The Farrier - Hoof Training Saga....Advice Invited for Where I Should Go From H

Flipo's Mum

Heavy owner of a Heavy
Aug 17, 2009
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I am at stale mate with Flipo and his farriery issues. I hate not making progress, and maybe the result of posting this, will be that I need to just suck it up and put up with things as they are, but I am a determined fool so after some opinions on what you might try next in my circumstances. Cookies and milk for all those who have put up with my repeat postings on this topic. It's a ball ache and I'm sorry! :redface:

For those who don't know our background here's a quick history lesson (I will try to keep it brief!).
Flipo = ten tonne heavy horse imported from abroad knowing his weight and how to wield it. Never been happy lifting hooves, would slam then down when just trying to lift for picking out, no chance of a farrier being able as we think he was probably done in a crush on the continent.
I bought him when he was 9, barefoot and I hoped to keep him that way. Sadly I had to use a vet to sedate for every farrier visit as sedative wouldn't take, my farrier was awful with time keeping and it was costing around £150 per visit not to mention the stress of organising everyone to attend at same time.
I researched and found a trimmer willing to work with us without sedative - it was my perception that farriers are in such demand, that they have little time to spend helping me work on the issue, trimmers seem not to be so pushed and I regret that decision somewhat.
Trimmer taught flip to stand, was very good with him, but he went lame and vets investigated and it was decided he needs shod and tbh, he is much happier that way so I'm not going back to barefoot.
Now that dormesedan is on the market, and my farrier is very prompt, the pain is somewhat lessened, but flip still snatches even when drunk, and I asked on here and some folk suggested thing some danolin a couple of days before incase he was sore (he's got a touch of arthritis so not beyond possibility). Vet said was worth a shot so we gave danolin and sedative for next visit and farrier thought it helped.
Since then we've had a couple more tries at danolin in the hope that along with my training sessions on not snatching, we could eventually drop the sedative and just give him danolin. Trouble is, my farrier operates by getting you to leave him a message on answer phone saying you need him, and he will organise his schedule, calling you the night before. If I only have specific dates I can do, I need to give him a couple of choices and leave it up to him to call. This means its difficult to dose flipo up on danolin a few days prior and it's not made much difference the last couple of times.
I've mentioned letting flip rest a wee bit between attempts and the farrier honours this, but even though he's sedated, he still snatches. I can't reprimand when he's sedated so we're not getting anywhere and now I'm spending more money on drugs for flip, not to mention that the vet is now saying I can't have anymore danolin without a call out to check on him.
I'm throwing money at this and not feeling like we're making much head way.
Last night, flipo's shoe had slipped and dug into his sole. He's a touch lame, but it didnt break through thankgod so hopefully only bruised. Friend and I had to work to get the shoe off, and flipo was really quite good. We gave him regular rests, I used clicker and treats to keep him amused and he played ball.
I'm not sure which direction to go in, so here's some musings.
1. Talk to farrier about trying without sedative next time, but sort times so that if we get shoes off and feel its not working, I can sedate and he can come back to do the rest.
2. Replace danolin with no bute or devils claw or something and see if this helps as I wouldn't have to worry about only having a limited number of sachets and could provide a week in advance if when I think farrier might come. Would that stuff work if its joint related?
3. Work towards lowering the dosage of sedative and keep the danolin/ no bute.

I'm about to change careers and a half day's notice would be much easier to organise than a full day off work at the drop of a hat. Also, if I needed someone else to deal with the farrier for me, I'd rather a five hour sedation didnt have to happen. It's alot of time to ask of someone!
So any thoughts on where we should go from here? Flipo doesn't have a problem with nails or hammering as far as I can tell. I think it's part discomfort, part behaviour. I will always do what's best for flipo but spending £86 on drugs for a pedicure is a bit annoying. I know he's my horse though so I would never deny him anything. Help!!
 
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LindaAd

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This is a pain - but it sounds as if you're coping pretty well. Have you discussed it with the farrier? Is there any chance he could arrange to book visits in advance, so you could work with the painkillers?

My other thought is clicker training. It's not something I have much experience of, but it's worked wonders with Hebe, persuading her to do 'impossible' things, like cantering on the lunge and letting me touch her ears.

How did that trimmer teach him to stand, by the way? Was it just by taking enough time? Would there be a chance of finding a farrier who worked like that, or possibly persuading your current farrier to work like that? Maybe offer to pay him extra - it would still be cheaper than the vet and the drugs ...
 

juliecwuk

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Does he snatch with all 4 legs?

Major rears and strikes with his front hooves if the trimmer tries to pull his front legs out to the side and put his hoof between his knees. So we now use a stand so the trimmer doesnt twist his legs out as it hurts his shoulders...
 

eml

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My daughter's old pony club horse came to us with DJD as a four year old and partly as a result as this and partly through something which happened in her past she was literally dangerous to shoe.

We used nobute and cortaflex which restored her movement and left her pain free enough to trim but hammering nails in was such a trauma that three farriers ended up visiting A&E. Bizzarrely the first time they did her if they worked quickly she was ok, almost as if she was not expecting it, after that she was very snatchy resulting in nails in farriers hands. We resorted to vets sedation but the farrier still had a limited time to work.

As she was hunting/eventing and doing serious grass based jumping we never considered taking her shoes off until a new farrier said that with the right trim ( left longer at the back and a set back breakover to allow for the DJD) she would be able to compete except for very exceptional conditions. We did this and had many happy years competing her only having to withdraw on short wet grass or very hard going

Talk again to the vet and farrier, you ar.e not talking conventional trimming but using the foot growth as a 'shoe' .....not barefoot just without shoes...it may be worth a go?
 

Tina2011

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Are his feet better know? (the crack he had).

If so maybe just trim for a while. Horses have long memories (draught horses) it might take forever and a day to convince him he is not going to get pain and atm you are stressed with your job, so maybe not in a place to deal with it?

I can remember once Cherie got quite a nightmare but looking back it was the associated pain plus I was stressed atm, they are like kids, they pick up on things.

I ended up with Cherie rearing and hitting me in the face and the farrier scarpered out the way lol.

I asked my friend, who is a very experienced horsewomen to help. She very quietly spent a few weeks handling Cheries feet and helping me get over some dilemma or another (I was stressed out). Once I had calmed down, and the pony had calmed down....magical results. No more foot issues.

This isn't really advice, just my experience that might possibly help x
 

sjp1

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Sep 14, 2009
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Which feet does he do it with? All of them, or just fronts or backs.

My farrier says there is a reason horses misbehave with the farrier. Either they are scared, in pain, or taking the pee and it is the farriers job to decide which it is.

See ............ this is why I love my farrier - he may not be a barefoot trimmer, but he understands horses.

Tobes was a proper pickle for being shod on his fronts. He would pull back, rear, bite. Farrier said I must have the back lady to look at him, and I said I had, twice. He asked me who, I told him and he told me she was no good, and to contact one of his clients who he shoes for.

She came out, took one look at him and said he had a HUGE problem with his shoulders. I had several massage exercises to do with him, had to long rein him over sleepers to get forward movement on his shoulders and when she came out six months later she was delighted with his progress. Fast forward 18 months and ....

On Tuesday farrier came to shoe again .................. Tobes was brilliant. No mucking about, he was perfectly content to pick up front feet, didn't rear, didn't pull back and didn't bite.

Farrier was spot on - Tobes was in pain and he recognised it, and made me do something about it by getting another chiropractor in who COULD make the difference.

I truly believe he is right. Flip is not the kind really to take the pee - so I guess he is either in pain when having to hold his feet in a particular way, or scared.

Will your vet not just sell you several sachets of Danilon? Does he pick his feet up for you happily to pick them out daily? I always make an appointment for my farrier to return 5 weeks after the last appointment on the day he comes so we all know where we are. Is that a possibility for you?
 

Flipo's Mum

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It's his fronts he has issues with. He's only shod on the fronts.
Farrier comes, pulls shoe off, no problem. He will generally get through all of the trimming of the hoof without snatching. The farrier would generally just fit the shoe back on there and then, not putting the hoof down but I've asked to just let him put it down for a second and that seems to help. It took alot of guts for me to ask this as I feel at the mercy of the farrier being that he is willing to work with a difficult customer.

He then does the other front hoof, pulls shoe, trims, rest for a second and then shoe back on.

If he's going to snatch, it's probably once during this stage of things, and more likely on his offside, as this means putting more weight on his weaker side (had an abscess and muscle tear and that was the lame hoof on his near side). Remembered pain.

Then the apprentice will put hoof up on the jack and sort nail ends and rasp and repeat with other front. This is when he can object a bit, snatches having his hoof out high up. I think I will speak to my very creative father and see if he can whip me up a smaller jack to try. I also know flipo's weight is all upfront, I am working on improving his bum muscles via hill work to combat this, could that help?

I appreciate what you're suggesting re barefoot eml and I've swithered believe me, i wouldn't be against having him barefoot part of the year, but the vets have all said with a horse his size and conformation he was bound to have issues with his feet and I just don't think I want to take the chance of returning to that lameness. He was never comfortable and I can't get boots that fit to stay on.

I practice, irregularly, but averaging about twice a week, for around ten minutes a pop. That's on top of just generally picking out hooves and making him do stretches when I'm going to ride. I use clicker and its really helped us improve quickly in the last few months. Since yann noticed in my description that I was clicking at the wrong point, it was like a light bulb and he is a gem for lifting now.

I think I really need to discuss my options with the farrier tomorrow.
 

Flipo's Mum

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I appreciate I might be part of the problem and if I do convince the farrier to have a go with him sober (and I will offer extra money for the time and effort, good idea Linda) I intend to get a friend who flipo respects a great deal to hold him and be firm. I can imagine my anxiety will be high since I want it to work.
Also meant to say that he has no issues with his backs, they are almost an after thought. I may try and get farrier to change routine but its so difficult to tell them their own job. I know I'm paying for a service but farriers are gold dust, and ones that will shoe a heavy are even rarer. I'm on my third (not including the trimmer) and I'm happy with his work so I don't want to change.
Julie you mentioned a rest for the hoof, did you buy this or have one made?
 

Flipo's Mum

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does Flip have remedial farriery? what about booting him?

Not remedial as such, but the recommendation has always been shoeing to keep him sound because be has toe in conformation and it contributed to medial lateral imbalance. He dishes badly and was always footy. I couldn't get boots to fit right because of size and tbh they're not for us. I was willing to try before we had to shoe, but it really was like night and day when flip got shod, he strides out happily now.
 

Joyscarer

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I appreciate I might be part of the problem and if I do convince the farrier to have a go with him sober (and I will offer extra money for the time and effort, good idea Linda) I intend to get a friend who flipo respects a great deal to hold him and be firm. I can imagine my anxiety will be high since I want it to work.

A very sensible next approach and one I tried with Joy's loading issues too, I'm a great one for getting in outside help to see if I'm inadvertently part of the problem.

When's he next due to be shod roughly? I really hope that you find that handling is the answer because that's an easier fix than anything I think.
 

juliecwuk

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My trimmer uses just a metal hoof stand, it's got a detachable hoof shaped cup which sits on top. So when he needs to trim his front hooves he rests them in the cup on the stand under his belly, so that it doesn't require twisting out of his shoulders. The cup attachment is then removed and it becomes the stand which the hoof is balanced on in front to do the shaping of the front of the hoof...hope that makes sense, had a quick look but couldn't find them online, I could ask him where he bought it but I suspect America!
 

Mary Poppins

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I have no idea what to suggest, but I hope that you make progress soon. I can imgaine how frustrating and how expensive this is for you.
 

Flipo's Mum

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So just had farrier put shoe back on and tighten nails on other one. I broached the subject at the wrong bloody time as flipo was being a complete sh!t, but I feel alot of it is down to him being so drunk, he won't balance and just leans back. We used to have to sedate as flip would bulldoze past us, not stand still, but he doesn't do that anymore.
I asked if we could try with taking shoes off without sedative, see how we get on, and if need be he will go away do another client and come back after sedated. He wasn't enthusiastic, said he wouldn't continue if there was a risk, understandably, but I just feel it wouldn't be any worse without sedative and he could balance himself better. I feel reeeeaaallly uncomfortable having asked, gawd, I need to make this work, I'm gonna have to do so much work on this in the next wee while.
I don't have money to spend on that lovely foot jack you suggested but I'm that desperate, I'm thinking of raiding my savings and buying it anyway. It may cost me, but if it saves on sedative and time in the long run, then it's got to be worth a shot. Away to google, and thankyou everyone for your input and advice.
 

nat17

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The only things I would add is -

I agree with you that no sedation might help now, they are drunk with it and find it hard to balance so it could make it worse, along with any stiffness this will make it more difficult.

Training wise - I dont think its enough. I did this with Dolly as you know, and when I did it a few times a week, we didnt really get anywhere. When I did it for 10 mins a day it was like 20 steps forward after 2 weeks.

I know you feel bad asking a farrier to try different things, but you need to man up and do it, you know your horse best and farrier my just follow the same routine rather than mix it up, so I am sure he will be fine about it.

I had the trimmer yesterday, and 2 of my horses were a pain in the ass including Sam. He was pissing around with his fronts but was a dream with his backs, no idea why, he is normally fine except a little leaning. I know it would drive me to distraction if he was like that often, so I commend you for your patience. :smile:

My trimmer also uses a hoof jack and the difference in my horses is amazing, they hate having their leg twisted outwards, it should stay under the shoulder, its made big differences for the old girl.
 

Mary Poppins

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My friends horse is very difficult to shoe. The horse has to be lunged hard for at least half an hour immediately before the farrier comes, otherwise he kicks out. The lunging seems to be the only thing that works with him and he is 100 times better behaved after - he is a heavy horse as well. The owner has to pay the farrier an additional 'danger money' to go anywhere near him.

Might be worth a try?
 

Flipo's Mum

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I absolutely agree Nat, the training isn't enough, and I'm going to step it up in preparation for our next farrier visit in about a month I would think, by doing 15minutes every day. Twice a day at the weekends.
I agree on the manning up as well. I did ask. At the end of the day I can't let my own insecurities end up affecting my horse's life, so I always use that as my fuel to deal with these situations, no matter how much I'd rather run away and hide. I am too apologetic however, and need to work on feeling more vindicated and confident with my opinions and questions. I shouldn't bow so easily, especially when I'm paying for a service. They will all walk all over me otherwise!

I'm really swithering over buying a hoof jack. On one side, it could be a good investment for us. The price could be offset against not having to buy sedative every month, but its whether the farrier will use it.

MP, I feel for your friend who has to lunge before the farrier, I am so glad Flip doesn't kick. I think I need to remember that, in the grand scheme of things, he isn't all that bad. He's just very strong lol! I'm not sure lunging is the key here, it would just make him more tired and more likely to lean and snatch once he's had enough. I have tried it before, but it did nothing. I think more of this is about respect and comfort (and I can't lunge :redface:).
 
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