Archives MAIN PAGE

Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

Professional support for you and your horse!

Kicking out and stomping with hind feet


I have a 3+ year old mare that I rescued from a stable, who picked her up from a local backyard where she was starving. I bought her on a Wednesday but could not have her transported to the barn until Sunday. The stable left her in a huge corral with a ton of other horses and she was injured before I got her. Being underweight, she was also picked on by the other horses and chased away from the food. I was upset at the stable for not separating her from the herd but got her home and treated for her wound which is healing nicely now. That was back on December 12, 2005. As a result of her neglect, she arrived with some food aggression issues. She was very aggressive when she was eating, ie: nipping at you if you stood near her when she eating. Having settled in, she has seemed to get over this. Her newest antic is that she really resists having her feet cleaned. She will not pick them up willing. I have read some of your posts regarding this and have gotten some helpful hints but unfortunately, none of them address the worst problem. When you are cleaning her front feet, she shifts her weight backward. Not wanting to let go of her foot until I am ready, she has caused herself to almost fall to the ground. I let her foot go at the last minute to prevent her from completely falling as all I need is for her to hurt herself. She also tries to pull her foot out of my hand and if she succeeds, she throws her foot forward and down very forcefully. If I don€št have her head tied tight enough, she tries to nip at my back. This is bad but I have yet to tell you the worst. Her hind feet are an absolute nightmare!!!!!!!!! As soon as I start to approach her hind end, she starts swishing her tail and moving her hind end back and forth from side to side. She keeps her feet in constant motion so I can€št get a hold of them. I also have to be careful because she moves very fast and has tried to step on me. If you get a chance to bend down and touch her foot, she will pick it up but then in the blink of an eye, kick it out towards you and then stomp down towards you. She has already come down on my foot once, breaking a toe and causing me a lot of pain. Now I am somewhat afraid of her and I think she knows it. I am going to try tapping on her feet from a distance and see if that helps but in the mean time, how do I get her feet cleaned? I had a 20 year old gelding that gave me no trouble at all. I could prop his leg up on my thigh and clean to my hearts content. She, however, is a totally different story. I have been told that horses feet need to be cleaned everyday but I am having a hard time taking on this nightmare daily. HELP!!!!!!!!


Hi Caryn,

First thing is to do some ground handling/schooling to get the mare compliant with you and trusting of you. Do not feed the horse from your hand. Have something in your hand like a wand and put the food in a tub or on the ground. She is not to eat until you say it is OK, no matter what antics the horse does. Use the wand to fend her off without scaring her. You just want her to back up a step of two from the food until you 'allow' her to eat it. Practice backing her with the wand in your hand and the horse on a leadrope. Do this a lot as it is basic training for respect and complaince. Without being able to set boundries around food you will always have difficulty setting any boundries. This is EXTREMELY important. Again, this is not to make her afraid of you, so use the wand judiciously, thoughtfully and skillfully. Use only the amount of pressure (waving the wand, etc.) required to get the response you want. Immediately upon the horse complying you STOP ALL PRESSURE by lowering the wand. You develop trust and respect with a horse by directing movement and controling resources of the herd such as food and space. You never need to control the horse if you can grasp the concept of controlling the space you and the horse are in. This is done by setting boundries and directing movement.

Use the wand to tap her leg on the cannon bone (you said you were going to try this). If the horse even leans in the right direction to try to give you the foot, immediately drop all pressure and say Good Girl (a little praise) and perhaps a little scratch on the withers. She is simply afraid to give you her feet. In order to make it OK for her, she needs to trust you more. Even a horse picking up a foot a little and quickly jamming it back down is the horse trying to present the foot and deserves praise. The vast number of people handling horses do not understand this. I have quickly 'fixed' horses with this problem by understanding when the horse is actually trying to comply. There are a few other techniques that can be brought into play around feet handling. However, get the horse to try to give you the foot and praise every little effort. Watch for her 'trying.' It is usually missed. She will know if you are intimidated and that will prompt her not to trust you. If you need more clairification I could easily talk you through this process with a telephone coaching session. Consider it is easy and conventient and a way to get immediate feedback from me about how the process goes.

It is extremely important you can handle your horses feet as you know. It is equally important you understand how to establish bounderies. Developing trust and respect with your horse now will greatly enhance your future life with horses. Consider the purchase of a training DVD or two. You are spending a lot of money on your horse already. Consider spending a bit on your own education. It would be the BEST investment you could make. There are many DVD's out there. Seeing these techniques is far batter and more effective than just reading about them. Otherwise it is like trying to learn ballroom dancing from a book. I have several that would prove helpful to you within the shopping corral of my website and there are many available from other trainers as well. They are easily found in the backs of all horse magazines. If you purchase one or two, just viewing them would prove invaluable and pricless to you for your education and your horse's well being. I actually have one that addresses the problem of handling a horse's feet. Anyway, keep me posted and let me knwo how it all goes.

Sincerely, Franklin

Look for: