Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Feet? Hip? Behavior? What is it? Part 1

Hanky Panky, Mr. Tanky has a problem. He doesn't like to pick up his feet. It is turning from  mildly annoying into an honestly perplexing problem, as these things often do with horses. Minor limping turns in to debilitating lameness or saddle fitting problem turns out to just be a training problem. One day your horse bolts and never does it again. Another day the Steddy Eddy of the barn starts spooking at everything, only to discover a month later he is going blind. It is never simple with these big fellows. And it seems to never, ever be what you first think it is.

Tank came to me during the season of mud. Small dirt paddock and wet mud made for  mess beyond anything I had kept a horse in before, the compromises of boarding. The muck was so thick and deep, that I could barely walk. Each step was an effort making sure that my boot would not come off as I tried to break the suction of the mud. Placing my foot down, I tried to choose a place where my leg would not sink in up to my ankle or even higher. The high traffic area by the gates was the worst.

Of course, during those first few weeks Tank was not willingly coming to me. He seemed to understand that I could not catch him very well in the mud and would head there often. Note in the picture at the right how deep those horse are sinking into the mud. Notice how high up there is mud on his legs. Stop and imagine for a second what his feet look like. It was cold, icky, and I couldn't always find a place to tie him up. The last thing I wanted to tackle where his feet.

When I tried the first time he was NOT happy. Pulling back, not wanting to lift his feet. I was surprised because he had reacted to everything else so well.  Blankets, brushes, scary things, he took them all in stride.  Even standing on the cross ties went much easier than I thought it would. Everything else I tried with him, he was stellar at.

So once I got him on the cross tied,  I started to work with his feet again. Again ... not so good. Rearing up if I tried to do his front legs and if I tried to do the back he acted like we were swing dancing. His butt would swing from one side of the aisle to the next!


Yes, I see that. This is a training issue. Start working on this training issue. Poor dear was probably abused as he was having his feet worked on. So I start working on picking up his feet. A few seconds at a time. What a good boy! He is getting it. Only hold them for a second or two at a time, but making progress.

Problem solved?

1 comment:

  1. I've had horses that had similar problems when they came to me. Not so much with the front feet but definitely picking up the back feet. It takes a long time to gain their trust. I think you are tackling this training problem the right way. A little at a time and soon he will trust you enough to let you pick them out. Good luck.


Blankets ... should you, shouldn't you

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