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Old 09-29-2006, 01:23 AM   #1
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Picking up feet--cow kicking

I have a 2 yo filly that I bought about 3 weeks ago. I am training her myself and have found that she was basically a "pasture pet" for past 2 yrs, and lacks manners/respect. I have trained two other horses previously, but am finding her a challenge. I am using "natural" methods (PNH, CA, Ponyboy). So far, we have made big strides in respect issues, but she is giving me problems with handling her rear feet. She will pick it up readily with the "hock squeeze", but then will cow kick out, and I am usually unable to hold on to it. What I have started doing is using a soft lead rope around her fetlock to hold her foot after picking it up (and to get me out of range) and then stroking and rubbing the leg until she relaxes, then releasing it. Sometimes this works well, but sometimes she leaps and jumps and pulls the lead out of my hand.

I have had some people say I should give her a smack when she kicks out...but this seems counterproductive. I have also seen demonstrations of people tapping the legs with a handy/carrot stick until the horse picks it up on their own and holds it up. What do you think?

Judi and Lyric- 2 yo friesian/quarab cross
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Old 09-29-2006, 04:06 AM   #2
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You can use the stick and a soft broom to desensetize the legs. As for her pulling and jumping, use the stick gently all over after some round pen or lunge work. We purchased 5 yearlings this year that had also never been handled - in 30 days they were great using CA techniques! Goo d Luck!
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Old 09-29-2006, 11:34 PM   #3
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I had a horse cow-kick at me last weekend and yep he got hit. he who "kicks" hardest is the leader. With babies I keep my body out of range and hold on. This could easily be a learned response that when th horse kicks they get to drop their foot.
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Old 10-01-2006, 11:28 AM   #4
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This may seem counter-intuitive but you need to get closer to your horse. Pick up his hind leg but stay close - not far away. By staying further away, the horse can kick and really hurt you. By staying close, and hanging on - the horse can only push. This is usually what farriers will do. Watch your farrier and see.
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Old 10-01-2006, 11:42 AM   #5
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Keep in mind that I am by no means an expert . . . have only had my own horse for one year, and prior to that it had been fifteen years since I rode.

But I've been having trouble with my guy wanting to pull his feet away from me. He would pick them up fine for me, and I could hold them, but the minute I started in with the hoof pick, he would tug away. Granted, this is very different from trying to actually cow-kick me, but tug-of-war with a clydesdale is just NOT a good thing, and by trying to resist him back, I was nearly getting myself kicked a few times.

So just last night I did some work with him, and I want to say that in the 45 minute session I felt like I made a lot of progress. My guy seems to respond SOOOO much better to praise than to punishment\correction!

I started with asking for the foot. As soon as he gave it to me, I would pick it up, pet the ankle area, then put it back down and go rub and praise him on his neck and shoulder area. I did this three times with each foot, just asking for it, putting it back down, and praising.

Then I started again with a pick up, pet, then a brief swipe or two with the pick. If I got no resistance, then I would put the foot back down and go praise on the neck & shoulder again. If I got resistance (which I did on both back feet), I yelled a stern NO. Second resistance got a NO again, and putting the foot back where I wanted (getting close to tug-of-war here . . . ), and on the third resistance, I dropped the foot, and picked up with lead rope and made him do some WORK!!! We were in the barn aisle, so I didn't have a lot of room, but I made him do some circles around me, and backing up and going forward, and circles again, and didn't let him stop until I knew I had his undivided attention.

Then back from scratch, always starting with the front fore, going around the way again. Picking up, quick picking, putting down, praising. First resistance earned him a verbal warning, second got a verbal warning and a slight physical correction, and third resistance got WORK!

So it did take 45 minutes to go through all of this nonsense, but like I said, I felt like I had made progress because on the last two rounds with the two back feet, I was able to finish picking and apply some thrush preventative which I'd been wanting to do for a while. And each time he didi it with no resistance at all, I praised him again, and I'd like to think he was getting the clue.
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Old 10-01-2006, 11:57 AM   #6
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I agree with sticking close to the hind leg when picking it up. My new 6-year-old horse had a very short-lived issue with kicking out when picking up his hind feet. I did smack him immediately on the rump (just make sure they don't kick again when you do this) and that seemed to get his attention. I would then rub all over him from shoulders to rump and down his back legs, relaxing him and desensitizing. I would just go and do it again until he picked up without having to cow-kick. He would sometimes cow-kick when I went to let his hoof down also, so I made sure I held on until it was set firmly on the ground.

A trick I was taught was to stand close, with your shoulder to his rump area when picking up his back feet. When you go to pick up and he feels as though he is setting up to kick out, bump him with your shoulder to put him off balance. It will interrupt his thought process, and most likely, he will have to put his foot down, instead of kicking out, in order to regain balance.
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Old 10-01-2006, 01:59 PM   #7
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A trick I was taught was to stand close, with your shoulder to his rump area when picking up his back feet.
You know, you're right . . . It hadn't occurred to me to mention that I do that, or that it's a "trick," but I definitely use that technique wiht any horse who is not picking his feet up, just bump them a little and they're forced to shift weight off it.
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Old 10-05-2006, 10:52 PM   #8
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picking up feet/cowkicking

These all seem to be great suggestions! I will say that I tried the good ol' smack and she just about went through the roof! Took me a bit to calm her down, so I decided to try some other stuff. I do feel like I am getting somewhere with the "approach/retreat" technique, with a lot of rubbing and praising when she holds still. She is doing very well with her front feet (other than once in a while leaning down like she wants to fall) and now I can pick up her back feet and if she tries to kick, a firm "ACK!" usually stops her.

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