Working with the feet of young horses or babies can be trying for a farrier. Yet, with a little patience and preparation, it doesn’t have to be a chore.
Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., farrier Jennifer Horn suggests starting off by making a lot of comfortable contact with the horse.
“I don’t want to be aggressive and arm-wrestle them, but when I’m asking for a leg, I want them to know they can trust me,” she says. “They need to know I have their leg, and it’s safe; I am not going to suddenly drop it. When I’m done working on the foot, I’ll put it down gently.”
After finishing a foot, she might work with it a little more, tapping around the foot with the hoof pick to get them used to what will happen in their future. Horn teaches the owner how to get a nervous youngster more at ease with what the farrier will do.
“We need to be able to pull a foot forward and dress it, and with young horses, I gently move the leg into all the positions I’ll need them to be in at some point,” she explains. “I want them to realize they can be comfortable with this. When I am finished, I don’t just let the foot fall to the ground. I keep hold of it and follow it down, so they are never alarmed with unexpected sudden actions.”
With a young horse, you are setting the stage for future success, to prevent any problems down the road.
“You are either teaching them something beneficial or un-teaching them in everything you do,” Horn says. “If you can get the youngster past his suspicions or fears, you’ve made progress.”
Gain more insight by reading “Hoof Care for the Nervous Horse” in the January/February 2019 issue of American Farriers Journal.