You have a great
web site. It is very to-the-point and educational.
I have a 4 year old gelding warmblood that was recently introduced to shoes
(October). His first set was front shoes only. That went fine. Next set was all
four. This was a bad episode. The horse is very large, heavy, and strong.
Although, in all other areas he has excellent ground manners. As soon as the
farrier starts pounding on the nails, the horse pulls his leg up tight and
slings the farrier or myself off. We did manage to get the shoes on. The second
episode just a couple of weeks ago was even worse. The horse would NOT stand to
have his rear feet pounded on. He even resisted to having the clinches removed.
We had a chain under his chin and a twitch on his nose. This only bought us a
few short minutes of calm. He either slings the farrier off the leg, or lunges
forward to resist this process. Eventually, he gets so irritated he attempts to
cowkick when approached to pick up the rear foot. All in all, it's a terrible
In practicing for the next farrier visit, we attempted to pound on his shoes by
using a chain across his upper gums. With this method he stood stock still and
we were successful. When we tried again without the chain on the gum, he was
back to his regular antics.
In trying to resolve this issue, I spoke with one farrier who suggested that
some horses who are unwilling to have their feet pounded on could have problems
with their hocks. The horse exhibits no sign of lameness, stiffness, or pain
when riding, lungeing, or free in the field. I feel that it is more likely an
attitude problem but I would be very appreciative of your analysis and input on
A: I commend you on being open
minded enough to realize that your "baby" could be a brat rather than
immediately blaming the farrier. Secondly I would commend you on checking out
all possibilities, including that the horse may indeed be in pain.
First of all you should eliminate any question of unsoundness. I would recommend
a veterinarian examination. Your information was correct--sore hocks can cause
bad behavior on the hind feet, as can sore backs, hips and other assorted pains.
I suspect that your vet will find nothing wrong, but until you are sure you may
have trouble committing yourself 100% to firm discipline.
If the horse stands for tapping on his hind feet when a lip chain (which is the
common name for a chain that goes across the gums) is applied, that is what you
should use. Ask him nicely to allow the work without the chain. When he first
says "NO", put the chain on.
Once the chain is on, it may not be comfortable, but it doesn't hurt as long as
the horse stands quietly and the handler doesn't need to reprimand him with it.
I think you will find that soon he will behave himself with the chain softly
over his gum. Then he will stand when you put it over his nose because he will
learn that from that position you can quickly move it to his gums. Next he will
be good when he hears the chain rattle as the farrier sets it on the tailgate of
his truck in case he needs it.
Horses are not stupid when it comes to pain avoidance, and it sounds like you
should have your problem worked out soon.
Good luck with your warmblood.
The Village Blacksmith