Holding the leg in a comfortable position and setting it down gently conveys a sense of trust and safety to horses that are scared or nervous.

Hoof Care for the Nervous Horse

Patience is the key to earning the trust and respect of anxious horses

Sometimes the farrier is confronted with a new horse that is averse to being handled, and it is important to be able to tell whether the horse is evasive because it is afraid and nervous or independent and spoiled.

Jennifer Horn, a farrier in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., says that whenever she has a new client or a client with a new horse, she asks about the experiences the client has had with that horse.

“The words clients use in describing the horse’s behavior and their experiences with the horse can give clues, and most of the time people are pretty honest about this,” she says. “You need to carefully listen to them and pick up on key words regarding the horse’s behavior, how it gets along with other horses in the herd, whether it tends to be scared and skittish, etc.”

Farrier Takeaways

  • Listen to the client’s description of the horse’s behavior and watch the horse/client interaction to know whether the behavior is due to fear or something else.
  • Take time to be patient with the inexperienced nervous horse — whether that horse is younger or older.
  • Control the work environment as much as possible to minimize scary situations and nervous reactions.

Approach Quietly

Even if the horse doesn’t seem scared or timid, Horn’s approach to new horses is to come toward them quietly, in a subtle way.

“I offer a hand to let them smell me on their own terms, and I touch them,” she says. “A lot…

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Heather Smith Thomas

Heather Smith Thomas is a freelance writer based in Salmon, Idaho. She has been writing books and articles for nearly 50 years.

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