Some of our horses have issues about picking up their feet. And even if they do pick them up, it is grudgingly and they kinda lean on you, just to make it that much harder…. There is a simple way to fix this. Read on.
First off, we should always understand why our horse is doing what he is. This helps us deal with the problem, the whole problem, not just the symptom. Your horse may feel off balance when he is standing on only 3 legs, which may be why he won’t co-operate. He also may feel more vulnerable, as, without all four feet on the ground, he is not able to either kick or run.
Work at it slowly. Start with your hand on his withers and slide it down to his forearm. At this point, either give a verbal command such as ‘foot’ or tap twice on his leg. This becomes your signal. Pause for a second and continue down the leg to the cannon bone. Wiggle your thumb gently at first in the groove of the cannon bone, increasing your pressure if he doesn’t respond. As soon as he shifts his weight onto his other three legs, stop wiggling! If you keep at it and do this again and again, he will become more comfortable with picking up his foot, and even offer it to you as soon as you give him the signal you agreed upon.
If wiggling your thumb has no effect no matter how hard you tickle, run your hand further down to just below the fetlock bone and pinch there. Every horse I have met cannot ignore that! Again, release as soon as you get any kind of response that you are looking for – this is called ‘basic attempt training’. All you want is a try. He will be more willing to pick up his foot a bit faster the next time if you allow him time to develop his balance and muscles.