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Strategies for Working with Difficult Horses

Get in tune with horses by understanding their perspective


Pictured Above: When a horse reacts negatively to smoke from hot shoeing, Aili Sundberg, a farrier in British Columbia and Hawaii, places a hoof trimming on a hot shoe and introduces it to the animal. She walks around the horse so it can watch how the smoke moves, as well as letting the smoke touch the animal’s shoulder and belly.

Farriers often have to work with less than cooperative horses, and sometimes it’s a challenge to assess why a horse is acting the way it is and figure out how to resolve a certain issue. The reward outweighs the effort, though, because many problem horses can then be approached or addressed a little differently — and successfully — without causing future issues.

Often “bad behavior” is due to what’s being done with that horse, says Aili Sundberg, a farrier who spends part of her time in British Columbia and Hawaii. The person handling the horse is usually not considering the horse’s nature or point of view. That proved to be the case when she was shoeing a large warmblood in a barn. The horse was not cooperative, prompting the client to twitch the horse.

“I could feel that horse ready to explode and I didn’t want to be underneath it,” she recalls.

Farrier Takeaways

  • Look at the situation from the horse’s perspective when determining why a horse is reacting or behaving negatively.
  • Evaluate your actions and attitude to determine whether you are part of the problem.
  • Take the time that’s…
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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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