Picking Up A Horses Hoof

The idea of picking up a horse's hooves can intimidate some owners since a well-placed horse kick would really hurt! Such caution is good, but in reality if you pick up a horse's hoof properly you provide him with no leverage or ability to kick you. This is a situation where a person's worst fears can cause him to imagine an incident that is highly unlikely to occur with careful handling.

Here's how to safely pick up a horse's hoof:

Starting with the front hoof, approach your horse diagonally from his front so that he clearly knows you are there ? you don't want to surprise him. Place yourself even with his shoulder and make sure to face his rear; you will both be facing opposite directions during the hoof picking process.

Making sure that your feet aren't too close to the horse's hoof, start running the hand parallel to him down his shoulder and along the length of his leg, finally stopping just above his ankle. Gently grasp the ankle portion and click (or otherwise verbally cue him) to ask him to raise his leg. If he's well trained, that small cue will be more than enough and he'll do just what you requested. You're now free to begin picking his hoof.

If your horse is being a bit stubborn or hasn't learned how to pick up his legs yet try leaning into his shoulder as you run your hand down the back of his cannon bone. You can also gently squeeze/pinch the tendons to further cue him to what you would like. As you perform these physical cues make sure you provide a verbal one also (I make a clicking sound) so the horse later associates your sound with the requested response. Increase the weight you push against his shoulder until he finally lifts his leg as requested.

When picking a horse's hoof you want to remove all debris from the hoof clefts as well as the rim and frog. Be careful around the frog because it can sometimes be a bit sensitive, particularly if the horse has thrush.

Once you have finished cleaning the front hoof carefully guide it back to the floor; you don't want to allow the horse to slam it, potentially hitting your foot in the process. Praise your horse and pat him on the front shoulder a bit so he understands that you are pleased with his cooperation, then run your hand along his back to his rear leg. Place yourself in the same position as you did with his front leg and do the process over again.

There is a slight difference between lifting a rear foot and front foot, even though your basic positioning and actions are nearly identical. When you lift your horse's rear foot he will probably give a little jerk that you might misinterpret as a kick. This is a common reflex reaction among horses and nothing for you to worry about.

Secondly, when you raise your horse's rear leg you'll want to step into him a bit so that your hip is underneath his leg. Rest his leg on your thigh, grab his hoof and gently flex it upwards. By doing this you lend him some support and more importantly the position of his leg and his flexed hoof will prevent him from being able to kick you.

Clean the hoof, lower it cautiously as you did the first and praise him. Congratulations ? you're halfway done! The opposite side will be done exactly the same way, but try to return to his front and start the opposite side rather than move around his rear. It's bad practice to approach or circle all but the most trusted horses via the rear in such close quarters since a horse would be within range to strike.

When lifting any hoof try to make sure your horse is properly squared (balanced evenly on all four legs) so that when you lift one hoof he can easily balance on his remaining three. At no time should the horse actually lean his weight on you! Even when you rest his rear leg on your thigh you're not allowing him to use you as a crutch.

Once you have picked your horse's hooves a few times it will probably become very simple and take less than 5 minutes to clear all hooves. Most trained horses will raise their hoof for you the moment they feel your leg run down their leg.

It is a very good idea to control your horse's head while you are picking his hooves. This can be done by attaching his halter to crossties or asking a partner hold your horse's head. By controlling his head you ensure your horse can't move away from you while you're trying to pick his hooves, or worse? turn around and take a bite at your rear!

Jeffrey Rolo, owner of AlphaHorse and an experienced horse trainer and breeder, is the author of the above article. You will find many other informational articles dealing with horse training and care as well as games and other horse fun on his website: http://www.alphahorse.com.

In The News:

Pet peeves  The Times of India Blog
PET OF THE WEEK: Buddy  Odessa American
PET OF THE WEEK: Bertha  Odessa American
Pet of the week: Juliet  Billings Gazette
Pet of the Week: Tucker  Galesburg Register-Mail

Tropical Fish Breeding for Beginners - Guppies and Swordtails

Breeding tropical fish can be a lot of fun. Try... Read More

Introducing a New Puppy into a Home with an Existing Pet

It was November and I had spent 3 months searching... Read More

How To Save Money By Testing For Feline UTI Yourself

Do you want to save money, anxiety for your kitty,... Read More

How To Load A Horse Into A Trailer - Easy As Pie!

If there is an art to getting horses to load... Read More

Dog Training Information for Training Your Puppy

Puppy TrainingPuppy training can be a trying time. The key... Read More

Goldfish Tips - Keeping The Aquarium Clean

You do clean your house don't you? Well you have... Read More

Why Does My Cat Drink Dirty Water?

You know that cats should always have a supply of... Read More

The 5 Things You Should Know Before Breeding Cats

The cat population is astronomical. Most experts agree that average... Read More

Cold Weather Pet Care

As we find ourselves in the middle of winter, it's... Read More

Parrot Keeping

Parrots are becoming more popular as pets with each passing... Read More

Quality Dog Food Is Essential For The Health Of Dogs

Dog food is very important for the health of dogs.... Read More

Dog Potty Training: Can I Get My Dog to Stop Eating It?

Okay, so it's not the cleanest or most appealing of... Read More

Horse Training Equipment: The 6th of 6 Keys To Developing A Partnership With Your Horse

The 6 Keys To Building A Life Long Partnership With... Read More

Cleft Palate In Dogs

Sometimes puppies are born that can't suckle properly, and it's... Read More

Preparing For Your New Dog - What You Need to Know Before He Comes Home

Preparing yourself and your household before, during, and after your... Read More

Interior Decorating for Cat Owners - Protecting Your Pet

Part 2: Protecting your petIf you own a cat, then... Read More

Need a Low-Maintenance Pet? Try a Tarantula!

If you're like me, then you don't really have the... Read More

Chances Of A Lost Pet Being Recovered Increase

Every day we are looking for ways to make our... Read More

The Truth About Dog Food

These days, it's hard to know what decisions are the... Read More

West Highland Terrier Rescue Dog - What To Expect When You Bring It Home

Congratulations on your choice to bring home a West Highland... Read More

House Rabbits are Fun and Cute Pets

House rabbits are a perfect pet for many people, regardless... Read More

Pet Friendly Vacations - 10 Tips for Hassle-Free Travel with Your Pet

Pet friendly vacations and travel planning make sense -- after... Read More

Natural Approaches to Dealing With Pesky Fleas

Problems with Commercial Flea Killers & TraditionalFlea Bite Treatments***Chemicals that... Read More

Discover: How to Prevent Dog Bites Case

Of all the aggressive behavior in dogs dog bites is... Read More

How To Avoid Bad Doggy Behavior, And Teach Your Puppy Some Manners

A poorly trained dog can embarrass its owner and offend... Read More