Getting Risada into her new boots!

Laminitics don’t like to lift their feet for anything………

When a pony or horse has suffered with laminitis, and has any amount of rotation, they struggle on hard ground. Their feet become sensitive, some more than others, and it can be difficult for them to feel safe and comfortable picking up their feet for you and / or the farrier.

These days there are lovely solutions to make your sensitive footed horse more comfortable in the way of recovery boots, or padded boots. But..if your horse won’t pick up his or her feet, how do you get them on?

Risada, who has suffered with a little rotation in her front feet, is particularly sensitive about being trimmed or having her feet picked out. She just doesn’t like anybody near her front feet or legs and her response to anybody (me, or the farrier who she has had for many many years) is to bite. This has been a problem since she came to me, and was exacerbated by the laminitis attack. There is something in her history regarding her feet that made her anxious or fearful of anyone around her feet. She also does not like small animals around her legs which I think is part of the same anxiety.

When the farrier is here it is easy for me to stop her biting him holding on to her head collar, but what to do when alone. It is something I probably should have dealt with a long time ago, but hey-ho, I am where I am, and she is where she is. So now we have decided to figure it out together.

This first video shows how she can be about her front legs. The first thing you may notice is that I have her rope over her back so it will pull her head around and put her back end towards me. I completely trust her not to kick me with her back legs so this was an easy solution to being nipped. All the rope does is give her enough of a block to interrupt her thought. I wouldn’t suggest it though if your horse is a back kicker, although laminitics tend not to want to kick as it puts to much pressure on their feet.

You will see that I am doing a lot of scratching and also just brushing and scratching her legs. I am thanking her for the slightest try even if it wasn’t quite a pick up of me, but kicking flies away. At the beginning she is wanting to bite me, but I try and be persistent (without getting bitten) and it pays off. I am not trying to get her boots on today, just give us the opportunity to have a conversation about her feet and legs and see what we can achieve. I did hold her foot too long when she did lift up the first time, but that is how we learn and is what is great about videoing yourself. The video also gave me an opportunity to see what the biting and her expression looked like from a different perspective – that is not just a vision of teeth!

I left it four days for her to process before doing the procedure again. I had received the boots so I just introduced them to her quickly and then we did the rope around and foot process again. And then the same process again on day three, a day later, but this time (after pondering on the process for a while) I put an image in my mind of the nice feeling of having no stones and a soft boot on and tried to share that image with her. I also put a level of healing energy into my hands (which is easier to do than it sounds) and just eased my hand down her neck and shoulder and leg like a comforter. It was like the tender way you might handle the leg of your child if they have a bruised ankle. I was rewarded well as she let me clean her foot out. She was not so happy with things on the other side so I left it just with her allowing me to be down by her leg.

From these sessions I surmised that one foot was worse than the other so I decided to try and get a boot on the worse side, the one she let me clean out. (This I did two days later after letting her process the last two sessions). I surmised that maybe she would be more comfortable with putting weight on it so I could pick up the other one. And it worked. She was still wanting to bite a bit, but we were persistent with it and it paid off. The releases at the end of this 4th video are brilliant. She really yawns out a lot. I have put the boots on each morning and taken them off each night since and each day is quicker and better. She feels better in them and is a lot happier walking about. I did a quick arena session to see if she would be comfortable and she was happy to trot for me, so we now have the making of a more comfortable horse for exercising. She still occasionally comes round to nip, but I sense that is now more a habitual thing than a desire to stop me, as she knows she will feel better when I am done. The nipping will stop in time. The last video is a bit of her trotting in her new boots in the arena.

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