For our horses, their legs are vital in their self preservation. Because ‘flight’ is a primary defensive mechanism, if their legs are compromised our horses can feel pretty threatened. For young horses this can be as simple as a human trying to pick up their feet. For our older horses this can be the panic that sets in when caught in a vine or a fence.
All of our horses are taught to;
Pick up their feet (they pick up their feet to give to me, not me pulling on their legs).
Confidence building around ropes around the legs.
Hobble training. Yes there is a kind and confidence building way to hobble train.
Subsequently, all of our horses are pretty confident when it comes to their legs.
This memory came up from 5 years ago which prompted me to write this post;
1st day back after 6 weeks away from home and cooper and I are back into it. We just did some light riding, but once again he showed me why I teach what I teach and build the horses confidence. Not only was he fairly ‘up’ as Phil and I were riding in his paddock, but his girls were all trying to show off to George (Phil’s horse) as well which was distracting. He stayed pretty focused on what I was asking though and we did some lovely work. Then on the way home the girls decided to stay behind resting under a tree -- so he was fairly reluctant to head up the paddock. When we were almost to the top gate he came to a complete stop. I knew that this stop was more than just reluctant behavior, or about his girls -- it just felt different. I looked down and saw that somehow he had walked into barbed wire and it was wrapped around his front legs. Cooper patiently waited for me to dismount and untangle him, unwrapping the wire from around his legs. Not only did he not spook, panic and make it worse, but he kept his head. Despite wanting to call out to his girls he kept his feet still until I asked him to move them 1 by 1 to get him out. It made me reflect on all the foundation work we do -- not only for the physical benefit but for the mental soundness of our horses, and how in situations like that it all pays off. Invest in your horses mental health -- it may save you, or him one day.
Train with us;
Foundation clinic March 31 April 2 & 3.
Eungai Creek 12 & 13