Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Aidol's Story....... The Farrier

Part 1

Both Arabian colts returned to the place they were born needing their feet trimmed. Their hooves were not absolutely horrible but they needed attention that's for sure so Aidol and Presley were put on the schedule for the next's farrier's visit.

We knew when the colts arrived that each had issues. We just didn't know how deeply those issues ran. No one thought to check to see if it was still possible to pick up their feet when the boys were added to that list. We just assumed since they'd been fine with it when they left, they'd be fine now.

You know what they say about assuming. It was certainly true in this case. Even though by the time the farrier arrived some major gains had been made in the behavior of both colts, getting handled by the farrier was more than either could tolerate.

It wasn't just that the farrier couldn't pick up a foot, he couldn't even get close enough to touch one.Both colts went into survival mode when the farrier bent over to reach for a foot. There was bolting, striking, biting, you name it. No holds were barred by either of these colts to protect themselves from this invasion into their space.

Because their hooves were not horrible the decision was made to postpone the trims until the young horses were better able to deal with the situation. Then we spent some time with the farrier just getting to know these boys instead.

We got a brush and curry to let the farrier do some bonding of his own. Because the man had already breeched their trust by reaching for their feet, neither horse wanted to allow the man to even touch their bodies at first.

Of the two, Aidol came around the quickest and was soon letting this man stroke him and brush him but the horse never quite got over that concerned look in his eye. The farrier decided the colt allowing him to groom without dancing all over the place was going to have to be enough for that day.

Presley was not so forgiving as Aidol. Even though his favorite groom was holding him, the horse nearly mowed her down to escape being anywhere near the farriier. Lucky for this horse, the farrier could see the response was reasonable for what this horse had endured.

I remember the man shaking his head in disgust as he mumbled something like "The farrier that did this should be shot!" I have to say we, grooms, pretty much agreed. It was clear from the behavior of both horses they had intense fear specific to getting their hooves trimmed.

After this visit from the farrier is when I began the water treatment with Aidol. I don't really remember why I thought this might work but something to do with bathing another horse triggered the thought. I figured it wouldn't hurt to try and the experiment was on.

Lucky for me Aidol was not particularly frightened of the wash rack. He looked at in the same way he always had. He wasn't sure he wanted to go in but once he got there he was pretty good. I was able to cross tie him without incident.

Every day I made some time to put the horse in the wash rack to run water on his legs. Once I had Aidol tolerating strong pressure on all four legs (which took weeks), I moved on to trying to touch his legs with my hands.

I began each session using the water pressure first. Then I would put my hand on the horse's body above the leg and ever so slowly make my way down towards the leg. I didn't just move in one direction either. I went towards the leg and then back to my starting point trying to build up the horse's tolerance to me getting anywhere near his leg.

I watched the horse's face to see how he was tolerating this procedure so I could back off before the horse actually rejected the advance. I wanted to avoid a negative response from the horse if at all possible.

Sometimes it worked and others it didn't. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason why Aidol would tolerate me getting near the leg and when he wouldn't. I tried to pay attention to external distractions or anything else that might give me a clue to make it easier to teach this horse nothing bad was going to happen if I touched his leg but the horse wasn't convinced.

I think I'd worked on this part of the drill about a week before I ever really touched a leg. It was another week before I could leave my hand on the top of the horse's leg.

Gradually I was able to move my hand farther and farther down the horse's leg. Eventually I was able to move my hand all the way down his leg and the horse would stand for me. I got him very comfortable with that before I ever asked him to pick up a foot.

To be continued...............

Now a Three Year Old

Visit Blog Village and vote daily for this blog Here They are now measuring the rankings by the number of votes out, so if you find my blog on the site, please click that link too to improve my rankings. TY


  1. How could these horses have been so mistreated?? It's a downright shame.

  2. *crraacckkk* there goes my heart again....

    This poor baby.

    "Sometimes it worked and others it didn't."

    MiKael you know all about this don't you? You know that sometimes there is simply no controlling triggers. That flashbacks happen....and sometimes there is no telling what will start it. I think considering the level of fear these two arrived with, the pendulum effect is normal. Eventually it will swing and .stay. towards the middle but it takes time and miles to get there. Before the pendulum hangs quietly there is a lot of swinging from fear to trust back to fear again.

  3. What a shame these horses were so abused wherever they were. Just terrible. I'm sure it took lots of time and patience to get them back to trusting anyone.

  4. i really applaud your patience and creativity in dealing with this horse. so many people would resort to more force or just give up...