- Firstly, ensure your young horse is familiar with the place where you have him shod. Baz is not stabled on the main yard where he's shod. Therefore, bringing him on to the main stable yard just for the farrier meant that Baz was already wound up before the shoeing process had begun. Now, I regularly lead him round to the place where he is shod to increase his confidence in that location. I apply TTouches when he's there so that he learns to associate the main yard with pleasant events. Stroking his forelegs with a schooling whip from elbows to feet helps to ground him and invokes calmness in him and me!
- In addition, I lead Baz round to the main yard to watch other horses being shod so he's regularly exposed to the sights, sounds and smells of shoeing without the stress of experiencing it for himself. It seems to be the smoke, or perhaps the smell of burning hoof, or both, that worries him the most. Hopefully, the calmness of the other horses being shod will rub off on Baz.
- Other suggestions include standing him in a position where the smoke swirls away from him rather than towards him, or to apply a calming essential oil, such as lavender, around his headcollar to mask the smell of burning hoof.
- Our farrier always gently taps Baz's foot with his hammer before nailing the shoes on so he gets used to the sound and feel of having his shoes fitted - a brilliant way of reducing the risk of him panicking and causing injury to himself or the farrier/handler.
- I plan to give Baz an oral sedative before he's shod next time to minimise any anxiety building and to create a positive experience that we can then build on.
- Finally, cold shoeing remains an option if we cannot overcome the stress associated with the smoke and smells of hot shoeing.
What challenges have you faced when your young horse has been shod, and how have you overcome them? Please send your comments.