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Need tips for training horse to stand for farrier

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  • Need tips for training horse to stand for farrier

    I have a new OTTB who I just adore. He is only four and from what I hear about track farriers, given how quickly they shoe, he doesn't like to keep his feet up for great lengths of time.

    This is especially problematic because we are currently putting glue-ons on his fronts. For those not familiar with them, it requires the foot to be up for approx 7 mins for the epoxy to set. When this horse wants to put his foot down, he wants it down! He will literally bow like an Andalusian to get his foot back. And my poor little farrier - she goes through hell and high water to hang onto that foot.

    My research has said to put the horse on a longe line. Practice picking the foot up and holding it and when the horse tries to put it down, put him on a circle 2-4 laps around, then stop him and try again (rinse, repeat). The logic: it is more work to not stand still.

    Any other tips?

  • #2
    Clicker training. I'm not typically into "non traditional" training techniques but this is one instance where it is useful.

    Also make sure the horse is stood on a mat or something reasonably soft. If he is at all footsore or bodysore, it is going to be hard for him to keep one foot up for any length of time.
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      So, I've been doing clicker training - I say, "Pick up" and tap his leg and when he picks it up, I click and give him a treat. Eventually, I know you are supposed to be able to remove the treat portion of the process.

      But can you elborate on what you suggest w/the clicker training?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by FlashGordon View Post
        Clicker training. I'm not typically into "non traditional" training techniques but this is one instance where it is useful.

        Also make sure the horse is stood on a mat or something reasonably soft. If he is at all footsore or bodysore, it is going to be hard for him to keep one foot up for any length of time.
        Took the words right out of my head although I *do* use CT in all of my regular teachings.

        As a hoofcare provider I've run across many horses over the years who were not the best at holding up their hooves BUT -- remembering that when asking for a hoof we're asking the horse to surrender a piece of his survival defense then it changes our own thinking on which the horse picks up. When we think of 'teaching' rather than 'training' it changes our thinking - and yes, the horse picks that up, too. So its not JUST the mechanics of the 'training' but the energy of the thoughts that go into the 'teaching', as well.

        Remembering that a horse will resist with as much energy as the force being applied to him (physically or mentally) then its easier to understand the resistance.

        Try CT and try to think in terms of teaching him. Let him know that 1. He's safe. 2. You're there to HELP him; not to force him and 3. What it is you WANT and HOW to give that to you.

        Teach him; don't force him.
        --Gwen <><
        "Treat others as you want to be treated and be the change you want to see in the world."
        http://www.thepenzancehorse.com

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by caballus View Post

          Teach him; don't force him.
          That makes sense...

          I try to make it like a 'trick'. "Pick up", tap-tap, when he does (sometimes I have to repeat the request several times), I click then, while still holding the foot, I reach backwards and give him a treat.

          I need help with the process... like, should I put the foot down after clicking and then treat? I want to make sure the process is clear enough for him to connect w/it. And then, I need help figuring out how to extend the period for which we hold his foot. 7 minutes is a long time!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Secret Shopper View Post
            That makes sense...

            I try to make it like a 'trick'. "Pick up", tap-tap, when he does (sometimes I have to repeat the request several times), I click then, while still holding the foot, I reach backwards and give him a treat.

            I need help with the process... like, should I put the foot down after clicking and then treat? I want to make sure the process is clear enough for him to connect w/it. And then, I need help figuring out how to extend the period for which we hold his foot. 7 minutes is a long time!
            Well, if he picks up his hoof, now, for you when you ask, he's learned. Now you want to teach him the 'next step' which would be to 'hold it' for you ... So instead of clicking for picking it up (as long as he's 100% with this now and repeating the exercise just 3 or 4 times perfectly, the horse 'knows' it) ... use an intermediate bridge .. that is, tell him "Hold it! Hold it!" and he'll probably try to take the foot away immediately but if you do hold on then click the instant he 'relaxes' then you can increase the time in increments that he'll hold it up for you. He's not yet understanding that you want him to hold it up for you -- he thinks, OK, I'm picking up my hoof for her -- what more does she want? ... So teach him what you want!
            --Gwen <><
            "Treat others as you want to be treated and be the change you want to see in the world."
            http://www.thepenzancehorse.com

            Comment


            • #7
              In addition to what is suggested, can you do this in a stall or where he can balance himself against a wall with the off side of the leg being held up. It's tough for some humans to stand on one foot for 7 minutes without help.

              Comment


              • #8
                My new gelding (4 yo) was a little rusty on picking up and holding up his feet when I first got him. One thing someone suggested which solved 30% of the problem right away, was make sure he's standing square before you pick up each foot. What my guy was doing (and I didn't notice at first) is he might be, say, resting one leg, or standing crooked and he'd give me a foot, but then he'd start losing his balance and hadn't quite figured out how to adjust himself. So I started squaring him up, then lifting foot one, then square him up again if necessary, lift foot 2, etc.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I have a horse who was impossible for the farrier. He'd grab that foot back in a nanosecond. Ace did nothing.

                  I found a trainer who fixed him in four sessions. Same method as described in the OP's first post.

                  I have had this trainer work with all my horses on good manners for the farrier.
                  www.oakhollowstable.blogspot.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Oakstable View Post
                    I have a horse who was impossible for the farrier. He'd grab that foot back in a nanosecond. Ace did nothing.

                    I found a trainer who fixed him in four sessions. Same method as described in the OP's first post.

                    I have had this trainer work with all my horses on good manners for the farrier.
                    Just a note -- using CT (positive reinforcement instead of positive punishment) I use this within a (one) trim appointment so I can get the horse's hooves trimmed and don't have to go back until the next scheduled appt. I've found CT to decrease the lesson time exponentially and establish the behavior, also exponentially, when compared to more 'conventional training'.
                    --Gwen <><
                    "Treat others as you want to be treated and be the change you want to see in the world."
                    http://www.thepenzancehorse.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Do you have rads on this horse? Sounds like a pain issue to me. Are his soles super thin? Does he have any rotation?

                      You might also suggest a faster setting glue to your farrier. One of my horses had glue-ons for two years and I don't ever recall having to wait 7 minutes for the glue to set. We used Adhere from Vettech.

                      In addition, the warmer it gets the faster the glue sets.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Another helpful thing I tell clients is to never let the horse slap his foot down. Insist on him putting it down gently. If he slaps it down or pulls it away, pick it back up until he puts it down nicely.

                        Sounds strange, but it goes to attitude. If they realize they don't get it back when they yank, they stand better.
                        "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I agree with the C/T theory. While the longeing theory may work (and probably would on a lazy QH) my GUESS is, that moving is far more rewarding for an OTTB. This from dealing with my very fidgety TB to whom standing still is pretty much the ultimate punishment
                          The thing with the clicker is that they decide they want to work WITH you, so they start trying hard to please, instead of tolerating something so that they don't get a punishment. The suggestion to slowly increase the duration that his foot is up is exactly right. You might even count aloud for him. Another key is---once in a while, still reward him for just picking his foot up, or for holding it for a really short period of time. This helps keep him fresh and interested. For example p/u foot. C/T. p/u foot hold to count of 5. C/T. p/u foot hold for count of 10. C/T. p/u foot, immediately click.
                          The other thing-- someone suggested not letting them yank away their foot. I agree with this most of the time. When coupling it with the clicker though, my attitude is "hey, if you want to take your foot back, fine. No reward though." Then try again, and reward when he lets you keep the foot. This has worked better for my mare, because, again, it's HER idea and HER "option" so she doesn't feel trapped.
                          While I think putting him on good footing and possibly with a wall for balance, my first thought is not pain here. I've seen many many wiggly little 4 yo OTTBs that just find standing to be mentally "painful"
                          Good luck!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I agree with twofatponies about making sure horse is standing square. When I reach for my mare's hoof, she gets a chance to shift, square up, or whatever so she's standing comfortably. Then holding it up is no problem. I think some people don't give their horses an opportunity to do this, and then get into a fight about it. They think horse should yield immediately. I don't think that's reasonable.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              so basically you're teaching it like a down-stay for a dog? Why didn't I think of that? I offered the farrier combat pay today for working with my almost 4-y-o who has had an absess and thinks he's done with people messing with his feet. Maybe I'll work on the down-stay idea ("up-hold" in horse terms). Great idea!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by matryoshka View Post
                                Another helpful thing I tell clients is to never let the horse slap his foot down. Insist on him putting it down gently. If he slaps it down or pulls it away, pick it back up until he puts it down nicely.

                                Sounds strange, but it goes to attitude. If they realize they don't get it back when they yank, they stand better.
                                Agree. It's like catch and release with a fish. Hang on while the horse is flopping around like a fish. Let go when the horse is relaxed and not wiggling, leaning, pulling, etc.

                                Any time you are holding a horse's foot and all you're holding is the weight of the foot without any tension in the horse - THAT'S a good time to put the foot down and pet the horse - and/or push the button on your clicker if you have one.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Adding to what Tom said, that you should give the foot back when they're relaxed, set yourself up for success. If you think the horse will be relaxed with his foot in your hand for 10 seconds, give it back in 9. Don't wait for 11 seconds and get into a fight. If you practice often, your horse will find 10 seconds easy, and you can then wait for 11. Then 12 etc.

                                  Try to work on this when the horse is likely to be relaxed already. Feeding time, the times when they go in or out are not the best. Middle of the day nap time is great. (Yes, eventually when the behavior is trained your horse will be better at any time of day, but in the beginning, give yourselves a break)

                                  I have to say 7 full minutes is REALLY, REALLY, REALLY long for any horse, never mind a youngster. Isn't there any other way? I can't imagine trying to stand on 1 foot for 7 minutes. Maybe resting his foot on a hoof jack? I don't know what shape the shoe is - maybe your farrier will have ideas too?

                                  This is exactly like training a down-stay for a dog. First, you train picking up the hoof. Then you slowly and painstakingly increase the duration of time that he holds it up. Increase the difficulty slowly. This should be low energy, no drama, kind of boring to practice. I like to click at the pick up at first. Once you've clicked you can put the foot down and treat. (the click marks the moment he was doing 'right', and gives you time to get the treat to him) Then once he's good at that, wait to click for a second or two (or whatever seems really easy at first) Then, when you're 80-90% sure you can get that duration, increase by a tiny amount. Making it a 'learning game' for him will keep the thinking part of his brain engaged. Making it easy at first then progressively longer will give him the best chance of success.

                                  Oh, and use LOTS of patience!
                                  Good luck,
                                  m

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Sometimes it is uncomfortable for a horse to hold up it's hoof for an extended period of time.My mare turns in on one one front and has arthritis starting in her fetlock.My farrier is great,she tries to adjust everything to make it a positive experience for both of them.And it is working very well.
                                    mm

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      With older horses who have pain, or any horse, I time it so that I put the foot down before they really need me to. Youngsters need to know they are getting the foot back (you can feel their anxiety build), and oldsters need to have their cooperation rewarded.

                                      A clue to whether your horse needed to put the foot back down due to pain or discomfort is whether he immediately rests the other foot. If he pulls it away and does not put it down to rest the other foot, he may be playing you. Nothing is absolute, though.

                                      It's a funny thing, but those of us who work on feet get a sense about how much a particular horse can stand and how soon to put it down. Unfortunately, for some things, we can't do what the horse needs but have to insist on his cooperation anyway. This is when the handler can really help by rewarding the horse and encouraging him to hang in there.

                                      A draft mare that had been abused by a farrier (it happens, I'm not bashing all farriers here) was very worried about putting her feet down and would jump away whenever she put it down. I think the worry of putting it down made her anxious when I held it up. What worked for her at first was a steady flow of hay-stretcher pellets while she held the foot up, and which continued if she let me put her foot down nicely. If she jumped away, no treats until she was standing there calmly again (we could not so much as scold this horse, she was so fearful). She was so scared that it took a while to earn her trust to where she doesn't need as many treats to keep her cooperative, but they did allow me to get her feet done. Now I can do a very nice trim without worrying about getting kicked or stepped on. In her case, it wasn't exactly clicker training, but it worked. I've got to work with her a little differently than most, since I do a quick run-around with the nipper on each hoof, then go back and rasp each hoof, then go back and finish each hoof. That's what works for her. God help them if they need to get somebody besides me out there to work on her.
                                      "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by mjmvet View Post
                                        I have to say 7 full minutes is REALLY, REALLY, REALLY long for any horse, never mind a youngster.
                                        Maybe that's why they make a fast cure 3-minute glue . . .

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