Tips on teaching a weanling to pick up his feet?

    • Gold Top Dog

    Tips on teaching a weanling to pick up his feet?

    Lolyn, my almost-6-month-old weanling colt, is doing really well at pretty much everything. He leads will, ties reasonably well, stands for a bath, and is generally pretty well behaved. BUT, for some reason, I am having a helluva time teaching him to pick up his feet.

    For whatever reason, he thinks having to pick up his feet is  the absolutely worst thing in the world. He never kicks UNLESS I'm trying to pick up his feet, and at this point, he's taken to kicking the second he sees me bending over to grab his foot.

    So far, this is what I've been doing:

    -Tie him, and wait until he's standing calmly.

    -Run my hands over his back and shoulders and slowly work my way down to his feet. He loves attention, but the second my hands start going down his legs, he starts getting jittery and trying to move away.

    -As soon as he feel me pinch lightly on his tendon, (front foot) he kicks forward with one of his back feet. He's gotten me on both the head and the shoulder kicking this way (the bruises were epic Sad), and as a result I've gotten nervous about trying to pick up his feet- which he senses and then takes advantage of.

    -I do my best to evade the inevitable kick, and then pick up his front foot. He FREAKS out, and tries to pull away. I hang on, so he doesn't learn that he can pull away from me. He gets even more frantic. I continue to hang on. I do my best to support his weight so that he can balance, but he's scrambling and flailing so it doesn't really work. If I continue to hang on, he goes down and continues to panic. If I let go, he learns that he can pull away if he freaks out. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    Okay, so my disclaimer is this: I am TOTALLY new to weanlings/foals. Lolyn is the first one I've ever dealt with. I KNOW that I am probably doing something very wrong here and that it's probably pretty obvious to those experienced with weanlings. I've never trained a horse before, and I'm determined to make this work- but I fully admit that I am total newb at this and I will appreciate any advice that anyone can give me. can I teach him to not flip out when I go for his feet? Everything else we're working on is going really well except this. He and I have a good relationship and I feel that he respects me- but for some reason he just gets absolutely terrified when I go to pick up his feet.

    • Gold Top Dog
    • Gold Top Dog

    Ohh cool Gina, thanks! That sounds like a great idea, I might give it a try this afternoon. Hopefully this will be an end to getting kicked in the head and I can finally clean his dang feet!

    • Gold Top Dog

     Have you tried asking at the forums?

    That's a respect issue. He thinks that he can tell YOU what to do (kicking). What do you do when he kicks?

     Hit him as hard as you can with an open hand in the shoulder or rump - it's okay if it stings. Trust me, you won't hurt him nearly as bad as his dam would if he kicked at her because he didn't want her touching him somewhere. He'd probably wind up bleeding if he pulled something like that with her... you smacking him just gets his attention. Horses are big animals and trust me - you want kicking stopped NOW as opposed to when the horse's withers are level with your eyeballs.

     Spend some time just rubbing his legs. Going backwards a few steps is not necessarily a 'bad' thing when it comes to foals. Rub his favorite spot (his chest/neck?) to his leg then down to where he starts acting a little nervous (raising his head, swishing his tail, whatever his first 'tell' is). Don't let him move away as soon as he shows his 'tell' then go back up his leg and go to his favorite spot. If you let him move then don't scratch his favorite spot until he calms down. Once he calms down then you can start again at his favorite spot. If he doesn't move or offer to kick then just go back from his favorite spot and back down his leg until he's comfortable with you touching/rubbing his leg all the way to his hoof. If he offers to kick smack him, have him stand, calm down then start again at his favorite spot once he's calm. Don't baby talk him or try to soothe him, horses' language is silent so try to work with that.

    Keep your sessions with him short. Weanlings have a horribly short attention span, I'm actually impressed he ties well. About five minutes and they've found something shinier to look at and would rather be doing that. He may have started this because he's frustrated with the length of time you've been working with him, and discovered it worked. Wink

    It sounds like other than this you're doing pretty well with him. Good luck! The forum really would probably help - I have the same name over there (I'm actually active there... I mostly lurk here). Big Smile

    • Puppy
    Reading about yours, I want a weanling colt of my own as well. Imagine one that can even wear socks! How cute would that be, right?