning then lift it again then set it down right away. That way she gets use to having it being touched multiple times and that you're not done with it till you say so. Good luck, and remember to keep ur cool with her. She's only two and her attention span is probably small as well.
    05-16-2009, 01:01 PM
I think you have my horse's evil twin...I got my mare when she was almost 2 and had never been handled. She was scared of everything, but also a witchy mare. It has taken a LOT of consistent repetition and I learned the hard way several times that I couldn't smack on her for any reason. I wouldn't try to abuse her, but an elbow to the hip when she would act up only made her fight worse.

I have found that the best technique was to make her work if she doesn't want to behave. Lots of lunging, moving her hip, etc. For example she was horrible with the clippers and we would just fight her and fight her. I made a "safe" spot where she could stand and eat while I built up to putting clippers on her. If she danced too much then she left the safe space and worked for several minutes and we went back to the safe place. She was bad about her feet too. I just did the same thing above...take it slow make it your decision to put her feet down and start with baby steps, a few seconds, etc. and reward her. Pet her, feed her, etc. If she doesn't want to cooperate, put her to work, but try not to lose your temper with her (I know, it's hard) or she will associate holding her leg up as being punished. Good luck...I feel your pain!
    05-16-2009, 06:45 PM
Green Broke
Thanks guys! I've used the rope trick often before, I had an Arab mare who was severely abused and would kick as soon as you touched her back legs, so I just used a soft leadrope looped around her pastern (not tied) to gently pull her leg forward, and let her just kick against it until she realized nothing bad was going to happen.

My roommate figures this method is our best chance at this point, and we're both extremely experienced using it, but as I said before, I get worried because I've SEEN the type of temper tantrum she throws, and I see her going stupid before she figures this out.

We figure our best bet will be to have my roommate hold her with a leadrope looped around her front leg. I'll play with her leg, and if she decides to throw a fit, I'll step back and just let her fight the rope until she realizes she's not winning. At this point, I'm MORE afraid of her "winning" then getting hurt, since she's obviously not scared, she just learned extremely fast that the people handling her would give up as soon as she got dangeorus

As for the picking up a leg and setting it down method, I guess that's why I'm seeking advice since I know what "normal" methods should be used, but they just aren't going to work with her. She doesn't have an issue with people picking up her feet, in fact she picks them up quite nice. But if you want that hoof for longer then 30 seconds, you better be willing to fight for it. And I don't WANT to get into a fight with her unless I'm DARN sure it's a fight I'm going to win since all she's learned so far is that SHE wins.

Thanks a ton guys, I'll let you know how it goes!

EDIT - For the temper thing, I definitely hear you! Working with Arabs will give you the patience of an absolute saint, since you learn really fast that if you get rough with an Arab for no reason, they completely and fully shut down on you. My Arab mare flat out will NOT tolerate any garbage physical discipline. Just a farrier jabbing her for shifting around, and that's it, good luck doing her feet today! So I'm definitely a woman of immense patience!
    05-17-2009, 12:26 AM
It's amazing the patience horses teach us:)

Hope the rope trick works...We tried it with my mare once as a last resort and she FLIPPED out...Got a major rope burn from it right before a big show and came up it's good you know what you are doing. It's a shame they have to be such stinkers sometimes and that some people just let them get away with so much. I'm sure you'll figure out what works for mare can stand for a farrier now and I can hold her feet all day long...there is hope.
    05-17-2009, 07:06 PM
Green Broke
So, it went better then expected!

We worked with her front legs first, Shay-la held her head and stood on the other side holding the rope that was around her front leg (across her back) and let me fiddle fart with her feet. She let me pick them out, and then started getting antsy, and did 2-3 leaps backwards on 3 legs, then a leap forward, but she never managed to get her foot away from ME, so the rope wasn't even utilized on her front legs.

For her back legs, she'll kick you when she throws a temper tantrum, so we just flat out let her fight the rope. For one back leg, she threw a tantrum, so we just let her jump around on three legs, kicking and trying to sit down (LOL) while Shay-la cranked her head around in a circle.

All in all, after her tantrums, I was able to pick up both back legs, pick them out (at a PROPER height, she'll let you hold them as long as you only lift it TWO inches off the, no pony) and even hold them for a good 30-40 seconds at roughly farrier height across my leg.

So it was a good day! We'll continue using this method, another reason why I like it is because it's also teaching her to not be afraid of ropes around her legs. Nothing worse then a horse that panics when it gets tangled!
    05-17-2009, 07:46 PM
Sounds like she did good. I hope she sticks to being good, and if she ever throws a tantrum again I would go back to this method. Good luck!

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