Sensitive about back feet

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sweetheart

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Hi!

We just got a mini mare that I adore and is generally very easy to work with - easy to catch, leads respectfully, etc., but she is really sensitive about her back feet. When I try to pick up a back foot, she stomps it down or kicks out backwards (not at me), then steps in towards me as if to push me over. Any suggestions for how to quickly extinguish this behavior?

Thanks in advance!
 

shorthorsemom

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Not sure of her age or fitness level, but make sure she doesn't have loose stifles. Sometimes when they are a bit loose, they don't feel confident standing on one hind leg while you have the other one up and they resist you picking up the feet, even to the point of kicking out. For awhile on one of my boys I had to lift his hind foot and keep it lower while I picked out his feet. When you would "jack up" the foot he would do what you describe which is why I think of stifle issues when I hear your description. Now that my guy is getting more exercise through training he is much more confident on his hind feet and the stifle problem is leaving. Also my boy was worse on one back leg than the other, it was the opposite of the leg that had the stifle slipping. Just a thought, it may or not be related to what you are experiencing, but thought I would mention. Best wishes.
 

Genie

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You might want to try a nose clip that acts in the same manner as a twitch, only more humane i.m.o.

I don't lift the back legs very high as mine are much happier if I don't. I think it kind of hurts or strains them a bit when lifted high.

The nose clip is all we need and only for the odd one who has some bad memory that still bothers them.

We got the clip at a hardware store and it isn't very large.
 

wildoak

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If I have a youngster - or anyone - bad about having their legs handled, I do a lot of running water on their legs. Just run the hose with a pretty good pressure on their legs until they get over it and stop dancing - assuming of course there are no physical issues like stifle problems, as someone mentioned. I've also found with babies that it helps their confidence if I pick the leg up and set it down quickly a few times before I ask them to let me hold it. I guess they realize they are going to get the leg back LOL.

Jan
 

JourneysEnd

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Sounds like it could be a balance issue.

Will she allow you to put your hand on her lower leg without a fuss ?

I start with holding my hand on the leg and moving with them until they stop dancing.

Then I put my hand behind the fetlock and pull forward just to put the toe straight down.

Sometimes they don't know that they can balance until you actually take the foot and hold on while they shift. If you do this, remember to keep the foot you've picked up below the level of the hock on the other leg. I don't fuss at them, just let them dance until they stop and then immediately let them have the foot back the minute they stop fighting.

The lower you keep the hoof, the easier it is to balance.
 

Miniv

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I do something very similar as Vickie - Journeysend.......

As Vickie says, it could be a balance issue. A lot times a horse will freak because they don't think they can stand on 3 legs. It also has a lot to do with how people in the past have grabbed the horse's leg. Front ones are easier because they can easily see you leaning down and taking it and know what you are doing. But also, even I wouldn't like someone just reaching out and grabbing MY leg or arm either!

I start out by actually TELLING the horse that I need to work on their foot. Then, I start stroking the leg up high. If it's the back leg I start on their hip or thigh and work my hand down to the fetlock. Lift the foot just a few inches off the ground and set it down. You may have to do this several times before they are "desensitized" to your handling. If the horse jerks from you, don't give up........start again higher on the leg and keep working on it. If you give up and end it with her fighting you off, she has received the wrong message. Even if all you have accomplished is to hold her fetlock at first, it's on a positive note. (I call this "baby steps" in training or desensitizing.) You can pursue a little more later.

If all it is - is a balancing problem, having a second person applying pressure against the horse's opposite hip helps.......If a second person isn't available, having her up against a wall works too.
 

sweetheart

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Thanks for all of the suggestions! It's possible that she has some arthritis in the back legs I guess, she's 16 years old. I don't see any evidence of a stifle problem - she walks very smoothly and fluidly, doesn't seem to have any catch or stiffness in her gait, even when walking in small circles. I groomed her legs quite a bit today, just brushed and ran my hands up and down both. She was touchy about it at first, but relaxed after a while when she figured out I wasn't going to try to pick them up. She didn't have long hooves when I got her, so someone must have been able to trim her feet. That's my main worry at this point - they will need to be trimmed soon and if I can't even get her to let me pick them out, I'm worried about how the farrier will get them trimmed. I guess I'll just keep working on it. I don't want her to think it's okay to swing her body into me like that though, if she did that to a child she could hurt them. So far I've just been resisting and shoving her back over so she's not invading my space, but maybe I should respond more strongly? What do y'all think?
 

Frankie

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Does she have any past cases of founder? Maybe she has just a small case of, enough she doesn't so much want you to mess with them,,,,,,,especially saying just her back feet.

I did have a mare founder,,,,,well after diagnosed,,,,I realized that is how she started, before the other noticable stuff. Her back right foot is the worst, and that is the one she just did not want me to mess with.

Good luck
 

JMS Miniatures

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Like wildoak said, to make it safer on you, use objects instead of your hands the first time. Take like a whip and touch her all over with the whip, then take the string and wrap it around her legs, or a lead rope and just wrap it around. Get her use to feeling it. If she gets antsy, keep doing it until she relaxes.

When you pick up her foot make sure she knows you back there, rub her all over back there, run your hand down and pick up her foot, if she gets antsy don't fight it just keep a hold of it until she stops moving and is relaxed, then let it down. Keep doing it until she has no problems with it, and of course don't lift it up to high.
 
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