Can't pick up my horse hind hooves - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 11-08-2018, 12:10 PM Thread Starter
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Can't pick up my horse hind hooves

Hi everyone,

I'm studying in Equestrian Techniques in college, and one of our classes is to "break" (I don't like this word but I don't know how else to say it) a young horse.

My client's horse is a 5 years old Canadian, apparently already got trained although it doesn't look like it. He had absolutely no respect at all when he came here, even the most basics interactions with him had to be reworked.

And here comes my problem with his hind hooves.

At first he used to kick out a little bit, but that calmed down pretty fast. The problem is that he is not giving his feet at all. When I ask to give his hind hoof, he just doesn't pick it up at all and put all of his weight on that foot, so everytime to clean it I have to force it up, and it's incredibly heavy.

Does anyone know a way to make him for light, so he at least let me pick it up without putting his weight on me?

I don't know if my explanation is clear, I'm sorry about my text because I generally speak French.

Thank you in advance for helping me out!
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post #2 of 19 Old 11-08-2018, 12:25 PM
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Your explanation is clear. Don't worry about that. From what you describe, it sounds to me like the horse just doesn't like people. One sees that a lot, horses that know how to execute, but they just don't care to cooperate because they have developed a bad attitude about working with people. Eventually, trust is going to have to be developed or otherwise everything is going to be a battle. As for picking up his rear feet, one can get the weight off the foot you want to pick up by leaning your weight against it. But another way, is to make him move so that he is not standing square on his four feet. This method may be unconventional, but it works for me. Have him take one step back or forward. You will find that the feet most under him, or most under his belly, are now not carrying as much of his weight and they'll be easier to pick up. Good luck.
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post #3 of 19 Old 11-08-2018, 12:25 PM
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You could try pressure-and-release: Apply pressure by twisting the chestnut or similar, release right away when the foot comes up. Then start holding the foot for the briefest of moments, then extend that time. Once you start holding the foot up, positive reinforcement for not leaning on you.

Obviously, we want to have ruled out any health issues which would cause raising his foot be uncomfortable for him. How does he do with farriers? Are you the only one with this problem? He's gotta have been trimmed during the five years he's been on this earthly plane...
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post #4 of 19 Old 11-08-2018, 12:38 PM
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You might use the word "start" instead of "break".

If it was me in your position, I would work on him moving his butt away from your pressure. Will he rotate on his forehand for you with just a light tap? If not, he should.

You want to get in the habit of giving the horse plenty of cues to get ready to pick up a foot. I do my horses in the same order every time, and I run my hand from their shoulder or rump all the way down their leg every time. So they can prepare themselves and shift their weight off that quarter.

Horses that put their weight into the foot I want to pick up get pinched on the cannon just above the fetlock. No response? Try a hoofpick there. Not like you want to make a hole in the horse, but just to make it more uncomfortable. Just keep pressure on and wait. He'll pick it up and you say Good Boy! If he puts it down again, just go back to a pat, then a pinch, then the hoofpick if needed. Praise anything he does in a positive direction and let him think about it for a few seconds before trying again. Do not give up, do not lose your temper. The two cardinal rules of horse training!

If, once you get it up, he leans his weight into that foot, DROP IT! Drop it suddenly and back off. Hopefully he will stagger and it will be a bit shocking for him. Say, "whoops!" in a cheerful voice (the cheerful "uh oh, bad choice on your part!" sound is useful mostly to get you to stay upbeat and not punitive or frustrated about the whole thing) Then go right back to the pat, the pinch, the hoofpick, etc.

As long as he is just passively opposing you, just make cheerfully and calmly make it more unpleasant for him to do that than it's worth.

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post #5 of 19 Old 11-08-2018, 02:55 PM
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It seems to be common for them to develop the habit of leaning on you when a hind is being worked with. In a pony you may not notice but on bigger horses like your Canadian, it's a pain on the back!

One technique I use is to put that hind foot about halfway back down, kind of like pitching him some slack. This will wake him up and cause him to bear his own weight by holding his foot up for you. He's got to help you out a little. Once he understands what you want, if he does lose focus and lean, just give the foot a little wiggle to say, "hey, wake up and quit leaning."

Also be sure to put the foot down to rest periodically if you're going to be working with it for very long.
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post #6 of 19 Old 11-08-2018, 03:24 PM
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Apparently the horse trusts you to touch the leg down to the foot. Good. Put your hand on the horse's hip and push (only as much pressure as it takes) steadily until the horse has to rebalance. Immediately take pressure away. Begin again. Start with the lightest pressure, increasing until the horse shifts its weight a little toward the opposite leg. As soon as it shifts its weight, or even thinks about shifting its weight, remove pressure. Keep it up until the horse begins to place more weight on the opposite leg and leaves it there. Always remove pressure when you get a response. Gradually work up to the horse resting its toe on the ground. Gradually work your hand down the leg until you can gently pull the now unweighted foot forward a little, then put the foot down. Work at picking it up and holding it for longer periods. When you are successful picking the foot up forward, work on bringing it backward.
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post #7 of 19 Old 11-08-2018, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avna View Post

You want to get in the habit of giving the horse plenty of cues to get ready to pick up a foot. I do my horses in the same order every time, and I run my hand from their shoulder or rump all the way down their leg every time. So they can prepare themselves and shift their weight off that quarter.

Horses that put their weight into the foot I want to pick up get pinched on the cannon just above the fetlock. No response? Try a hoofpick there. Not like you want to make a hole in the horse, but just to make it more uncomfortable. Just keep pressure on and wait. He'll pick it up and you say Good Boy! If he puts it down again, just go back to a pat, then a pinch, then the hoofpick if needed. Praise anything he does in a positive direction and let him think about it for a few seconds before trying again. Do not give up, do not lose your temper. The two cardinal rules of horse training!
This is what worked for me way back when Sonny wouldnt let me pick up his feet, making sure that if he put it down again, I immediately asked again,,so no pause, just go back to pat,pinch,pick...
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post #8 of 19 Old 11-08-2018, 08:27 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charrorider View Post
Your explanation is clear. Don't worry about that. From what you describe, it sounds to me like the horse just doesn't like people. One sees that a lot, horses that know how to execute, but they just don't care to cooperate because they have developed a bad attitude about working with people. Eventually, trust is going to have to be developed or otherwise everything is going to be a battle. As for picking up his rear feet, one can get the weight off the foot you want to pick up by leaning your weight against it. But another way, is to make him move so that he is not standing square on his four feet. This method may be unconventional, but it works for me. Have him take one step back or forward. You will find that the feet most under him, or most under his belly, are now not carrying as much of his weight and they'll be easier to pick up. Good luck.
Hi, thank you all for the advices! That's exactly what's happening with him, as in he's never really worked with humans as he should have, always had his way and never got to understand that if he does something good, he gets a reward from us. He didn't understand at all the principle of "when you give me what I want it is pleasurable". Instead all he ahad was "well if you don't want to so be it".

I have been working with him for over a month now, and he's so much better than he was!!! Moving him a bit to pick his feet usually works, but for having been using this since the beginning, I'm beginning to understand that this is the easy way for him. He doesn't want to even try it on his own. No matter how much I do it and reward him with scratches and even treats when he gives his leg, there's no positive anticipation. It's like he doesn't really care that much for the rewards because he always has them when we move him.
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post #9 of 19 Old 11-08-2018, 08:37 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mmshiro View Post
You could try pressure-and-release: Apply pressure by twisting the chestnut or similar, release right away when the foot comes up. Then start holding the foot for the briefest of moments, then extend that time. Once you start holding the foot up, positive reinforcement for not leaning on you.

Obviously, we want to have ruled out any health issues which would cause raising his foot be uncomfortable for him. How does he do with farriers? Are you the only one with this problem? He's gotta have been trimmed during the five years he's been on this earthly plane...
Hi, thank you for the advice! The problem is that no matter what I do, even when shifting his eeight, the foot doesn't come up at all when he doesn't want to give it (I've been able to pick it up and extend it backwards at times when he was already resting this leg). The only way I've really been able to pick it was with someone's help by moving him, we would use the opportunity to pick it up. Once it's in our hand, and extended backwards, there's basically no weight. But when the foot is flat on the ground, even shifting his weight doesn't work.

Of course he's seen the farrier before, however my "client" only bought him 3 weeks before he came to my school for his training. She's never seen him with the farrier and could not give me any information on that.

He doesn't seem to have any kind of medical issues. At my school we have two vets all day on week days, and nothing seems to be wrong. And he can pick it up easy, he has no mobility problems with his hind legs. He just doesn't want to give it because he doesn't care... 😑

My teacher has also this difficulty with hime, the obly way it works is really by moving his feet by backing him up or making him step forward.
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post #10 of 19 Old 11-08-2018, 08:55 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Avna View Post
You might use the word "start" instead of "break". <img style="max-width:100%;" src="https://www.horseforum.com/images/smilies/icon_smile.gif" border="0" alt="" title="Smile" class="inlineimg" />

If it was me in your position, I would work on him moving his butt away from your pressure. Will he rotate on his forehand for you with just a light tap? If not, he should.

You want to get in the habit of giving the horse plenty of cues to get ready to pick up a foot. I do my horses in the same order every time, and I run my hand from their shoulder or rump all the way down their leg every time. So they can prepare themselves and shift their weight off that quarter.

Horses that put their weight into the foot I want to pick up get pinched on the cannon just above the fetlock. No response? Try a hoofpick there. Not like you want to make a hole in the horse, but just to make it more uncomfortable. Just keep pressure on and wait. He'll pick it up and you say Good Boy! If he puts it down again, just go back to a pat, then a pinch, then the hoofpick if needed. Praise anything he does in a positive direction and let him think about it for a few seconds before trying again. Do not give up, do not lose your temper. The two cardinal rules of horse training!

If, once you get it up, he leans his weight into that foot, DROP IT! Drop it suddenly and back off. Hopefully he will stagger and it will be a bit shocking for him. Say, "whoops!" in a cheerful voice (the cheerful "uh oh, bad choice on your part!" sound is useful mostly to get you to stay upbeat and not punitive or frustrated about the whole thing) Then go right back to the pat, the pinch, the hoofpick, etc.

As long as he is just passively opposing you, just make cheerfully and calmly make it more unpleasant for him to do that than it's worth.
Hi, thank you for giving me this new expression to work with, it sounds much less forceful &#x1f60a;

I can get him to rotate and push his hips just with a slight pressure (I've been working that since day 1, it was my priority because he just used to completely push you instead, kind of fast too, so it was hard to get away in time, could not be worked with inside his stall and unsupervised by my teacher, which was really troublesome because she's very busy with other classes)

I use cues to push him away too, small things, I first tell him to "move away", then use my thumb and kind of just touch his hip, no pressure, then gradually put pressure little by little. These days he sometimes move away juste with the simple touch.

But even when I do this, he usually just plants both feet firmly on the ground, and even more frustrating he even relaxes the other leg! It doesn't really help...

I've tried pinching, and sometimes it does help, but never tried the hoofpick which is an excellent idea! I tried it today and it worked! Once he removes his weight I can easily pick it up and he doesn't mind, as long as I keep it in the same place or extend it backwards (I can go as far as he physically can without doing anything) and he is practically weightless.

However, as soon as I want to bring it forward like a farrier would, he just puts all his weight down to take a simple step, and I have no choice but to let him go (he's so heavy!!!!)

I'll try to get more lightness from him. He didn't care at all for the pinch, but the hoofpick seems to work, so using progression every time, I hope to be able to create an anticipation so he eventually picks it up with just a bit of pressure.

I also try using the same cues each time. I start with the front right always (move from the shoulder and then down), then back right, front left and back left (always putting my hand on his shoulder or hip and easing my way down to his leg).
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