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Bad Manners While Being Shod

15 August 2011 No Comment

Bad Manners While Being Shod
We asked horse training expert Rhett Russell.
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My 8-year-old quarterhorse has come a long way in his ground manners and under saddle in the three years I’ve owned him. I can clean his feet easily – he lifts the next one for me automatically. But . . . when the horseshoer is under him, he remembers he is much bigger than the shoer and pulls back and rears slightly, causing my shoer to have to bail out from underneath. I don’t know how to correct this, because his everyday behavior is quite good. Shoeing has always been a source of tension for this horse. Help?
Pat Augusztiny
Arlington, WA

Hi Pat:
A lot of people have this problem. Since you mention that shoeing is a source of tension for the horse, you already know what the horse is telling you he needs work with. Your horse’s training holes couldn’t be any more obvious!
The most common thing I find is that people never practice for the farrier. By practice, I mean picking up the feet and pounding, tapping, and holding for an extended period of time. Do this until the horse is comfortable with you doing this and it won’t be an issue for the farrier.
We start by getting the horse used to the rope around their foot by “flicking” the rope (rope skills) at “their” feet and desensitizing to the feel of the rope. You don’t want to swing the rope at them and hit them with it and you aren’t trying to rope your horse either. The idea is to softly present the rope to the horse so that he doesn’t become afraid of things that you are going to do to his feet. Be prepared when working with a colt, they probably aren’t going to be too keen about the idea of the rope near “their” feet and may strike out or kick. This is one of the safest ways to do this, you can stay out of harms way and get a lot accomplished.
Then move on to picking up each foot and holding for a moment and then PLACING the foot back on the ground. It’s very important to place the foot and not drop it. You want to establish that you own your horse’s feet. Then pick up the foot and tap the end of a hoof pick on the bottom of the foot, set it down. Do this to all four feet until the horse is comfortable with it. Then move on to simulating pounding on the foot like a farrier would do with a hammer. Do this to all four feet too.
If you don’t feel comfortable around your horse’s feet, by all means get a professional trainer out to help you through this issue. Be safe!
This may take some time, but if you do your homework you’ll have a solid horse. If you just do this when the farrier shows up, you are leaving it to chance.
Good Luck and keep me posted on your progress,

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