In this visit with Valiente, Sarah works to get him a bit more comfortable with day-to-day interactions, including picking up his feet. If you would like to catch up on Valiente’s training journey, check out our first blog post with his history here.
Can You Pick Up Your Feet?
As all our equestrian readers know, hoof care is hugely important to the health and safety of the horse. In fact, it has lead to the old adage, “No hoof, no horse.” Valiente has to become comfortable enough that different caregivers are able to inspect and pick up his feet, and the farrier can give him trims and/or shoes. In the past, he was probably either drugged or put in stocks to get this job done, contributing to his fear. One of the most important things that Sarah considers in this process is to never let him feel like he is trapped. This basically boils down to two things: 1) Rewards for lifting his shoulder or hoof when asked. 2) Refraining from holding his hoof when he pulls back. Sarah has been able to rasp his front feet, but he isn’t ready for a regular farrier visit yet!
But Everything is Still a Little Scary!
Later in the session, Valiente had a horsefly clinging to his belly. He was so focused on us at the far end of the round pen he didn’t even seem to notice this major irritant. If you’ve ever seen a horse bucking across a field in response to a horsefly, you’ll understand how insecure he must be to remain that vigilant.
This session focused on Sarah giving Valiente freedom to make his own decisions in response to the training. This is why he is loose – if he is overwhelmed, he can leave. However, any time he makes a correct choice, Sarah gently rewards him. Giving him the chance to work through problems himself is teaching him to think instead of react, and will ultimately result in a much happier and more social horse.
Check out the horses available for adoption (including Valiente) here!