A chilled Filly

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Shoeing Filly

It was time to get Filly shod again. She needs special shoeing on the front due to some conformational issues and so I knew it would take a while. Especially so as it was the first time our farrier, Nick, had shod Filly. It seemed that some shoeing preparation was in order.
About forty minutes before Nick arrived I took Filly to the indoor school for the preparation work. She is pretty good with having her hooves handled on a day to day basis, but I wanted to add in some extras for the shoeing.
It is taken as read with our horses that the hooves can be placed on the ground, after picking them out, with the toe down and complete relaxation in the leg. Dropping a hoof to the ground was the one thing that if you were an employee of James Roberts you would be instantly sacked for, it is that important. As he says "if you cannot control where a hoof is going, with no brace, when it is in your hand, what chance do you have in placing the feet where you want when riding and using indirect aids to place them ?" Thus we never ever drop a hoof. I'm not even sure my muscle memory would let me do it anymore. I am pleased to say that the yard staff who look after our horses also don't drop their feet.
However there are other things to prepare. Firstly during shoeing the farrier will put the legs into positions she is not used to, especially forwards and up for the final clenching of the nails and rasping them off. She needs to be just as compliant and un-braced with this movement as the more usual backward flex for picking out.
Not being brave I used a soft thick rope rapped a few times just above her hoof to ask for this the first few times. The front legs were fine, but there was a lot of brace and a few kicks from the hinds. Lucky I used a rope ! All I did was stand in front and lightly pull on the rope to ask the leg to come up and forwards, if she yielded I released by gently lowering her hoof back to the ground. If she resisted then I held the tension until the brace released and she looked relaxed, then lowered the hoof. I also slowly increased the time I held the leg up to get her used to standing in that position for a while. Once this was going well I then transferred to using my hands, which put my body in the same place as the farriers would be. Horses tend not to like predators (us) in their vulnerable spot under their bellys so this was useful for building her confidence.
I also picked the hoof up backwards and simulated the feel and sound of the hammer by knocking on her shoe with the metal clasp of a spare lead rope. Should have taken a small hammer down but forgot.
So after all this how did the shoeing go. Pretty well is the answer. She got a bit bored as it did take over an hour, but a strategically placed hay net helped. She was a bit worried still about having the right hind leg brought forwards, but the farrier was very patient and she soon settled. Given that the last time she was shod at Manor Farm they had to use a twitch (before I owned her), and she was shod once at James Roberts yard with rather more savvy than that I think it was a remarkable improvement. I did discuss the preparation I had done with the farrier. He was very interested and grateful that I had taken the trouble to do this work. In my mind I should present a horse to a helping professional like a farrier, dentist or vet in the best state I can in order for that professional to do his job with minimum risk to himself and also be able to use those skills to the maximum effect to get the job done well. The farrier remarked how few horse owners had my attitude, which I find rather sad.

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