Now, I’m just backtracking to around December 2017, after I had healed from my first accident off Ducati. I started trimming Magnum’s hooves again. His right hind hoof had grown very long and I found that he couldn’t lift it at all – the left hind was just too sore and so he needed that right leg for support.
It was time to find another way to trim that hoof. I got out the hacksaw. It was tough going. I had trimmed the three other hooves – now it was that final hoof I needed to tackle. After many attempts the long hoof was finally a reasonable length. Here are the before and after photos.
This was hard work – there had to be a better way. I also couldn’t get a nice rounded edge.
Not long after the hacksaw trim I broke my wrist – February/March 2018. That meant once again Magnum’s hooves were left. Fortunately we were coming into winter which would slow the growth while my arm healed.
The hooves would have to wait until I returned from my trip away to Germany and Italy, which would be August 2018.
When I returned home, I started to research online about trimming hooves of horses who struggled to lift their legs. I found some video on YouTube of farriers using a grinder to trim hooves. I thought this could work. Of course I would only be doing the top of the hoof but at least it would keep it under control and prevent it from growing so long.
Now – how would I approach this?
First I needed to get comfortable with the grinder. It was battery operated and the first problem was finding the correct sanding disk. I bought a few from the shop so I could experiment. Doug found me a piece of wood so I could practise and after I felt comfortable it was time to introduce it to Magnum.
The grinder is quite loud and I was glad I was using it on the hind leg. I started by turning it on and off – in the shed away from Magnum. After turning it on Magnum received a treat. I gradually brought it closer and closer – but still not near his body. He quickly paired the sound with a treat.
Next – after several sessions , I brought it closer to him and turned it on. No reaction. The next step was to position him so that I would be safe while working on the hoof. I put a rubber mat down and clicked when the hind leg was on the mat. Then I started turning the grinder on near the hind leg. Again – no reaction! He had started to nicker when he saw the grinder!
At this point, I hadn’t even touched the hoof! I checked again to make sure I was as safe as I could be if he took off. Now it was time to touch the hoof.
We were in the routine of hind legs on the mat – he was being heavily reinforced – so now I took the grinder down to the hoof – made contact for just a second or two – reinforced – again for a few more seconds – and that was it for the day! Here is a video I made when we had been grinding for a while!
I was so happy that he was managing – and that I was managing the grinder! The days continued like that – gradually increasing the time spent on the hoof. Magnum even started pawing the ground when I finished in protest! It was something that he looked forward to! So here was a horse who was once untouchable, now demanding that I grind his hoof!
Such is the power of positive reinforcement training! We were both happy – and the process hadn’t been stressful for Magnum!
I just love the wonder of this. I love working out the steps involved – and I love seeing Magnum so excited. I will advocate positive reinforcement forever. If someone can show me a better way – so be it. But so far I haven’t found one.
Magnum is a positive reinforcement pin up boy. He is my touch stone. His opinion matters. If I can take a grinder to his hoof – and have him enjoy it – I believe you can do almost anything with any horse – provided the right steps are taken.
What I am so thankful for is that the whole positive reinforcement journey has changed his life. It has also changed mine in ways I never imagined!
COMING UP – PROJECT DANNY!
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