FOR THE FOAL
• Start early. It’s practically never too soon to get a foal used to having his feet handled. In fact, Tia Nelson, DVM, a veterinarian and farrier in Helena, Montana, recommends having a farrier look at a youngster at 1 or 2 weeks of age, particularly if you are worried about crooked legs or other imperfections that may require corrective trimming. “The earlier, the better,” she says.
• Establish a relationship of respect. Foals and young horses understand the concept of discipline because it’s the foundation of the herd’s pecking order: A bold youngster who tries to have his own way gets put in his place by dominant herd members. Sassy foals also need to learn respect when you are working with them and understand that nipping, biting, kicking or temper tantrums when you pick up a foot are not allowed. “You have to treat them like your own kids. You want them to love you but you also want them to respect you,” says Tommy Boudreau, a certified farrier in Mineral Wells, Texas. “There has to be some firmness along with kindness because you don’t want to spoil a young horse. Sometimes it takes a firm jerk on the lead rope if they are trying to bite or paw at you or go over the top of you. They have to learn their limits of behavior and respect you.”
• Get the foal accustomed to all sorts of handling. Desensitizing a young horse to being touched and handled is the first step in teaching him farriery manners. Once a youngster is halter trained, teach him to accept your touch over his entire body. Go slowly and make it a positive experience---if he begins to become anxious, stop briefly to allow him to calm down, then resume your session. And make handling