Faith - problems arising.
Faith to date, has been very level headed and calm for a 2 year old filly.
You can read her story in my past posts, I don't have the link handy. She had a rough past we know nothing about.
After vet and farrier visits, she is estimated to be probably "barely" 2!
Anyway, she saw the farrier yesterday. This did not go well at all. Now, I had been working with her, picking up her feet. She had NO Idea what to do or how to balance at first. I was always able to handle her legs, she let me take care of her injuries, never made much of a fuss. Most of the time i took care of her bad leg without having her tied. She had never once tried to kick me or displayed any unwanted behavior. She did refuse to pick up her feet for the longest time, but i had her picking up her front feet just fine within a few weeks.
Just hours before the farrier comes yesterday, my SO informed me that Faith had tried to cowkick him the day before. I was quite shocked, honestly. I asked what he had been doing, and he said he was brushing her. He said he was brushing down her back end, to her legs, and she kicked out at him and pinned her ears back. I can handle her back legs, but she does *not* really know how to balance herself while her back legs are lifted, yet. This was quite shocking to me, but i thought maybe it was a fluke, a fly biting her, or something.
The farrier comes, all was going great until we came to Faith. I told him i had no idea if she'd ever been trimmed, but i had been handling her feet. She came out of her stall fine, said hello to him, accepted him just fine. She was relaxed, head down, not at all nervous. She sniffed his tools, then settled in. He approached her front leg, and as soon as he touched her, she grunted (almost a squeal but not quite), jumped up in the air, and kicked out "up" at his head with her back leg. I corrected her with a firm voice and a jerk on her rope halter, and she took a deep breath and once again relaxed within seconds. He took a moment to pat her, and then ran his hands down her leg slowly. When he went to pick it up, she jumped straight into the air and flew forward down the aisle, kicking the entire way. She was pretty hell bent on hurting somebody, and it took me a moment to gain control with my 5'1 130 lb self.
We got her settled again, and broke out the rope. She was FINE with picking up all of her feet with the rope. Every one. When he went to pick up her leg again, she tried to kick him, again. And this is not a warning kick or anything, this is a "Don't touch my leg or i'm gonna kick your face in" kick.
Eventually after much time and patience (I love my farrier!) - we got her front feet trimmed.
There was no chance of doing the back.
Now, while he was sitting there with me, i picked up all of her feet. Every last one, without a single sign of her being uncomfortable at all.
I'm thinking one of two things here, being that she also attempted to kick my SO when he was simply brushing her back legs.
1) She is extremely sensitive to her legs being handed due to everything that has happened to her (she has scars all over, especially her back and front right legs, the right front being the one that was most injured when she came into my possession). The right leg is the one he was trying to do first, and it's her "bad" leg that is now 97% healed. Maybe she is comfortable with me, because i've been caring for her and she trusts me.
2) She doesn't like men. Perhaps she associates men in some way to "pain" from her injuries.
For the hell of it this morning, i had my SO try to pick up her feet. She pinned her ears and jumped straight into the air but didn't try to kick him. I proceeded to pick up all of her feet.
This is a VERY sweet mare in general. She is calm all the time, not much rattles her or scares her, so i'm having difficulty making sense of this. My SO can handle her fine, when i'm at work he takes her to and from the pasture without difficulty, brushes her, cares for her. My farrier, knowing her background, was trying to be gentle with her, but what ended up working in the end, was the final kick... when she kicked, he jabbed a forefinger into her shoulder pretty hard. Not a punch or slap, but a deep lingering "push" with a resounding "NO!" (He proceeded to say something like "You respect ME!" too lol). After that, he was able to use the ROPE to get her to pick up her legs, and then was able to get under her and trim them. But the back was a no go.
Thoughts? What more can I do when i am able to pick up her feet? Subject my SO (who isn't 100% confident around horses to begin with) to risking being kicked to get her used to men picking up her feet?
I honestly am not sure. I hope more experienced people on here can give you good advice.
But here's what I'd like to add...maybe get someone out there, like a professional, and have them help you. Maybe just run your hand down her leg repeatedly, without even touching her feet, but going pretty close. And stay clear of those back legs for now. I'd just work on the front ones and when she's comfortable with that, she may not mind so much having the back legs messed with.
To start, I personally would borrow someones rasp and stand and get her used to the sounds of the scraping and where to put her feet. At least then you take any of the equipment scare of the picture. Then, if you insist on using the same farrier, maybe have him take off some of the "scary" clothing, like maybe he is wearing a hat that reminds her of someone from her past. You could also try finding a female farrier if there is one in your area.
If your farrier is at the barn often, and is willing, have him work with her just running his hands over her body. Every time she stays calm and isn't aggressive, she gets a treat from him. I have used reward based training for feet before and with aggressive/fearful horses, it will probably work the best. Just let him rub her until he can touch every part of her legs. Only then let him try and pick one up. Maybe just ask for the foot, and when she shifts her weight, give the treat and a pat and then go from there. Just take baby steps. Again, the farrier must be willing to take the time to do this. I would think any male would work, but someone with experience so there is less chance they get hurt. I know there are many ways to do this and many schools of thought, but this has worked for me with horses that kicked out of fear.
First off, good for you for taking so much time to care for her and bring her back to the great health she is in now.
I've missed your previous posts about how you got her and what her history is, or at least what you know. What I wonder is this. You said you haven't had any issues with her handling all 4 feet right? from the sounds of what you were describing she wasn't always like that? did the incident with the farrier resemble what she used to do when you first got her?
Again I'm missing the story with this mare, but knowing you had no issues at all with her, tells me she can obviously give her feet for hoof and leg care. She did this only with your farrier right? It does make me wonder if she has a fear associated with men, or something, whether it be a movement or tool, or smell-something that brought back something that's happened to her in the past.
I have heard and know of 1 horse who can only be handled by women. He was an ex-race horse(posted pictures of him), and was ridden by women only. No one can ride him other than women and no one can handle him (farried included), other than women. Not saying that this is what's going on, but there is something associated with that farrier that she does not like. I would continue working with her and make sure she continues to work well with the handling of her feet but call a different farrier. See what happens if someone else comes in.
It could also be just her having some trust issues, where regardless of who comes in to do her feet, or work with her(does she have that behavior with other things to?), she will reflect what she did with him. In that case, you need to work on bonding with her and regularly work doing exercises that will push her more and more outside what she is comfortable doing. Let her tell you what she is ready to do.
Here is Faiths Story for those who missed it.
I have had zero issues from her from day one. No odd behavior, no vices at all really. She's been a dream to work with. Something is fearful here, but what i don't understand is she was calm and relaxed not at all afraid of him or the tools until he touched her legs.
Her legs were lacerated, some very old wounds, some newer wounds, and of course the ones that caused the most immediate problems. Mostly just her legs, but some scars on her face, one open sore on her face, some on her belly and neck as well. She was pretty beat up and we have no idea what happened to her.
I thought maybe she's iffy about her legs for obvious reasons, they've been beaten up from here to high heaven, but why is she okay with me touching them/lifting them but kicked out at my SO and the farrier when they tried?
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