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When approaching a new horse or a young horse that’s never had its feet handled before, a farrier needs to be able to “read” its state of mind. When you do this, you’ll have a better understanding of how to present yourself to that horse, how to deal with it in the short-term and the long-term and can have a strategy for building a good relationship.
“When you first approach a new horse, you know what its attitude is by how it looks at you,” says Pete Healey, a Los Olivos, Calif., farrier who frequently works on new horses at the Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center in Los Olivos.
To the new horse, a strange person approaching with a farrier’s shoeing box might be alarming. You have to be observant of the horse’s response. What is the horse doing as you approach? Is it moving away, snorting, stepping? Does the handler have a harder time holding onto the rope?