Getting a horse feeling OK inside about having his feet handled

Charlie is a 7 year old TWH. His owners, Jim and Donna Dehaas, who were relatively new to horses, just happened to find me after an online search for trainers in the area.

One of the problems the Dehaas’ had with Charlie was handling his feet. In fact, he’d already kicked Jim. And after slamming the farrier hard he had to be sedated for shoeing.

It didn’t need to be like that. The Dehaas’ wanted Charlie barefoot so the first order of business was getting the shoes off

Getting the shoes off would be Lauren (Gruber’s) job. But in order to ensure both of our safety it was crucial to preserve Charlie’s good will. So, I spent a good hour with Charlie just getting to know him, get him relaxed, and feeling OK about being handled. I introduced clicker training to him so that we’d have a sure fire way to let Charlie know he was OK and doing the right thing. Then I spent another hour just focused on handling his feet and showing him there was no need to worry or kick. He never did.

The time came when I looked at Lauren and said, OK well let’s give this a try. So she brought over the shoe pulling tools and set about getting the front shoes off. I was standing ready to click & treat the whole process. Step by step the shoes were removed and the front feet trimmed.

Knowing how much of a problem the back feet had been we fully expected to quit if we needed to and resume the shoe pulling process another day if need be. But we didn’t need to. Charlie stood like a champ for the whole procedure. Now where was the camera when you needed it? What a pretty picture it would have been to see Charlie standing with his back foot resting softly in the hoof stand cradle while Lauren removed the nails.

When it was all over Jim laughed and said, I couldn’t even imagine this taking place without a circus! But there Charlie was as relaxed and happy as a horse could be.

That is the way we like it!! Charlie agrees.

2 Comments

  1. Awh, way to go Nexus Center and Charlie! I love success stories. TWH’s are such good horses. Can’t wait to hear the training reports. What kind of shape are Charlie’s hooves in btw?

  2. Remarkably good shape. Interesting that they didn’t even look like they were in that bad of shape when shod. However, the owners did mention that he forged. Upon closer inspection (the two finger rule) the break over was definitely out of line. Once the shoes were off and the break over properly set he stopped forging. 🙂 He’s been very sound since as well.