teaching to lift feet - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 03-01-2009, 12:11 AM Thread Starter
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teaching to lift feet

my hubby and i have been trying to teach my new 3 year old colt to lift his feet and keep his balance. he should have been taught it ages ago but thats a whole different story.

the problem isnt coming necessarily from him lifting his feet but rather him getting his balance when one is lifted. he can lift his front near side ok without too much drama but he almost falls over trying to lift any other feet and then he freaks out because he is unbalanced and before we know it he is pulling back and running sideways and carrying on. this has continued now for a few weeks and im starting to get a little frustrated with it (sshhhh, dont tell him though )

im looking for any suggestions on helping this problem or will it just fix itself in time. ive never come across this problem with a youngen before so its got me perplexed

"I whisper but my horse doesnt listen...So I yell!!...He still doesnt listen"


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post #2 of 23 Old 03-01-2009, 12:52 AM
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Lunging over trot poles?
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post #3 of 23 Old 03-01-2009, 02:14 AM Thread Starter
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lol well here is where my next problem arises. i was going to start a new thread but since its come up in here there is no need for another thread. ive also been trying to teach him to lunge and do some basic groundwork but that is going miserably. ive had plenty of experience teaching groundwork to young horses but never have i come across the problems i am faced with with arizona.

everything is done in reverse. and by reverse i mean he goes backwards. i try to hold him out and get him moving around me which results in him crab walking for a second and then running backwards as fast as he can. ive tried getting my hubby to lead him around me then as soon as hubby lets go and i ask him to keep moving forward he will stop and start reversing.

its not only in this instance that he does this. when i try to brush him, scratch him, put his rug on...anything he will do it. when i first got him he was fine. i could brush him while he ate his hay in the paddock. i could even put his rug on at 10.30 at night while hes out in the paddock and he wouldnt batter an eyelid. all of a sudden he has started this backing up business and its trying my patience. there is never a point where he gives in and stands still for longer than half a minute. correction...he backed himself into the side of the house today and couldnt go anywhere else so he just stood there. until he decided it was all way too scary and he needed to lunge forwards so he could turn around and continue backing up.

basically it means that everything i am trying to teach him is going at a snails pace and any progress is limited to say the least.

i dont know if he is just testing me and its the 'colt' coming out in him or not but if he is testing me hes doing a **** fine job lol i will take him to a trainer if i need to but before this started we were doing well and i would rather continue on with him myself instead of sending him to a trainer.

"I whisper but my horse doesnt listen...So I yell!!...He still doesnt listen"


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post #4 of 23 Old 03-01-2009, 04:49 AM
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Sorry, but I can't see how trotting him over poles will teach him how to pick his feet up?

Horses don't instinctively know how to balance themselves - we have to teach them. So it's up to you to put his feet in a position, before you try and pick them up, that he's not going to loose his balance and fall over.

Just keep backing him up or moving him forwards, a step at a time, until his feet are in the right position. If you're trying to pick up a front foot, his back feet need to be roughly even, and on the front ones, the one you're trying to pick up should be slightly further back than the other one. Same with the backs - if you're trying to pick up a back foot, the front ones should be even and the back one you're trying to pick up should be slightly further back than the other.

If he's standing four square on all four feet, he won't be able to balance, and if they foot you're trying to pick up is ahead of the others he won't either. Then pick up the foot for just a second - a brief pause off the ground then back down again, and slowly increase over time.

He will eventually learn to balance himself and put his feet in the right place as soon as you ask him to lift it.
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post #5 of 23 Old 03-01-2009, 11:57 AM
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It seems that he's learned that by backing up, he gets out of whatever work you were going to do. For a moment at least. He's changing the subject from "walking on the lunge line" to "backing up and making mom mad." When he starts backing up, you need to start telling him to back up. And don't stop until he's getting really tired of it. And then stop when YOU decide it's time to be done. Don't let him choose. Soon enough, he's going to figure out that he won't get out of work by backing up.

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post #6 of 23 Old 03-01-2009, 12:13 PM
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There will be a place when you are telling him to back up, that you will feel him think forward, in that instant you allow him forward. If you miss that window of opportunity, the learning will come slower. It's about him being stuck and not knowing what else to do. So back him, like Steph said, but feel for the place when there's a moment you feel like he might want to go forward. Don't do this in a punishing way. Be gentle and patient, and allow him to find the right answer.

In riding, a horse's energy is like a river- guided by the banks but not stopped by them.
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post #7 of 23 Old 03-01-2009, 03:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenna View Post
Sorry, but I can't see how trotting him over poles will teach him how to pick his feet up?

Horses don't instinctively know how to balance themselves - we have to teach them. So it's up to you to put his feet in a position, before you try and pick them up, that he's not going to loose his balance and fall over.

Just keep backing him up or moving him forwards, a step at a time, until his feet are in the right position. If you're trying to pick up a front foot, his back feet need to be roughly even, and on the front ones, the one you're trying to pick up should be slightly further back than the other one. Same with the backs - if you're trying to pick up a back foot, the front ones should be even and the back one you're trying to pick up should be slightly further back than the other.

If he's standing four square on all four feet, he won't be able to balance, and if they foot you're trying to pick up is ahead of the others he won't either. Then pick up the foot for just a second - a brief pause off the ground then back down again, and slowly increase over time.

He will eventually learn to balance himself and put his feet in the right place as soon as you ask him to lift it.
I thought we were talking about picking up his feet when being ridden and balancing when moving. If that were the case, trot poles have always worked for me.

For the backing up thing, what I do is when they start backing up because they want to get out of working, I keep backing them up and making them do it. Eventually, they will want to go forward and this is when I ask for a few steps forward and praise.
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post #8 of 23 Old 03-01-2009, 03:49 PM
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I know this might sound mean, but Saro did the same thing. When her front feet are picked up she would fall down completely on her front end, down to her knees. Very bad habit to get started I have found She is 3 now too and I figure its time she stopped doing it. We (my farrier and I) tried hobbling one of her front legs up and letting her loose in the round pen till she stood on one leg. She never stood on one leg Most horses would figure it out and that would be the end of the falling over....not Saro. The only thing I have found to stop it is 1. Not under any circumstances letting go of the foot. and 2. jabbing her in the belly with the hoof pick every time she starts to fall down. I think (I may be wrong) but its a behavior thing not anything physical and it needs to be stopped asap. If you have a front leg hobble you can try using it to hobble the single leg up and just letting him go till he figures out how to stand with one leg up. Or try the poke The poke worked for Saro.
Please no "this is cruel" comments. There was no time when she was in a place where she could get hurt.


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post #9 of 23 Old 03-02-2009, 02:31 AM Thread Starter
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jenna - thanks for the info but yeah, i know about how to have them stand. we have had the same issues with our wb whether he was standing balanced or not. i ALWAYS make sure my horsies are standing relatively square before lifting their feet. thanks though :)

everyone else - its funny you know...one of my biggest teaching aids is backing up yet this time i didnt even think of making him back up more lol ill give it a go

vida - whats this front leg hobble thing?? ive only ever seen, not used though, hobbles for the back legs

"I whisper but my horse doesnt listen...So I yell!!...He still doesnt listen"


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post #10 of 23 Old 03-02-2009, 08:57 AM
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If you have this type of hobble
You can attach one end to the foot and then strap the foot up to the same leg so they can't put the foot down. You may be able to get the same effect with a long belt, though I've never tried it that way.
Let them stand for awhile (don't leave them unattended) with the leg up. Its sort of on the same concept of standing tied. THe horse stands there till they stand quiet then they are released.


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