Help! Horse hates feet lifted - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 09-15-2013, 04:57 PM Thread Starter
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Help! Horse hates feet lifted

So my new mare has issues with people lifting her feet. She is iffy with the front ones. Depending on the day and her mood she may or may not let me clean them. She usually will walk backwards till I drop it. The back ones? Out of the question. She has an old injury and that's probably a big part of it; you can't do much more than lightly brush the back ones without getting a nice stomp, or if you're tying to clean it, she throws a kick your way. I'm extremely concerned because she's gotten a few bruises from her old owner making her walk without cleaning her feet. Aperently the only time they get cleane is when te farrier comes. I'm not going to let her go that long. Especially when I'm going to be ridding her and jumping her.

Please help!
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post #2 of 17 Old 09-15-2013, 05:49 PM
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If the farrier can pick up the feet, you can do it. You need to be assertive. Discipline when she is naughty and try again until you do it. Yes she might yank you around which isn't fun. But with repetition and persistency she will learn to do it.

An old injury probably has nothing to do with this since you said the farrier can pick up and trim them. Do you know how to approach her back legs while staying safe?
If she backs up, have someone hold her in position while you pick up the front feet.
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post #3 of 17 Old 09-15-2013, 06:01 PM
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Find a starting point. If she will hold her foot up for 2 seconds drop it at 1 second. Eventually she hold up longer and longer until your able to pick her feet up just like the farrier. It also helps if you do some ground work and get her thinking and a little out of breath before asking for her feet. Try not to let her pull away hold it until she is quiet then let go. If you must let go then put her feet to work for a few minutes and then ask again for her foot. As for threatening to kick you put her feet to work if she even offers to kick at you while grooming. Ask the farrier to show you how pick up her back feet safely if your not comfortable. Be safe.
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post #4 of 17 Old 09-15-2013, 06:15 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys! Maybe she's just not use to me quite get. I've had her for a little over a week, she's had the same ferrier for months LOL
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post #5 of 17 Old 09-15-2013, 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted by BridlesandBowties View Post
Thanks guys! Maybe she's just not use to me quite get. I've had her for a little over a week, she's had the same ferrier for months LOL
Believe it or not, you are probably right on. Horses are comfortable with what they are used to. However, it is important that your horse gets used to the way you do things, not the other way around. If your horse has enough room to move around a lot, you want to reduce that. Tie short, work with the side of the horse against a wall, and lean in if you have to. Be patient, your horse will learn your way of working.
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post #6 of 17 Old 09-15-2013, 09:33 PM
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Yeah while I agree with cutting her some slack as she's not used to you, it sounds like she is well used to getting away without giving her feet. I think the suggestion of just being 'assertive', 'correcting her naughtiness' & persisting is a potentially very dangerous one that may just make her behaviour far worse, because when you're dealing with such a large, powerful animal, particularly when you're trying to hang onto the 'kicky end', if you get into a real fight, you're not likely to win.

So my suggestion is, *teach* her that it's OK & rewarding for her to *give* you her feet & don't make it a battle. The way I would start out is pretty much as gssw described - work out what she will tolerate & don't ask for quite that much. Build gradually on success. Oh & I find positive reinforcement to be incredibly helpful too, but as with other stuff, timing is vital for that to be effective & that can be a problem especially when you're at the tail end!
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post #7 of 17 Old 09-16-2013, 03:21 AM
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It sounds like she isn't comfortable with her back legs even being handled so that's the first step.

First things first, you want to have her haltered on on a lead, DO NOT tie her. She is already defensive about you messing with her feet. If you take away her first defense which is flight you will get a fight.

I like to use a training stick to do this. Just rub all over her legs till she's comfortable with it, start at her butt and work your way down. If she moves keep rubbing till she stands still, then retreat. If she kicks, keep rubbing, you should stand at a 45% angle to her shoulder and you'll be out of the line of fire. When she stops kicking, take the stick away. Every time she gets comfortable, retreat. When she's good with that I like to tie plastic bags to the stick, they make noise and move so it will be more that she needs to tolerate. Again, if she kicks keep rubbing, if she moves, keep rubbing.

Then you can use a nice soft rope to lift her feet without any danger to yourself.Just let her walk around it if you aren't comfortable bringing it around her leg yourself. Even use a training stick to move it in the dirt if you need to so it's in a better position. Then raise up the rope and rub her legs with it, up and down. When she's good with that let the rope drop around her pastern and lightly pull. When she takes her weight off, quit. After a couple times pick up her hoof with the rope. Always set it down before she does and you will be able to build up the time you can lift it.
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post #8 of 17 Old 09-16-2013, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by loosie View Post
I think the suggestion of just being 'assertive', 'correcting her naughtiness' & persisting is a potentially very dangerous one that may just make her behaviour far worse, because when you're dealing with such a large, powerful animal, particularly when you're trying to hang onto the 'kicky end', if you get into a real fight, you're not likely to win.!
Not if you discipline by moving her feet! Make the wrong thing hard and the right thing easy! Geesh...
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post #9 of 17 Old 09-16-2013, 02:45 PM
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If she is too nervous for you to want to train standing right next to her, take her in an arena with a cotton rope. Start with one front foot at a time, and focus on a full week of JUST working on the front feet. Horses usually kick when nervous, but very few strike forward. You HAVE to keep yourself safe bc you are your horse's caretaker.
Keep your mare haltered with a lead and keep hold of the lead with one hand, while you work with a rope with your other hand. Run the rope around the left front leg. Keep a hold of it and lower it to the pastern while keeping contact with the back of the leg. Horses get nervous when things are a surprise. Then pull the leg forward, and then drop it. Repeat 5-7x. Praise and pet her every time to show that you are pleased with the effort. Then do the same on the right front leg. After she lets you pull the front leg forward, practice pulling the front leg out to the side and get her to switch weight. This is preliminary training to hobbling and worth the effort. You will want to switch the lead to your right hand and manipulate the rope with your left hand.
Before you begin, think of what word in English you want to use to teach your horse to identify the English with the command. Many people use "Up." It doesn't matter, bc I've heard farriers use several different words and IDK that there is a standard.
Running the rope down the leg is similar to giving your horse a cue by squeezing the back of the cannon bone to signal, "Up." Horses really like a preparation.
When she is reliable with the front feet, start with the back feet. You will always pull those backwards, so you run the rope down the front of each back leg. PULL THE BACK FEET OUT TO THE SIDE and accept every little bit of effort she gives. She WILL become more cooperative.
Give yourself one GOOD MONTH to complete this training. Horses really trust the people who handle their feet bc in an emergency, their flight means life or death. You will REALLY establish a good trusting but leadership relationship with her doing this, and it's worth every minute.
You do NOT have to pick the feet up very much or for very long. The PRAISE will encourage your horse to cooperate and learn this skill, which you will later translate to picking the feet up like your farrier does now. Do NOT worry about dirty frogs. Honestly, most horses kept in a clean stall and turned out to a dry lot will remove the dirt and stall debris just by walking around. You cannot fight a horse to clean the frogs anyway.
Let us know how this goes. =D
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Last edited by Corporal; 09-16-2013 at 02:47 PM.
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post #10 of 17 Old 09-16-2013, 03:32 PM
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Have a person who knows what they are doing, pick them up, show you how, and then have you do it. If the farrier can do it, obviously you can as well. A horse that kicks after you is dangerous to you and herself. Learn how to change the behavior with real life help.
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