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Discomfort during shoeing -- Update post 62, horse NOT neurological!

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    Discomfort during shoeing -- Update post 62, horse NOT neurological!

    I have a vet appt in 2 weeks but would love to have some ideas of things to check.

    Horse is a 7-year-old OTTB off the track since early Jan. After 2 months of letdown, I started riding him about 3 weeks ago and he's been a champ, though we're not doing very much yet.

    My farrier, who does a lot of racing TBs and TB babies as well as sport horses, has done him 3 times now and it has been tough every time. I was hoping it would improve as time passed and he hopefully got more comfortable in his body than he was when racing, but unfortunately it hasn't. Farrier thinks horse is "being a jerk." I think he's uncomfortable. He does two things that make shoeing difficult:

    1) When you pick up a front leg, he immediately cocks the diagonal hind leg. This means he's trying to balance on two legs and when he loses his balance, instead of weighting the hind leg he leans on the front one you're trying to hold up.

    2) When the farrier picks up and draws a front leg away from the horse's body to put between his knees, the horse sinks backwards as though he's going to sit down. Yesterday at my suggestion the farrier finished nailing the second shoe on without holding it between his knees and that prevented the sinking/pulling away but it's definitely harder on the farrier. I'm thinking of buying one of those cradle-type hoof stands and training horse on it.

    Has anyone had a horse who does these things during shoeing? Are there any particular injuries/sources of discomfort that could cause these behaviors?
    Building and Managing the Small Horse Farm:

    I'd try some banamine before shoeing to see if that helps before involving the vet. What you're describing sounds more like training to me than soreness.


      Try a small piece of duct tape between his nostrils on his nose.

      Oh, and as for vet check, try back, sacrum, stifle
      Last edited by Sansena; Mar. 30, 2019, 02:00 PM.


        FWIW, my horse who fractured her hind P3 always cocks her opposite leg when you pick her feet. She also can try to sit down, although that's becoming rare these days.

        Obviously your guy doesn't have an old P3 fracture. I don't think it's the P3 fracture itself that started the behavior for my horse, either. I think it's her lingering hip/back pain. She was shod differently on that hoof and used that leg irregularly for over a year, and the muscling in her rump showed it for quite some time. A couple sessions with the chiropractor plus another couple sessions with PEMF helped considerably.

        So it might be worth trying NSAIDs before shoeing, or maybe even something like robaxin.
        Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


          My mare with an old shoulder injury almost sits when working on front feet, but more so on side of injury.
          My 20 yr. old gelding has arthritic joints in hind end and old broken pelvis and almost falls at time when hind legs are lifted and held.

          How is your horse when you clean his feet? Could be pain or discomfort. Some farriers are not quite as gentle or patient as female owners. And sometimes farrier is rough or in a hurry, horse and farrier can get testy with each
          other. Also some farriers hold legs in awkward angles to what's comfortable for horse.

          I had a young filly 2 or 3 that I'd always trimmed and also cleaned her feet daily. No problem for me. First farrier I hired
          for her she took a dislike to his rough way and reared straight up several times with him while he still held her leg.
          I'd never seen such behavior from her and she hasn't done it ever again.

          I'd try bute morning of shoeing and see if it helps. But it could just be the farrier.

          "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin


            My vet suggested Bute the night before a trim and another dose in the morning; I always have late morning appointments. I think this is a great idea to try. If the horse's behavior is markedly different/better after the analgesic then you can be somewhat confident that pain is an issue. If his behavior is still bad/weird then it might be that he's being a jerk and needs to learn to behave (although this is not foolproof; it could be a physical issue which the drug does not adequately address). Another thing is to notice what he does in turnout, if he plays and cavorts comfortably and normally using some of the same movements and leg positions which are asked of him during his shoeing. You really should be able to spot stiffness, weakness or soreness in his free movements and if there are no signs, that is another clue that he is being a pill.

            My farrier is very kind but firm. One of my mares was bad with her feet and would lean and sink. She got better with mild but clear reprimands (a verbal admonishment "Hey! Cut it out!", a jiggle of the lead along with some taps in the neck with my fingertips -- like I say, mild) or and/or being backed up or made to move every time she would do this -- basically, a negative consequence. She's almost perfect now.

            One other thing: observe your farrier's technique carefully to check if he's pulling that front leg out to the side too much which can be painful.

            "Random capitAlization really Makes my day." -- AndNirina


              If you are thinking of a jack to help your horse stand comfortably, one like this is what our farrier uses.
              Works wonderfully, especially for older stiff horses:


              When one of our horses was sick and had trouble standing, when using this, he was balanced so well, he didn't have any trouble.
              You can raise or lower it to fit any horse with the handle it has, just as you do to change a tire.

              You can also train your horse yourself by, when you clean feet, using some kind of hoofjack, so the horse is familiar with how to stand there when the farrier comes around.


                Is your farrier by chance, over say, 5'7? I find some farrier that are particularly tall don't realize how high they have jacked a horses foot in the air or out to the side that can cause some discomfort for the horse.
                The hoof stand with the cradle is a fabulous resource that makes it easier on both the farrier and the horse when nailing shoes on. I know a 70 year old farrier that still works nearly 5 days a week but only because he uses that stand. When he walks away from one, they most all just stand with their foot up in the cradle because it's at a very comfortable position for them.
                you can certainly try some bute and banamine but my favorite is to lunge or ride my horses an hour or so before the farrier does their feet. For one, they aren't fresh and apt to be turdsfor the farrier and two, it loosens them up, so if they are stiff, hopefully they are less so!
                good luck!


                  Oh dear, my client's horse started doing this around the time we found his neck arthritis (and shortly before became neuro enough to retire). He was good for the farrier as far as behavior, and my farrier is shorter so didn't seem to mind this. The sitting down feeling would come and go. I think that was a neuro thing and sometimes he'd snap out of it and go back to normal.


                    My 21 yo Ottb mare has always had balance issues when the farrier does her hind feet, ever since I got her from the track when she was 4. She is a small mare at 15.1 hands and my farrier is rather tall, and I think the way the farrier holds her hind leg up, puts her off balance.
                    I have found that putting a hand on her opposite hip, or let her lean on a wall, really helps her. She is regularly chiropracted by a vet who found no real issue with her other than the fact that she is a "rope walker", i.e, narrow behind.
                    She has at times threatened to sit down or rear, but only when farrier was using regular nails. Now that we use thinner and smaller nails (on my vet's advice), my mare is fine.
                    I am lucky that my farrier (a woman) really always gives the horse the benefit of the doubt rather than going after them, and tries to make them comfortable when shoeing them. Even when I can't be there, she knows how to position my mare to make shoeing comfortable for both farrier and horse.
                    Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!


                      Here is one of those videos showing how to work with a hoofjack for horse and farrier comfort:


                      Works well also just to teach a horse to stand there and let you clean their feet.


                        Check for thin soles, also thin hoof walls. They will make shoeing uncomfortable for the horse. The vet can x-ray for both, it isn't terribly costly, many have the equipment to do it on a mobile call.


                          Had a mare that had trouble with this and turned out to be an old fracture of her spine.



                            I have a TB who when you pick up his right front leg to pick out he instantly tries to sit on his butt I've had a plethora of issues with this horse though..


                              Shivers? (hinds)
                              Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                                My horse with EPM had extreme difficulty with being trimmed in front and behind. I would be concerned about cervical or other spine arthritis or some neurological condition because of what you have described.

                                Also, you may wish to try some acepromazine with this horse for the farrier. Until my horses neurological symptoms advanced beyond being safe to trim (he was euthanized shortly after this), a little ace helped eased his worry and anxiety about his balance enough that it was easier to trim him.

                                Good luck getting to the bottom of your horses issues.
                                Proud Member of the "Tidy Rabbit Tinfoil Hat Wearers" clique and the "I'm in my 30's and Hope to be a Good Rider Someday" clique


                                  Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                                  I'd try some banamine before shoeing to see if that helps before involving the vet. What you're describing sounds more like training to me than soreness.
                                  I was coming here to say this. Hit him with a gram or two of bute the day before, and another gram the morning of and see how he acts. If he's a lot better, you know it's pain related. I had a horse like this and she just didn't like her shoulder being turned out like that. I experimented with her because she was big and I didn't want the farrier getting squashed and she was actually fine if you didn't pull her foot out as far. It's a little more trouble to squat under the horse, but you get all the same leverage and security plus you didn't have a 1500lb RID mare trying to lean on you.


                                    Original Poster

                                    Thanks for all the ideas guys! Hopefully it is not a spinal or neuro issue. He definitely has some muscle tightness in the hind end that I've been working on with a massage therapist and a DVM that does chiro/acupuncture/etc. I was hoping though that if it was just muscular it would improve at least somewhat with 3+ months away from race training, better shoeing, turnout, etc, and it hasn't.

                                    I wish I had tried Bute or Banamine for this last appointment since now I have to wait 5 weeks to find out if it would help. With my DSLD horse who also started having trouble with shoeing, Bute/Banamine couldn't touch his issues, but they do help my old retired guy who's just arthritic. I may dose him and try to reproduce the issues on my own so I can report my findings to the vet. He does cock the diagonal hind when I pick out his front feet but it isn't that big an issue since I don't need to keep his hoof up as long or as still. I can also reproduce the sitting down if I abduct his front legs.

                                    This farrier (who is not tall) has very little patience with less-than-perfect behavior, which doesn't help. I think it's a bit of a vicious cycle because the more unsteady the horse is, the less the farrier wants to be underneath him, the more he abducts the leg, the more unsteady the horse gets, etc. He asked me to get some dormosedan gel for next time. I'm hoping that if I train the horse to be cooperative with the hoof stand, the farrier will be willing to work that way.

                                    The farrier did comment the first time he shod him that he has thin walls. He does react to nailing in addition to the other behaviors I described. I had no idea that there were thinner nails! Will ask about that too.
                                    Building and Managing the Small Horse Farm:


                                      Originally posted by OverandOnward View Post
                                      Check for thin soles, also thin hoof walls. They will make shoeing uncomfortable for the horse. The vet can x-ray for both, it isn't terribly costly, many have the equipment to do it on a mobile call.
                                      I was going to suggest this, as it's unlikely that a horse that raced isn't familiar with shoeing at this stage in their life. They are "re-shod" with way more frequency than sport horses, in my opinion, and are usually reshod before races, too. Most of them have poor angles for sport, and typically have long toes/underrun heels which in turn impacts depth of sole.

                                      AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


                                        Originally posted by beowulf View Post

                                        I was going to suggest this, as it's unlikely that a horse that raced isn't familiar with shoeing at this stage in their life. They are "re-shod" with way more frequency than sport horses, in my opinion, and are usually reshod before races, too. Most of them have poor angles for sport, and typically have long toes/underrun heels which in turn impacts depth of sole.
                                        But just because they're shod frequently doesn't mean they're trained to stand. I have one that was likely drugged and or twitched for his shoes and then ran the entire (short) season on that one set. Another seems to think it's her JOB to wiggle. Neither one is sore or lame or anything else...

                                        Some come out of race training with very professional manners. Others.....