Handling Horse's Feet

Handling the Feet

I was working with my yearling Pooka. She is an Arab-Shire filly. She leads OK and is not afraid of us. She comes up to us when we enter the field and will let us pet her when she is lying down. So today I decided it was time to handle her feet.

Just do it...

I had a friend hold her lead rope while I started to touch her leg. I basically did the old approach and retreat working my way down to her hoof. This went well. I then tried to pick up her hoof and things did not go so well. She tried to move and jump around. I tried to hang on but she is about 500-600 lbs so in the long run, she won.

Plan B: Regroup and try again...

OK, so maybe I was a little quick to handle her feet. So, I decided to take it a bit slower. I took my lead rope (15 feet) and tossed it over her back repeatedly. She was OK with this as I had done this before with her. I then tossed the lead rope around her feet. I would swing the rope so it would wrap around her legs. She did not like this. Pooka would kick and try to get away. I would just keep tossing the rope and making sure her nose was pointing towards me, so I wouldn’t get kicked, until she stood still. Eventually she did. After a bit of a fight she stood still and all was OK. The rope around her legs did not kill her and she stood still while it happened.

Now it was time to pick up her leg. I took the lead rope and put it around her foot. So, basically I had this huge loop in my rope that went around her leg. If I dropped one end of the rope he leg would be free, just in case all hell broke loose. While keeping her nose pointed towards me I seesawed the rope back and forth all over the upper to lower parts of her leg. When Pooka was OK with this I pulled on the loop picking her foot up. She jumped around and kicked but I was safe, nose pointed towards me, and the rope felt no pain. Once she should stand still and let me hold her leg up for 2 seconds I would release the tension and let her put her leg down. I then worked up to 4 seconds and then 10. Once I could hold her leg up for 10 seconds I decided that it was time for me to pick up her hoof with my hand.

Finally (OK, only 20 minutes later)

After all this I again attempted to pick up her hoof with my hand. Wow, no problem. She let me pick it up. I would hold it for 2 seconds and let it go. Then 4 seconds. Then 10 seconds. Then I took a pick and picked out her foot.

That was a good day for Pooka so I let her go on her way.

This article reprinted with permission from Everything Equus. everythingequus.com.