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I have a couple of questions I'd be interested in your opinion on. Three weeks ago I bought a two year old, green broke, half paint half quarter horse filly. I am trying to get her to be a little more comfortable with me messing with her feet. Most of the time I can lift her front feet to clean, etc., but not without some objections - and her rear feet are all but off limits. I think probably just time and patience will improve things. Patience I have, but a work schedule change has put a serious damper on my time with her.

Any good suggestions that I may be overlooking?

- B. B.


You are absolutely correct about time and patience being keys to getting that filly to let you work with her feet. Along with that, a sort of sacking out of her legs may help. Take an empty feed sack and rub her legs until she relaxes to that contact. Make a sort of horse game out of it. As she accepts that contact, pick up a foot and briefly rub the sole with the sack. Then put the foot down and praise her for being so good. As she accepts the exercise with the front feet, move on to the back legs.

Now, let me digress a bit to explain why the back feet are harder to work with than the front.

A horse carries about two-thirds of its weight on the forelegs, one-third on the hind. When you lift a front leg, most of the weight shifts to the hind legs, which are about as strong as the front ones. It may even feel good to take the pressure off that front leg. When you lift a hind leg, however, it puts even more weight on the already over-worked forelegs. That can't be very pleasant for the horse.

There are a couple of things you can do to make it easier on your horse.
1. Lean your shoulder into the horse to help steady her and help carry some of the pressure.
2. Give her something to rest the hind foot on. With Willy, we found that even letting him rest his toe on a metal milk crate made a world of difference. For trimming, we put a hydraulic jack under the sole of his foot and he behaves much better - yet the farrier has open access to the hoof.

Happy Riding!

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