How delighted, and impressed, would your trimmer/farrier be if (s)he turned up and your horse would voluntarily place their hoof on the hoof stand !
My New Hoof Stand
Through teaching clicker training I get to meet and become friends with the most wonderful and generous people. And one of my clients very kindly made me a hoof stand. It will make trimming my horses so much easier; no more bruised thighs from resting horses feet on them !
This weekend I assembled my hoof stand and took it out to the horses to see what they thought of it. Obviously, they have seen hoof stands many time before, but I have never really had the opportunity to teach them at length with the stand. So this was really exciting for me….my very own hoof stand and as much time as I need to teach the horses to put their own foot on there and also to keep it there for periods of time.
After the horses had their breakfast on Saturday morning, I took the hoof stand out to the field to see what they would make of it. Classic, as per usual, was the first one over. He looked at the hoof stand and thought ‘great, a new mat’. Very cute !
Shaping Leg Lift for the Hoof Stand
Now that I know Classic is happy with MY new toy (it makes a change for me to have a new toy at the barn, the new toys are usually for the horses !) I could start to shape him placing his own foot on the stand.
Firstly I needed to back him up off the stand, click and reinforce for him understanding that this is not actually a new mat for him. He already knows how to lift a leg on cue and so I give him this cue, click and reinforce when his foot comes up. Gradually we shape his leg lift to bring his foot closer and closer to the top of the hoof stand. Classic is quite an impressive problem solver and so in less than a minute he had his foot on the stand and was posing for me.
Although this session was about putting his foot on the hoof stand, it was actually broken down in to smaller steps. One of those steps (the cue for leg lift) was taught some time ago. When I taught that behaviour it too was broken in small steps. The smaller the steps we can break this down in to the more able the horse is to understand what we are asking for, we can also shape the behaviour very easily and the risk of frustration with horse and handler is kept to a minimum.
Which Criterion Next ?
Now that Classic understands where I am asking him to put his foot I can start to work on duration of the behaviour. I need him to keep his foot up there for as long as we need it there. However, I also need to be aware that standing on 3 legs, when you are really meant to be on 4 legs, can be hard work. So the other thing that Classic and I have worked out is a signal for him to tell me when he needs his foot back. This eliminates him snatching it back without warning, instead he will touch me gently with his nose and I finish up what I am doing and give him his foot back.
Trimming my horses is a real pleasure now that I have my hoof stand to add to what my horses have already been taught about what I need them to do for me for trimming sessions.