A few weeks back, I helped a friend with her horse. Her horse has serious defensive behaviors when anyone tries to do work on her hind hooves. She kicks, stutter steps, pulls back - just a general defensive and unwilling response. She's learned this over years of time and at this point, it's impacting her ability to have her hind feet properly cared for.
Since I trim alone, I've learned a lot of great tactics to help the horse figure out how to help me trim. I focus on being natural and never disrespect the horse or strip him/her of their dignity. So, I decided to help Ruby using the same tactics. I gave the owner some specific things to practice to help Ruby feel less defensive and more like a partner. We then decided I would come back and put a good barefoot trim on her hinds.
Tonight we put the practice to the test. This horse hasn't had great trims and she has very overgrown bars (spread all over the sole) a closed sulcus, extremely wide collateral grooves and hoof wall separation everywhere from stretched laminae. She has quarter cracks and missing horn from the flare. She needs help. Her toe is long and her heel is low.
I took my time and gave her breaks. I respected her thresholds and didn't push through them. She stood ground tied for the entire trim! She never kicked, stepped away, got overly defensive. She got better as I went along and I was able to use my nippers to get some of the wall (save my rasping arm!). Ha! Trimming is hard work. I really try very hard to work smarter and not harder.
My friend has owned this horse for years - I believe 6 years. She apparently has never allowed anyone to trim her hoof with nippers. She was amazed! Ruby was calm, really not too hard to trim. They'd had some good practice since my first visit. My friend is very close to taking the barefoot plunge with pleases me greatly. She's a more traditional gal who's used shoes forever, so it's quite a change for her to even consider it.
I felt good that I was able to help them break a rough pattern and put a proper trim on this horse. I was able to share a lot of info with Ruby's owner that will at least have her asking more questions to other professionals and coming up with her own path.
I'd planned to take Z and Tina over with me for some indoor arena time as the wind was simply horrendous. Work went late and I changed my mind. It was a good thing since the 2 hooves took 90 minutes. Rewarding time, though.