Spin off - feet manners - need new ideas!

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Spin off - feet manners - need new ideas!

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    11-19-2009, 11:04 PM
Spin off - feet manners - need new ideas!

I read with great interest the thread about feet manners, and all of the great success stories of the posters.
I have a bit of a problem and I'm admittedly stumped. I have a new 2yr old who has HORRID feet manners. He was trimmed once in his life. That was days after I got him, and he required TQ and a twitch. This colt shakes and sweats and eventually explodes when you handle his feet. I've been desensitizing his legs with a rope, and I can touch him all over his hind end, legs, and feet. The problem begins when you need the foot lifted for more than about 30 seconds or so. He has one hind foot with a pretty serious horizontal crack, and you can see where he has has a bad cut stitched along the heel and up the pastern. This is the leg he is worst with. Not that I want to make excuses for him, but he was manhandled pretty badly at his previous home. He is doing a great job with the other training he is doing - no under saddle work yet, but ground work for gaining respect and sensitizing/desensitizing work.
Anyone have any ideas? Should I just go back to desensitizing the legs/feet? Reduce time that I have the foot up? We just seem to be going nowhere, and I'm a bit stumped. Never had this much issues with feet ever!
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    11-19-2009, 11:44 PM
Green Broke
This can definitely be tricky. I had an abused mare that would not tolerate her legs being handled - she'd kick and fight like a demon. I found wonderful success with her using the rope method. I'd loop a soft poly lead around her pastern, and apply pressure until she gave me her foot. The first few times, she kicked like crazy. A few times, she'd kick free of the rope or I'd have to release her foot due to the fight. I'd spend several moments stroking her and calming her down and going right back to it. Eventually, she realized nobody was hurting her and it just got easier and easier.

You definitely have to be 100% on top of the body language though. You need to know when to hold on and when it's time to release and calm them down. A horse reaching a panicked state isn't learning anything and is a danger to both you and himself.

With my 2 year old, she just had a flat out attitude problem, so we were much more aggressive with her. She would blow violently when she got bored of having her foot held. I again used the rope method, but she did NOT get her foot back. The reasoning behind this being she was not panicking - she was trying to "win" and I wouldn't let her. At no point was her behavior erratic enough to warrant having to give her foot back. I also did plenty of exercises with holding her feet briefly and setting them down before she could ask for them back. She's not completely dependable yet, but reaching the point where I simply hold a front leg up until she's done having a miniature tantrum. They've become so mild, she gives up almost immediately.

So as your horse seems to be reacting out of abuse, it will definitely take a gentler hand and a recognition of when enough is enough. Lots of leg touching and petting, get him used to being touched anywhere on his legs with a firm hand. Rope exercises, plus lots of picking up a foot and immediately setting it back down.

Best of luck!
    11-20-2009, 12:33 AM
I would love to be able to help. I have no experience with a horse who has been abused. I would go along with MM's plan, I think she has her finger on the pulse. I believe that your tools are going to have to be kindness, consistancy and persistance. Good luck!
    11-20-2009, 01:58 AM
Well I think MM's comment is the best way to do it but you may be forced to go "old school". You could try to tie up his hind leg and let him learn how to stand on three legs. I have done this before and while it isn't the gentlest way it isn't cruel and it's effective. I use 3/4 inch cotton rope and tie a bowline loosely around the horses neck and then I take the rope around the foot I'm tying up twice and then take it back up and tie it to the loop around the horses neck. I don't pull it up very far at first because it panics the horse too much but I pull it up enough that the toe can barely touch the ground. PM me if these directions are lousy or if you need more info.
    11-20-2009, 07:13 AM
Thanks! Ya, it's a tough road with this one. I'll continue to do the desensitizing with the rope and maybe reduce the thime I have his foot up and gradually work up again.
Kevin, I've honestly thought about this method also. If what I'm trying now continues to be ineffective, I'll get in touch. Is that called scotch hobbling?
    11-20-2009, 10:38 AM
Originally Posted by shesinthebarn    
Is that called scotch hobbling?
    11-20-2009, 10:54 AM
I have a similar problem and got a nice DVD from Northeast Draft Horse Shoeing. The farrier uses a similar technique to Kevin but instead of tying around the neck he goes through a surcingle ring to create a pulley on the foot. It's working for me but it's just a slow process. Hopefully one day I'll walk out there and have a horse that has great foot manners.
    11-20-2009, 11:04 AM
Originally Posted by shesinthebarn    
The problem begins when you need the foot lifted for more than about 30 seconds or so.

Anyone have any ideas? Should I just go back to desensitizing the legs/feet? Reduce time that I have the foot up? We just seem to be going nowhere, and I'm a bit stumped. Never had this much issues with feet ever!
If he is allowing you to touch him - he doesn't need to be "desenstized"

It's a balance issue - combined with the fight or flight instinct. He doesn't trust you enough.

Pick up, put down, walk away - repeat, repeat, repeat. It's time consuming but it's solid. We've had to do it with more than one training horse.
    11-20-2009, 11:22 AM
30 seconds is pretty good! In the CA video, he first gave a cue by squeezing the chestnut, and as soon as the horse lifted it's foot on it's own, he released, and let it be. The first time CA actually picked up the horse's foot, he released it within a couple seconds.

Macabre has an excellent method =] Just remember LOTS of praise, time and patience.
    11-20-2009, 12:19 PM
I would say that between MM and Kevin you have some pretty good advice. I have seen it go both ways. It wasn't because the horse was abused, but they were just flat out stubborn about their feet. They had been badly trained before, adn retraining them took a lot of time both ways.

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