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Horse has become a brat for the farrier - how to fix it?

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  • Horse has become a brat for the farrier - how to fix it?

    Short background: 17 yo mustang, rounded up at 4, adopted at 5, end up at a rescue at 9, adopted by me and started (totally, completely untouched previously) at 11. I worked hard on ground manners, and he is a perfect gentleman for 99% of things in his life. (He doesn't like being dosed orally or getting on the trailer, but at this point that's it.)

    So he has a basically sound mind and very good disposition, with a lot of good training on him, but he also has his own opinions. He was in full work as an eventer until this past August, when he blew out the Worst Abscess Ever, and now seven months later we are still dealing with complications from it. It's a very long story but suffice to say he is intermittently lame and has had his feet messed with a LOT since August, and has been under good veterinary and farrier care the entire time.

    Sometime around October, he developed problems with behaving for the farrier. We put shoes on him for the first time within a few days of the abscess blowing as he was about to start more intensive work and we wanted to see if he could move more easily, etc. Previous to that he had been barefoot for nearly his whole life, and was a perfect gentleman for standing for trims (as reported to me by trimmers and farriers, and as witnessed in person).

    I suspect that he's pissed off that he's been subjected to so much handling, that his abscessed foot has been hurting on and off for a while, and that it's sensitive to having a shoe hammered on. The foot is damaged to the point where going barefoot is not an option; he needs to wear shoes on the front to continue to encourage correct balance and provide support.

    He's acting up to the point where he's needed to be tranq'd for his last 3 farrier visits. I've been working with him almost daily for weeks: holding his feet up for long periods of time, manipulating them in the way a farrier would, banging on the shoes with the metal part of my hoof pick to mimic the sound and feel of a hammer. He behaves for me - it's not his favorite thing but he will stand quietly, even untied in his stall. However, as soon as the farrier picked up his foot to pull the shoe yesterday he started hopping around, yanking his feet away, shoving his shoulders into us, and being really bratty. He would listen to me correct him for a split second or two and then go back to misbehaving. We had to tranq him again.

    I'm not sure what I can do going forward. He's had 7 years of perfect behavior - including 3 shoeing cycles of shoes about 3 years ago as an experiment that wasn't worth it - and now he's the worst horse in the barn. Ground manners are really, really important to me. I'm not sure what to do anymore. I don't want to ask the farrier to spend tons of time and risk himself physically to do this inch by inch, but I also don't want to have the vet out every single time he needs to get trimmed. He behaves for me, but I can't shoe him.

    Any advice on how I can work with him going forward to help get him back to behaving? I'm usually pretty good with ground work, but I'm stumped.
    life + horses
    beljoeor.blogspot.com

  • #2
    My horse has HATED every farrier until his current one. He is very stiff in the shoulders, and does not like his leg pulled out sideways. My current farrier is so good, he figured this out in seconds.

    With the past farrier he hated most, he would wait until his foot was full of unclinched nails and than yank his foot away.

    My current farrier knows how to get under my horse so my horse does not react. My horse loves his current farrier, but my current farrier says he has to turn into a pretzel to shoe him. So I love my farrier too.

    Something maybe to consider -- is your horse particular about the way his leg is held.
    Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.

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    • #3
      I also wonder if it may be the farrier you're using. I've had five or six different farriers in the 15 years I've owned my mare, and she's stood like a rock for all of them but one. That one shoed her three times, and each time she got progressively worse, until we were resorting to a lip chain just to keep control of her. I decided to listen, tried a different farrier, and she went back to her normal, relaxed self and has let every farrier since do what they need to do with no fuss at all on her part.
      Caitlin
      *OMGiH I Loff my Mare* and *My Saddlebred Can Do Anything Your Horse Can Do*
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      • #4
        IME, a horse that is just out of the blue terrible for the farrier is in pain. Try 2 grams of bute the morning of the appointment, and if he's better, start looking for where he's hurting.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Unfortunately, this has happened with two farriers now. The current farrier is lovely; I watched him work on my horse yesterday and he was thoughtful, deliberate, and calm. He had been trimmed by the previous farrier for 2+ years when he started to get bratty.

          I do think it's definitely related to pain. I know he's sensitive about the bad foot right now, and I'm sure it stings a bit to get the shoe hammered on. We're doing everything we can to ease that - regular massages, buting when necessary, and following a longterm treatment plan with the vet and the farrier both. He's acting up whenever the farrier touches him, though - I think he's associating any kind of farrier work with the fallout from that abscessed foot, and I want to try to stop that association and get him on the right track again. There's no reason he should be flipping around when the farrier works on his back feet, for example.
          life + horses
          beljoeor.blogspot.com

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          • #6
            Personally, I'd premedicate with bute to try to make sure the horse was as comfortable as possible, but I'd continue to tranquilize the horse for farrier work. I think that with time and with making the farrier visits as calm and comfortable as possible your horse will settle back down naturally. Depending on your experience/comfort level, you may want to discuss a plan with your vet that would not require your vet's presence. I wouldn't feel bad about it--abscesses hurt and I agree, I think your horse has associated that pain (and may still have some ongoing pain) with the farrier. It's just going to take some time to get back to normal.

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            • #7
              The vet can sedate, then nerve block the bad foot before it is shod. We had to do that with one of our horses for a while.

              Comment


              • #8
                There are some tranquilizers, Ace being one of them, that can be given sub-lingually. Just be sure to give it well before the farrier even gets there, and if in doubt give more than you need, or try it ahead of time to establish dosage and duration of effect. Others medications come in gels, and pastes.

                I would also continue with bute before hand
                Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

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                • #9
                  Instead of bute I would try IV banamine just before farrier. Likely the farrier has caused the horse some pain after you started putting shoes on, and the horse is now determined not to be hurt again. I may take persuading to convince the horse that nailing on shoes is not going to hurt him. Banamine might help.
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                  • #10
                    To hear a horse described as "bratty" always makes me cringe because it implies willful, premeditated bad behavior and SO VERY FEW horses actually do this.

                    Maybe the animal is hurting. Give him some bute an hour before the farrier comes and see if that helps. Otherwise, more strident insistence on resuming his previous good manners may be necessary but I'd be inclined to give a previously well-mannered horse the benefit of the doubt and think pain before naughtiness.
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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Just to clarify - I'm quite sure he's hurting. We're working hard to both address the cause of the pain and to treat the pain in the meantime. We spent a few hours yesterday with both the vet and the farrier looking at x-rays and trying to get more support on that foot. I get that working on that foot is causing some pain.

                      But he's also striking out and leaping around when the farrier handles any feet at all, well before he even trims or puts the shoes on. He couldn't even get one shoe off yesterday before he started acting up. It may have started with pain, but now it's behavioral.

                      It sounds like tranq'ing may be what we have to do until we get him pain-free and sound again. I did talk to the vet yesterday about other sedation options that would be effective and less expensive than a vet call for every shoeing, so we'll check in about that when he's due again.
                      life + horses
                      beljoeor.blogspot.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Are you at a barn where the farrier comes to do horses other than your horse? If so, I would ask the farrier if he/she could come over, pet the horse, maybe rub a leg, and then leave. Kind of re-train the horse to view the farrier as "no big deal."

                        I would strongly try the pain relief options, since the horse feels he has to act out to let you know he's not okay...now he's just so worried its going to hurt all of the time. I don't blame him, abscesses are unbelievably painful!

                        Is there any way you can not have nail-on shoes? Can you do boots for a little bit to give the hoof a break?

                        Good luck, I hope you find a tranq/pain relief solution quickly!
                        "On the back of a horse I felt whole, complete, connected to that vital place in the center of me...and the chaos within me found balance."

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                        • #13
                          I have resorted to nailing the shoes on my husbands horse for the farrier. Farriers tend not to believe me. But he will allow anyone to trim the hoof and shape the shoe etc. But once you start nailing he gets angry at anybody but a family member.

                          Obviously Precious is not hurting or he would be a brat for us too over hammering.

                          Farriers will fight him....then I say are you ready to watch. Once they see it they just shake their head in disbelief. My new farrier is most patient with us. He does everything but the hammering. Then he will watch and tell me what to do. And ensure everything is correct. Have me pull the nail if wrong and such. Tell me how I could do alittle better next time and what not.

                          I pay him the full shoeing price as it takes me a little longer to do the work....even if it is my back....I mean the hubby's back (it should be but its not) that is doing some of the work.

                          Sedating this horse helps. But to get him happy enough to allow the farrier to nail he gets a little unstable on his feet sometimes. With myself hammering everybody is safe and happy cuz honestly my farrier is the last person I need hurt. He is too important and needed by my other 18 head not to mention everyone elses horses to risk getting hurt over one knuckle headed horse.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            If you know he's in pain then treat the pain and drug the horse. It's unfair to do it any other way. Mustangs are smart critters and I don't think it's surprising that he's being protective of himself when he's "expecting" to hurt. The more you push the issue when he's undrugged, the worse he's going to get. So make it a pleasant, easy experience for him (and everyone else) from the outset.

                            I used 1/2 cc dormosedan + 1/2 cc ace when I had one who was tough to trim due to fear issues. It can go IM. No need to have the vet out.

                            You can also use dormosedan gel sublingually. It is very effective.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Is he food motivated at all? Can you give him a haynet/something to eat while the farrier is working? If you can find something he thinks is really yummy and he only gets that during farrier visits (and if he stands) then you have something to work with.

                              Could he wear boots for a while? Can you farrier swing by just to give horsie a pet and say hi?
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                              • #16
                                Agree with all of the above, but in the meantime, can you also use something heavier/ larger to pull and tap on his feet with to desensitize him to the sensation? The metal part of a hoof pick does not carry the kind of force and "ring" that a hammer does, same with shoe pullers etc? Obviously I don't mean try to make him truly uncomfortable, but can you tap enough to make him feel it, and have someone reward him with a delicious treat or scratch if he tolerates it for you?

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  If you have the vet sedate him and nerve block him, you will know how much is pain and how much is him being a brat.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by kerlin View Post
                                    Short background: 17 yo mustang, rounded up at 4, adopted at 5, end up at a rescue at 9, adopted by me and started (totally, completely untouched previously) at 11. I worked hard on ground manners, and he is a perfect gentleman for 99% of things in his life. (He doesn't like being dosed orally or getting on the trailer, but at this point that's it.)

                                    So he has a basically sound mind and very good disposition, with a lot of good training on him, but he also has his own opinions. He was in full work as an eventer until this past August, when he blew out the Worst Abscess Ever, and now seven months later we are still dealing with complications from it. It's a very long story but suffice to say he is intermittently lame and has had his feet messed with a LOT since August, and has been under good veterinary and farrier care the entire time.

                                    Sometime around October, he developed problems with behaving for the farrier. We put shoes on him for the first time within a few days of the abscess blowing as he was about to start more intensive work and we wanted to see if he could move more easily, etc. Previous to that he had been barefoot for nearly his whole life, and was a perfect gentleman for standing for trims (as reported to me by trimmers and farriers, and as witnessed in person).

                                    I suspect that he's pissed off that he's been subjected to so much handling, that his abscessed foot has been hurting on and off for a while, and that it's sensitive to having a shoe hammered on. The foot is damaged to the point where going barefoot is not an option; he needs to wear shoes on the front to continue to encourage correct balance and provide support.

                                    He's acting up to the point where he's needed to be tranq'd for his last 3 farrier visits. I've been working with him almost daily for weeks: holding his feet up for long periods of time, manipulating them in the way a farrier would, banging on the shoes with the metal part of my hoof pick to mimic the sound and feel of a hammer. He behaves for me - it's not his favorite thing but he will stand quietly, even untied in his stall. However, as soon as the farrier picked up his foot to pull the shoe yesterday he started hopping around, yanking his feet away, shoving his shoulders into us, and being really bratty. He would listen to me correct him for a split second or two and then go back to misbehaving. We had to tranq him again.

                                    I'm not sure what I can do going forward. He's had 7 years of perfect behavior - including 3 shoeing cycles of shoes about 3 years ago as an experiment that wasn't worth it - and now he's the worst horse in the barn. Ground manners are really, really important to me. I'm not sure what to do anymore. I don't want to ask the farrier to spend tons of time and risk himself physically to do this inch by inch, but I also don't want to have the vet out every single time he needs to get trimmed. He behaves for me, but I can't shoe him.

                                    Any advice on how I can work with him going forward to help get him back to behaving? I'm usually pretty good with ground work, but I'm stumped.

                                    In a bit of a hurry so I don't have time to read all the posts, but I just wanted to weigh in quickly.
                                    I have a friend whose horse was an absolute menace to shoe. Literally would throw himself on the ground every time it was time to get those shoes on. Basically waht it turned out to be was that shoes were not right for him, he was protesting vehemently the only way he knew how. Now with the barefoot trimmer, he will stand quietly without even being tied, dozing off while being trimmed. It seems like a silly question, but have you considered that pehaps he simply doesn't like having shoes on? My friend's experience has opened my eyes to that possibility. IMHO a horse that needs to be tranq'ed for shoeing is not a healthy horse. But with barefoot not being possible atm for you, have you considered boots, glue-on shoes or easyboot glue-ons? Could be an avenue worth investigating!
                                    Best of luck and sorry about the disjointed post.
                                    Equine portraits in oil and pencil at www.facebook.com/ecrklaveness

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Glue on shoes?

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Some horses seem to be extremely sensitive to the sensation of nailing. I've fond that supporting the foot separate from the limb to absorb the concussion helps sometimes. Arthritis or inflammation in the lower joints may be part of the problem.

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