Friday, May 16, 2008

What are you procrastinating with your horse?

I'll bet each one of us has something - some specific thing - that they know they really need to work on with their horse, but for whatever reason, we just don't want to do it. Maybe it's scary, maybe it's hard, maybe it didn't go well last time and now we're intimidated. Maybe it's just not something we enjoy doing with any horse!

With the VLC, our "thing" is picking up feet. He will pick them up readily enough and keeping them up long enough to pick isn't a big deal. However, the other day, he had his first farrier appointment since I acquired him. Uh, apparently holding them up for longer than 10 seconds is a huge drama. He isn't mean but he pulls away. Who knew? Fortunately I have a patient (and big, and strong) farrier and he got done.

So now I know that I should be working with this. But I have a bad back (whine, whine) and really, I'm not strong enough to outmuscle him anyway, so he'll just get his hoof away from me and win and that is bad too (excuse, excuse). So yeah - I'm am procrastinating. He gets his hooves picked but I haven't tried to make him hold one up for longer than that takes.

What are you procrastinating about?

And anybody got any great tricks for convincing a 1300 lb. colt that he really CAN balance on three legs? (That don't involve hobbling him. Sorry, I just won't risk it.)

P.S. If you missed it in the comments, I did ride #10 last night bareback in the round pen. He was PERFECT. Even let me get on from the panels on the second try with no one holding him. Did not even react when all of the loose horses in the pastures started running and bucking. Just stopped a few times to watch. Gosh, he's great.


Anonymous said...

It's a great day here in the PNW to not procrastinate with temps supposed to hit 90+ around here. I have been procrastinating with my SLAG (Somewhat Large Arabian Gelding) about bathing. He was such a butt about it last year and with work, got him from being Satan's Spawn down to Craphead about it. Still, it isn't terribly motivating to know you are going to get filthy, soaked and tired in an attempt to get him clean. He just turned 3 and I am hoping through some form of osmosis, he will be better this year. Wish me luck...

Shana said...

I agree about bathing! And I need to come up with a short hand for Jade. Hmmm...VSAM - very sweet arab mare.

VSAM does not like water. She snorts, dances in place and rolls her eyes when I spray her feet. God forbid I try her body. Now I know she's been bathed before, her last owner did it. And she's just filthy. It doesn't matter how much I curry or brush, the dirt never ends. Probably because she lived in the Idaho desert and while was occasionally bathed, really wasn't kept un-dusty. There is dust in her mane even!

I don't even know how to safely bathe her, without traumatizing her either. I suppose waiting until I don't mind getting soaked would be the first step. Its not like she's going to a show or anything, she can be dirty if she has to be.

ellen said...

Have you tried a hoof stand? I have one that my old back and my young horses love. There's the expensive hoofjack kind, and there's the kind you can make yourself with a leather or web sling and an old disc blade curve side up and two pipes that fit inside each other, welded and drilled so a 20d nail can serve as a pin to adjust the height. It's a great deal.

My biggest procrastination is introducing cantering -- we can do walk trot FOREVER, thank you.... ridiculous. The sad thing is the canter is MY issue and the horses pick right up on it (not that most of the Morgans wouldn't prefer to trot anyway, thank you very much)

It's just the older and more aware of my own mortality I get, the less sense of adventure I feel about that first corner on a greenie-careeny canterer -- we always do long sides first, with transitions for the corners, but you can't do that forever....

hope4more said...

My one gelding has such a bad temperment coming out of the trailer. He loads himself perfectly, actually self loads just throw the lead rope over his neck and in he goes. Coming out all kinds of problems. If he gets turned around forward for any reason he launches himself out, or backing out now the last 2 times we have hauled he goes about 90mph straight back and out. It is such a bad and dangerous habit but we worked on it this week and he hasn't done it since last weekend but at first he pulls back but is tied so he can't go anywhere but he has a temper tantrum and finally will step forward and then we back out. It is just doing it consistantly over and over not letting him win.

Jax said...

I am procrastinating with training (in general) with my four year old 1/2 Percheron 1/2 Paint PMU colt (16 hands, 1200-1300 lbs).

I was doing well motivation wise until last week when we had an argument that I lost and I ended up hitting the ground HARD.

Note to self: Just because your 1/2 draft is mellow doesn't mean he is TRAINED. Quit trying to ride bareback!

I am still a bit sore, but I think even if I wasn't I would be finding other excuses (I am too tired tonight, it is too hot, etc.).

BUT! Your post may be the kick in the butt that I need. :)

~ Jax

bigredhorse said...

I'm procrastinating on riding my BRQH (Big Red Quarter Horse) bareback. In order for me to get on him, I need to either stand on a barrel at the same level of his back, or pull my way on and roll my fat ass around on his back....needless to say, he doesn't appreciate that so he tends to pop his back up and "cow hop" in protest. I can't say I blame him, but I do need to work on it some more. My idol, Julie Goodnight, (The BEST horse trainer EVER) has been working on cutting w/her horse bareback (aaaggghhhh!!!), so I'm feeling inspired to just get on and stay on through his temper tantrum to build up to actual riding!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Hi. I found your blog. I procrastinate when it comes to trailering the horses off the property. The whole process of loading and unloading wipes me out, so I tend to just ride at home. However, I do have to get my horses used to being in strange locations.

Ohio said...

Someone has my name (sorry, its odd to see anyone named shana)

I have a suggestion for the hoof thing. I've got my mare to the point where I can say 'pick it up' and she'll pick up the leg that I'm standing next to. When its time to let go, I say 'put it down'. Logical right? When I started with this I'd pick and hang on a beat or two longer than was absolutely necessary and then the next day I'd hang on a little longer. It took a long while, but it eventually go to the point where she'll wait until I say put it down, no matter how long I've got it up. (and the better part is that she holds most of the weight after saying 'pick it up'.)
Granted I started this when she was 6 and I was 17, so I'm not sure how it is on backs (I'm dreading the eventual day when I do have to worry about that)

bigpainthorse said...

This is so amazingly dumb I can hardly say it, but I'm procrastinating introducing my horse to the large covered arena. It's 100' by 250'. Currently, I'm completely happy to ride her in an open arena that's 100' by 100'. She's not nutty, not a bolter, has never taken off with me, responds to vocal commands, has a good 'whoa'.

This covered arena is one reason we moved to the facility we're in, it is SO handy for riding in poor winter weather and baking hot summer weather. I am not sure why I can't make myself get on her, go down the road, and go right on in. I hand-walked her into it when we first came, and she did not seem spooked or overly concerned about it in the least.

(It has a huge mirror. Maybe I just don't want to have to look at my own crappy form in the saddle ...)

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

Bigredhorse - I stepped on off a round pen panel. That was super easy. No round pen or solid fence by you?

Magna Cum Mule Trainer said...

I need to put on a helmet and work on de-sensitizing Jas to dragging things behind her in the saddle... as in we can walk and drag something with no bolting.
She's pretty steady now but she'd be the one creature to flip out and drag me if I got a foot stuck in the stirrup.

But damn... I don't feel like it.
I want to start with just dragging ropes, then maybe a bag with some stuff in it.
I also need to work on emergency dismount- as in if rider suddenly comes off it's NOT the time to vamoose to Wyoming.

Does this make any sense or am I having pipe dreams?

deanna may said...

I'm procrastinating schooling flying changes. My gelding is 7 years old, it's about freakin' time that I started!

We had a LOT of trouble getting him to learn how to pick up the correct lead in the first place (and even STILL he'll pick up the wrong lead unless he's perfectly balanced and bent correctly). So I'm just dreading lead changes. He is all too comfortable cantering around on the wrong lead.

Maybe I just need to set a goal for it. But I'm scared to, because what if I don't accomplish it?!

icepony said...

SOG (Slightly Odd Gelding) pulls back when tied outside. I'm procrastinating doing something about it because I have no idea WHAT to do! I have discovered that he will stand "tied" if I don't really tie him, of all the absurd things. I've just been dropping the leadrope over the door handle, and he'll try it once, and when there's no good drama, he just stands there.

Yeah, I'm guilty of the feet thing too. :(

bigredhorse said...

I could try getting on from the long as he stands still...may need a helper for that. More concerned with the "jig" he does once I'm on. But I definitely need to work on it more. VLC is younger and he did well, so maybe there's hope for BRQH now that he's 5.

deanna may said...

PS: One thing I love (well, I love more than one thing, obviously!) about my VLG is that he is amazing with feet. I just walk up to him and say "foot" and he'll pick up whichever foot I'm standing closest to and hold it in the air. And he doesn't need to be held for the farrier, he'll just stand there. I kind of think he likes it!

blondetherapy said...

This is an easy question. Riding. I know, pathetic. I know it is. I can do groundwork all day long, but for ME to feel comfortable getting on her, I feel like I have to work her on the ground about an hour. Then I am too freakin tired to try and get my fat self up there. Yes, she is a beast, 17 hand percheron mare. But her trot is pure HEAVEN and her canter is to die for. That said, I haven't ridden in ages and I think this blog and our ground work has me finally siked up to start riding this weekend. I even have that fancy $3K saddle in. So..... time to get to it.

deanna may said...

bigredhorse --

Yeah, I use the fence quite often to get on. My gelding, no matter how I try to train it out of him, ALWAYS walks off from mounting blocks and is generally not great for mounting from a mounting block or stool or bench or bucket or anything else. However, he stands really well for me to get on with a fence. I think it's because there's a tall-ish structure beside him, rather than just being smack in the middle of the arena, or just out in the yard somewhere while I try to get on with a bucket.

Definitely give the fence a try!

ellen said...

icepony, that IS how you fix that -- with a puller, I just wrap the rope once around whatever, so when he pulls back there's some resistance but also some give. It prevents that head-whipping, halter-destroying, let's get hurt panic reaction.

Have you tried one of those ring tie things -- Clinton Anderson makes an expensive one, but I think Country Supply has a more reasonable version.

CutNJump said...

I have to admit with our old SOB (Screwy Old Broad) QH mare unloading is an issue. As soon as she is untied, she goes flying backwards out of the trailer. We have a 3 horse slant and she can be in the front, but still as soon as the knot is undone out she goes.

I know we (ahem) should work with her on this, but at her age 26+, she doesn't travel much 1-2 times per year, maaaaybe... so really not an issue, but still it is something that needs to be fixed. Or at least dealt with...

RussianRoulette said...

I'm not really procrastinating about anything with my guy...yet. :P

I've only had him for a couple of months and he's managed to hurt himself already (isn't it always the way?) He's a 3-year-old OTTB that I got in February. I didn't ride him when I went to go look at him (neither did the person showing him, actually...) but since he was at the track, I will assume he's been ridden! :)

I had him at a place without an arena and living in Canada, if you don't have an arena in the winter, it's really hard to ride! Since I was going to be restarting him, I wanted to make sure that I had decent footing, not 6 feet of snow. The snow had finally melted and the ground was JUST starting to dry up. I was planning on starting some ground work within the next week or so until...I arrived at the barn to find two hind legs badly cut. One was serious enough to require vet attention and due to the location of the cut (right on the fetlock) he is on stall rest to minimize movement and hopefully scarring. Thankfully he's been handling stall rest quite well.

The day I discovered the cut, he was introduced to the hose AND the not-so-inviting wash stall. Wouldn't you know, my little guy stood like a champ. I was able to touch and very gentley wash the cuts on both legs. Not only did he not try to kick me, he actually didn't move the entire time. A friend of mine was holding him for me (since he's still learning about cross-ties and I didn't think that the first time in the wash stall was the best time to be working on cross-tying!) but he just stood there. Prior to him getting hurt we were working on simple, respectful horsey thing like actually picking up all 4 feet and NOT putting them down or trying to kick me. We were also working on him standing quietly in the cross-ties, sans pawing! (Awful habit that it!)

Now we spend our afternoons together in the wash stall with me cleaning his cut and rebandaging. He went through a phase where he didn't like me putting the gauze and vetwrap back on but seems to have realized that I'm going to put it on and while he's allowed an opinion about it, my opinion wins!

So I would love to be doing ground work or something a little more fun than looking at my horse's bandaged leg...I don't really have a choice. On the other hand, it has forced me (and him!) to deal with things like the wash stall and cross-tying by himself and the hose. He's fine the the hose on his two hind legs now but is NOT interested in having the horse spray his body or his front legs. So I've been slowly working on that as well.

I've also taken this time to start working on other things such as clicker training. Not that I'll use it for much, but I've always enjoyed training dogs and I haven't had much of an opportunity to work with a horse in the same way. I'm not interested in teaching a whole bunch of cute tricks, I just like to get the horse thinking and attempting at problem solving. I've only worked with two other horses with a clicker but both of them became very interested in what we were doing when I pulled a clicker out.

Oh and when I mentioned small...I keep thinking of him as small because when I bought him in February he was 15.3 and he has since grown to a hair over 16.1. His bum is at least another two inches higher than that. He was starting to level out about a month ago but earlier this week I noticed that his bum is quite a bit higher again.

Oh I've also been working on things like clippers, which he couldn't care less about. I clipped his muzzle the first time with no reaction and his ears the second try, again with no reaction.

He's also a champ about his feet finally. was persistent. I don't get angry with him. The one time I did, he got very upset and almost broke the cross-ties in an attempt to get away from me. Now a simple, "Cut it out!" in a gruff voice gets his attention and tells him to piss off. Depending on how long it takes to normally pick out a single hoof, I would add a couple of seconds. You can either brush them out a little longer or just hold it or whatever. When he tries to pull away, hang on! He can jump around if he wants but try to not let it go! Once he gives in, take a breath and let the foot go. If he manages to get his foot away from you, pick it right back up again. It's not over until you say it is. It'll take time and patience but he just has to learn that it's your foot too. :) I'm sure you're already doing this, so I'm just repeating it for my benefit. That's how I solved my guy's foot "issues" without getting angry. Another reason that I am interested in clicker training. It will help me to pinpoint the exact action that I want him to repeat. It's not for everyone though. :)

mugwump said...

I get horses with feet issues all the time. Remember, I'm an old, bad backed chicken....
If they are going to kick my head off I work them in my small arena with a soft rope first. (I don't tie them)
First I get them to tolerate a loose loop around each leg.
I'll get them to let me lift each leg off the ground with the rope.
Then (Here's what applies to you)
I pick up each foot and hold just the toe with only my fingertips.
They can swing their foot around and you can go with them without any strain.
When the horse relaxes his foot I release.
Then I extend the hold as needed.
After that I work on extending each leg out, (my chiro showed me how) They like that and start to relax even more as I work with each leg.
If they aren't worried about my handling all of each leg, they start to behave for the farrier.
I hope I'm clear...

deanna may said...

mugwump -- I do that too. If you hold the edge of their hoof with their finger tip (especially the back feet) and flex their pasterns, it's physically difficult for them to kick out or stomp their feet down. And it's not hard on your back, eh?

deanna may said...

Haha... not "their" fingertip, obviously! I wish there was an edit option for comments!

ellen said...

Yup, flexing the foot works on the same principle as a law enforcement officer's wristlock -- effectively prevents the perp from twisting out of one's grasp...

cowpie_a_la_mode said...


I've been reading your other blog for months and just now skipped over to read this very timely blog. See, I'm in posession of SBM (Spunky Buckskin Mare), who is in dire need of schooling. The small problem is...I'm chicken shit. I bought her for a bargain basement price at 18 months old from a breeder who was disappointed she didn't have spots (well, you bred your solid mare to a heterozygous tobiano, that's sorta the chance you take...but whatever). I had an Old Faithful horse I'd just sold, which left me with Bitch From Hell TB Mare and a desire to start from scratch with a new baby. During my baby shopping period, Bitch From Hell TB Mare throws a massive hissy fit while riding alongside a paved road, sending me on a quick trip to the ER. Bitch From Hell TB Mare's previous owner calls and says he regrets selling her and wants her back (FABULOUS timing, IMO), so I sold her back and took my money out to this breeder's farm with my crutches, skull and facial fractures, and cast, and fell in love with big chocolate eyes and a spunky personality. In no way did it occur to me that I was not up to the task of training this filly at that time. I was not the least bit intimidated by starting a green horse.

Fast forward a year and a half to last summer. Basic groundwork is done, and because I did not have the dr's ok to start riding yet (some complications from Bitch From Hell's crazy antics), SBM went to a trusted trainer for her first 30 days under saddle. She comes home, and I put another 10 or so rides on her, riding with a very good horseman friend of mine who I knew could jump in quickly if things started to go badly. Winter comes, and in this part of the country, there's little riding to be done that time of year. Meanwhile, I got married and SBM and I moved away from this trusted horse friend, a state away where I do not yet know a single other horse owner. It's just me, non-horsey husband, SBM, and my growing fears.

It's now May, and I have yet to even put a saddle on SBM. I know the hard work and training put into her is slowly circling the drain the longer she goes unridden. I WILL not sell her at this point, as I have a pretty good idea what the future looks like for a half-broke just okay kinda mare, and I have too many years ahead of me as well to toss in the towel on something I have lived and breathed for the first 29years of my life. I can't do that to either one of us.

I keep trying to tell myself that I got myself into this and I'm the only one who can get myself and SBM out, but whispering "relax, damn it!" every time I walk to the barn just isn't as soothing as it should be.

I'm sorry this post is so long, but whew, it felt really good to get that all out...

dp said...

Icepony, Ellen: I bought two of the Blocker tie rings ($20/each) and it's the best money I've spent on my horses to date. My mare was in danger of flipping herself for sure, but she can stand quietly for hours on the Blocker. Even my super calm gelding is even calmer when tied with those.

Ammie said...

I hate teaching my horse showmanship. I have even gone so far as to pay a trainer to do it. The horse did not need his riding tuned up, but I hate teaching them the showmanship so much that I sent him for just that. (he of course got ridden while he was there, too) I love showing in showmanship, and am quite good at it, but I hate to teach it to my horse.

I have successfully trained horses for showmanship in the past, so it's not that I'm incapable or bad at it, I just hate it. My current mount is 5, I have owned him since weaning, and he doesn't so much as know how to square up or trot off. Your other blog has inspired me, I plan on working on it a little tonight!

Oh and OT but I am dying to know how the VLC is bred!! I love the looks of him.

Karen V said...

Riding Honey. (My OTTB mare featured on FHOTD) Not a "rescue" per se, but rehomed by a farm employee who gave a shit about what happened to her.

Excuse #1 - It's too cold. (I got her in January.)

Excuse #2 - She has a little rain rot. (Now cleared up)

Excuse #3 - She's a little thin. (She now nicely fleshed out - translate - fat)

Excuse #4, 5, 6, 7 - It's too windy. It's too hot. I need to pay bills. I need to clean stalls.

Excuse #8 - She's mothered up to Heddy (who was pregnant at the time and I didn't want to stress her)

Need I say more???

I DID ride her several months ago...March maybe? I can't remember. She was really cinchy. I got on, no issues, decent brakes, streering left much to be desired.

I'm just a big ass chicken!

I'm either going to
(1) Get over it and get on
(2) Send her out for retraining
(3) Find someone with a lot more talent in the training department than I where I could re-home her.

She sure is perdy to look at though....

verylargecolt said...

Ammie - look at the comments to the previous blog post, I linked to his pedigree there. :-)

Cowpie - where are you now? For all you know, some blog poster may be your neighbor and would love a riding buddy!

verylargecolt said...

Karen, I've got my hands full right now but probably this fall we can swap horses for a while if you want me to tune her up. I'm so comfy on OTTB''s everything else I get nervous on, LOL.

Karen V said...

VLC - Sweetheart, from the sound of it, you ALWAYS have your hands full! LOL!

In the meantime, shoot me an e-mail and let me know what you'd like for me to do with her until then. I'm pretty comfortable doing anything other than actually climbing on!

And thanks for the offer...I now have HOPE!

(BTW - didn't get the new guy this am as planned. We got three miles from the house and blew out a tire on the trailer. When it disintegrated, a piece flew ahead of the truck, struck the wind shield, and landed in the bed of the truck. (We've been meaning to do maintenance anyway, just hadn't gotten around to it.) Anyway, Les Schuab (sp?) came to rescue us and we follwed the tire tech back to the shop. Found out there were two other tires that had separated. SO....we ended up buying 4 new tires and a new wheel. The good original tire is now our spare. (We didn't have THAT either). Shooting for tomorrow morning.

Karen V said...'s another thing (in relation to our "excitement on the highway this morning)

While the tire guy was putting on the new tire (so we could make it to the shop) a guy in a pickup pulled over. He asked if there was anything that he could help us with. He said that if I needed him to, he'd go get a trailer and take my horses to a safe place. I told him "Thank you, but I'm empty." Turns out this is the guy who owns Columbia River Trading Company (trailer sales, misc tack). He's the guy we BOUGHT the trailer from.

Just had to share. It gave me such a great feeling to know someone I didn't know stopped and offered to help.

Susan said...

I like mugwump's suggestions. I too have had good luck with using a rope to teach them to lift each leg.

I am procrastinating cantering my circles. Earlier this year, I was cantering circles with my OTTB mare and next thing I knew, she was laying on top of me. Once I realized that I could move and was unhurt (shockingly), I got back on but did not canter as the footing was really bad (duh on my part) in the arena. Then I worked up my nerve to canter circles in a lesson. I wanted to canter 1 circle, my mare decided that 10 would be much better. My trainer thought it was very funny because it was the slowest runaway canter he's ever seen. HA-fucking-HA.

After that, I am now avoiding cantering all circles. We canter long stretches in straight or bending lines on the trail. Anyone have any good suggestions?

cowpie_a_la_mode said...


I'm in the Twin Cities area of MN, and SBM is staying with my sis-in-law and bro-in-law two hours south of here until I can find suitable (read: nice AND affordable) accommodations in this area.

SammieRockes said...

I SHOULD be working with him in an arena, he hates it and always misbehaves. I really WANT to work with him, but its just to boring and I still have to figure out which arena will work best, cuz the dressage arean aint cutting it.

Sagebrusheq said...

Re feet: to dovetail with Mugwumps comments, soft rope is a good safe way that puts you in control if you know what you're doing. If you want to get a greenie going good with his feet in the initial stages give them back to him before he takes them back.
It isn't your shoer's job to train your horse. You need to do more than just pick them out. You need to get in the shoer's position for longer and longer periods of time and bang and rasp them, flexing the joint etc. Unless you're lucky that's just the way it is. Either do it yourself or pay someone else to do it.
One of my buddies who shoes tells his bad customers "give me your horse for a week and $200.00 and I'll bring him back good to shoe. It's much cheaper than Durmosedan in the long run." It generally takes him one short session with a rope to allay their fear. He gets paid well and it makes his job easier in the future; the customer gets his money's worth; plus there is the good it does the horse. It's a Win Win Win deal.


gabriella said...

I had been procrastinating riding forward because of bad fall earlier this year. I had to go through one of those 'anything faster than jog = sure disaster' cycles.

However, today, not only did we ride forward, in self carriage, we went over our first jumps (ok they were a low x-rail & a 1 foot vertical) but it was the coolest, because neither of us were anxious - I let him do his job (and I did mine keeping a nice balanced 2 point & a nice release) & he did it beautifully - I'm REALLY PROUD of my guy!

Princess Jess said...

Um... everything? Does everything count? LOL

I have never done as much with Jack as I should. I've NEVER pushed him hard.

That's why, 2 years after getting him, I'm still in the walk/trot only phase. :)

I'm not really in any huge hurry to get him trained, though. I've only been riding him once a week and long-lining him once a week, so he's getting worked roughly twice a week, give or take.

I don't know what my deal is with him. I love him. He's fun to ride. He's got tons of potential. I am just not in any hurry.

I think it possibly stems from my work as a working student, where clients' horses take priority, and by the time I got around to my own horse I was too tired to deal his his baby antics, too.

Plus, he's still extremely spooky, so I have to find ride time where no one else is around, especially my trainer, who lives there, because he hates her. So I either have to get out to the barn REALLY early in the morning, or REALLY late at night, and neither of those times is terribly fun for me...

However, I have quit the working student thing, and I am moving into my OWN barn at the end of the month, and my outdoor arena has GORGEOUS views and scenery, so hopefully I'll be inspired to ride more...

Sagebrusheq said...


Of course I don't know if this applies to your situation, but reflecting my own shortcomings that way: sit up; don't lean; don't crawl up the reins; ask, get, give. It always seems like you're tearing around faster than you really are. Trust him enough to let him go. Apart from poor footing, small circles are difficult and require real collection to do well. Galloping is easy: two point and a following rein are all you need. In rereading your post though I see you have a trainer. Never mind.


Latigo Liz said...

Hobble-training and ropes, ropes and more ropes. She's a bit freaked out by them and while she's gotten better, she still panics when all tangled up. I want that SOLID that she doesn't try to escape but instead tries real hard to think things through calmly and then just decide to stand quietly and without any bother. Both with come in quite handy if she were every to get tangled up in wire on the trail someday.

christeljoy73 said...

I've been doing a lot of procrastinating, and I'm not proud of it. I'm used to older, already basicly trained horses (most of my herd is 22+, the oldest being 35 this year). The Arab gelding I bought a couple of years ago for dressage has had some sort of problem every year that delays my working with him (sarcoid on the girth area, attacked by another horse that bruised his back, and now he damaged his hoof somehow)

I have some youngsters that I've done general handling and desensitizing with, but not much else. I have a variety of excuses (threw out my back, no time, no place to safely train to tie/lead/clip...) but it all boils down to fear. I'm not really afraid of them, I'm afraid of ruining them, teaching them bad habits, and hurting myself in the process (self employed, so no insurance yet)

I really need to work on picking up feet, improved ground manners and tying for a couple, and an intro to saddling. Fun.

My CLAG (cute little Arab gelding) knows a lot, he just needs more handling, so he's going to be my big project while DAG (danger-prone Arab gelding) is growing out his hoof. Should be fun, though I'll need someone smaller to ride him at first as he's small (maybe 14 hh, though I haven't sticked him yet) and I'm a tub-o-lard at the moment. Any takers? *S*

Susan said...

Sage, thank you for your suggestions! I do have a trainer, who I am very happy with, but he isn't helping me get over my fear of cantering circles. I know I've done it and can physically do it but I've got brain freeze right now. I think my trainer is thinking I need to just get over it already.

You are right, I probably am leaning and I do need to just trust her to take care of me. This weekend I think I will start with VERY LARGE circles. It's still a circle, even if it's the size of a football field, right? Thanks again, all helpful hints welcome.

SammieRockes said...

Oh man, going on the feet thing, I miss my OTTB gelding who passed away due to intestinal parasites, he was a dream, I would come at him with a hoof pick, he would pick up his foot, then I had a certain way I would always go around and the second I set down one, he would pick up the next one!

BarnHag said...

ureI need to ride both my geldings who turn 4 tomorrow. I got them as babies - less than 4 mos. old, PMU's from Canada, and I was absolutely diligent with all ground training. They are absolutely the nicest horses you can find. I have had a few rides on them but my problem is that I am alone and it isn't wise to ride a green horse by yourself. Hubby is green and hasn't ridden EVER. So when we ride, one of us walks and the other rides. Sounds dumb but I have better peace of mind knowing that horses won't generally run off from their buddy. I'm doubt either of them would ever bolt but . . . they're horses. I can't risk the injury to me or the husband.

The first time aboard for both was when they were 3 and neither even crow hopped or batted an eye. They know 'walk on' and 'trot' but neither have cantered. (Chicken mom is to blame). I really need a seasoned riding buddy with a 'been there/done that' horse to go with me.

Just reading this blog of fearful admissions helps me! I think I'll just drag the dumpster out and the other crap and do turns and walk over stuff. Both are very bold and brave because I desensitized them to everything I could think of.

I wish I had my youthful bravado but I just don't. The fugly blog today reminded me that I need to do train in spite of the fear to make sure they have a secure future.

As Joyce Meyer says about fear "do it - afraid".

furnacelady said...

Fugs, I have the same problem with both VLC #1 & #2 that I’m green breaking right now. For some damn reason both of them don’t want to pick up a hind leg, and both fuss with the other feet when I’m picking them out.

I find it all too common that people will wrestle with their horse’s legs, instead of asking them to pick them up themselves. Often they’ll hold them to high and in an exaggerated position making a young horse feel off balanced. Then the worst sin of all, dropping the foot so it slams into the floor. I wouldn’t pick up my foot either if someone was going to drop it unexpectedly.

I always pick the feet out in the same sequential order: front right, back right, back left, and then finally front left. My aged gelding is so used to this he will shift his weight and sometimes be lifting his leg before I get to it.

I ask the horse by tapping lightly at the side of the leg I want lifted and using my voice: “give it to me”. With the colts being so green, I’m leaning in on them a bit to get them to shift their weight off the leg I’m asking for. They know what I want, their just not use of not being hauled on. The light bulbs go off and they pick them up.

Once they do I usually just lightly hold the hoof still to pick it, expecting them to actually hold the leg up. This usually results in much less fight, and lets face it, I have a bad back also, and don’t need to be trying to hold up 1200 lb colts. Since they’re holding their own legs up, when I finish I let them know I’m going to let go by voicing “good boy”, and moving my supporting hand back up the leg, and gently following them in the motion down.

The colts need to learn patience and are still fussing some, if they pull away we just start all over until they do it right. They can bounce around all they want, but I’m not going away until I get what I want. Once it’s all over, and because their just really big babies, I praise and pat them as if they won the Kentucky Derby. Their eyes light up knowing they made me happy and every day I do it they get better. K

a beautiful disaster said...

this is silly (and oddly related to the last post), but i am putting off pulling SLM (silly little mare) 's mane. i've done 6 school horses this spring already, but i just can't seem to buckle down and do hers. and it doesn't help that its at least 2 1/2 times as long as i would like it, enormously thick, and was cut with scissors last time it was done. AND she is the biggest drama queen ever about it ... tosses her head with every yank. i thought they weren't supposed to feel it? argh

Princess Jess said...


Years ago my trainer had another student who was afraid of cantering circles, too.

What she had her student do was exactly that- very very large circles, then when the student felt okay on the Big Circle, she's have her start to spiral in to a slightly smaller circle. Whenever the horse felt unbalanced or if the rider started to feel uncomfortable, they would spiral back out into the Big Circle, until they could ragain composure. When the horse got tired, they's take a rest and go do something else for a little while (walk-halt transitions, for example, seemed to be good because it reinforced that the horse had brakes, it calmed them both down, and gave the horse a chance to catch her breath).

Over a few lessons their circles got smaller and smaller, and eventually she was doing 20-meters. Of course, our arena was a huge 100'x200' h/j arena, so we had plenty of room to do giant circles, but I think anything along those lines would help. :)

Good luck!

Princess Jess said...


Sorry about the typos and such- I smashed my finger with a crowbar yesterday (while replacing the floor to my fugly horse trailer) and am currently attempting to type with a big bandaged finger... after typing huge reports for work, I'm at the point now where I no longer care about proof-reading!

Sagebrusheq said...

Thanks Susan;

I guess my response was partly a back door way of confessing my own weaknesses as they relate to todays theme. I have problems with the canter too as my previous comments would reveal, and so tend to avoid it. It's a gait that's rarely useful on the trail and training level eventing doesn't call for collection either. I get by with decent scores in the dressage going around with a hunter nose, which is desirable at that level, but it's an evasion for me. On my tests the downward transitions always say ' needs more leg', and I take them seriously, but it's a concept I've never been able to put into practice until recently. I had a lesson yesterday on one of my own horses, not generally an ideal set up for training the rider, but it turned out to be good and it was very encouraging to work through some old problems. I would never have demanded so much of my little bottle rocket -which seems to have been one of my stumbling blocks- without the assurance and guidance of a good teacher. Anyway, I can sympathize.
PS: Of course big circles are circles, if they're straight.

Jamie said...

I had the exact same issue with my 3 year old! I would try to do the normal routine of go get him, brush him, pick his feet... Sure enough he'd yank his foot away, nip my butt, walk off, or all three. I procrastinated so bad! But I found out that after we do our groundwork exercises, he is a total angel about it. I think for a young horse its about establishing your leadership that day and his confidence in you. Everyday with a 3 year old is interesting!

loneplainsman said...

Hey Fugs/VLC...

When I taught my horse to bow (he likes trick training.. who would have guessed!) I had a HUGE problem at first of picking up his feet. He was fine with the farrier, fine when I groomed him, but when he realized I wanted him to bow when I lifted his feet he turned into a SLD (s-y little devil!). He pawed, stepped on me, half-reared, &c, &c, &c.

My solution was to get a soft rope and loop it around his ankle (tied so that it wouldn't slip off, but it also wouldn't tighten/pinch). I asked him to pick up his foot the normal way (for me this = pinching chestnuts.. but use your cue) and then holding with the rope. I found that if I was standing up, braced, and holding the rope (softly - I was always able to release if I *had* to), I was in a much better place for teaching. If I bent over, he could get his foot loose and yank my back around (ouch), but if I stood up, I had the upper hand.

I held the rope until he stopped fighting - and then I released. I asked for longer and longer and longer amounts of time until he was OK holding it for a L-O-N-G time without fuss. In your case I might even progress to standing with the foot between your legs while you pet his back or belly.

At least it might be worth a shot... {:-D

As far as my procrastinating goes.. I *was* procrastinating riding for a long time. NVLG would buck, rear, duck out around corners, trot so fast it damaged my spleen, &c, &c. Scared me. A lot. I went to a clinic last weekend and watched the trainer spend an hour working with my horse - learned a TON and am no longer afraid of him! That trainer pushed him HARD - harder than I would have done - and he didn't flip out or flip over... so I have very little to fear! That's a good feeling, to be sure!

4Horses&Holding said...

Ohio said: "Ohio said...

Someone has my name (sorry, its odd to see anyone named shana)

I have a suggestion for the hoof thing. I've got my mare to the point where I can say 'pick it up' and she'll pick up the leg that I'm standing next to. When its time to let go, I say 'put it down'. Logical right? When I started with this I'd pick and hang on a beat or two longer than was absolutely necessary and then the next day I'd hang on a little longer. It took a long while, but it eventually go to the point where she'll wait until I say put it down, no matter how long I've got it up. (and the better part is that she holds most of the weight after saying 'pick it up'.)

I do basically the same thing with mine - only I use just "UP" and "DOWN" - the beauty of it is that you can start with a very minimal lift at the word "UP" and gradually increase the time. Lean into (or you'll have push on his shoulder with your outside hand), run your inside hand down his leg and say "UP". Once the horse lifts the hoof up so you can hold it, BEFORE you feel they are going to snatch away, put the foot down and say "DOWN". Don't let him snatch it. Hold it until he sets it down out of your hand.

If you say "DOWN" and VLC starts to pull forward, backwards, sideways - don't let go (if you can help it). I say "EH, EH, EH!" while they are pulling, steady the foot, say "DOWN" again, and try to place it straight down. Once he is putting the foot down gently, consistently, then work on gradually increasing the time you hold it.

It takes me about 10 sessions before the horse has it down really well. All of mine will, after I lean into their shoulder and run my hand gently down their upper leg, pick up their feet and hand them to me when I say "UP". They also will do it when I'm at their head and the farrier is about to pick up their feet.

An additional benefit is that when you are applying hoof dressing, working around the lower leg, etc., you can use the word "DOWN" to keep their foot still and steady on the ground. (or get them to put it down if they lift it up)


The rope around a foot (a la MugMump) works great, but I haven't really seen it used except with horses who have never had their feet handled, or are really bad. My farrier uses it often on new horses.

Vee said...

I've had success with Mugwump's method too :)

I'm puting off something really pathetic - rising (posting? I'm in the UK so not sure what terminology to use!) trot. Sounds ridiculous, but my mare has SUCH a comfortable trot, and I rode bareback/without stirrups for a long time when I was a teenager, so just find it so much easier to sit. So when I rise she speeds up, and although she's not that hard to slow down, I'm just lazy and prefer to sit.

I don't think I'm procrastinating anything with my yearling - she had her first proper hoof trim today (and only one moment of silliness, much to my delight!), first full body shampoo last week, and allowed me to hose everything, including her head, she's been out for little walks with her mum for company, had bandages on her legs and a roller on to get her used to pressure on her belly - oh, I lied. I'm putting off pulling her mane. It's the thickest, fluffiest, most cotton wool style mane I have EVER seen in my life, and she hates having it even brushed and plaited, let alone pulled. But she has a show in August, and it needs to not look like somebody pasted cotton candy on her by then!!

surprisewind said...

Does anyone have any suggestions for a mare that cow kicks when you attempt to pick up any of her feet? I've done the rope work, and she does NOT kick with that.
No past abuse issues. No health issues. Just the kicking issue. Makes it hard to find a farrier willing to work with her.

4Horses&Holding said...

*** oops ***

I forgot to add the words "or hip" to everything I wrote. Obviously you want to do his hind feet, too. What I wrote works for both front & hinds. ;)

That would be "lean into shoulder or hip".


4Horses&Holding said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
4Horses&Holding said...

Double post, sorry!

Mary said...

Ah, yes, I'm glad you brought up how your horse stands for the farrier. That's something that should be featured in your other blog, too. My husband is a farrier, poor guy, and he has 2 chiro appts a week because of unruley, ill-tempered but most commonly, undertrained 1200 pound animals trying to rip his arm from the socket. We wised up though. We now charge $10 per 30 minute session leading up to the trimming for me to get the horse "ready". It has changed more then a few people's minds about whether or not it's okay to let Old Hag-A-Lot sit in that pasture, getting fatter and more dancey, instead of them hauling their ass out there to do the excersise I show them.

Rule #1. It is not your farrier/vets job to get YOUR horse to stand still for their services.

Rule #2: Sedation for hoof work should NOT be an option

Rule #3: Refer back to Rules 1 and 2 whenever your whiney ass comes up with some lame excuse or if you say, "But He/She's my BABY!"

This is what I teach them:

First, work on something else, backing, yielding, playing, I don't care what just get the horse focused on you. Then take a soft, thick plain white cotton rope and loop it in half to form a U. 5' of rope is normally enough. Of course, if your horse thinks ropes are snake grasses there to gobble them up, you need to work on that and get them accepting of the rope on their legs, ALL 4 OF THEM! I have yet to see a 2 legged horse so you might as well cover all the bases.

Do not make a full loop, do not make a knot, twist or anything like that. "Wrap" the rope around one leg. And by wrap I mean open the U you have formed with the rope, put one side on one leg making the U to go around the leg, no tieing and such, and let it slide up and down the leg until the horse knows you're not trying to draw and quarter him. I stand squared at his shoulder for this part and move slightly behind the leg in question for the other. Bring it up and down as long as he needs until he couldn't care less. Down at the pasturn, with the opening of the U on the backside of his leg, lightly allpy pressure just until he shifts off his weight. He he wants to pick up his leg, that's A-OKAY. Cradle the hoof in the U (like a slingshot) it for a few seconds then DROP IT! He MIGHT looks all funny coming down on it but what this ultimately does is teach him to keep his weight on the other legs instead of leaning on his lifted leg. Keep doing this, extending the time his leg is up. Once he is holding for about 15-20 seconds, start messing with his hoof. With an open hand, "slap" his sole. This feeling simulates the farrier mucking around down there. Repeat on each leg.

Using the rope keeps your face out of the way and helps when you're not as big and strong as the person that messes with feet for a living. Plus, if you like your arm where it is, this helps ensure it'll stay there for many years to come.

I also teach my horses that if they feel 1 finger lightly pressed into the big muscle above whichever leg I'm asking for, they are to pick it up. MOST horses do that naturally, I'm finding.

Sidebar: Lex DID have ulcers. I had him scoped and since treatment has started, I'm already seeing a different in his personality and the movement of his skin. He still looks like a rescue though, so he's hiding in the back pasture. Oh, and he has cancer. I have a creamy stuff to put on what I thought was a wart and it's eating away at it already.

Jessica said...

I've been procrastinating for, oh the last seven years about getting/keeping LLM ( Large Lazy Mare ) in front of my leg. It's not that she's so drastically behind my leg that she's dead sided, but every four to six strides of canter I have to squeeze. If I want the pretty hunter trot, I have to keep after her. I also wear spurs and carry a crop. It's just that if there isn't a jump in front of her, I have no sense of impulsion.

I know I need to get after her about it, but it's so much more fun to work on other things. Also, she's teenaged so I keep telling myself that it's not fixable, despite all the other things we've fixed.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

I will definitely try the rope idea. I think I need to do that because I simply cannot bend over for as long as I need to otherwise - not holding the hoof of the VLC, I can't. Maybe the rope will work better.

Sagebrusheq said...

As long as we're sharing foot fetishes, I generally pick out my horses feet from one side for convenience. It's not so awkward as it sounds and it has the benefit of enabling you to pick up any foot without walking around the horse. This has averted a possible catastrophe on at least two occasions. One when a horses stepped over some buried wire and walking around him to lift his foot would have induced him to move a step away from the fence. Another time it was a chain that was fixed transversely on a steep hill, a slide really. But not so precipitous that I wasn't able to get him stopped just in time- half over the chain which came to rest on his pasterns and would have slid up to his stifle if he'd slid another 6 inches. Backing was impossible, and indeed we had no choice but to descend so like it or not had to get over the chain. I got off and was able to lift each hind over the chain in turn. If I'd had to walk around him to do so it may have ended in disaster. It's comes in handy on narrow trails too.

For similar reasons I often mix up the order in which I ask for a foot so that they lift in response to a cue and not out of habit.


Sagebrusheq said...

Once you've flexed a front hoof, if you need extra purchase to work through a small struggle grab main with your rope hand. And just like in the saddle give when he does.

Caveat for ropes in general: While I've never seen this method fail to be humane and effective in good hands, I've also seen sensitive or phobic horses made worse where timing or technique were off. If in doubt give Mary a call.


mugwump said...

If you’re holding the toe with just your fingertips the horse is responsible for his own weight. That will save your back, if you can't bend, then maybe just the ropes will work.
I agree it's not the shoer's job to train my horses. But I've used the same guy for almost as long as I've been training. He is astounding at what he can do to get a horse to work with him. I pay him double if he has to train on them for too long. In return he has taught me how he wants them prepped.
It's a symbiotic match made in heaven. When he retires so do I....

deanna may said...

So, I have good news to report!

I said yesterday that I'd been procrastinating starting to school lead changes with my Very Large Gelding. Last night I went out to ride, and although the past three weeks have been a wrestling match between the two of us (he's had some time off, so there's the phase when he's fat, lazy, and forgetting all his training, and then comes the even worse phase when he's fit, fresh, and forgetting all his training, and now FINALLY we've settled back into the plateau of a decent gelding who is fit, but NOT crazy), he was being SO lazy!

I was regretting not wearing my spurs! To get a decent working trot out of him took a lot of encouragement!

So because his canter was so sane (as opposed to the headstrong hand-gallop that we were doing most of last week), I thought, Hey -- why don't I try a lead change?

So I set up a three-stride combination down the centre of the arena, took him over it and deliberately went the opposite way of the lead that he landed. I just did what I thought I should do: hold with the outside rein, balance the shoulder, put my outside leg back and give him a good bump with both legs.

And BAM! Totally clean lead change!

I went over the fences and did it again, got another lead change (same direction). Then I went over the fences and asked for a right lead over the fence, and then turned left to see if he'd be just as good the other direction. He wasn't quite as dreamy (it took a little longer) but he still did it.

Then, as if that weren't good enough already, I thought I'd try some just on the flat. So I picked up a canter, went across the diagonal, asked for the change, and got one!

After that, he was pretty revved up and when I asked for a regular canter he'd gallop off on the wrong lead and be switching in hind and front all over the place (he seemed to be pretty excited about lead changes!) so I finally got a regular canter, did one more change and called it a day.

So let this be a lesson to all of you. STOP PROCRASTINATING!!! You never know, your horse might show you that you were worried over nothing, and you might just accomplish some goals!

Sagebrusheq said...


re drugs. In general I agree. And all the shoers I know don't like it. Some just won't do it. But I also know guys (and one gal) who won't walk away from an otherwise good customer and make exceptions to the rule. For instance I know a horse in a barn with 15 other hunters, in very capable hands, that has a phobia no one has been able to get around. Her shoer is one of the best in the state but concedes that in this case it is less stressful for all parties involved to hit her up. So I wouldn't say never but, granted, some good hands would and I wouldn't argue their principled stand on that point.


BritnieAnn said...

Ugh, so many things. With my yearling its tying. See I thought he was a good tier! He did really good as a foal, never sat back and pulled, good as a older foal, and I thought I had it made!

Then the BIL (bro in law) and FIL moved the colts one day and put them in a new pasture. (without my knowledge -_-) Then proceeded to take the one colt out, leaving mine in, and took him a ways away. And then TIED mine to the fence. ??? <:( Therefore he started pulling and then pulled hard enough to break his flimsy leather crown on his halter.

So I haven't tied him since, haven't had the reason too really, and I'm afraid to...I highly doubt he will pull back in a normal situation, but now we know when things get hot he will pull and since he had a breakaway halter on he may think he can get loose. BOO! So I think I might want to look into one of those tie ring things...where are the cheap ones??

With my mare I ride?? Just riding! I have realy no where TO ride but up and down a gravel road, whippee, or in a itty bitty grass area thats even too small to TROT a circle in.

Congrats on the great #10 ride VLC!!

BritnieAnn said...

deanna may AWESOME!! What a smart guy!! and lol at him getting so excited. I hope your next ride he does just as good and better!

Cheryl said...

Parelli has got some pretty good ground exercises for that picking up feet thing if you want to consult with him :-)

Mary said...

Okay, so I reread my post and for the love of God, forgive the major typos. I had been awake for all of 15 minutes and the coffee was still brewing.

My procrastination: Work on Lex and his constant pawing. I've heard so many different ways to stop it and none of them work so I've gotten frustrated and just stopped with the mentality "He's not hurting anyone" and we ALL know that's just because I've been lucky. It is potentally dangerous. Plus, even though he's skinny, that's something that CAN be worked on.

And number 2: I sent my half arab mare off for starting. She left in October and will be returning next week. Well, all that time there did little to nothing. She will only work for 10-15 minutes then plants her feet and that's it. They "can't her her passed her stubborn stage". So now I get to push her through that AND do all of the stuff that should be old hat to her by now. 3 even beats, yielding, lead changes, shoulder up, backing, standing while tied and so on. In 7 months, I should have a damn near finished horse but I have one that's no further along then when she left! Oh, other then she went through a bucking stage and that's over.

She was NEVER handled until I got her at 4. Not even halter broke. She's 5 1/2 now. I halter/lead/trailer broke her before she left. I'm allergic to the sun now, which is why I sent her off to training. I worked out a deal for $200/month, but it was still a waste of money. Also, I "traded" my kid-safe arab mare for their grandchild because my son out-grew her. Elly, the mare, has a forever home and they are taking VERY good care of her but I would of hoped Nike (I didn't name her) would be doing more.

I'd love to find a decent basics trainer in northern MN that doesn't charge $600+/month. The most this grade girl will do is local county/4-H shows. I'm not spending a fortune for a WP mare.

Mary said...

For future references, just to fit in with you cool kids:

VLB = Very Large Butthead aka Tango

TLW = Tall Leggy Wuss aka Lex

SLP = Sassy Little Princess aka Nike (half arab half paint)

Sagebrusheq said...


You can buy an officially endorsed tie ring thing or simply throw a few wraps around a (stout) hitching post with a long lead rope to produce enough friction that he learns, without breaking his neck, not to pull. Higher is better but a post will do- a hefty tree branch if you prefer. I use web halters most of the time but in the instance you describe a properly adjusted rope halter is probably better. They are strong, produce more discomfort, and (I'm told) come to bear upon a safer, stronger part of the neck than webs do. I can't attest to the veracity of the last point as it's a selling point by the folks who braid them.

To add: On the trail I have found that a convenient overhanging limb is a good device to settle down a fidgety horse that doesn't yet have the sense to rest when he can. It needs to be high enough over his head that he can't amuse himself eating leaves; strong enough not to break; lithe enough to give to him; and tied far enough away from the tree that he can't ruin your saddle(!). It should be tied with enough length that he can rest with his head at whither height. Don't leave him but don't mess with him either, just ignore and let him dance and circle till he figures it out. Don't ask for too much with tough customers the first time around, when he lets down take advantage of the situation and get on and go. A few sessions like this after exercise and the horse will be pulling you over to his favorite treelike it was home. At that point you can branch out to other spots. Of course a steady buddy to set an example is wanted.


Sagebrusheq said...

Again- just for your horse training pleasure: I also have an arrangement at the house that speeds up the process of young horses learning to stand hip shot when tied. It's my own invention that I arrived at while watching OP's untrained mounts teaching themselves to relax when they were tied amongst dead fall on the trail. (I'm sure I'm not the first inventor) On one side of a hitching post I have scattered a dozen or so large flat rocks, heavy enough that they can't be easily dislodged and about 4+ inches thick standing proud of the ground surface. They make it hard and bothersome work for a fidgeter to dance but there is plenty enough space between them that they can rest without interference when that solution dawns on them. I like techniques that don't put me in the role of the bad guy. Once they are reliably chilling out when tied they can be moved to the other side of the hitching post.


Another nice feature about the rocks is that you can stand on them when washing and keep your boots out of the mud.

mulerider said...

Sorry, I don't have time to read through all the comments. I'm sure someone has already suggested this, but I'll risk the repeat. :-)

One of my mules came to me with an old shoulder injury. A legacy of that was that he did not want to pick up that front hoof because it hurt to do so back when his shoulder was sore.

I used clicker training with a food reward. I started rewarding him for just shifting his weight off the foot and just gradually asked for more before he got his treat. Now he picks that foot up and hands it to me (and the farrier) when I ask for it.

You can get the VLC to hold his feet up longer by holding each hoof just up to the point when you think he's about pull away, then clicking, putting his foot down, and giving the food reward. You can gradually extend the amount of time you ask him to hold his foot up before he gets his click-reward.

Unlike the woman that wrote the clicker training book, I don't have a lot of luck applying the technique to complex training tasks (I'm sure the deficiency is entirely mine, not the technique's). But, for simple stuff like picking up feet, it is great. I had a rescue mare that had a big sarcoid in one ear and wouldn't let you get your hand anywhere near her ear. It only took a couple of short clicker sessions to get her lower her head on command and let you touch her head and ears.

Princess Jess said...

Cheryl said...

"Parelli has got some pretty good ground exercises for that picking up feet thing if you want to consult with him :-)"


fuglyhorseoftheday said...

Deanna - congrats! I was working this OTTB for someone once and we were cantering around my freshly cut-and-baled big hay field (ah the good old days when I had a big hay field to ride in!). We were going very slightly downhill and I had a feeling if we switched direction I'd get a lead change. Voila. She thought it was fun, too, and we got clean lead changes in one day. Her owner was amazed. Sometimes it really is easy - glad it was for you!

Chezza said...

My OTTB was INSANE about his feet and I did what other would say was crazy. I gave cookies! I got a general idea of how long he would READILY hold up his hoof. Let's pretend TEN seconds. I would hold it up 10, put it down pat/cookie. Then the next day 12 seconds and so on. Also I did this when the farrier was with him. His first trim (where he didn't try to KILL anyone) He had a dozen cookies per hoof. Now I give him ONE after each hoof. It was PITA, but it worked and a horse that could have had to be sedated his WHOLE life isn't.
Have a buddy help you. You stand at his head (as if your buddy is farrier or v/v) and just increase the TIME he has it up nad start patting and tapping and whatnot. Just longer and longer times.

Asf for MY thing I am not wanting to do: with Kiz (above horse) we still haven't gotten to canter...b/c he rushes like a fool and won't do it...and reared me off the first time. (he had some not so good life experiences prior to me).
For my mare Chai: Galloping outdoors...STILL we have been hopping over crossrails, lots of cantering outside, jumping some creeks, but I just fear she won't come back to me....and I will be headed for soem UNKNOWN destination and noone will find my body. LOL

Stelladorro said...

I am absolutely avoiding training my 4 y/o Arab cross mare to tie. I'd had her for several months, and I left her tied to a hitching post while I walked 20 feet away to help a friend out with her horse. Something spooked Stella, and after she fought she wound up on the other side of the hitching post, hit the electric fence on the other side with her butt, leapt forward, and fell under the hitching post, effectively hanging herself on 5 inches of rope. We finally got the rope cut, because the quick release wouldn't pull because she'd fallen on the rope so hard. She wound up nearly unconscious, her mouth opened and her tongue was black, she lost all her fluids and collapsed completely as we finally got the rope cut.

We called the vet, and he told us if she wasn't up in 15 minutes, to call him back and he'd come and put her down, because she was most likely brain damaged from a lack of oxygen.

She wound up being fine, and she still tied after the incident (abet on a different hitching rail where she couldn't possibly get into a situation like that again! However, I was so paranoid that I began freaking her out and making her nervy to be tied, so eventually I just stopped tying at all. The thought of tying Stella freaks me out, so I haven't done anything with it in over TWO YEARS. She needs to learn how to tie, because right now I can't even take her to open shows, because she can't stand at the trailer...

I know she needs to learn, and my friends keep telling me to double halter her and just tie her to a post in the indoor... but I just can't force myself to do it... My excuses range from... 1) she's too wired to be trying something new tonight, or she's been so good and calm all night, I don't want to ruin the training we've gotten done this time.

I'm to the point we're I'm tempted to send her to a trainer for a week or two, just so they can do it for me. Although, I'm afraid I'll spend the money, she'll tie, and I still will be to phobic to use it!

I know I'm being ridiculous… but I just can't seem to do anything about it!

RememberTheMagic said...

I had an impatient TB who would pick up her feet fine, but wanted to put them down right away. I would gently tap her hoof with a pick and say pick-up, and she would... so I started doing it each time she put it down, and she'd immediately lift it again. Eventually she would just keep it up until I walked away... I think out of annoyance with me, but whatever works, right?

Twisty said...

I wish to heck that I'd addressed this hoof-picking-up thing before it became a life-or-death issue. My XXL cujo Stanley yanks his hind legs away from me 2 or 3 times per hoof-picking session, and I am always so glad when it's over I just move on to the next thing, heaving grateful sighs of relief that I still have an intact face.

This has proven not to be the cleverest plan. A week and a half ago, in my haste to get it overwith, I inadvertently jabbed my pick a little too deeply into the hoofal mud clod; when it popped off, man, that horse jumped a MILE. I'm kind of far-sighted, but even I couldn't fail to notice the spurting jet of blood. By the time I summoned the courage to pick the hoof up again to inspect the damage I was astonished to see that the entire frog was gone, right down to the white cartilagey stuff -- I think it's called the digital cushion -- that no horse owner should ever have to see.

Just so you know, when you accidentally tear your horse's frog off, even if he doesn’t seem the slightest bit lame, even if it's after hours, don’t be a sap. Call the vet RIGHT NOW. Even if the barn manager and other cavalier passers-by, drawn by the scent of tragedy, say things like "It's a long way from his heart" or "It'll keep till morning." Because it won't. Navicular infection looms dangerously on the horizon, etc.

Anyway. Daily, for the next 6 weeks, my barn life will unfold thusly: I have to get old Stan to hold this foot up long enough for me to unbolt the four ill-fitting screws that hold his hospital plate in place, remove the plate, pack the hoof with assorted poultices, spray WD-40 on the screws, re-bolt the plate with the slippery screws, and wrap the foot with a bandage. His foot -- naturally, it’s his touchiest hind hoof -- may not touch the ground until all these apparatuses are in place. The whole circus requires a helper with a wrench, scissors, duct tape, sugar-dyne, gauze and quick reflexes. Stan continues to yank his foot as per his usual habit, and the poultice goes flying, or the half-bolted plate swings asunder and freaks him out, and he kicks the helper.

I’m running out of helpers. Not to mention nerve.

So tomorrow we start foot-lifting-training. A day late and a frog short.

Natrlhorse said...

The foot thing, make sure he is well balanced before asking for a foot (ie other three legs should look like a tripod). Don't take a foot that isn't offered, rock his weight off of whatever foot you want to pick up. And make sure to put his foot down before he feels the need to take it away, otherwise he only learns how to snatch it away when he gets uncomfortable.

A one leg hobble isn't a bad thing, but I don't recommend any kind of hobble for those who are not experienced with them or don't have someone to show them how to use one without traumatizing a horse.

paint_horse_milo said...

he sure reminds me of my 4 year old. not about the feet, but just in general disposition after reading all these updates. . .

i took my boy to the viking fest parade today in poulsbo, and he did phenomenal. while many of the other rodeo girls quietexed their horses, mine was drug free and totally sane. even a few that were drugged had problems. I was very proud of my big baby.

anyway, sounds like hes got a good mind! and im sure the training will go smoothly - i know mine is!

kizzless said...

I'll add my voice to using a rope to lift his foot. It's what we did with my mom's poor gelding, who (at 7) had never been taught to pick up a hoof (bad history on that poor boy). It's easy on your back, and nice and safe for both parties. Just make sure that the rope loop is very loose or free-sliding (so it will fall off easily in case of emergency).

Magna Cum Mule Trainer said...

You know, after I posted about it I did go work on Jas in the round pen to see what happens with an emergency dismount. (I wore a helmet for this)
Aaand... I can't vault my fat ass out of the saddle any more. Will work on that. I know I can do it in an emergency- just get my feet out of the stirrups and get the hell out of dodge.
Also, if I act like I'm getting off while she's moving she comes to a halt like a calf roping horse.
I did NOT teach her that.
We also worked on dragging things without flipping out, and dealing with my scary, rustley jacket.

I was over in about 40 minutes because she did fine.

QueenSkankarella said...

I finally left the crazy stable I was boarding at!

Long story short, I only moved there May 1st, and the woman is um, a nutter. Changes the rules, yells at me (then forgets that she has done it), I found her on a good day about a week ago and gave my notice for the end of the month, and she waived the 30 day notice requirement. I couldn't take it anymore and decided to forfeit the remainder of my board and move my horse early.

She's forgotten about my giving notice, her waiving my 30 days notice (convenient) and is now threatening to sue.

Sorry about the novel, but I can't believe I stayed as long as I did. I've never had such an issue with a stable.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

>>Galloping outdoors...STILL we have been hopping over crossrails, lots of cantering outside, jumping some creeks, but I just fear she won't come back to me....and I will be headed for soem UNKNOWN destination and noone will find my body. LOL<<

Oh, I hear you! That's why I'm Arena Girl! Nothing like having a nice solid WALL to run into if you need to!

Sheesh, I don't even know what to write about tonight. The VLC, at ride #11, is basically riding like a horse who has been under saddle for a long time. He really is not doing anything wrong. I am trying to keep things nice and simple and not ask for anything more complicated than big figure 8's at the trot since, as I have to remind myself, it is only 11 rides down the road. But he feels like a trained horse to sit's awesome.

Tried with the feet again. I swear he starts swaying back and forth and I feel like if I don't let go, I might as well yell TIMBER because a 1300 lb. colt is coming down. He truly does not seem to believe he can stand on three legs and cannot figure out why I want to hold up a leg that he clearly needs to use to keep himself upright. And I'm making sure the weight is off before I ask, etc. doing all of that...when the foot comes up, he starts swaying like a tree in a hurricane.

Ugh, I should just take him over to Mission Farrier...I bet they'd put hoof training on him if I paid them...better to pay than have my back hurt this much.

BuckdOff said...

Fugly, just a thought, maybe it's stupid, I don't know, but do horses ever learn by example? Say you had the farrier out to do one horse and you stood quietly nearby with the VLC, he would see that YES, a horse can stand on three legs w/out collapsing. I've only had training experience with dogs.......

Mary said...

If he is refusing to keep his weight shifted, start dropping his foot as soon as he leans into you. Even if you only have it lifted 1/2 inch, just drop it. He'll come down on it like he's drunk, but he's going to learn to shift forward or backward, depending on which foot you have. They figure out quickly that their support isn't realiable.

BritnieAnn said...

sagebrusheq, thanks so much for the great ideas, make total sense. Will come back later to study, gotta get to church! Thanks again...

ellen said...

Sometimes it helps to position the horse's head when you are doing feet -- tipped away from you when you are doing the fores (stand in front of the horse and watch how turning his head right loads the right foreleg and left hind, and vice versa), and toward you slightly (loading the OTHER diagonal pair, near fore and off hind) when you are doing the hinds. I had good luck with that when working with a young filly with ZERO body awareness whom I really thought might come down.

I wouldn't do the foot dropping thing, with all due respect to Mary, although it does work with horses like my old lesson mare, who like to lay on someone, I just think he doesn't know how to redistribute his weight. Dropping his foot is just going to convince him he really WILL fall down if he has to hold his foot up, and that you can't be trusted to help him stay balanced.

What I would do is try gently positioning his head again if he gets the wibble wobbles (a helper would be useful, preferably someone still young enough to have an Invincible Back to hold the foot, while you, who have an educated eye and know the horse adjust his balance), showing him a way to fix it if he gets off kilter -- and practice keeping the foot up longer and longer.

Truthseeker said...

This will sound midieval, I know, but in cases where a tame, gentle horse is too opinioned about letting the farrier work on them, I put a thick cotton cord over their gums. When they yank their foot away from the farrier, I give it a short quick jerk. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I'm mean, nasty, cruel, wicked, blah blah blah. Then when they stand for the farrier, I give them a nice neck rubbing as a reward to make them happy. It is amazing how quickly they realize they can stand on three legs. I look at it as a contract between me and the horse: you may take your leg away from the farrier, but you must accept the consequence that the lip cord will get jerked. If you choose to stand, then I will rub your neck instead. I don't do this with horses that have no comprehension of having their feet handled...that would be just plain mean. Clicker training would work very well too and be less coercive. Again, I know some of you will shriek at mean for being so 'mean' but I really am pleased with my farrier and I want to keep HIM sound and healthy and willing to work for me a long, long time. BTW--I also tip him very well!!!!

June Evers said...

Hay - something I learned. I try to think outside the box when I'm training my PMU.

He self loads in a ramp trailer. Recently, he scared himself by slightly injuring his leg (no cut, just a bump/rub) when leaving the trailer. (He is a huge, huge wimp to pain.) It happened where the ramp hits the ground and there is that slight, slight ledge. He had slid his coronet band right next to that and that bump scared him.

Each time, I would ask him to unload, he was starting to tense and slowly rush. Not a big rush but if I didn't correct it, he'd end up one of those horses rushing off at 90mph.

I realized that he was unloading in fear that he'd again hurt his foot. So I taught him that I would say "step" when we got near that little ledge. Every time, he unloaded, I'd say "step" at that ledge.

It only took about 5 - 6 times but he is back to unloading confidently and slowly and I will always say "step" when we get to the ledge.

Sometimes, think outside the box when training. Don't immediately do what everyone has done for a hundred years. THINK about the training and how would YOUR horse react favorably in solving the problem.

Also teaching him tricks is a really fun way to get yourself back in the saddle. There is a book called TRICKONOMETRY that works well as ground work and might make things more fun when the usual ground work gets boring.

a beautiful disaster said...

compltely off topic, but i had the best ride on buddy today, complete with no stirrup cantering and real simple changes :) only bummer is its that time of month and i'm now curled up on the couch, no so work for the SLM today

Sagebrusheq said...

re several of the above: tricks are a great thing to do with your horse. Just because they have no practical application doesn't mean they're useless- good confidence builders among other things. Teaching to bow,for example, seems to have the same surrendering effect on them that laying them down does. In fact it's a good preparatory step to laying one down, as opposed to throwing him.

Good points Ellen but Mary's technique is still a classic countermove on horses that like to lean on you when you're under them. I'd say that every grown horse knows he can stand on 3 feet because they do it all on their own. They just like to push into you, answer: don't push back.

BTW Fugly, casting around the other day for serviceable everyday britches a friend told me that the Wrangler 13mwz is standard gear for polo players. I like Wranglers but am not familiar with that model. What do they do to get them in their boot, cut off the bottom of the leg? Or is that not a problem? Any tips? Fit, washing instructions etc? English riding apparel for men is a sore %@$#!! subject with me.


Stelladorro said...

Ok, so after writing my novel about Stella and my phobia of tying her up. I was out at the barn today from 9 till noonish... with nothing to do but hang because I pulled a hamstring and currently am not supposed to be sitting on a horse... much less wrestling with Stella.

I not only worked with her on clipping her ears.. we managed to get one ear partially clipped (looks like I took a hacksaw to it!). That's one I've been blowing off for about a year... she clips everywhere else, and I normally just twitch her for the ears... not the best method!

BUT I also took her into the area, adjusted her halter 15 times, and tied her up.... I was pacing and worrying and generally flipping out... She popped her head up once, realized she was tied... and did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! I'm so excited, apparently my horse does tie, and I've just been to chicken to try it. So now... I'll continue these tie lessons on the really solid arena beams, and eventually start working with the cross ties.

I'm so happy right now I could yell. This opens up our whole show season now that we can actually go to shows where I have to tie her to the trailer.

ellen said...

sage, I totally agree, I'd just give a young horse a less assertive chance to figure it out before I did the big drop move -- it really didn't sound like he was leaning on purpose, but searching for his balance.

Now I have some cranky older mares who LOVE to wallow if allowed, and I'll drop them in a heartbeat -- doesn't take more than a time or two, they give me the big sigh and the horsey equivalent of the "whatever" eye roll and stand up on their own.

Sagebrusheq said...

Words of wisdom from one of the best:

I was unsure where to post this but had to get it up somewhere. Maybe it should be moved over to the big blog where more folks will see it.

QueenSkankarella said...

Sagebrusheq -

Do you know of any good books/websites on good tricks to teach horses? I would love to teach some to mine, just for fun, but I know that a lot of "tricks" can actually turn into nasty habits (as we've seen examples of on the FHOTD blog). Are there any other relatively benign ones, like bowing?

readytoride said...

Whew- did any body go to any shows today? I just got back from an open show-

How about two kids, two age divisions, three horses, five saddles, and 16 classes to get ready for in one day?

I am wiped and once again, did not get to ride myself.... Maybe if I did not have so many horse events to go to (for the kids) I could actually get some riding done..

readytoride said...

Oh yeah, the topic was procratinating -

1. Clipping ears: I just grab the twitch and do it in a rush every time.. This could be worked on.

2. Cantering on my own horse: I can put this off for the tiniest reasons (Oh look, it rained last week, there might be a tiny bit of dampness and we might slip)

3. Picking out feet- this may sound heretical but now that all the horses are unshod and are out in pasture, we rarely pick out hooves even before showing. I don't know if it is our soil or what ever, but they never need it. Even the old, radiogram diagnosed navicular is doing better now that he is barefoot. (howver, I am a fanatic about floating teeth and shots)

Chezza said...


I am SO glad it isn't just me. I used to be WILD with abandon when we galloped. Now if VLCM (Very Large Chestnut Mare) decides she needs to jump over a tiny creek and then canter up the hill on the other side I just have this moment where I can feel my whole self pucker right up.
If you put me on my godparents Arab (to whom I trust my life) I would gallop this instant b/c I KNOW her brakes work and HOW. With VLCM I know how much she is GAME and how she has her own brain and I just picture that headlong gallop to the barn and hitting the blacktop, shoes skidding and me and my very PINK helmet flying willy-nilly across said asphalt.
How ridiculous is that?
I did do some outdoor work with her and I need to get OVER this crap soon as I have about two weeks and I am schooling over XC jumps with her (at a trot only) with a trainer. I KNOW my trainer will say "do it now" SO I best get over it!
It does give me hope that we are just smarter and more aware of our mortality.

Sagebrusheq said...


I wish I could direct you to a good book on the subject but I can't think of any right off the top of my head. I've seen quite a few by movie wranglers over the years (wish I'd bought them now) and I know that there are some guys out there that specialize in that stuff and must have web sites devoted to it.

Of course there is the old standby: 'Professor Beery's' correspondence course. That has a book devoted to all the standard tricks. Some of them are gimmicks though that don't have any application for horsemanship; like using a palmed horseshoe nail ( a faux horsefly) to get them to say 'yes' and 'no'( in case you're wondering, it's applied on the chest for yes and the neck for no). Also Beery's methods, though sound, are subject to misinterpretation, but he's worth the read. In there you'll also find all the standard restraints. And there is also a section on round pen, though he calls it 'the confidence lesson' and his pen is square rather than dodecahedral. I don't wish to be unfair to Parrelli et al because I don't know much about them but my take is that Beery was their progenitor. You can find his course, Beery's that is, by doing a book search on line. There are plenty of them available and it won't cost you $350.00 (no video though and the certificates are long gone). The complete set is 8 or 9 pamphlets and you shouldn't pay more than $20.00 or so for the lot.

Bowing is a matter of teaching him to lift his foot (tap tap) and then to hold it there (more well timed taps). And then teaching him to shift his weight back more and more, using your basic cue to back while his foot is up. You can force him into it but there is more value and fun in teaching it. Give it a try it isn't hard. Like everything, be satisfied with small tries and you'll get there in no time. So what if it takes a week? Pretty neat, and to do it on cue the horse has to really let down for you so there are confidence plusses to just working at it.

Have fun with it. And if you hit a snag I'm sure some of us here here will be jostling each other to be the first to help you over it.


fanoffugly said...

Okay, 14 rides in on the 13.3hh pony (spread over a month)and I have not cantered yet. He is going really sweetly, I have put rings (read Martingale) on to help there.So what next? I'm a 38 yo who never really stopped riding (just not competing) but have not been on a breaker in a long time. Very used to my push button do whatever you like 19yo(see avatarpic). I keep thinking canter=bucking.Agggggh.

Anonymous said...

Well, until Saturday I had been procrastinating about actually getting ON my mare. On Saturday my mother loaded up her gelding she's had for all of 3 days and I loaded up my mare that I have had for over a YEAR and we headed out on a trailride with a large group. Keep in mind here that my mother has not been on a horse in about 16 years. On the other hand, I have been taking lessons since last year. She gets a strapping young man to push her up on her horse and I get on mine. I am as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs, but she's completely relaxed and laughing at me in my helmet. So we get out on the trail and just about the time I relax- POW! My mare kicked at another horse. She missed that one, thankfully. This is her first trailride so I really honestly had no idea she would kick! i figured I'd have to worry about her spooking or bolting or something stupid like that, but she did great in that respect. Then about the time I was relaxed again- POW! She kicked at another horse! And she nailed that one. I had no idea anyone was even behind us.

So now, I know that she's a kicker. I am SO looking forward to working on that. In my defense, I did correct her anytime I saw her pinning ears or cocking her head at other horses, but apparently by the time she decided to kick the second horse she had figured out that she better not give me any hint of what she was about to do because there was absolutely no warning.

Other than that issue there is her water phobia. She will walk through any creek or mushy area you can find but the second she sees the waterhose she is GONE! Apparently the waterhose likes to eat little bay mares...

Anne said...

Something I tried with my VSG (very small gelding) who was a big jerk a lot the year he was 4 and didn't want to pick up his feet was to start with a heavy, thick, soft, cotton lead rope. We did all 4 legs where I just put the rope around it (in a U-shape, not wrapped all the way around) and just moved it back and forth All 4 legs. Every day, sometimes several times a day until he stood quietly for that.

Then, we progressed to where I would use that to start to lift his foot up - just a mini amount - barely off the ground and right back down. (This works well if you can have a helper stand in front of the horse with a treat and be justtttt out of range so they have to lean forward and can take some weight off that foot you want to pick up. They get the treat when the foot comes up off the ground. It's immediate positive reinforcement that way.) And then we did all 4 feet. Each time (assuming he's progressed to letting you pick up the foot), we added a little more height and then gradually moved from the soft lead rope to my hand with the rope, and then just my hand.

Took about 6 months, but now he lifts them all nicely and politely and generally won't give me any hassle with them.

Good luck!

lusitano epiphany said...

Procrastinate? Who, me? ;)

My "horse student" does not like whips. At all. (He's an ex-Amish horse and we think that may have something to do with it.) So, I did a little work with him and a lunge whip on Saturday and he finally let me run it across the left side of his body without showing fear. But when I tried to run it across the right side of his body, he misunderstood and thought this was the "Follow The Leader" game, where I have him turn, spin, reverse, etc. by walking on the ground directly in front of his left shoulder. Oops, my bad. Guess we'll try that on a lead next time, instead of loose in the arena. So that's something I WAS procrastinating, but finally got to..sort of (since it's pretty important!)

On the bright side, I did teach him to lower his head whenever someone (me) starts fussing with his mane (brushing tangles out of his mane, post-windstorm.) He knows "head down" but now he has figured out to lower his head when he feels someone combing his mane. Which is good...because he's over 16h and I am not. :)

Redsmom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Redsmom said...

Oops. I have had no luck with posting all day -- great, now I'm getting so senile I can no longer use the internetZ. I'm procrastinating on cantering. I've done it on Dude before, but I fear the quick cut to the side which he does to try to freak me out. but that was before he knew me and liked me as he does now. I'm pretty sure he likes/trusts me now. I hope....

Kathleen said...

My CQH(Clingy Quater Horse) has a serious problem with his ears being clipped. I have been putting of working on it all winter. Always had a reason not to do it. I will start to put the clippers near his ears tonight but off. He loves his ears being rubbed, but the clipper gets near them he gets mad.

LoveisaTB said...

Here's my issue. I bought another "project" at end of December. He may have been started, but at 6 he's very immature and clearly has done very little in his 6 years, but he's friendly and tries, with encouragment. I had the opportunity to board at a facility with a large heated indoor this winter for a couple months. I got the Sausage McMuffin going walk/trot under saddle and pretty solid on the lunge. The day I asked for a canter he leaped and cracked his back, HARD. I came off, remounted and finished a ride. After that he was quite unsure, I think it really scared him. I've had him back home now a couple months and have been doing ground work but I have no arena to ride in. I ride the other two up and down the road and in the field. I will have an arena at some point thie spring/summer but until then, what? I know his rodeo talents and I'm spooked to ride him unenclosed. So I work the others and he's last on the list. I figure with more time/ after the next show/ when work slows down/ when arena is done and enclosed... I'll ride him again. UNtil then, I get him used to hoses, clippers, trailers...Ugh, frustrating!

hjv said...

Ug, I'm always a day late and a dollar short with my comments, but anyway...

Don't worry about holding your horse's foot up until he slams it down. You have 6-8 more weeks until the farrier comes again. That's plenty of time to simply work on holding his foot up a little longer every day. I know this sounds sort of NHish, but I swear it works better than force.

If VLC will hold his foot up for 10seconds, great! Now try to hold it for 15 then 20 and so on. Always give him is foot back before he decides he needs it. If you work on this slowly day after day before you know it he'll hold his foot up for as long as you ask.

I don't like to tie feet or hobble either unless there is some kind of foot emergency. Just wear him down over time. It will be easy on you and him!

Keep in mind, no matter how big and strong you farrier is, VLC WILL be able to put his foot down if he really wants to. Don't let him figure that out!

Good luck!

Katie said...

I am having trouble with bug spray. I just purchased a new girl, we'll call her MM, mountain mare. She thinks clippers are the devil, even though we've never tried them on her, another horse was being clipped 50 feet away and she thought we were killing him. I don't care so much about the clippers, she doesn't have to look fancy for me. But the fly spray is an issue. There are a lot of bugs in Minnesota, and she's getting all bit up. Any suggestions?

Katie said...

MM also will not tie. I have no idea what people did with her before, but she won't cross tie or tie to a post. I tried just placing the rope over the post but she freaked out. Its getting annoying saddling, and picking feet while holding onto her. Any suggestions?

Katie said...


I live in Minnesota too. Are you looking for a place to board your horse(s)? If so send me an email, I've lived here all my life, and can give you some recommendations. Also, I'm always looking for a new horsey friend! :-)