Friday, March 26, 2010

Clicker Training and Hoof Trimming

I've recently changed farriers again! I will have to post some pics should Fox be cooperative. He's now come twice and I am very pleased with his work. The first time, Fox was a right PITA. This guy is a proper trimmer not just a farrier so he actually spent more than 10 minutes on Fox's feet. Fox was not pleased by this and played up quite a bit. The guy was fantastic though, very patient and actually thought Fox was a pretty cool horse.

So to make my life and the trimmers life a bit easier I decided to work really hard with Fox's feet picking up. Which meant back to serious clicker training. I started Fox targeting on the hoof pick again, then standing still while I rubbed the hoof pick over him and down his legs. Then I moved onto actually picking his foot up, me cleaning it and tapping it a bit and putting it down nicely. Fox is a smart cookie and remembered all this from when I was doing it before. His front feet he is pretty much perfect now. Back legs can still be an issue sometimes but I'm thinking that has more to do pain.

The next step was to try it while he was getting his feet trimmed properly. I was a bit nervous as some people have a very low opinion of clicker training but my trimmer was perfectly happy and even helped me out so I could get the timing right. He also said there was a very noticeable difference in Fox's behaviour. With the front feet he was very very good and the trimmer said he felt really relaxed. Back feet were still a bit of a problem but Fox stood nicely instead of trying to dance around, he just pulled his feet away a couple of times. So overall I'm very pleased and will obviously continue to try and improve.

An update on the vet. They would want to start with nerve blocking. If you don't already know, Fox takes great exception to vets and most especially needles. There is no physical way the vet would be able to get a needle in as accurately as needed as sedation is not an option either. If you haven't read the Guy Fawkes drama from back in November, Fox cut his chest and it needed stitching. The vets comment was 'this is the most drug resistant horse I have ever met.' It took a dose of oral sedative, 2 intramuscular injections and 2 intravenous injections having pretty much nill effect before the vet decided to bring out the big guns. Ketamine and diazapam. Whilst this did finally drop him, he was barely down for long enough to stitch the wound up, maybe 7 or 8 minutes. Ketamine should have them down for at least 20. So the nice woman I spoke to is having a word with the vet who does the lameness diagnostics to see if there is any other way we could go about it. Fingers crossed he will have some ideas.

Update on Smurf. I am off to see him and his owner tomorrow and go over all the details. My biggest problem right now is grazing. The owner of the current place hasn't got back to me about having another horse on the property so I'm on the lookout for somewhere new. Well I was anyway but now the pressure is on. I'm starting to think that six months might work out for the best. Having an actual horse to ride while I'm rehabbing Fox may very well save my sanity and after six months, who knows, maybe Fox will be coming right.


  1. Glad to hear that the clicker training is improving Fox's ground manners. It is great for targeting individual behaviors but you will soon find that it will bring your equine more confidence in general. Good luck with Smurf.

  2. I'm having a problem with him turning into a treat seeking monster so I have to make sure I keep him off me but apart from that it's pretty cool. Thanks about Smurf

  3. OH, my, I've missed a LoT!
    Best wishes, and here's hoping!

    Sitting down?

    I have the same tolerance to pain meds as Fox, according to my dentist. Gr8.