Picking out a horses hooves is usually the one thing that nearly all horse people dread to do. Bending over to pick up the feet can be a real chore, especially if
you have a horse that has a set of led feet. Today I am going to give you a little hint as to how you can improve your horses reflexes so you don’t have to tire yourself out trying to complete this task.
A farrier by the name of John Mackenzie of Gibbons, Alberta showed me this trick about 8 years ago, its simple and can remedy horses that hate picking up their feet, or horses that fight back when you want control over the foot. I like it because even horses that are already good about their feet can become even better!
Nylon rope has so many uses
John was at my barn one day when I was training horses up in Ft. Saskatchewan, and I had a mare that was absolutely terrible about her feet. He told me he could show me a way to fix her in about ten minutes, and being the information geek that I am, I was all ears. “Go get a rope,” he said, “any kinda rope’ll do! I thought to myself, what are we gonna do now. It was quite simple really, he took a little kids rope, you know the kinda rope that the kids rope the ropin dummies with! Anyways, he walked right up to this mare tied in the alley of our cinder block barn. She looked at him out of the corner of her eye, kinda snorted at him as he rubbed her on the neck and spoke softly to her. He then built a little loop and snared a front foot, now this mare liked to jerk her feet away and thats exactly what she did. I thought John might get after her for it, but he didn’t. He just kept tension on that rope, just enough that she could feel it, thats all. He said to me “just keep the tension on the rope till she picks her foot up, this saves your back through all the fighting she’s gonna do! Every time she picks her foot up in a relaxed manner release a bit of pressure, but maintain just enough to hold the foot up. The tension is just for when she’s fighting, when she relaxes gently slide her a little rope and gently set the foot down.”
I watched John work with this mares front foot for less than 5 minutes and she became as cool as a cucumber. He rubbed her on the neck and bent over held the foot, cleaned it out, and set it down. The mare immediately licked her lips, I could see that she trusted Johns method, and like him for it. I thought it was a great deal that day, the mare learned something, I learned something, and John shared something that has had lasting value in my program.
“The hind feet work just the same,” he said as he looked up at me after he snared a hind foot. John is real handy with rope , always has been. He said he’s a horseshoer by trade but in the summer he doubles as a calf roper too. He picked up a hind foot and pulled it forward, the mare knew she could trust John by this point and resisted only a little to start with, and then quickly figured out Johns game. He gently sat her foot down on the concrete floor. Next he pulled her foot out to the back, “don’t stand right behind them when you do this Cody, just out to the side. That way no-one gets hurt.” He kept pullin that mares foot out to the back, she did kick a little, then she suddenly stretched that leg right out, almost like she needed a stretch. John laughed, I laughed, if you ever heard John laugh it’ll make you laugh, hes got a great laugh and he doesn’t need much excuse to use it! He picked her foot up out to the back one more time, and she was as confident as ever, he then gently set it down again. “Watch this!” he said, he bent over picked up that hind foot, the mare was light on her feet, and had that foot in his hand before he even got 2/3 the way down her leg. He set it down and rubbed her on the rump, a huge whinnee came from that mare, she really liked John and how he took his time with her, it was plain to see she’d learned a lot that day.
John & Patti
“Do this everyday for three days and you will probably never have any problems again,” he said. He was right that mare never had an issue ever again! This experience was again proof that if you are a good listener and will give someone else the mike for a few minutes that there are hundreds of age old secrets just floating around for you to learn. Thank You John Mackenzie!