I have a 1 1/2 yr. old Arabian filly. I had the farrier come out a couple weeks ago, and Mariahs (my filly) didn't do well. We had to give her a tranquilizer. She is very spirited. She lets me pick up her feet, and she's never tried to kick me. How should I train her so that she will stand quietly no matter what the farrier does?
A horse allowing their hoof to be picked up is a trust issue. As a prey animal, having use of their feet at all times is vital for fleeing danger and survival. Your
horse must be able to trust anyone who would try to pick up her feet.
I would advise having your farrier slow down and take a little time to make
friends with your horse. He should just rub her all over with a steady
rhythm, find some itchy spots and do some brushing. Maybe even lead her
around, take her for a short walk and offer her a little of her feed in a
bucket. Then when he tries to pick up her feet he is doing so as a friend
she knows and trusts instead of as a stranger. He should be calm and
patient with her, keep her foot as low and straight under her as possible
and not try to hold it for a long time without putting it down to let her
rest. She will need to know that when he takes her foot he will give it
back soon. When he gives it back he should set it down easily, not just
To help prepare her for the farrier, you should spend plenty of time
handling her feet just like the farrier will - pick them up and hold them
between your legs just like the farrier, tap and rub on the hoof with a
metal hoof pick to simulate the farrier's tools, hold the foot longer than
you normally would.
If after all this patient work she continues to resist the farrier, give her
something to do that is more work than resisting, for example asking her to
do lots of backing with energy is a constructive consequence. You will be
making the right thing (standing calmly for the farrier) easy or comfortable
and the wrong thing (resisting the farrier) difficult by causing her to have
to work hard at backing up quickly. Backing is always good for horses
anyway. Having a horse back up for misbehavior is like you having to do
push ups for misbehavior. It is constructive (good exercise) but not
necessarily something you would want to do.
Ed Dabney is an internationally acclaimed clinician, presenting horsemanship and riding clinics all over the US and in Europe. In 2007, Ed was named Champion of the East Coast Trainer Challenge Series by Equine Extravaganza. Ed was honored to have been selected by the University of Georgia to teach their senior level Young Horse Training course.
His training articles have appeared in many major national magazines. Ed produces instructional videos and the “Gentle Horsemanship” TV program which has been seen on RFD-TV.
Ed's blending of natural horsemanship and classical equitation has made an indelible mark with students all across the United States and now also in Europe, drawing the attention of serious riders searching for the lightest touch and the deepest connection with their horses irrespective of breed or discipline.