Hoof Handling & Standing

Q&A: How do I get my horse to stand better or quietly for the horseshoer?

When the dust settles at the end of the day, the task of training your horse rests on your shoulders. It’s not really the horseshoer’s job to train your horse, but many times that’s what happens. I also know that most horse owners have an expectation that it’s the horseshoer’s problem if the horse acts bad. In my humble view it is ultimately the horse owner’s responsibility to train their horse.

I can tell you from experience that every horseshoer knows which clients have good horses and which ones have bad horses. The good farrier will drop a bad horse faster than a green horn picking up a hot horseshoe right off the forge. It is pretty common for bad horses to be continually be shod by young shoers just starting out. Seasoned shoers move on to the good horses and leave the bad ones behind. If your shoer is not returning your calls, he has probably decided your horse is too much trouble. A horseshoer gets paid by the horse, not by the hour.

The faster he or she gets done the more money they make. A horseshoer also doesn’t need or want to get hurt. Horseshoers doesn’t get paid if they can’t work.

Also consider that the better your horse stands, the better your horse will be shod. Shoeing a horse properly is difficult under the best of circumstances.

If a horse is jumping around and jerking its leg that only adds a huge measure of difficulty. Bad acting horses are going to be shod well enough for the horse to get a shoe on.

What can the horse owner do to get the horse to stand better is very simple. If you haven’t established yourself as the leader you need to learn to and do that first. You can’t make excuses for the horse, you have to make results. Horses won’t want to give up control of their feet for two reasons. They think you are not worthy. You haven’t established yourself a the leader. The other reason is that they are afraid. A horse’s main defense is flight. Flight involves moving their feet. If they give up control of their foot then they give up control of their life. That is why horses sometimes kick people who grab at the their leg.

Hitting a horse for not standing properly is counter productive. If your horseshoer hits your horse with his rasp or belly kicks the horse you need to stop the shoeing. Pay him for what he has finished and tell him to take you off his schedule. A horseshoer that treats a horse in that manor has no horsemanship skills. He is not helping your horse be a better horse.

Before you hire the next farrier ask him how he handles punishment for an unruly horse. You should both agree before hand. Just like two parents, you have to be unified.

First you need to determine if your horse is afraid or dominating. Usually younger horse are afraid and older horses are usually dominant. Horses that are afraid of your handling or touching sensitive areas need to be desensitized. Horses that are dominant need to be socialized to accept you as being the leader. Backing up a horse is my usual punishment for a dominant horse. You should keep your feet in one spot as much as possible, while backing the horse by putting pressure on the halter via the lead rope.

You may need someone local to help you with your horse. It’s a good idea to be mentored by a knowledgeable horseperson if you are having any problems. I try to help my clients with their horse as much as possible. I want each time I handle a horse to be an experience in which the horse gets better each time. I don’t everuse leg restraints or twitches.

I just use common every day horse sense. I also haven’t been kicked by a horse in years. In those years I have never had I horse that I couldn’t trim or shoe because of his behavior.

You should also practice picking up and holding your horses feet on a daily basis. Picking out feet and handling them each day makes handling the feet a common occurrence. If the horseshoer is the only one handling his feet then your horse is getting very little time training to have his feet handled.

ALL horsemen and horsewomen should be able to handle their horse’s feet. No foot, no horse.

Fundamental Horsemanship is TLC = Trust, Leadership & Communicatio

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