Does your horse have fussy feet? Teach him to stand politely for you and your farrier with my five foot-handling tips.
Tip #1: If your horse leans on you, drop his foot. Does your horse lean on you when you pick up a foot? If so, immediately drop his foot. This will take him by surprise. He’ll kind of fall down on his nose or front end. You’ll show him that if he leans on you, you’ll make him feel uncomfortable. As soon as you drop his foot, pick it back up, and start again.
Tip #2: Work your horse before the farrier arrives. If your farrier is due to arrive at, say, 11:00 a.m., take your horse out at 10:00 a.m. Perform ground work with your horse, and ride him. Bring him back a little tired and sweaty a half hour before the farrier arrives. Hose him off, and let him stand tied. Then, when your farrier gets there, your horse has a much better chance of standing still.
Tip #3: Don’t approach your horse like a predator. Avoid approaching your horse’s barrel or hindquarters, then immediately try to pick up his feet. He may try to get away, because he views you as a predator. Spend a few minutes rubbing his back and scratching his withers. Then rub down a leg, retreat, then rub down a leg again. Repeat on all four legs. Prove to him that you’re not a predator and you’re not trying to hurt him. If he stands still, give him a treat, then start to go to work.
Tip #4: Use the approach-and-retreat method. When you pick up your horse's foot, always use the approach-and-retreat method. If you think he’s going to start jerking his foot away in five seconds, drop it in four. Then pick the foot straight back up, and start again.
Tip #5: Work off excess energy. If you do the above and your horse still won’t behave for your farrier, do more ground work with your horse. Back him 300 feet, and longe him a little to get his feet moving in a constructive way. Then immediately bring him back, and ask your farrier to try working on your horse again.
Click here to watch how Clinton Anderson fixes foot fidgets.
Clinton Anderson grew up in Queensland, Australia, learning to ride as a teenager and training with many of his country’s top horsemen. In 1997, he relocated to the United States to perfect his Downunder Horsemanship program. Under Anderson’s guidance, horses learn to respect and respond to their handlers, developing willing partnerships. To learn more about Downunder Horsemanship, Clinton Anderson Walkabout Tours, and more, visit www.downunderhorsemanship.com.