Well, the cold weather has arrived and Jasper is starting to look like a woolly mammoth. I was curious if his coat would be as thick as last years, but considering it can get pretty cold at night in N. Cal. it seems to have grown in just as thick. With all the great food and oil in his diet, it is soft and luxurious and feels just like a bear rug!
One area that I have been continuously working on is Jasper lifting his feet. Jasper gets trimmed every month by a wonderful barefoot trimmer. His first trim last year, I think he was so scared he stood perfectly still and was quite good. But after that, he decided he didn’t like it and figured out ways to avoid the whole lifting his leg up thing altogether. Kind of his MO with most of our training with him – so nervous at first he goes along with it – then he gets comfortable enough to decide he does not like it :). The next step is coaxing him along to want to work with me.
So we had got to the point that Jasper decided this whole thing was boring and uncomfortable and he would lift his leg, but snatch it away. I would get reports from Michelle when the trimmer came out that he was ‘better than last time’ but not necessarily good. I felt like I had the bad kid in the barn – lol.
The barefoot farrier works with an apparatus called a hoof jack. The horse’s leg is placed on top of it as she files his hoof with a rasp. I was shocked to find out that the trimmer goes through one whole rasp every time she does Jasper’s hooves! She says he has great feet, very dense and solid (obviously!)
For the next month I worked on getting him to lift his leg onto the hoof jack himself. I tried to make it into a game of sorts. I could get him to lift his leg onto stairs at the entrance to the tack room on command. He learned that in about 2 minutes. But he would not step on the hoof jack – it is a much smaller target and I’m sure a little harder for him. I tried a mounting block next. Well, he now happily sticks his leg on it whenever we are near it. That was probably not a good idea….
The last time the trimmer was out, I made a point of being there and seeing just how he reacted. There was some snatching of his front legs, but he was reasonably good with the back legs. He did quite better with me there, which is a testament to how much he has grown to trust me.
It seemed to be partly a balancing issue as he is still young and learning. She would lift his front leg and he would lift a back leg slightly as well, so that he would be balancing on TWO legs instead of three, then of course he would lose balance and try to snatch his leg away. So this week in our lesson we worked on getting him used to offering his leg when we ask. In other words, they lift it – instead of you holding a 200 lb leg! The Parelli method is to pinch the chestnut slightly. It’s a little uncomfortable for the horse and it causes them to lift their leg. As soon as you feel a shift in weight, release. Eventually you can work up to the horse offering his leg by just touching the chestnut. All in all, Jasper was very good and there was no leg snatching. So I think it is a question of continuously working on it so that he learns how to keep his balance and realizes that lifting his leg is not such a bad thing after all.
You want me to do what?
Here, he offers his leg up nicely.
He offers his back leg but tend to lift it high up under himself…
So we are working on getting him to lift slightly and turn his hoof up