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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May. 16, 2005
    Elmwood, Wisconsin

    Default Getting her feet down. How?

    My old mare has very itchy hind legs, especially the inner
    side from up near the body to down to the hocks. I am
    willing to oblige her by grooming the area vigorously but
    for one thing. The mare gets so enthusiastic about being
    groomed that she picks up the leg I am grooming. Picks
    the leg way up. But being an old mare (28) whose balance
    is not what it used to be, she loses her balance and puts
    her hind hoof down quickly and forcefully to keep from
    falling. Now she is not a large mare, but even so, if that
    hind hoof landed on top of my foot it would hurt...a lot.

    I tried pushing down on her hock with my free hand to
    explain I don't want the hind foot off the ground. Didn't
    work. I tried stopping grooming whenever she lifts the
    hind foot. She just backs up toward me to get me to start
    again (no, she is not trying to kick me).

    I need suggestions to teach the mare to keep her hind feet
    down on the ground when she is being groomed. It is
    obvious that this grooming feels wonderful to the mare but
    I don't want her to fall over or step on my feet when I am
    grooming her.
    Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
    Elmwood, Wisconsin

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb. 1, 2011


    I would try stopping immediately every single time she does that and see if she gets the hint. Otherwise you might look into a treatment like a shampoo or something that helps relieve the itch. That way she'll feel better and maybe be a little less passionate when you groom her. I have heard Liserine mouth wash works great for the dock of the tail when it itches. It's worth a try for the back legs. Maybe cut it with a little bit of water since it might have a little bit of a burning feel to it. If you take a brush, listerine, a little bit of water, and tad of shampoo so that it makes it easy for the stuff to spread that might do the trick for a little.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb. 28, 2008


    my Morgan gelding does this too. On his own he will back into a bush and scratch between his thighs by rocking his butt back and forth and alternating lifting hind legs.

    I'm all to happy to offer a scratch in a hard to reach spot, but has the rocking and leg lifting motion engrained in his little pea brain and so tries to do this with me when I groom/scratch him. I do NOT allow him to lift hind legs around me (unless asked for of course). He was a vicious kicker before he turned a corner, and the only horse that has connected with me and hurt me... more than once.

    I quickly showed him he will not get a scratch if he even thinks of lifting a hind leg. It took a week or two of daily consistency, but he finally got it.

    I merely stop moving my hand/curry the moment he even THINKS of lifting a leg, and I'll use my voice "Eh!! Get that leg down....." If you can stop and reprimand just before they get the leg lifted, you will drive the message home faster.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robin@DHH View Post
    I tried stopping grooming whenever she lifts the
    hind foot. She just backs up toward me to get me to start
    The part I bolded is the problem right there. Don't walk away, you'll make it harder for her to connect the two ideas. Just stop moving your hand, and wait for that leg to be firmly on the ground. The moment it is, "good girl" and resume scratching.

    This way you make the reward of good behavior, negative of bad behavior instant. Like turning on and off a faucet, your hand can be either "on" and active while she's being good (4 on the floor) or instantly "off" when a leg starts to lift.

    The more instantaneous you make the action, the faster she will grasp the concept.

    You need to be more persistent and patient than the habit is ingrained, in other words, you need to wait the behavior out. Expect it to take a few weeks for her to make the connection. Don't give up too soon.
    Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May. 11, 2009
    Dairyville USA


    I doubt that at 28 you'll be able to get her to stop but you could try what buck has suggested. Otherwise, I would just groom her in that area only when she is standing against a solid wall so she can lean on it for balance.
    Michael: Seems the people who burned me want me for a job.
    Sam: A job? Does it pay?
    Michael: Nah, it's more of a "we'll kill you if you don't do it" type of thing.
    Sam: Oh. I've never liked those.

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