KBR Training Information Sheet
Danny Love's Farriers' Corner Training Sheet

Danny Love's Farrier's Corner

Teaching Your Horse to
Stand Quietly for the Farrier

Part One

Your horse will have to have his feet handled, trimmed and/or shod all his life. He needs to stand calmly for the farrier. There is no excuse for horses who pull their feet away from the farrier or push the farrier around. Aside from the nuisance factor and wasted time, such antics can result in injury to the horse or farrier. Plus, this is a problem which can easily be corrected.

Materials Needed

You will need an open area in which to work, a hand tied "horseman's" rope training halter, a 12 ft. 3/4 inch kernmantle braid horse handling rope and a "wand". (A wand is a usually a light colored crop or longe whip which has the tassle taped to the body so that it doesn't fly. Dark crops or whips are suitable for this exercise since the horse won't be "following" the wand while moving.)

Setting Up the Exercise

Your horse has to be able to longe capably on a lead. The logic of this training is that when he pulls or shoves on the farrier, he will be cued to longe a minimum of two and a maximum of 4 laps. The horse will not learn the behavior modification if you also have to teach him how to longe at the same time you are trying to alleviate the bad behavior. He has to associate cooperating with the farrier with relaxation and pulling away or shoving on the farrier with work. Furthermore, when longing, the horse is expected to move properly and we would handle him as we would with any longe lesson, so the time spent circling is not wasted. Also, you need to call for at least two circles so that the horse's mind settles into the work, but generally not more than four so that he doesn't lose the association with the behavior being modified.

Work out arrangements with your farrier in advance. He needs to lay out his equipment so that you can cue the horse to longe the instant he pulls or pushes and the farrier gives the order. Your circle shouldn't end up going over tools and stands, and if necessary you can take a couple of steps back when you start the circle so the arc is clear of equipment and obstructions.

Executing the Exercise

The subjects here are 3-year old Missy and farrier Ron Moritz. Ron previously attempted to trim Missy by himself. Ron is a vary capable farrier who handles horses well, however the precocious Missy was a handful to work with. This time Sharon is handling Missy and they have set up a "learn-learn" behavior modification session. Missy can pull and lean if she wants to, but every time she does, she will be sent out on a longe lesson which we call "taking two". Please note that this is a longe lesson, not mindless circling, so this work may include working in "ovals" or setting up a chain of reverses if Missy really needs to get focused.

Sharon takes Missy's head and leaves enough slack in the rope so that Missy has some freedom to move around. She has the rope folded so that if she sends Missy out into the circle, she can easily pay out the needed rope so that the tranisition from standing for the farrier to longing at a working trot is immediate.

Sharon also uses the wand to stroke Missy's legs and body just prior to starting the farriery work and also rubs Missy lightly with the wand while she is standing. Sharon and Ron have discussed how Ron will communicate when he wants Sharon to send Missy off so there will be no confusion or delay. Ron approaches Missy as he would any "veteran" horse.

With the distraction of Sharon's presence, it took Missy a little bit longer to get fussy about her feet being worked on, but eventually she did try to pull away and she was sent into the circle.

Getting results was really just this simple. Missy understood the association and out of free choice decided to "hang out" with Ron rather than work in the circle. The entire remainder of the foot work, including "bringing her forward" onto the stand to rasp off the toes, went without a hitch.

This 3 year old used to shove the farrier around. Yet after only a few minutes' work, she is standing quietly and cooperatively.
Ron drew this "famous" sketch on the barn board after one particularly rough day with Missy
Missy is standing for Ron. She can move her head if she wants, so long as she doesn't move her feet. Sharon is prepared to send her out if necessary and is also stroking Missy with the wand.
Before any of you take issue about the handler being on one side of the horse and she shoer on the other, read the information here. It simply doesn't matter. The horse is not provoked to "flight or fight," she can step forward quietly if she needs to and Ron is completely in charge of the movement of the horse. The farrier is in less danger of being run over than when more "traditional" methods are used. (Most often there is no handler and the leadrope is simply laid over the horse's withers or tucked in the farrier's belt.)
"Take two," Missy!
It only took three times being sent out for Missy to get the message and stand quietly for Ron.
Here's Missy, so calm that she is yawning.
There is absolutely no need for trimming feet to be a hectic, harrowing and dangerous experience.

Continue to:

Trimming made even easier
using the clicker

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