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Trimming babies feet. How do you do keep them still?

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  • Trimming babies feet. How do you do keep them still?

    I am in my third year of breeding foals. The first two years, the foals were in a different paddock, and they did wear and chip their hooves more. This made trimming easier for the farrier.
    This year, my first foal was born earlier by about three months than the other two. She and mom were in a smaller paddock. She started to grow longer toes, and less heel. We trimmed her for the first time at about 2 months. She was quite low heeled, and we were almost going to glue on shoes. Luckily, she corrected, and yesterday had her third trim at about six months old, and she looks great. The farrier almost didn't believe it was the same foal. Corrected perfectly.
    Now I have her and foal number 2, in the bigger pasture. Both these foals have good feet.
    Foal 3 is in the small pasture. The dam does NOT like anyone else with her so there is no option to change fields. Foal thee is almost 3 months old. He was doing the same thing. Long toe, no heel. Yesterday was his first trim, and we did get it corrected, but I had to call the Vet to sedate him. Turns out he did have an absess in his hind foot. I think this is why he really didn't want to have his feet done. We were able to do his front feet without sedation.

    Now, here's my question. How do you trim your foals feet for the first couple times. For me, I use a long rope that goes through the halter ring, criss crossing at the whither, and then around the bum. If I pull the rope, it pulls at the bum, not the head. I don't know why but it works.

    Except for yesterday.

    These foals are all halter trained and lead in and out every day. They go into a stall at night and are used to people fussing. I do pick up their feet everyday. One foal is perfect. One is really shy at the best of times. His reaction is to fight to get the halter on, and then will stand. Nervous but will stand. The last one is a feisty little bugger. He will halter fine, and will let you pet him all over, but he is definitely feisty. He gave us the trouble. He was still kicking even with sedation. Again, he did have an absess. I am usually alone on a day to day basis. They were fine with me in there but with two people, they didn't want to relax.

    So what do you do for their first couple trims? How do you manage them? Any tricks?

  • #2
    I have only done 1 from scratch, my '11 foal. It wasn't a big deal, as I started handling and rapping on his feet from a day old. I would pick each foot/leg up while he was laying down, rub them for just a few seconds, and release. I started asking for a hoof give while standing as soon as he was comfortable standing balanced on his own, so that took a few days.

    It didn't take but a couple of weeks before he would give me each foot and let me have it for 10,15 seconds at a time, always held low for balance.

    By 4 weeks I took my rasp and touched the toes and that was it. I might only do the front 2 toes one day, then the backs the next.

    The key was - not waiting until there was a problem I started the whole thing way, way early, either doing nothing but holding the rasp there, maybe knocking a little, or taking a swipe or two.

    Mostly I could do the frequent, but brief trims with him in the stall. Sometimes I'd get my husband to hold him if he was feeling a bit rambunctious.
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


    • #3
      I have a farrier who is magic with babies, and that helps. However, I don't use ropes to hold them still. For very young foals, I support them by holding them at the chest and butt, and use my body to support them if they need it. For older foals, I'm next to them, and often use my arm by their withers. My farrier is wonderful with the pressure and release with their feet, letting them put it down if they need to, but they can't yank it away. I have one filly who is feisty, and the first time she was trimmed it probably took 15 minutes or so before she stood, but she did stand and is now good. In my opinion, forcing these babies to stand still makes them more resistant. The trick is getting them to realize that they can do it on their own. The best thing is a farrier who is patient with foals, and understands the subtleties of training, making the right thing easy. A few years ago I had a foal who needed a lot of footwork, and took her to a vet hospital for the farrier there. He got the job done every time but insisted on sedation. It then took two years to get her over being needle shy.
      Mystic Owl Sporthorses


      • #4
        Yes, when I was first working on lifting a leg all the way off the ground, I could put my left arm around the chest and use my right to life the left leg, and vice versa for the other. For the hinds, I would run my left hand inside the LH as that seemed to give a sense of stability to have my full hand and arm there.
        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


        • #5
          I would not wait till 2 months of age before doing the 1st trim. Mine are done anywhere from day-old to 4 weeks old, depending on schedule of other horses (ie, if farrier is there and I have a 2 day, 2 week, or 4 week old foal, they are done). I usually have them trimmed every 4 weeks for the 1st 4 months. I do in the mare's stall, the first time, then usually standing outside the stall where they can touch mom's nose, thereafter. I hold them on a leadrope, with by hand around the rump as required. I usually find they are more fidgety with the front feet, so we usually do back 1st. Even if there is little to no trimming required, we ensure all 4 hoofs are touched, handled with the rasp. In between visits, I pick-up and handle the feet, so they are used to that. Most foals handle it pretty well; even the panicky ones are pretty calm by the 3rd vist. Because they will be less than 2 months old at that time, the issue of size/weight of foal is not as significant as if we started at a later age. Usually by the 3rd visit (sometimes 1st visit) the foal is standing calmly, supporting own weight on 3 feet. I am always touching the foal, however, throughout, often with a curry or comb in hand to provide a pleasant distraction while the farrier works. My farrier is great, and so patient.
          Sunny Days Hanoverians


          • #6
            Sometimes it helps to have an extra hand. I don't over do it with mine, but I do start lifting their legs up very early on. I'm one who doesn't drill halter training either, they wear a halter, and will stand, but it's not something I do every day. Anyways, I start at about 4 weeks as well (sooner if there is an issue). I have one person hold the head and chest, on the side that the farrier is on, then I have another person on the opposite side, supporting them. Sometimes I'll face them into a wall. This has worked very well. My farrier is AWESOME. We always make it a good experience, and they are better next time around. My weanlings were just trimmed a couple weeks ago, and stood like old pro's. I use lots and lots of scratches and praise.
            Making Your Ambitions a Reality at Secret Ambition Stables.
            Quality Welsh Ponies and Welsh Crosses bred for sport
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            Section A and Section B Welsh Ponies at stud


            • #7
              Handle them early and get them used to lifting their legs and having their feet handled. The first time the farrier comes, we do them in the stall, butt to the back wall and a side against a wall for support. Do one side, then move them to the other wall in the stall and do the other side. I hold, all the while talking/reassuring, petting and scratching. No tying is involved until much further down the road. This process is repeated until they've gotten the hand of the process and it's no longer a big deal. Usually takes a time or three, but thats usually it and then they can stand in the barn aisle like the big boys and girls to get their toes done.

              I'm a big believer in having the farrier involved early, even if it's nothing more than a trial run on doing their feet while he's there, before he actually does them. I also start having the farrier look at their feet at one month of age, but it's usually 2, 3 or even 4 mos. before he actually starts doing anything and then it's usually just filing an edge here or there to keep them straight.

              If you keep them straight and balanced from an early age it helps to keep their lower leg development straight as well. I think waiting until they're yearlings or two year olds without implementing good hoof care is a mistake as alot of lower limb issues can be avoided.

              Having said that, I have run across two young horses whose owners had been doing their own hooves and both wound up quite pigeon-toed because the owner didn't know what they were doing, filed them wrong and it could have been avoided. So while it might look simple enough to file your own horse's feet, there are some biomechanical aspects you're probably not aware of which can lead to more harm than good. Okay, off that soap box....
              Fat Cat Farm Sporthorses on Facebook
              Fat Cat Farm Sporthorses Website and Blog


              • #8
                When you say you pick up their feet, do you actually pick them out? We start TBs young and they get trimmed every 2-3 weeks from birth through when they go to the sales as yearlings. They get their temps taken and feet picked out every single day. That helps a lot with the handling. As soon as they are weaned, they start to learn how to tie. We bring them in, tie them and let them eat their breakfast while we temp & pick feet. I agree that a good farrier helps. Honestly though, the earlier you start, the better - they are small enough that you can kind of gently make them stand and they are still small enough that if they want to fight, you can easily win that battle. They usually learn pretty quick how to behave for trims. (of course there are always naughty ones that always try to pick fights, but overall the daily handling and training from birth is very helpful)

                I'd really just work on picking out their hooves daily and your next farrier visit should be easier


                • #9
                  I simply trained mine when she was a foal to stand for the farrier. Handled her feet daily (picked them), and got her used to the positions which a farrier holds their legs, and “fake” rasped her feet with an old file. Sessions are kept short with lots of reward, and she has always been very cooperative for the farrier. Now as a young horse you can trim her while ground tied.
                  APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


                  • #10
                    The other thing to consider is the farrier holds the leg at a slightly different angle to work than we do when we just pick out their feet - maybe not the first time where he might just use a bit of rasp, but when they do really start to grow enough that needs the nippers. The farrier is also producing sensations - the sensation of the rasp sliding across the foot, they can feel all of that and it's different.

                    I am like Sunnydays, my farrier is superduper patient and he comes very frequently when I have babies. Also, in between, I work on the feet, holding them in somewhat similar manner that my farrier does or I move the foot around in a variety of different directions so they get the idea to let me move the foot where I need it moved, plus I pat the feet, and I run a dull rasp over the hoof to make pretend rasping (my rasp is so dull it does nothing), but it's the sensation they still get. They then learn to get used to the idea. We also do the first couple trims in the stall with mommy and by the time they're about 3 months, they can stand outside the stall and if mommy is the calm type, which most of mine are, I leave the window open so she can reach through the window and snuffle with baby. It's really a process, but your farrier is a key element in this learning process. You want things calm, quiet, patient, and progressive. I also reward baby and give lots of encouragement and scritches and always make happy/pleased faces with the foal and they learn that cooperation means happiness and they become progressively more cooperative and pretty soon, they're old hats at it.
                    Practice! Patience! Persistence!


                    • #11
                      It's up to owners to give foals similar handling to what a farrier would do, and yes, this should include running a "vibrating" rasp over their foot. A good dull one and a swipe here and there isn't going to do any harm, but still produces the sensation.

                      Owners also need to learn to hold the foot like a farrier does - it's quite different from just picking up the foot to clean it.

                      Likewise, it's the farrier's responsibility to understand this is a young creature still learning the ropes and still apt to test the waters. He can't just crank the leg up like he would an adult, he can't expect a foal to stand on 3 legs as long as an older horse can.

                      I have a great trimmer who came every 6 weeks for the first year to help me keep tabs, since this was the first foal I've done from the start. The first several trims, she was on her knees in order to keep his leg low enough to not make him feel unbalanced.
                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                      • #12
                        Our foals' feet are picked up just about from birth on, so it's never a big deal. Maybe we're lucky?
                        Randee Beckman ~Otteridge Farm, LLC (http://on.fb.me/1iJEqvR)~ Marketing Manager - The Clothes Horse & Jennifer Oliver Equine Insurance Specialist