Hi, I’m Becky. In this short article I’m going to teach you my method for training a horse to stand nice so you can trim her hooves. This is only going to take about 20 minutes for you to learn, so let’s get started!
Using my method I trained a stallion that farriers had given up on and declared a “lost cause”. After only 2 sessions with the stallion I had him standing nice and picking up his feet for a trim. On his next visit, the farrier asked my friend (she’s the one who owns the stallion), who I was and how I fixed that horse.
The method I used to train that stallion, a stallion even professional men farriers couldn’t do, is the method I’m going to teach you right now in this article.
Helping my friend train her stallion to stand made me realize that there are a lot of people out there with horses who have minor behavioral problems that aren’t being addressed. And if you want to be your own farrier like me the first and probably most important thing you want to do is train your horse to stand nice.
Hiring a trainer or paying the farrier extra isn’t really an option for most horse owners.
More and more people are realizing that mastering the basics first, like training your horse to stand, is important if you want to go on and continue training your horse in other areas.
Now that more people than ever have the internet I’m able to get my method out there and share it with all you horse lovers who need a little help.
What I’m about to teach you in this short article is for horse owners. Who want to be their own farrier.
This article will teach you my method for training a horse to stand nice and pick it’s feet up for a hoof trim.
Unlike other methods, like putting a saddle on and tying the horses leg up with a rope wrapped around the saddle’s horn! (yes they actually tried that on my friend’s stallion)
My method is gentle on you, gentle on your horse, and actually has long lasting results and benefits that extend beyond just standing; your horse will also be better when you ride (talk about a nice side benefit).
Pick “The Spot”
First you have to pick out the spot.
The spot is where you tie the horse to brush it, saddle it, whatever.
The idea is, the horse knows “the spot” and is comfy there. So put “the spot” in the shade away from anything distracting.
That is really the biggest trick in teaching your horse to stand nicely. Getting the horse family with her spot.
If the horse is pawing, it might start pawing out of anxiety. Try not to be impatient. Go to the shoulder, give it a pat and say, “stand!” Match the horse’s intensity with the intensity of your verbal scolding.
So if the horse is pawing at an 8, your voice command should be an 8, not your pat, you should pat it nicely. So whatever it is, if it’s a 2, give a verbal command at a 2.
If your horse moves it’s butt.
If your horse moves it’s butt 4 steps to the left. You’re going to walk over to the left side of the horse by the butt and say, “over” and move it back 4 steps back to where she was. Once she’s back to where she started, walk up to her shoulder and say, “stand!”
If your horse backs up.
You don’t want the lead line tight. You don’t want the horse on a 12 inch lead line. My rule of thumb is always have the horse on a 3 foot lead line. You don’t want her to feel trapped. Having a long lead let’s it feel relaxed while you work on trimming the hoof.
The key is to always put her back where she was. Put her back and say “stand”, but be nice to her.
Now we do the feet.
The key to making the horse stand when you pick the feet up is, you can’t hold the foot up very long. I find the best thing you can do is just let her put it down. And when she’s ready you can pick up the foot again.
After a while I start focusing on how she puts her foot back down. She can put her foot down but she can’t be rude about it. That’s what I start focusing on, that’s what I’ll start scolding the horse for. If it yanks it’s foot down I yell “NO!” quickly so it knows what I’m talking about and I immediately pick the foot back up.
It’s a process, over time you see improvement. Also I find they yank their foot away more with their front feet.
It’s so funny but usually their pretty good with their back feet.
When you pick up a back foot, the horse will pull it’s foot forward a bit before it can relax it. Don’t let that scare you.
Usually on 9 out of 10 horses the back feet will be easier than the front. Be careful with all 4 feet. They are all weapons and the horse knows it.
Becky vs The Stallion
Truly, I have trained stallions that men, professional farriers, could not handle. I use the same approach on them and it works. Perhaps the best example is the story of my friend Crystal’s stallion. The same stallion I mentioned earlier.
It’s a half Arabian, half Saddlebred 10yr old stallion.
From the beginning he had trouble with his one right front foot. He didn’t even want to pick that foot up. The stallion would see the farrier coming and get more and more paranoid. They tried putting a saddle on him and tying a rope around the foot and tying it to the saddle. The horse was flipping over backwards, rearing up, falling down, shuffling backwards, just would not let the farrier do the foot.
So the farriers solution was; he was going to try to file it and clip it the best he could while the horse was standing on the foot, on the ground. which you can just imagine, you can’t do anything really. So he was trimming 3 feet and leaving the one front foot growing longer and longer and longer. And the more times he came and the more times he tried the worse the horse behaved. So out of desperation my friend Crystal called me and said (I’m paraphrasing), “Please, Please come and help train my stallion.” Crystal knew that I’m good with troubled horses, but I don’t really like to do it because it’s so much work. But she was like, “please please please,” so I finally agreed to help.
When I got there the stallion was good for everything else. You could ride it, you could catch it, you could do everything.
Since they had done all those things to the horse–tying it up, & tying it’s leg up and everything, it was snapping the lead line, & really misbehaving–the first thing I did was get a lawn chair. Bring the horse over to the shade and we did not tie the horse up. We just want the horse to know he’s not trapped, we’re not going to trap him, or trick him, or tie him, or anything like that, so he was just standing there with the lead line on the ground.
And the very first thing I do is teach the horse to pick his foot up. I start with the bad foot, because we’re just going to go right to it. So I would just ask the horse to pick his foot up, and he would not even pick his foot up, he would just stand there with all his weight on that foot, like saying ‘I’m not moving’. So I’d ask him nicely, and then I would get firmer and firmer if he wouldn’t pick his foot up.
The problem was the farrier was latching onto his foot and trying to make the horse pick his foot up. That’s mistake #1. If I have a farrier that does that I will not use the farrier again.
It took a little while, not long at all, and the horse knew what I wanted. He knew I wanted him to pick that foot up. But he was just being a little stubborn at first.
I’d ask him nicely to pick his foot up and if he didn’t I’d give him a chance to be double triple sure he knew what I wanted. But after a few times of me asking then I would start to spank him. And it didn’t take long, maybe 15 minutes and he would pick his own foot up.
So then I’d let him put it right back down. Then I would put his foot on the hoof jack. I didn’t hold his foot, I used the Hoof Jack and I would put his foot on it and leave it alone.
He quickly recognized that I am not the typical farrier, and he was comfortable just leaving his foot on the hoof jack. Then I would work on trimming the hoof. When he felt nervous he would put his foot back down on the ground, which I did not scold him for that.
After a while he just had to, I don’t know why, he just had to act up and do what he was doing to the old farrier. So when he did that I would just back him up about 50 feet and I would scold him verbally as I did it. Then I would calmly bring him back up there and put him in his spot and ask him to pick his foot up and put it back on the Hoof Jack.
He couldn’t let me work on it for very long before he took his foot back down.
So we just kept doing that, it was just a routine. He’d act up a little bit, I’d back him up 50 feet, bring him back forward, work on his foot, and we just did that for about 4 hours.
That day since it did take so long, I just did the 2 front feet. I didn’t even do the 2 back feet.
The next time Crystal’s stallion needed his feet trimmed I went over and went straight for his sensitive foot, I followed the exact same routine. And that time I went over I could do all 4 feet. It didn’t take long and the horse remembered. After that he was no problem, you could his feet.
Crystal even returned to using the same old farrier because I didn’t live next to her. As long as she stood there and told him how to do it and when to let go when the horse got a little nervous or whatever. That farrier was able to do the horses foot.
The funny thing is that farrier asked her who I was and how I fixed that horse. He was very amazed when she said it was a girl and it was her friend. So he was very impressed, that was a big compliment!