Problem with hoof picking (horse slams down one particular leg with full force)

Scarlett 001

New Member
Sep 16, 2003
Madonna is just great when you pick her left front leg and her back legs. But she has some frustrating hangup with her front right leg. She just refuses to have it picked - no matter how firm and strong one tries to be when holding the leg she uses all her strength to put it down and generally I have to give up after a few attempts (as do most people). It gets kind of unnerving having her slam that leg down full force. The stable does not seem to think there is a particular issue with any pain etc.

Why might she be doing this other than pain etc.? Real question is what tricks are there to build trust etc. and reassure her so that over time I will eventually be able to pick this hoof? Any positive reinforcment tricks etc.? I realize it may take awhile to condition her to accept this but I am willing to put in the time and effort. Being firm with her and trying again and again just don't seem to work.


New Member
Oct 5, 2003
kent England
nutkin had the same problem with his left front one. I tried all the different things that people were suggesting and nothing was working. Nutkin has arthritis so i figured there must be a problem with the joints in that leg. Anyway one day i found a tickly spot under his girth area and he lifted that leg up and forward. The next time i tried to pick out his left foot i stood in front of him and lifted his leg forward from just above the knee. He couldn't have been more obliging. I know it's far from conventional but it works for me and once i have his foot off the ground it is easy to pick it up in the normal way and clean out his foot. I always reward him immediately after i have picked out his feet with a bit of carrot too and i always do his bad one last. That way he associates lifting his bad leg with getting the reward.


New Member
Aug 20, 2003
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another trick u can try is pinching a chestnut(that hard round thing on inside of leg) and hold for couple seconds,most of the horses with lift their feet.
hope this helps~:p

Shiny McShine

Bluey McBlue
Jan 14, 2002

With horses that are difficult about having their feet picked up I usually start by making sure I can rub and stroke the leg all over (making sure they are not nervous about it being touched). Then I will squeeze the chestnut to ask them to pick up the foot, once they begin to lift it a little I will rub the leg again to try and make them feel comfortable about it. If they are only happy to lift the leg a small way at first then that is okay. If they try to stamp the leg down or kick it about I will hold onto it and persist until they relax it then as soon as they do I give the leg another rub.

It is also good practice once you can get the horse to pick up his foot not to just drop it once your done. Carefully place their toe on the ground and make sure they stand with the leg relaxed until you move away. If they stamp it down, pick it up and start again until they learn to follow your cues.


0oO~ Fruit Loops ~Oo0
My horses feet used to be impossible to do. My instructor taught me to pinch the chestnut till T-Bone made the foot were I could grab it then pick it out and hold on to it no matter what. Then I played a game of pretending to lower it and then bringing it back up. It teaches them they don't always get to put there foot down that minute. On back feet take the ankle more and put it between your legs as a farrier would. pick it out and play the same game. (This is how my instructor taught me to pick out the feet but other people may have better methoods)


New Member
Nov 18, 2001
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When exactly does she pull it away from you? How does your farrier cope? My farrier discovered a problem with my horse - his knees are set slightly to the outside of his legs rather than facing straight forwards. You can't see it, but to pull his forelegs away from his body to pick out his feet/ trim them etc is putting them at an uncomfortable angle for him. You therefore cannot hold his foot between your legs, but have to work with it more under his body so he doesn't pull away.

The fact that it is only 1 leg makes me suspicious that it is pain or fear - pure naughtiness should show up in all 4 legs! Pain can range from mild discomfort to more severe, and this may be the only time she shows it. Try just picking up the leg frequently, starting with literally picking it up and putting it straight back down before she pulls away. Gradually lengthen the time you hold it for, and vary from picking it up just once to 4 or 5 times so she becomes less bothered by it


Active Member
Jan 19, 2003
A horse I knew was having this problem. She had back problems too, and they were linked, so that her back was pt right by a chiropractor, and she was soon offering her hoof again willingly. Could this be back related?

Scarlett 001

New Member
Sep 16, 2003
Wow. Some interesting responses. I'll talk to the owner of the stables to get a history of Madonna and see if any problems with her legs or related health issues in the past (she has had the horse since birth). I'll see if she thinks it is worth pursuing possible pain or other health-related issues a bit more. Talking to the farrier is a good idea. Someone mentioned maybe a memory of pain from the past - this had crossed my mind. I'll report back if I find out anything relevant.

If we rule out health-related concerns, then I will try out some of the various suggestions for getting her used to me picking this hoof.

Thanks for all the great ideas etc.


New Member
Jan 11, 2001
N.E. U.K.
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I'd check out her left front leg and shoulder, this is the leg which will bear the weight when you pick up her right front. With her being willing to pick up the other 3 without a problem, I'd class it as a physical problem and get her checked out by a vet.

If the yard are unwillingly to call the vet, try and be around when the blacksmith comes, and ask his opinion.

This sounds like a genuine horse, an awkward one would be difficult full stop. She's objecting to lifting one specific leg, trust her, she's communicating the only way she can.

I think that if she was reacting from remembering a past pain, it would have been quite recent - so someone on the yard should know about it. If it was a trust issue, why just that leg? A horse with trust issues, would be reluctant to give any leg.

Hope you find an answer, if you do, keep us posted.
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