Wednesday, June 29, 2016

29th June, 2016 Foot Perfect

Today was the third session of working on foot handling with two year old coloured cob, Bertie. When I first started working with his feet he would walk through you, snatch his feet away, kneel on you, stamp his back feet down on top of yours, or just kick. For session 1 I worked on asking him to accept touch and NOT pick his feet up, using a feather duster, and later my own hand. For session 2 I worked on setting up a cue to ask him to pick up his feet and then asked him to hold them up for 5 to 10 seconds each time.

For this third session I worked on asking him to hold them up for much longer (in fact I no longer needed to time it because he is so well balanced he can hold them up for as long as is needed), to allow them to be picked out, tapped with the hoof pick and 'rasped'. I gave him marks out of ten for the presentation of each foot and he achieved an astonishing 38 out of 40 on several occasions and with his owner. He is now ready for a trim from the farrier which should tidy his feet up a lot.

On our way back to Fritham we spotted these New Forest ponies and assorted friends not looking at all impressed with the wintery weather. One of them has somehow managed to get her, hi-visibility collar around her front leg but doesn't seem to be struggling.  She is a very wild, wild pony and so it's not possible for anyone to get near enough to cut it off.  I am assured that she is being carefully monitored for rubs by her owner and the local agister and will be extricated at the next drift if it hasn't come away by then. The collars are breakable and elasticated.

I made a little start with Zoe and Zelda, working on leading and separation from each other. Although they are only partially related - one's mother is the other's grandmother - I now think of them as twins. In fact, Zelda is Bella's half sister as both are by Lovelyhill Hendrix.

The plan was straightforward - take one pony out of the top gate, walk down the adjoining field at a slight distance from the fence, and then go back in through the bottom gate. The incline makes it easier for the pony to 'accidentally' keep up and therefore to find the release in the lead rein; both are instinctively inclined to pull at the moment.

Feet picking up, leading, and so on, are things that we take for granted in the well handled, domesticated, older horses that we buy and yet all of these things have to be taught somewhere along the line. I think the greatest proportion of my work these days in helping people to educate their young horses.