Q: “What about a horse that kicks with a hind foot when you pick it up?”
Bill: “That’s a good question. That’d come under the heading of how you get a horse used to picking up his foot. Some horses will kick if you just put your hand back there on the hind leg above the hock. You’d want to get such a horse used to feeling of your hand. You’d do this by rubbing him and getting him used to that, but you’d go real slow [Pg: 356] at this, and you wouldn’t keep your hand on that leg too long. Go down there a little ways and take it right off. When he got so he didn’t mind you putting your hand on his leg there, then you go down a little farther and do the same thing. Rub him a little and take your hand off before he gets bothered. When he got so he didn’t mind you rubbing your hand all the way down his leg and his ankle, then you’d start pulling on his leg a little, right above his ankle, until he got so he’d take the weight off that leg when you put your hand there and pulled on that leg just a bit. Then you’d hold it a little and you’d work it back and forth a little until he got used to your feel there. You’d just keep doing that until he got used to your feel there. You’d just keep doing that until he didn’t mind your hand being anyplace on his leg, and you could just reach down there and get his foot. It doesn’t weigh anything then.
Next thing you’d do, after you could raise his leg up a little is to take hold of his foot and swing his leg back and forth while you hold on there, and then maneuver that foot a little in your hands, left and right and back and forth. Then you can tap on the bottom of his foot, that’s be the sole, and get him used to that. Real easy at first. You’d only want to hold that up a little while and let it down. Don’t wait until he takes it away from you. This can get a horse started on the wrong track altogether about his feet being handled. No, it’s real common thing the way some people think they should just hang on to that leg until one party has to give up or give in. That’s entirely wrong and doesn’t build one thing into the horse that’s good. The horse that gets handled this way gets a real solid start on disrespect and resentment, all right.
If he can’t tolerate your hand, then you better get a rope on him. But that’d take someone with more experience at handling a rope and a horse than the general run of people. It’s a good idea to know that it’s possible to get a horse that’s bad to kick changed around this way. I’d probably put a rope on his hind foot and make the loop big enough to where it doesn’t pinch him. Not a slip knot of any kind, but a big enough loop, tied fast. I’d pull on that rope and get that horse used to giving his leg to me. That’s where I’d spend some time.
It could take a dozen or so applications until he gets used to having his foot taken off the ground. Don’t take it off the ground too long, but do it often. And you wouldn’t jerk that foot away from him, or cause the rope to burn him. Take it back and forward and sideways quite a bit. Maybe three or four times a day. One deal like this for 20 minutes is better than none at all, but several shorter sessions are best.”
Q: “My horse is the kind that overreacts to me. What should I do to help him?”
Bill: “If you give him the feel [Pp: 318/319/320] for a sudden move that he’s not prepared for, or one that’s too difficult for him to make, then he’ll be confused. [Pg: 308] Your better judgement [Pg: 331]will help you there. It comes in to tell you what’s appropriate for the horse at the level he understands you. Of course you’ll need to gain a little experience to have that better judgement. [Pg: 331]
You need to have intentions behind the feel [Pp: 318/319/320] you present [Pp: 345/346] and some knowledge of just how (and where) that horse is when you present something. When you don’t get the right response back from that horse, that’s how you’re pretty sure he didn’t understand what you intended. You’d need to change what you’re doing when this happens, and not crowd in on his mental or physical system with more feel than he can make sense out of. We’re in hopes that this’d happen less, over time, because this can lead to other problems of communication between you and your horse. And this is really a frustration. Because when it gets like this between a person and a horse, a brace [Pg: 302] can get in there too, which can be seen in the horse wringing his tail or grinding his teeth and many other undesirable actions. Some surprising things can develop, all right”.
Q: “I have another horse at home and he’s lazy. What should I do?”
Bill: “Well, that horse may not be putting enough effort towards whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish. Or maybe it’s just that his feet are out of position, and that makes it feel like he’s not trying. The actual fact [Pg: 297] is that he’s trying all right, he just can’t follow your feel [Pp: 318/319/320] because his feet aren’t in the right spot to be able to stay with you. Possibly your feel [Pg: 318/319/320] could stand some improvement, too. In a case like that, you weren’t feeling of his feet right in the first place. That’s how someday your better judgement [Pg: 331] will tell you whether his feet are out of position, or whether he’s slacking off, or whether he simply didn’t understand what you wanted him to do. No, those three things are real different and you have to be cautious. If you misjudge any one of those things, then there’s a hinderance to the horse in that. You become a hinderance because he needed your support [Pg: 309] somewhere for something, and he doesn’t get it.”
From: "True Horsemanship Through Feel” By Bill Dorrance with Leslie Desmond