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Franklin Levinson's

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Feet query

I wonder if you can help me. I have been practising natural horsemanship for over 5 years and am learning everyday. I have overcome some huge problems with emotionally abused and damaged horses, but am stuck on the current one. I normally allow a horse to chill a bit and settle into my routines, whilst doing some fundamentals of round pen, leading, respect etc and in time they have all become loveable, well rounded horses that respect me and are a joy to work with. However this one is in desperate need of getting his feet trimmed so I cannot afford him the luxury of "just chillin".

He is a 16hh, 5 yr old Luisitana gelding (cow hocked), backed in Portugal by tying legs up to the saddle! Have had the chiropractor out which has made him more comfortable and the dentist has sorted the teeth, I am trying the methods I have applied before of stick and string all over, hands all over, working the muscles to soft and asking him to 'give' me the foot. He can now (very different than a week ago when we started) 'give' me all of his feet and is just, and only just tolerating me brushing, rubbing and tapping the front feet. Even then, he just has to snatch them back after a very short time.

Normally, I would hold on lightly at the toe and move with him until he can soften, then release the foot gently onto the floor. Bearing in mind his history would this be the right thing to do as his fear is of not being able to get his foot back when he wants it. Also he is so adamant to get that foot back that it is proving difficult to hold on. He will allow me to tap, brush and rub his hooves for ages whilst they are planted on the ground and the holder can get the head low and ears relaxed whilst I'm doing this.

I would really appreciate any help and advise you could give. This poor chap has had such an unfair start in life and deserves to have his feet trimmed comfortably and soon, before coming to me he had been twitched, sedated and chiffney bitted to try and achieve this, all to no avail.

Kind regards, Jacqui, UK

Hi Jacqui,

Sounds like you are doing some fine work, Jacqui. Well done. Horses are big enough to hold up their own feet. For a week or so, everytime the horse picks up a foot for you and even if he puts it right down, give a scratch and a Good Boy. Your estimation of his problem, FEAR, is correct. To eliminate this fear, praise every effort to pick up the foot and keep it up. After a week of him picking up the foot on his own and you not attempting to hold the foot yourself, encourage him to hold his own foot up by tapping or scratching on the cannon bone with your fingernail. Again, do not try to hold the foot. Rather let him hold his own foot up for 15 to 30 seconds at a time and then give praise. After his gets good at this, he will probably allow you to hold the foot by the toe. Then you begin to hold the foot as the farrier would. He is so habituated to this behavior that it may take quite a while. So, be careful and very patient.

Keep up the great work and please let me know how it all goes.

Sincerely, Franklin

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