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Problem with Cleaning Feet, boundries and more


I've started keeping my horse's head turned toward me while trying to pickup her feet and have had some progress, she'll lift the foot but won't hold it without pulling away. She's leading a little better but still likes to walk over you. I've been circling her and making her stop when she gets to close and I also found that she relaxes more on the lead when you leave a little slack in the lead as opposed to choking up on the shank. The people who had her before me claim that she is green broke and that they rode her on the trail with no problems but I have found that she saddles fine and you can mount with no problem but she doesn't know how to walk in a straight line or even in a small circle. First tried her in a short shank smooth snaffle but she throws her head to much so I'm thinking that a bosel or hackamore.

Thanks for writing back, Heather

Hi Heather,

I have my horses trained so there is some slack in the lead always. Grabbing a lead tightly is restraint and not 'cooperation'. It is not needed with appropriate training and I do not advise handling a horse this way as it is easy to get hurt when it pulls away (which it will eventually if it is restrained). Let me know if you are interested in learning how to only work a horse on a slack line or at liberty.

Setting boundries is extremely important. It is easy to do if you begin as soon as you halter the horse and are ready to take those first steps together. If the horse is pushy, ask it to back up a few steps. Do not go anywhere unless the horse is exactly where you want it and stays there. You can do a couple of hind end yields and back a couple of steps as well. Then a verbal HO! Then begin to lead forward. If the horse is still pushy, do the process again and again as needed. Remember to give rewards for what you do want by resting the horse and giving a bit of praise. Start setting a boundry immediately when getting close the the horse. Even before haltering, but certainly as soon as the halter is on the horse. Get into the habit of setting a boundry and the horse will remember and respond accordingly.

Most folks don't understand a horse is trying to give you it's foot even if it puts the foot down immediately upon lifting it up. A horse's foot is its means of escape and part of its defence arsonal. It is a matter of the horse's feelings of safety and trust whether or not it allows you to hold its foot. When the horse gives you the foot, praise it immediately even if it puts the foot quickly down. Do this a bunch of times. Fairly soon the horse will understand it is OK to give you the foot and allow you to hold it. Most people think a horse is being stubborn by not keeping the foot up. It is only about fear.

Put the horse in a halter and leadrope tied up like reins. Ride in a small paddock or round pen for a while, keeping the horse relaxed at a walk or trot and begin to put a light stop on the horse with your 'seat' and verbally. Practice keeping the horse straight on to where you want it to be. Always look where you want to go and not at the horse's head or ground. This will help you tremendously. It is up to you to teach this horse how to travel in a straight line through your seat and other skills as an equestrian. Have the horse's teeth checked for problems. This will cause head tossing. Stay in a snaffle or halter and leadrope, not anything else until there is a reason to such as specific competition. Do not let 'restraint' become a subsitiute for good training. Please do not just go for the 'quick fix', which restraint like tie downs and bigger bits or hackamores (more severe than anything in the wrong hands) are. Improve your skills and the horse will respond accordingly.

If you have interest in phone coaching, please let me know. I think you would benefit greatly and quickly from this effective and convenient way to attain some valuable equine skills.

Sincerely, Franklin

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