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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good afternoon all!

Lilith is coming back on April 19th, and I'm going to start focusing a majority of my time with her to her feet.
She has never had farrier work (to my knowledge) and she is six years old. She was able to trim them herself naturally and almost evenly, but being stalled as ruined that.

For those that don't know Lilith is a kill-pen rescue who was heavily abused my men. Her hatred for men rivals that of hell fire.
The trainer she is coming back from on April 19th is a man, and apparently all of my work has done something, because she's allowed him to get close.

Anyways,
The one thing I have been unable to get her to do is pick up her feet. She is STUBBORN and will not lift them. She also will try and cow kick when she's had enough.
I'm looking for techniques I can use on her to get her use to picking up her feet, and things I can do to better her experience.

I know she's most likely going to need to be sedated the first couple of times for a farrier, but I'd eventually like to build up that trust and work on her to where she doesn't need that.

Any help/advice on helping her pick up her feet are greatly appreciated. I've come along way with her, and am looking to continue with our progress.
 

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Something my barn does with our drafts to work on stubborn feet is to do some lymph drainage therapy (LDT) on them until they give us their feet. This is, however, on horses that are in their teens and twenties and have been trained to give anyways. I'm not sure how they started working on this skill.

The massage that we give them for LDT makes them shift their weight when they feel good, and then we're able to tap down their leg and request "Give," and since their weight is already off that foot, they're more likely to give it. Maybe this could be something you integrate into teaching her, since it's a reward in and of itself, and something she can look forward to if she's needing her hooves trimmed?
 

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I'm working with a mare (who isn't mine) who was terrible picking her feet up including the cow kicking. She's not had a farrier the entire time I've been here - 8 months - and I just decided to try pick her feet one day. Fortunately they are ok for 8 months.. as well as can be :/ This is a topic for another time. After seeing her reaction I just decided to work on it. Over the course of weeks - months actually - every single day doing the following, progressing each week etc

  • touch a leg and treat - getting lower down the leg while carefully watching her body language and expression (not easy :p). I didn't want her anticipating bad things
  • tapping fronts until she lifts them (NOT handling her foot though) + treat per front leg
  • same as above but then including hinds but with a stick for distance + treat. Any and all cow kicking I ignored. Only once she lifted them without kicking out did I praise/treat. Breaks between
  • running hands down every leg without asking to lift (grooming & even scrubbing hooves). She was fine being groomed, didn't want to pick up. I focused grooming coz trust
  • tapping & holding fronts for a few moments + treat
  • using finger/hand to tap to lift hinds using verbal command as did with stick (once she learned I wanted them up and not a cow kick :p)
  • holding hinds as she lifted them (ready with both hands but not gripping hard initially). Asking her to lift and let me hold for a second, then a few then more + treat
  • by this point I can pick out her fronts no fuss + treat
  • still not picking hind feet out but working on being allowed to hold her hind leg up and slowly move/massage it, rubbing her sole with my hand + treat
  • finally can pick them out but notice she can't be rushed and her back ones can be "sticky" - has a history of tendon issues I learned

Each leg I would sometimes do 5 minutes apart between brushing/other tricks.

Lastly my own mare with her hinds I have to hold her foot a bit lower unless she's warmed up - otherwise her left one gets a bit "sticky" too. I basically turned picking feet up into an entire game. Because she is sensitive I had to commit to full positive reinforcement (not even saying "no!" to the kicking out as it would make her fearful). Now she is eager to show me her "tricks" lol. And I only ever asked her to do any of the above if it felt right. Like she was in a good mood, had a full tummy and was great being groomed. And lots of time. I'm sure all the handling and discipline/boundary setting around feeding/leading helped as well.

Anyway that's how I've done it most recently. Many many small steps over time. :p Good luck!
 

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great advice:)

My only advice is that I would NOT sedate her. You have made way too much progress with her. I’ve seen the ramifications of drugging with horses that have been forced to do something they deemed was going to kill them.

Just because they are drugged physically, doesn’t stop the brain cells from turning— unless a vet completely knocks them out:)
 

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Agree with walkin that I would not sedate, unless it's absolutely imperative - horse is lame, injured, can't wait for urgent care - and I'd get a vet to knock the horse out completely for that.

If your horse has been off at the trainer's, surely they have been teaching her to give her feet? From what you've said, sounds like she may be defensive, worried & Bracy, rather than 'stubborn' about it. Nevertheless, I'd approach 'retraining' her to confidently give feet in the manner kalrai explained.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
@Kalraii I LOVE all of those ideas, and am definitely going to give them a shot. If there is anything she loves its training games and treats. I had been doing the tap with her front feet with a treat once she raised it a few weeks ago. I'm excited to give these new ideas a shot! Thank you so much!

@loosie she's been at a trainer, a male trainer (which was already a rough call), but I doubt he has been working with her feet. I'm going to ask him to finish off his time with her on Saturday with working with her on her feet before he drops her back off at my boarding facility. You're absolutely right that she is defensive and worried, coming from her background, but when she is with me she'll drop back down to stubbornness. I've had several vets who have done her coggins or given her annual shots recommend sedating her when we bring out a farrier with things of that nature.

I've luckily found a farrier who has agreed to come out and work with her. Doesn't mean she'll get trimmed the first or fourth visit, but she rather make the visit enjoyable and show her there is nothing to fear then just jump in all together and take her down. I'm fine paying a farm fee for every visit because I want her to learn that there is nothing to fear from a farrier. Just trying to do what's bests for her and her safety. I'm going to be giving this lady a shot, and see what happens!
 

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This is just a thought that came to me. I have 8 horses and have also rescued from kill pens. I don't consider myself a horse expert, but I am really good with rehabbing feral and terrified dogs. With dogs, no matter how terrified they are, I don't sedate. However, we do use antidepressants, and occasionally add, a medication that is actually an anti seizure medication (only if they are a bite danger, or might kill themselves trying to escape). The antidepressant helps to take off the edge. Massages or exercise does the same, but some of my canine rehabs are a tremendous flight risk, so we keep them inside a 12 ft fence, till they know their basic skills and will come when called LOL You can use massage and exercise. They can't learn or remember a skill if sedated.

My first thought was clicker training might work for you....
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
However, we do use antidepressants, and occasionally add, a medication that is actually an anti seizure medication (only if they are a bite danger, or might kill themselves trying to escape).
We were told we could use Ugard on her to take the edge off if needed. Another idea was to staple her head; like legit one staple to her head in the center. Apparently it works for gaited horses like Tennessee Walkers. 🤷‍♀️
 

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Another idea was to staple her head; like legit one staple to her head in the center. Apparently it works for gaited horses like Tennessee Walkers. 🤷‍♀️
Do you mean that in the literal sense!?!?!?

If so, here’s a news flash - I’ve had Walking Horses since 1990 and several others on this forum own Walking Horses, I have never heard of that asinine method to work on a horse.

IF that is something that someone has done, I can pretty much guarantee it is someone in the show world whose horse(s) wear the big shoeing packages, aka “Big Licks”.

Associating the phrase “one staple in the head” in a generalized way with Walking Horses, or any gaited breed is a giant misnomer to put it mildly.

That is NOT how ethical people get their horses hooves worked on. If that is a literal comment, then it is how unethical “I don’t have time to mess with you” people do things and I would turn someone in, in a skinny minute, if I ever witnessed such an act.
 

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Much safer and less likelihood for bad reaction using a strip of duct tape between the nostrils that hangs down over the lip.
 

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If I'm working a horse that might be kicky about its feet, I use a soft cotton rope and loop it below the fetlock and ask for the foot. It gives you the option to stay out of harms way and hold onto the horse at the same time, as long as you feel safe looping the rope around the leg up high and letting it drop down. Might take some desensitizing to ropes to start with, but that's good for the horse anyways.

I never let the horse snatch the foot away, always set the foot down gently when they are holding it nicely. I usually just pick up the foot and hold it for a few seconds when they hold is politely to start with, and then introduce picking the foot and trimming. If they are being especially stubborn about picking up the foot, I make sure to turn the head towards me, it takes some of the weight off of the foot.
 

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They are kidding, although twitching would take their mind off their feet. I've had to do that for a minute, even with the horse already sedated to clean the sheath of my draft/Morgan horse LOL
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
If I'm working a horse that might be kicky about its feet, I use a soft cotton rope and loop it below the fetlock and ask for the foot. It gives you the option to stay out of harms way and hold onto the horse at the same time, as long as you feel safe looping the rope around the leg up high and letting it drop down. Might take some desensitizing to ropes to start with, but that's good for the horse anyways.
I was just watching a youtube video about this, and this is one of the things I'm going to try with her.
 

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If I'm working a horse that might be kicky about its feet, I use a soft cotton rope and loop it below the fetlock and ask for the foot.. . . I usually just pick up the foot and hold it for a few seconds when they hold is politely to start with, and then introduce picking the foot and trimming
This. I usually start with a helper. We take a LOT of TIME. A helper can keep a kick away from you, not stop the kick. I don't try to stop the kick. I used a long, light bar with a hook to get the rope on, while keeping a distance. I don't even try to touch the foot until he's comfortable picking it up. Time, time, and more time. Takes time to get the rope off, sometimes!

My veterinarian said a horse could "learn through" tranquilizers. A little less at every session, until it's not needed. I've never had to try this.
 

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I’m a walking horse owner and I was shocked that anyone would staple a horses head. How does anyone that loves horses do some of the things that are done?
On a second note, I’ve used the cotton rope method on a couple of mine and it’s worked very well.
 

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If I'm working a horse that might be kicky about its feet, I use a soft cotton rope and loop it below the fetlock and ask for the foot. It gives you the option to stay out of harms way and hold onto the horse at the same time, as long as you feel safe looping the rope around the leg up high and letting it drop down. Might take some desensitizing to ropes to start with, but that's good for the horse anyways.

I never let the horse snatch the foot away, always set the foot down gently when they are holding it nicely. I usually just pick up the foot and hold it for a few seconds when they hold is politely to start with, and then introduce picking the foot and trimming. If they are being especially stubborn about picking up the foot, I make sure to turn the head towards me, it takes some of the weight off of the foot.
I'm glad I saw this before answering. This is exactly how I have taught several horses to give their feet, ones that were stubborn and ones that did not know how. I would just ask for a little give at first, then release. It didn't take much time of practicing on each foot to get to the point of using my hand to ask for give and then picking up..
 
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