Monday, June 1, 2009


You will never guess what happened today!

I invited Spencer into the paddock to go to work. I had lots of enticements, carrots, Winnie's cookies and sweet feed. All his favorite things!

I explained to him what we were going to work on...again. The same thing we've worked on for a number of hours. It has been baby steps, but he's made some small improvements with each session.

His devoted fans watched and gave him encouragement. They were shouting in their silent horsie way, "You can do this!" (Not really, they were complaining, I think, that they don't get all that cool stuff just for picking up their feet.)

Once again, we went to work. First I made the request. Which is normally followed by a quick peek of the bottom of his foot. I would reward each new try, but would ask for more, each time. He started getting it. He's so smart!

I really didn't expect to get what he offered today! No way! But this was closer to the hoof stand than we've gotten yet. Could it happen? Is there any chance he will set his big ol' ugly foot in that stand? Not likely, he hasn't even come close before.

But wait!

What's this!

It's in!




This hoof hasn't been touched since June, 2008. When I got the call to come trim a draft horse with terrible abscesses. He was drugged and it took two of us to hold his hoof on the stand. We got the job done, for what it was worth. But seriously, trimming a doped up one-ton, unhandled, draft stallion was probably one of the dumber things I've done in my trimming career.

Our first nip! I'm so excited.

I so wanted this to happen just the way it did. We had considered sedating him and laying him down just to get the job done. It would have been a huge ordeal and even though it might have gotten him trimmed and possibly without injury to me, I knew that he wouldn't have learned anything.

I considered using ace on him, which is how I trimmed this hoof last year. But even that only works on some horses. I'm thinking we just got lucky last year. He was in a new environment and had just gotten the you-know-what beat out of him by another stallion. You can still see some of the marks on his body from that beating now that he's in his summer coat.

Since he's been here, I've focused mainly on this one foot. I figured if we could get this one done, the other hooves would come faster because he would understand the task.

And the amazing part to me was that when I give him the cue to lift his foot, a gentle squeeze of his chestnut, his foot pops right up! He’s so cooperative once he gets it!

Some of you may wonder how is it that an old lady could get such a thrill out of seeing the bottom of a draft horse's foot.

Well, I can't really explain it. All I know is that we just have 3 more to go!:0)

Stay tuned.


Rachel said...

You are KIDDING?!?! that is the most awesome news! Especially for those of us who have been following since before he came to you. That is just AMAZING.

The amount of trust (for both of you!) and the "getting it"... those pics just blew me away!

Thanks for posting - that made my day!

(and by the way - my email is acting funky and poor Kona needs a trim - any chance you'll be out our way soon or if we can come over? :)

Cilla said...

Oh my! What a breakthrough. I agree with you on how wonderful something daft as lifting a hoof can be. Just goes to show 'Take the time it takes' pays off! Well done, both of you! xxx

ezra_pandora said...

I sure as heck would be jumping up and down for joy and running around like a madwoman!! I know with my mare, she used to get so freaked out and would try to kick our heads off, we used to have her sedated (not knocked out though) and with each trimming (and working on picking up feet in between) we would lessen the dose of the sedative and after about three times of that, she didn't need it anymore. I know Spencer's situation is totally different, but it definitely sounds as if your mothod is slowly but definitely surely working. Congrats!!

I've enjoyed reading your blog about him since the start and get so excited each time you post :)

DraftCrossFool said...

Ohh, GOOD boy, Spencer! (And good girl, Pat - way to go!) Wish I had been there!

Pat said...

Thanks! I know! It's a huge breakthrough for us.

Take the time it takes and "eventually" it takes less time!

skatej said...

Give him a carrot and a scruff on the forelock for me.

bhm said...

Amazing. I'm just as proud of you as Spencer. That is one hard job training a draft to pick up it's feet let alone doing the trimming.

I find that even after soaking, Trooper's hooves are really, really hard. Do you have any tips on trimming draft soles that would make it easier for me?

You have the same hoof jack that I have. I like them because they are not as easy to kick over.

Pat said...

Wow, thank you! I just noticed in the picture of the nice buttshot of me, how tense his is. Sheesh. Poor guy.

Yep, the hoof jacks are great. I couldn't do this job without it.

I use Rainmaker on my horses hooves this time of year. Is moisturizes so they don't get as brittle. Makes your tools last longer too.

In Texas, years ago, a thorough (independent) study was done on hoof treatments. Some over moisturized, some not enough, some did nothing and were a complete waste of money as is so much of what is offered to the horse community.

But Rainmaker came out as the top treatment for not over-moisturizing and offering the hoof just what it needs to stay flexible and healthy.

Also, for really brittle hooves, I let the hose run on the ground, in the grass and just go stand the horse in it for about 10 minutes. That helps a lot too.

Hooves are way easier to trim after a bath, just like our toenails!


English said...

This was over 2 months ago. I do hope nothing awful has happened since then to cause the absence of updates. I keep checking in to see if there has been the same success with the other 3 hooves yet.

English said...

This all happened over 2 months ago. I do hope nothing awful has happened to cause the lack of updates.

I keep checking in to see if there has been further successes with the other 3 hooves.

Brandy said...

Good work! Such patience and love pays off in huge dividends!!

Looking at his photos, I'm wondering if an equine massage would be helpful? The muscles of his neck look weird as he works to pick up his hoof. Referred pain can also prevent a horse from being willing, of course. Plus it makes the horsies happy!

Good luck in your work with this sweet guy!

Pat said...

Thank you Brandy. I saw that muscle also when I first took a look at that photo. Weird huh. I figured it was just stress at the time??

But a nice massage couldn't hurt. I have a friend who works on our horses and she sure makes them feel great. She'd have to use a ladder with Spencer, but we could accomodate her for sure!

Thanks for checking in!

I appreciate it,

Anonymous said...

Wow, congrats! I once knew a mare who was scared of lifting her feet for the farrier due to abuse in her life. She wasn't even a very big or strong or stubborn horse, but trimming or even cleaning her feet was next to impossible. They ended up trimming her under sedation whenever it needed to be done and I just can't help but wonder if it would have been possible to help the mare as well as the owners by teaching her to pick up her feet, one step after another. It's so great that you made the effort and actually managed to get this far - from now on I'm sure you'll progress much faster. Keep up the good work!