Originally Posted by chasin the dream
start pawing the ground! Its so annoying.and I know I should just fight it and try and hold on but this is a Percheron!! And so after I pick them up one time, every time after that that I touch his legs or whatever he will start pawing.
I definitely disagree that you should just fight it. I think this is the cause of his pawing getting worse. Firstly, it's a very worrying thing for a prey animal to have their legs restricted. Even if you've done lots of desensitisation & he trusts you, to try to fight him will likely bring out that innate fear & make him more nervous about it. Secondly, as you say, he's a percheron. Unless you're built like the proverbial brick ammenities block, even a pony has enough strength to get away from a person, so you don't have a lot of hope, and every time his behaviour works to make you stop, he is more likely to repeat it, to persist & fight harder about it if needed. You're actually reinforcing the 'wrong' behaviour.
I would start out using approach & retreat to desensitise him to handling his legs without holding them to start with. Just touch & rub them gently. Reinforce him for just standing there & not for pawing or fidgeting. Do this with all feet, starting with a stick/whip if you feel the need to do it at a bit of distance for safety, then use your hands when it feels safe.
Using approach & retreat, so you don't go too far for where he's at, and using positive reinforcement(reward) along with negative reinforcement(removal of pressure) should keep you safe and allow you to progress without too much 'bad' behaviour. Make sure he's really comfortable standing quietly to have his legs handled before asking him to pick them up.
You then need to use the same principles to *gradually* teach him to pick up his feet. Eg. Squeeze the chestnut or hock(or whatever cue - the higher the safer, IMO) to ask him to pick up his foot, but immediately release to reinforce him for even shifting his weight off it to start with. When he's good at yielding to this cue(responding softly with understanding, not resisting or escaping it), then you can start taking hold of his foot. But to start with, do it a split second only & reinforce him for it. Hopefully you can be quick enough to reinforce him before he starts to paw. If not, let go, but no positive reinforcement & immediately & firmly ask again.
If you're skillful with ropes and he's desensitised to the feel of them around his legs and understands how to yield to this pressure, you can use a rope around his fetlock to start with, but I caution you that if you're not skillful, if there's a possibility the rope will get stuck & not provide instant release, if there's a possibility of tangling or the horse running away with the rope attached, it may be safer & more effective for you to just use your hands & progress more gradually.
Only after he's really comfortable with you holding all his feet should you *gradually* increase the time you hold them. That way, you should be able to reinforce him before he starts to fidget and when he does, it won't be reinforced. If you're good with your timing & using effective positive reinforcement(something he really wants, such as treats), you should find that by the time you begin holding his feet, he's actively trying to do as you want and work out how to earn those rewards.
While regular hoof care is vital and if he's already a big boy, this training & care is hugely overdue already, I would suggest you get him good at it before you attempt to have his feet trimmed. Lots of short(minutes only) sessions rather than long ones will be more productive & less frustrating for you both. The first time you employ a farrier for him, make an effort to find a patient one who has good handling skills and inform him that the horse is inexperienced and needs time.