Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: East Central Illinois
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
Last edited by Corporal; 09-16-2013 at 02:47 PM.