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Tips for Springtime Hoof Trimming Success
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Tips for Springtime Hoof Trimming Success

I have dealt with some grumpy farriers over the years and really, I can’t blame them. They travel around, especially at this time of year, trimming horses that, like mine, have spent the winter gorging themselves on free-choice hay and now resemble the roundness of the bales they have been pigging out on. My horse is not only fat, but he’s a little sassy. Standing around to have his hooves trimmed is not on his priority list and his patience never goes to great lengths--which is a recipe for disaster. I am grateful for the service my farriers provide and the great job they do. I have found, however, that there are a few tips and tricks for preparing my horses so they stand better for their spring trim. This is in no way meant to be a professional trainer’s opinion and I give no guarantee that this will work in every situation, so use these tips at your own risk. This is simply something that has worked for me.

Exercise

No, I don’t go out and ride my horse for hours with feet that need to be trimmed, but a bit of a warm-up on a long line just to take his nervous edge off seems to do wonders for my four-legged bundles of energy. Once my horse is relaxed, licking his lips and looking like he is ready to pay attention, he is much less likely to throw a fit when the farrier pulls out the rasp, nippers or start the shoeing process. I like to start working with him a day or two before the farrier is scheduled to arrive because it gives him a little more chance to settle into the routine. For some horses, I’m sure it works to pull them out of the pasture and go straight to work without a hiccup, but others need a little time to switch gears from hay-bale mode to listen-up mode. If you think your horse might be one that takes a little time, it never hurts to give him that. Otherwise, you might be putting him at a disadvantage before you ever start.

Get a Checkup

As a certified equine therapist, when my horses are not standing very good for the farrier, I often ask them to hold up a minute for me to make a quick check. Often, I have found that my pudgy horse has a few issues and problems picking up his feet that are not really behavior issues, but an issue of discomfort. Now, I must stress that at times I like to think that behavior problems are not my fault and I assume it must be an issue with discomfort. Sometimes it is difficult to make that distinction, so if you’re suspicious there might be a problem or your horse is acting strange, getting an equine therapist to have a look is probably not a bad idea. I have been asked by several farriers, after they have seen the difference in my horses, if they can refer people to me or if I would be interested in traveling around with them.

Test the Waters

I try to leave my horse barefoot if at all possible, but if I do plan on having him shod, I try picking up his feet and slapping the palm of my hand on his cleaned hoof just to get him used to the sound and a similar feel to a hammer. Chances are that if he won’t stand still for me slapping the bottom of his hoof, he’s not going to stand still for a farrier and needs a little more time. He might need a slight change to what he’s doing, but I can always come back to picking up his feet. For my horse, tossing the end of a long lead rope around his legs is a great way to calm his nerves about having his feet handled, but I try to be sure that I’m giving him the option of moving around, checking his responses when he does move to see if he leaves a standstill smoothly and with a relaxed expression.

Wishing you all the best this spring season!

 

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Photo Sharing by: Tuchodi, Pedicure

Disclaimer: Of Horse! and sponsors do not endorse nor validate the accuracy of a blog post. Each article is the opinion of the blogger.

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  1. jst4horses
    Nice article. Working at the track, teaching baby racehorses the ropes, I had to pick up a lOT of feet. Teaching horse handlers how to clean those feet several times a day (that racing cut is nasty, and makes the feet really prone to thrush and other hoof problems) I find that just teaching your horse a sound, or touch and having it pick up the feet, both from the same side, either side, does not matter which one, and often vary, just to keep the horse up on things is a nice present to your vet and shoer. At the track the feet are brushed, cleaned with a pick, and then brushed again, the hoof brush is knocked against the hooves to remove all hardened up track turf and soil...........a pat, a rub, and horses look forward to it. Our horses all love their shoers. we had ONE in all these years that was abrupt and old cowboy mean, he was asked to leave and not even finish the horse he was working on and not ever asked back. I also try to clean the hooves with either a shoer recommended product or warm water and bleach prior to the shoer visit, and as I knew my shoers, used a thrush product as needed for a week or so prior to the shoer coming, it makes it so much nicer for the shoer to NOT have a lot of stinky, goey, mess come running out when he grabs the hoof.
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