Hi Jessica, I am a new subscriber. I am 13 years old and have been riding all my life. Right now I am riding a 15.2 hand arab/throughbred mare. I have one question. When I am picking out her feet she doesn't want to hold her foot up for me. I try to rest it on my leg but then she just leans on me! Do you have any advice for me?? How can I get her to hold her own foot? Thanks Mackenzie
Here's the best way to keep a horse from leaning on you when you're cleaning its feet.
First, be sure that the horse is well-balanced on the other three feet, so that she doesn't need to lean on you for support.
Second, stay very close to her body, and when you're holding her foot, don't pull the foot or leg out away from her body, or she'll tend to follow it - and lean on you.
Third, while you're holding each foot to clean it tip the toe UPWARD so that the bottom of the foot is facing the ceiling. The hoof will be in a better position for you to clean it effectively and quickly, and with the fetlock joint bent, the mare is much less likely to lean on you.
With the foot in this position, you can see exactly why it's so important to clean from the heel toward the toe, not the other way around - if you try to clean from toe to heel, a small slip of your could push the sharp end of the hoofpick into the horse's fetlock.
When you've cleaned the hoof, let the joint straighten and the toe point down before you tell the mare "foot down" and put her foot on the ground. Horses sometimes lean on you in an effort to get their feet near the ground, because they're anticipating the discomfort of having you drop the foot suddenly when you've finished cleaning it. If you always tell the horse when you're about to put a foot down, it won't worry about getting a sudden unpleasant surprise, and that will take away one more reason for leaning on you.
Back to top.
Jessica Jahiel's HORSE-SENSE is a free, subscriber-supported electronic Q&A email newsletter which deals with all aspects of horses, their management, riding, and training. For more information, please visit www.horse-sense.org
Please visit Jessica Jahiel: Holistic Horsemanship® [www.jessicajahiel.com] for more information on Jessica Jahiel's clinics, video lessons, phone consultations, books, articles, columns, and expert witness and litigation consultant services.