Roland’s nags and nails: the importance of building trust

  • This blog is sponsored by the PRO FEET range of hoof care products from NAF

    We get our fair share of tricky horses to shoe and Kris, my training farrier, has to work on some horses that are under sedation. And it’s not only the highly strung breeds, such as Flat racers and Arabs that can take exception to being shod. We have a few natives and cobs whose owners use a twitch on from time to time.

    However, by far the best way to shoe a nervous horse is to build trust with it. That means the owner and farrier working together to get the co-operation needed. Between farrier visits, owners should play their part by tapping round the feet with a hammer and holding the legs up, getting the horse used to some of the vibrations and positions that a farrier would put the horse through.

    Kris, on his part, will spend time reassuring the horse, not expect too much from it and work within the horse’s tolerances, such as only fitting pairs of shoes so he is not asking them to stand for a full set. Certainly, the last thing a farrier should do is lose patience with a nervous horse. In almost all cases, over time, a farrier should be able to build trust and gain the confidence of the animal.

    Some owners like to distract their horse by giving it a haynet or feed, although we do not encourage this. Getting co-operation from your horse only when it is eating is a slippery road to go down.

    From my own personal experiences, a horse intent on eating when you’re under its front feet will always take the direct route to its haynet or bucket. There’s been many an occasion when I’ve been trapped under the neck of a horse as its bearing down to reach that last bit of hay. What’s more, they always manage to drop feed and hay down the back of my neck and trousers. Not only is it itchy, but it means the next horse I’m under is certain to make a beeline for my backside!

    Until next week,



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