Suggestions/ideas for training 1.5 yr old filly to pick/hold up feet - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 12-04-2013, 09:46 AM Thread Starter
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Suggestions/ideas for training 1.5 yr old filly to pick/hold up feet


I have a filly that's a little over a year and a half old, I got her about 1 month ago. She had her feet trimmed/rasped the day before I picked her up so she will be due in a few more weeks. I am looking for suggestions for teaching her to pick up her feet and hold them up. She's had regular farrier appointments in the past, however she seems to have little to no training in regards to handling her feet.

In the first times trying to pick up her feet she would finally lift it after a great deal of coaxing/annoying/pulling/shifting her weight but would just stamp it down immediately. So she really wasn't picking it up, just getting a release by slamming it down. I've tried holding it up for just a second and releasing when she's holding it well (showing her she gets a release when she stands quietly with it up). However, when trying to do this she starts to lose her balance and almost falls over or then shoots back. She's an extremely friendly (almost too friendly) filly, and I've done lots of groundwork with leading, keeping her from entering my personal bubble and asking her to back out it when she does enter. She also moves her shoulders over and is starting to get disengaging her hindquarters, however she seems clueless on the feet thing (which is why I'm looking for a new method).

I'm looking for suggestions for a way to teach her to not only pick up her feet but also hold it up (instead of leaning on me). I've tried tapping her foot with a training stick and stopping when she picks it up or moves that foot, but I feel that is giving her mixed signals. So I'm basically wondering if any of you had a similar situation with a young or older horse and what you did to remedy it. I'm confident in my abilities and do not believe I need to hire a training for this, however I fully admit that there might be a better method out there for me to try.

Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 5 Old 12-04-2013, 05:33 PM
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Back her into a corner when you ask to pick up a foot so she can't back up and she can't topple over. Get her foot up high so that it is harder for her to take it away. The moment she stops fighting put it down GENTLY!!!. Pet/praise then say 'foot' and ask again. If she has little leg hairs you can pull on those for her to lift it or take your hoof pick and kind of like stab her, well not stab her but press it right above her hoof and she will lift it up. Thats what my farrier does when she is having issues picking up a hoof. With the back feet you could also put a rope around them and picking them up that way.
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post #3 of 5 Old 12-04-2013, 07:31 PM
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I don't like the idea of pulling hair/poking feet when a horse is still learning to pick up their hooves- you want this to be a positive thing, not a 'oh crap she's going to stab me if I don't put my foot up FAST' response. The hoof pick or hair techniques are geared more for horses who KNOW what is expected of them but they're just being lazy or crabby.

you can use a soft cotton lead-line to teach her to pick up her hoof. Just loop it (don't wrap it or tie it) around her fetlock where you would grab her hoof to clean it, and pull up until she lifts her foot. Once it is up, praise her but don't drop it. Wait for two seconds, then gently lower it down. DO NOT just drop it- that is why she is losing her balance and falling. Do this repeatedly, and lengthen the time as it goes. I've actually found that holding the back feet out and up rather than just up seems to be more comfortable/easy for young horses at first, but its not necessary.

Don't try cleaning her feet the first time you mess with them, get her good at lifting and holding first, then gradually start teaching her to let you tap on them then pick them out.
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post #4 of 5 Old 12-04-2013, 11:46 PM Thread Starter
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Endiku, thanks for the cotton rope idea! Now that you mention it, I remember reading about technique once.

Originally Posted by Endiku View Post
DO NOT just drop it- that is why she is losing her balance and falling.
As for the above, maybe I wasn't clear in my explanation: I'm not dropping her foot, as soon as she picks it up about 6 inches she stamps it back down. It's actually almost like she's lifting to get away from my hand and then stamping to shake me off (if that makes sense). She's still small enough that I can catch her stamp and try to hold her foot until she's quiet, and that's when she starts to lose her balance (which makes sense since she just put a big effort into shifting her weight to force that foot down and it didn't work, therefore she's off balance). I'm going to switch over to the cotton rope technique immediately, however if she continues to stamp to shake me off should I be more resistant (not aggressive)? I don't want to accidentally teach her that if she stamps my hand will go away, but I also don't want to put her into a situation where she could hurt herself. Does that better describe the predicament I'm in?

Thanks again!
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post #5 of 5 Old 12-05-2013, 10:41 AM
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Yes, I understand. My filly did the same thing with her back hooves for a while- she'd start slamming them down as soon as they were mid-way up and with just my hands I was not able to keep a grip on them! That's what is so great about having an 'extension' of your arm- the rope. You can stand closer to her shoulder so that she can't swing around or anything and lift forwards and up to get her to lift the hoof- but once it is up it is your job to keep her from freeing the hoof and getting it back down until she is standing quietly. She may throw a tantrum, or she may just accept it- but be ready for a couple of hard jerks. Keep a constant light pressure on the rope as well so that the rope doesn't come loose from her fetlock ^_^

Everyone in your life is meant to
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farrier , feet , filly , training , young horse

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