My first horse! Kind of... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 09-08-2017, 10:54 PM Thread Starter
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My first horse! Kind of...

I started taking riding lessons in April. The stable I go to is publicly owned and needed volunteers, so I've been volunteering three days a week doing everything from chores, to grooming, to leading pony rides. Today they gave me an opportunity that I couldn't pass up.

They are starting a program for volunteers where we are assigned a horse to take care of. In exchange for taking care of him for at least three days a week, I'll be able to do his exercise rides! In effect, it's a free lease. I'll be in charge of his grooming, bathing, medical care, ECT. They cover all the costs, I just provide the labor.

The best part is that I was able to pick my horse. Without hesitation, I said Indy. He's my lesson horse, and the first horse I've ever had a relationship with.

I'm beyond excited! And a bit nervous. It's a big responsibility, although I have the guidance of everyone at the barn.

I just wanted to share and ask if you all have any tips for my kind of first horse.

I'm going to ask next time I'm there if I can get Indy a present to celebrate. Maybe a toy or new halter or something inexpensive.

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post #2 of 13 Old 09-08-2017, 11:08 PM
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How exciting! Sounds like a wonderful opportunity for you and Indy will love having his own special person too.

How about getting both of you a present? His own grooming tools in a carry case?

A good habit to start with, since you will be in charge of his medical care is to get some sort of record started for him.

I like to use a zippered binder so I can just add papers as needed. You can purchase inexpensive preprinted record card to help you get started.

Here is a link to an inexpensive one

https://www.jefferspet.com/products/...-health-record
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post #3 of 13 Old 09-09-2017, 01:28 AM Thread Starter
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I like the idea of the grooming tools. He already has his own bucket with brushes and hoof pick, but shiny new ones would be nice!

The stable keeps a binder on each horse, with their medical records and training records, so I'm ahead of the game there.

I think Indy likes me already. The other day he was on the other end of the paddock. I called him and he stopped eating (that was amazing in itself) and came over to me. I scratched him through the fence for a while. When I went to leave, he followed me along the fence until the end of the paddock. Only then did he go back with the other horses (and promptly chased one of them away from "his" hay rack).

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post #4 of 13 Old 09-13-2017, 01:53 AM Thread Starter
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I have a question. Today I decided to give Indy's feet a good cleaning (I've been looking up a lot about horse care, and now I'm all freaked out about thrush). He picks up three of the four feet with no trouble. He has some arthritis in his left hock and when you pick up his left rear hoof he picks it up really high and holds it there. I tried to hold on to it until he was done stretching, but I'd end up dropping it. I'd pick it up again, and he'd stretch and I would drop it. He also lost his balance a few times and would take a big step. By this point we were both getting frustrated. He started to swish his tail and refused to pick up his foot.

I knew I was over my head, and asked for help. I was told that he knows I don't know what I'm doing, and is taking advantage of it. They told me that I'm going to just have to practice, and that if I can get his foot even for a minute, that it is a win. I need to teach him that no matter what he thinks, I'm going to get his foot.

I went back and picked up his foot just a few inches off the ground, and called it good.

I never did get that foot picked. I'm going to try again tomorrow, but I'm worried that I didn't get to clean it. He'll be okay if I can't get it cleaned for a day, right? Also, do you guys have any advice for me on holding on to his foot? I'm worried he's going lose his balance and fall. No one seemed concerned, so I'm guessing it's just me being new to this! Lol

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post #5 of 13 Old 09-13-2017, 04:14 AM
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When a horse has some arthritis, it does hurt them more to lift it high. Some days worse than others.

My advice would be to clean his feet in the same order each time so he knows the pattern.

Horses can pick up their own feet, you don't have to do it for them. A treat, if they are food motivated, is the easiest way to train them.

Start with the left front, clean it and give him a small treat. You will now have his attention, lol.

Next do the left hind, being careful not to lift it too high. If it doesn't get a thorough cleaning its ok, call this training! Give him a treat.

Go next to the right hind, clean & treat. End up with the right fore, and treat.

Now, do it again!

If he picks up his leg higher and stretches his leg, that is ok, just hold onto it and wait. Try not to jump around though. He isn't planning to kick, just stretching.
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post #6 of 13 Old 09-13-2017, 07:52 AM
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Yup, he'll be fine for a day, and I agree with what @AnitaAnne suggests! Breaking things down into smaller steps is a great strategy.

On a different note, is he on anything for the arthritis? Glucosamine might help. There are all kinds of joint supplements out there too. Just a thought.

Oh yes, and congrats! This is so exciting, and the perfect way to learn about horse ownership! If only all first-time owners had this opportunity, horses would be better off.
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post #7 of 13 Old 09-13-2017, 12:18 PM Thread Starter
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I'm not sure if he's on anything for the arthritis. I know he gets a supplement for ulcers.

Would it help to walk him around a little before I groom him? Maybe it'll warm up his old achy joints.

I'm going down there today to practice more.

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post #8 of 13 Old 09-13-2017, 01:06 PM
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Your post had me smiling @Sandycat because it's almost exactly how I ended up free leasing and ultimately buying my horse Isabel.

Now you have to start asking yourself what you'll say if they approach you and say they're ready to move him out of the lesson program and want to give you the first option to buy
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post #9 of 13 Old 09-13-2017, 05:29 PM
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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.
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post #10 of 13 Old 09-13-2017, 06:17 PM
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Congrats!

On the foot thing, I can relate! It took me FOREVER to get Cherokee picking up his feet consistently, and even now he won't do it for anyone else without a fight. That's bad for him, since he can't get treatment for Thrush and the like, but it says a lot for what having a relationship with the horse can do. Just work at it, using the suggestions others have made and modifying as needed, to find what is best for the both of you.

For example, I don't do Cherokee's feet in any specific order, but do his "favorite" (the one he use to be the least cooperative with, and still can be), either second or third (when I think about it anyway). It doesn't USUALLY make a difference, but on the days that he's in a mood or just wanting to be stubborn (which is fairly quickly obvious to me), for some reason doing it first or last makes him more resistant. I guess because he's either not in the mood so doesn't want to get started or tired of doing it lol

Don't judge someone's horse or skill because they don't compete or work with a trainer.

Sometimes they're the most in tune with each other.
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