Taking Care Of Your Horse’s Shoes
Since horses spend virtually all their lives standing up, farrier care is one of the most vital parts of horse care overall. However, it can be complicated- which is why we’ve put this article together to clear up a few things.
When the time comes to check your horse’s hooves, you’ll often find that they squirm all over the place, and sometimes flat out refuse to have their feet treated. You’ll therefore want to find a farrier who knows how to deal with tricky customers- farriers are often quite busy, and some may refuse to handle a horse that’s being a real pain. Your job is to train your horse so that it picks up its feet when expected, and stands quietly while the shoes are being fitted. You can train young and old horses alike, but remember that it will take time to do so- don’t expect a lot from them straight away, and be patient.
Before you begin training your horse to pick its feet up, you’ll need to understand some of the reasons why they might be hesitant to do so. The main purpose of a horse’s feet is to use them to run away from danger. Holding their feet up makes them feel vulnerable, which is why they won’t naturally do it. If you bought an older horse, they may have been handled badly in the past, or even never taught how to properly pick their feet up. There may even be a physical reason behind it, such as a sore foot- try to have some sympathy if your horse isn’t quite ready to pick their feet up yet.
To teach your horse to pick up their feet and stand patiently will require some patience on your part, too. Start out small, for between 5 and 10 minutes at a time twice a day. Each horse is different, though, so pay attention to how they respond, and alter this amount as necessary.
You’ll want to begin the training somewhere like a round pen, where the horse feels safe and enclosed. Don’t tie them up while you train them, as this can be dangerous for both of you.
If your horse is happy, then you know you’re doing well. On the other hand, if they start fidgeting or losing concentration, slowly remove your hand from the area, and start again from the beginning until the horse starts to calm down. Repeat this process until you reach the feet.
If you can’t do this during the first session, then don’t worry- just end things on a positive note, giving your horse plenty of encouragement, and try again later. Do this same procedure with the back legs, and remember to take things nice and slowly.
When you reach the horse’s feet, pick each one up just for a moment at first, and release it before the horse has time to take them away itself. Make sure you give your horse lots of praise so that they know you’re proud of them for doing a great job, and that you aren’t going to hurt them.
Increase this hold time as you go along, until eventually the horse is happy to stand with its feet held by the farrier for an extended period of time. Remember, trust is key here, so treat your horse with the respect it deserves, and it will come around in the end.