Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: middle of nowhere
One of my horses has an old stifle injury, and when it acts up, he can be tricky with that hoof. I do his feet in order-- left front, left rear, right rear, right front. Horses get used to that, and you'll watch them shift the weight off the next hoof you're headed for out of habit. Cue the horse however you do-- I lean a bit of weight on the shoulder or hip as a reminder to the horse to balance himself, then run my hand down the tendon from knee to pastern or hock to pastern, pinching a bit. When the horse picks up his leg, hold it gently for a few seconds, and once he's balanced and standing well, then you can walk it out a bit to work on it if you need to. At first, once the horse shifts his weight off that leg, I'll step away. Then he's got to pick it up an inch or so, and I'll step away. Then I'll hold it a few seconds, and stop. Then I'll hold it until he doesn't try to pull away and then stop. Once the horse realizes that you are going to give him a chance to balance and won't just yank his foot away, he'll probably stand pretty well.
A lot of horses pull away on a rear leg. Pick up the hoof and cup it in your hand. Don't pull, but don't let the horse yank it away from you. Most horses will just pull it up tight, then relax after a few seconds. Hold on and go with them until you feel them relax, then clean the hoof or what have you. Don't take the foot outside the 'plane of travel'-- rear legs can get sore in a hurry and a horse will not let you pick up the foot if you take it too far out to the side. That hurts! Be careful not to hold the legs of sore horses up too long. If you need to do more than a few minutes' work, step out from under, set the hoof down, and let the horse relax for a few minutes before continuing. One of the hallmarks on whether a farrier gets to come out to work on my horses more than once is how they treat the big old gelding who gets sore if you hold his rear legs up too long. I tell the farrier ahead of time, and say he stands like a rock until he hurts, then he'll try to take the foot away and needs a break. If the farrier yanks the hoof back and punishes the horse, he won't be coming back. If he steps away, gives the horse a pat and lets him stand a minute or two, then allows him to rebalance himself before continuing, he's considering how the horse feels and I appreciate that.