The Horse Physio - Delivering care with expertise since 1992

15.11.2021 How To Fix Fear Of The Farrier

How To… Fix Fear Of The Farrier… In 10 Easy Steps

Chapter 6: Is he in pain?

Difficult behaviour for the farrier is one of the ‘flags’ in my book ‘Understanding Horse Performance: Brain, Pain or Training?’ which suggest that a vet check could be beneficial.  This is more about horses who pull their leg away, or snatch it down, or kick out once the leg is lifted, than about those horses who won’t pick their foot up in the first place, but it can apply to all of the above.  If your horse objects to the farrier and you’re not sure why (please don’t assume ‘he’s just being difficult / naughty!), then I recommend asking the vet to check him over.  Personally if it were my horse I would discuss with the vet the options for a lameness work up including flexion testing, but each vet has their own preferred way of working.  

Horses can only communicate pain or discomfort through their behaviour or performance, so if your horse objects to being trimmed or shod then it is your duty, as your horse’s custodian, to try to find out why.  The vet is a good place to start.  

You can also try some simple checks for yourself.  Does your horse back up when asked?  If you turn him around you, does his left hind cross under when he’s on the left rein as much as his right hind crosses under when he’s on the right rein?  When he’s turning around you, does he weight bear through his inside fore for a similar amount of time on the left rein as he does on the right rein?  Does he look sound when someone trots him away from you and towards you in a straight line?  Does he look sound on the lunge in walk, trot and canter, and does he behave the same way on the left rein on the lunge as he does on the right?  When you pick up his right fore / hind does it feel the same as the left fore / hind (or does one feel lighter to pick up than the other)?  If the answer to any of these questions is ‘No’, then this reinforces my suggestion to contact the vet for further investigation, as it would indicate that your horse was uncomfortable somewhere or that some of his movement was restricted.

© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio, 2021

Treating your horse with care, connection, curiosity and compassion