EQUINE CLICKER TRAINING.....
                                                               using precision and positive reinforcement to teach horses and people
 
         

 

Zan's Story: Feet

(November 2003)

 

 

A long time ago I learned to let Katie pick up my feet. In the beginning, it was hard to balance, but I sort of leaned on Katie. She started picking them up when I was only a few days old. She also used to stroke my legs and touch my feet when I was lying down.  Back then I didnít know how to eat carrots so I got my itchy spots scratched when I did something right.  I liked that a lot and I got pretty good at letting Katie pick up my feet.

 

Once I would let her pick up my feet, she started to pick them out with a hoof pick. It feels pretty funny, but not bad. I sometimes find it hard to keep my foot up for very long, so in the beginning, Katie would just hold my foot up and scrape it once, even if that didnít get it really clean. She told me it was just practice.  It took us a long time to get good at my back feet. When she first picked them up, she held them right underneath my body, but when she started to use the hoof pick, she had to hold them out behind me a little bit.  That really messed up my balance and I started snatching my feet away from her. I was hoping we could just forget about doing this. But then I noticed that if I didnít let her finish holding a foot and took it away, I didnít get my itchy spot scratched.  So I got a little better about letting her hold on to them.

 

We were doing pretty well and then one day I fell down in the field. It was very slippery and I really smashed my hip.  The next time Katie wanted to pick up my right hind foot, I said ďno.Ē  Well, actually I picked it up, but then snatched it away quickly.  I was too uncomfortable and no matter how many times she tried, I just wouldnít let her hold it up. Luckily she had seen me fall down so she had some idea what had happened. 

 

By now I was big enough that I could really pull my foot around and Katie didnít want to get into a fight with me, so she changed the game. Before, if I moved my foot around, she just kind of went with me. She didnít try to hold my foot still until I was ready, but she didnít let go either. Since I didnít mind her doing my feet, we never really had a problem except some occasional wiggling. But now she started doing something different. If I started to pull my foot away, she just let go.  And if I didnít want to pick up my foot, she just moved on to a different foot. We were working loose in my stall now.  She would pick up my feet in random order and do different things. Sometimes she picked them out, sometimes she just rubbed them, or moved them around. Sometimes she put them between her legs like the farrier. 

 

You know at first I thought it was pretty cool that I didnít have to let her do anything she wanted with my feet. I wouldnít let her pick up that right hind at all. But after a while I realized that every time I didnít pick up a foot or snatched it away, I was missing out on a carrot. And after a while I got used to her messing with my feet so much that I didnít mind it anymore. Not only that, when I let her pick up my right hind she made a big fuss over me and gave me lots of carrots. Any time I did something especially well, I got a bigger treat and she would pat me and scratch me and tell me I was wonderful.  She could come in my stall and just start working on them without putting my halter on or anything.

 

I had already had a few visits with the farrier and he was already impressed with how good I was about picking up my feet.  He said you can really tell when a foal has been handled.  I thought he should have said how smart I was.  Now that we had spent all this time working with my feet in the stall, I bet heíll be even more impressed.

 

The next story is The trailer.

 

 

 

Home | Articles | Clicker Basics | Community | FAQ | Getting Started | Horse Stories | Links | Photos | Resources

 

Equine Clicker Training