Scaredy-Horse! Need tips for handling hooves. . . - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 06-03-2010, 06:02 PM Thread Starter
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Scaredy-Horse! Need tips for handling hooves. . .

Hi Everyone,
I'm hoping that I can get some imput/advice/ideas for getting my big draft cross gelding to accept having his feet handled. I've had him for a few months, and have made a bit of progress by just petting/scratching his legs, lower and lower until he seems uncomfortable, and then going back to his shoulder and starting again.
He has obviously had a traumatic experience in the past- he is terrified of having his feet handled.
I have made progress, but there is still a long way to go, and unfortunately, he needs his feet trimmed REALLY badly!
So, any advice for more rapid progress is certainly welcome!
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post #2 of 22 Old 06-03-2010, 06:16 PM
Green Broke
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Try picking them up with a lead rope (usually softer than normal rope). Just loop it, get him to step into the loop and gently raise the leg with the rope looped just underneath the fetlock joint. Don't even worry about touching his feet yourself until he is ready. Just get him used to standing on three legs.

When you do this, don't hold the leg up too high and make sure you don't put pressure on the knee joint by extending the leg sideways too much, make it as easy for him as you can. Be firm and if he moves away, move with him without letting him put the leg down but be gentle at the same time so he doesn't get a fright.

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post #3 of 22 Old 06-03-2010, 06:17 PM
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My friend has a big draughty type horse who did this too.
He still is a little hesitant sometimes with his back feet, but he has gotten alot better.
Basically what she did is some natural horsemanship type stuff. so like go out in an open space and try to pick up his feet. if he doesnt let you, send him in a circle or back him up. if he pick it up for you, put it back down right away and pat him. that way he'll learn that he will get a release, and wont have to work if he just picks up his feet. its a long process.. and you have to be patient. eventually once he gets better you can hold his foot up for longer. and hopefully in the end he will have no problem with it!
as you said, he was probably put in a traumatic situation which is why he doesnt want to do it. as long as you show him that there is nothing to be afraid of, and do it in a way so that he understands what you want, i think it should work!

i know you are probably looking for a shorter term type thing.. but i dont really know of any. but i hope this helps anyways! :)
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post #4 of 22 Old 06-03-2010, 08:08 PM
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I agree with sarahvr with using the lead rope (or any soft rope).
The only different thing I would suggest is you can loop the rope around his leg (instead of him stepping into it) by grabbing the end of the lead from between his legs and letting it drop below tht fetlock joint (as sarahvr said). Then ask him to move that foot by pulling on both ends of the rope (with you out of any harms way), then release at any attempt of him moving that foot and build on that, asking for more and more lift. After a bit you can ask him to hold that foot up with the rope and touch his leg and foot getting him desinsitized that way.
p.s I've heard drafts can be difficult with their feet (don't know if it's true or not), but they do have a heck of a lot of weight to put on three
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post #5 of 22 Old 06-03-2010, 10:33 PM
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He probably has never had his feet handled rather than had a bad experience. If you pick his feet everyday and hold them up and move them around he should get better in a couple of weeks. Also bring them forward like the farrier would.

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post #6 of 22 Old 06-04-2010, 01:24 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks all! Will try the leadrope and circling ideas!
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post #7 of 22 Old 06-04-2010, 05:31 AM
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I would get him used to a rope touching his feet and picking them up with a rope. That way you can save yourself a few troubles and keep yourself safer.

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post #8 of 22 Old 06-04-2010, 08:36 AM
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Also when you are reaching/working your way down his leg to his hooves do not stop when he gets unhappy about it. Back up just to his comfort zone and proceed. Starting over just teaches him you will let go when he says so. Safety first of course. The best thing is to learn when he is about to get uncomfortable and retreat just a tad then work on it again. Make sense? But lifting? yes.. get him used to a rope all around him and on his legs before you try lifting with one. Then just ask with pressure until he gives then release. You don't get the whole up and staying up on the first try. First you are just teaching him to lift when asked. You might want to use a vocal cue as well.. I say UP

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post #9 of 22 Old 06-04-2010, 08:36 AM
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There are other alternative ways of getting a horse to pick up their legs without actually have to go down all the way to the hooves. For the front legs, you can gently squeeze on the chestnuts and most horses will lift their leg. For the back legs (and this will probably also work on the front legs), you can go down the leg until you reach the flexor tendons on the back of the leg, placing pressure of those flexor tendons will also cause a horse to lift their leg.

And, if he really does need his hooves trimmed, get him sedated and then trim his hooves. That removes the stress from your training and wont make him more nervous about having his hooves handled.
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post #10 of 22 Old 06-04-2010, 09:12 AM
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Make sure the set up is there first before you ask for a foot.There should be a balanced triangle under the foot you are asking for. If you are picking up the left front make sure the right rear is spread out some,the point of the triangle would be the right front. Imbalance will make a horse defensive. Once he offers the foot give it back before he needs to take it back ,build on that.
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