Kicking/foot handling issues ...
Hi, I'm looking for pointers on a horse that has some issues with allowing people to touch her feet. She's more or less refusing to allow handling on her feet, and kicks if you persist.
It's a recent development, she's had sore feet and didn't like being treated. She's become very defensive of her legs.
To give the story so far:
We've recently acquired her, she's a 6yo thoroughbred, trained but never raced, then left as a paddock mate only for 3 years. In that time she was more or less only handled to trim her feet, and intermittently saddled and lunged.
When we veiwed her at her last home, we picked up and cleaned all her feet, no problems. We observed there was some thrush present, clearly because her feet hadn't been picked out for several weeks, they were really packed. She was a little wincy about walking on the gravel drive.
She was more or less indifferent to people, fully handled but no idea that people could be nice friends.
We got her home, left her to settle in her new paddock for the night. It rained ... and rained ... buckets. By the time the rain let up, her thrush was a lot worse, she was noticeably lame in one foot, and also on heat and very marish indeed.
We picked up the foot, she wasn't near as good as she had been before, it was sore and she was on heat. We picked it out and packed it with copper. Hindsight, a bad idea, it stung something horrible.
After that she was very touchy about having her feet handled, we got the sore one up again, and used borax this time as it doesn't sting, and it worked well, thrush no longer a problem after 4 treatments in 7 days.
We thought that she'd return to her normal behavior once they no longer hurt, but she hasn't. She's basically forbidden handling of her feet. We need to get to them as the other three hooves need seeing to too, but she's put her foot down so to speak.
The front feet, she'll just yank them back and jump away. Maybe try and nip if she's really upset.
The back ones she'll kick out with. She's never hit anyone, and she could have, but golly she lashes out hard and within an inch of my side, and I need to correct this issue before it gets too ingrained.
She's not being nasty, just reacting in fear and defending herself, but whatever the reason its not safe.
I'm at a bit of a loss. We have three mustangs here that we tamed right from wild state, and handling their feet we just brushed and handled down the legs bit by bit until they were comfortable, just gentled them in in their own time. Persist until they accepted it quietly once, then stop, pressure off. Start again.
But Holly has a very definite boundary and reacts badly to any stroking down her legs. Unlike the wild girls, with persistence, she gets upset.
Does anyone have any suggestions to desensitize these legs and feet? She basically has no trust, no idea she can trust.
She hasn't been abused, but she's been abandoned, and doesn't like having people trying to be part of her life again.