Monday, May 16, 2011

Polish Arabian Mares, Part II

Farrier Day!

Well… Last Monday was Farrier Day for the Arabian mares (there were a couple of posts I had to get out of the way first, sorry!).

All but a couple of them stood great!  They all knew what to do, but a couple of the younger ones were a little squirrelly.  There must be a high incidence of ADOS in Arabs… Attention Deficit… Oh Shiny!!

The mares are incredibly herd-bound, which makes our job easier in terms of moving them between pastures and feeding, but it also makes it more difficult when only one horse is pulled at a time and the herd decides to move out of sight.

Only one mare was difficult enough to have to forego having her hinds done for two weeks, during which time she will have TONS of practice having her feet messed with [Edit to add one week later: success in getting her to pick up her feet and pick them out! AWESOME!!!].  This was their first time being trimmed while in the Rescue’s care, so we wanted to make it a positive experience for future trims.

They ALL had significant hoof neglect, and many hooves showed signs of past founder.  Our farrier on average trimmed off an inch off of each hoof!  They all have cracking and chipping to some extent, a few have stretched white lines, but fortunately there were no elf-slipper feet!  Good thing, too, because we couldn’t find an extension cord for the Sawzall, haha.

After the Arabians were done, we also did the Haflinger weanlings (actually, they’re probably yearlings now!).  They didn’t like it so much, but fortunately our farrier is FANTASTIC with babies.  By the time he got to their last foot, they were standing nicely and managed to put their eyes back in their heads.

If only all drafts were started by someone like our farrier!  Do you know how hard it is to find a farrier who is willing to do draft feet?  Unfortunately, if you do not teach a draft horse how to stand for the farrier at a young age, you’ve missed a very important opportunity.  With smaller horses, you can deal with leaning or fussing to some extent.  With a draft horse, you can’t start a wrestling match and expect to win it! 

It takes a LOT of time and patience to train a fully-grown draft horse to pick up their feet and stand for the farrier.  For some drafts, you need to turn it into a fun game.  Others need to be in “work” mode.  And others just require a distraction, such as a flake of hay in their handler’s arms or someone scratching their favorite itchy spot.  

Every single horse that goes through the rescue stands nicely for the farrier by the time they are allowed to leave it, no exceptions.  We may be able to handle a difficult horse, but we don’t expect our adopters to have to wrestle a 2,000lb. animal to just get their feet picked!


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