Deidre Carson answers:
There are a few reasons why your horse might not pick up his front feet…
- He might feel some sort of pain when one or other foot is lifted up
- He might have been frightened in some way
- He might simply have learnt that he can avoid picking them up if he wants to.
I suggest, therefore, that you start with the basics and get him used to having the legs handled.
If he will allow this, then try to pick up one front foot and reward him profusely when he does. Repeat the exercise, gradually increasing the amount of time that the foot is off the ground.
If he is frightened or dangerous when having this done, I recommend that you have your vet attend to see if some sedation might help in the early stages of this retraining.
It might take some time to ‘unlearn’ this behaviour whatever its cause, and you will need to be patient, but firm.