A little trouble with the feet...

Liz is a Recommended Associate of the Intelligent Horsemanship Association, and can help with behavioural issues
Malarkyrocks
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A little trouble with the feet...

Postby Malarkyrocks » Tue Apr 03, 2012 6:50 pm

Hello,

I go to the stables every week and look after a lovely 14.3hh black riding school horse called Malarky. I groom her so I have to pick out her feet.
This is where she can get a little bit difficult. If I don't have her tied up then she will try and turn around to bite me but if I do have her tied up then she can resist me trying to pick up the foot. Sometimes she OK but other times it takes quite a lot of persuasion to make her lift it up.

Do you have any advice to make it easier to pick out her feet?
Thank you,

Harriet

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Re: A little trouble with the feet...

Postby Expert_LizPitman » Fri Apr 06, 2012 7:29 pm

Hi Harriet,

Sorry to keep you waiting.

There are a few different things I can think of here so the answer is a bit of a "it depends".

If Malarky is a riding school horse, I'm assuming that she's not a youngster who hasn't learned how to have her feet picked up. It is, though, possible that she wasn't taught properly and so worries. If that is the case, then it should be possible to teach her.

What is also possible is that she has some physical discomfort that is making pickig her foot up something she dislikes doing because it hurts. Her biting if untied is her way of saying "please don't do that". In that case, unless the cause of the discomfort is identified and addressed, she'll probably always have this problem. Even if it is, it might still take a little training (aka explanation) to let her know that it won't hurt any more.

It's also possible that people have been a bit thoughtless in how she's handled, and that she feels for some reason in danger when having a foot lifted. An unsympathetic farrier, a rough groom, etc. can easily cause a horse to be defensive over leg handling.

Before I go into any ideas on what to do, could you tell me a bit more. Is it all feet or just one/some? Is she ok for the farrier? Are there any other little quirks, things she doesn't like? Is she ok to tack up and mount? And anything else that you can think of, even if it might not seem connected. The more info I have, the more I can hazard an educated guess and give you some thoughts.

And I promise to check back regularly and not keep you waiting so long!

Liz

Malarkyrocks
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Re: A little trouble with the feet...

Postby Malarkyrocks » Mon Apr 09, 2012 5:13 pm

Hi,

She is a riding school horse and is now 15. The riding school have had her since she was 4 and I have been looking after her for 2 1/2 years now. When I first started she was the grumpiest, moodiest and stubborn mare on the riding school! People were scared of tacking her up and grooming her. But I think that having a regular helper every week has made her sweeter now.

She sometimes has tried to have a little nip when doing up the girth and I have been told that she has done that forever! With her front feet she can be a bit difficult when picking them up but she now rarely puts in a huge fight (like she used to when I started looking after her) but with her back ones she OK picking them up but does try a half- hearted little kick, after she's through that, she's fine.

She's alright with the farrier and she's good to mount when someones holding her. But if I try to mount without someone holding her, she does tend to wander off. Shes not a great one for standing still, depending what mood she is in. Currently, she is lame with a tweaked tendon in her off fore. However, at the weekend I gave her a groom in the field without her tied up and someone with their hand resting on her nose to stop the little nip, but she was very good.

That was a lot of typing but I hope it helps you work out why she can be a little difficult, thanks

Harriet

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Re: A little trouble with the feet...

Postby Expert_LizPitman » Tue Apr 10, 2012 8:25 am

Hi Harriet,

I've just looked back at the question you posted last year, it sounds like is part of the same problem for Malarky, that she's generally not very happy still. My gut instinct is that she's uncomfortable and is trying to tell you that in the only way she can.

If you think about it, 11 years is a long time to be in a riding school. She'll be ridden by lots of different people, and even if all of them were quite good riders it would put a lot of strain on her back. I don't know if her saddle is regularly checked (every 6 months or so), but if not that will also make a difference to her back. All horses need their backs and bodies looking after, but school horses and those that work very hard even more than others.

A sore back would explain why she nips when her girth is done up and also maybe why she fidgets when you get on her. It might also explain why she's unhappy having her feet picked up. If you watch someone else picking a horse's foot up and have a look what the rest of the body does, you'll see how much lifting one leg affects the back, shoulders, hips, etc. My starting point would be to get a physio to check her thoroughly, but I appreciate that's not something you yourself can arrange. If you'd feel happy doing it, though, it might be worth asking the school manager about it.

It's difficult for me to know what to suggest that you could do at the moment, though. Until we're sure that she's physically comfortable, that she's not nipping to say "that's hurt, please don't", no training will help.

Do you think you could talk to someone at the yard about it?

Liz

Malarkyrocks
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Re: A little trouble with the feet...

Postby Malarkyrocks » Tue Apr 10, 2012 3:43 pm

Thank you very much and I will speak to the manager at the stables.

Harriet

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Re: A little trouble with the feet...

Postby Expert_LizPitman » Tue Apr 10, 2012 7:45 pm

Good luck. Let me know how you get on. :)


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