Hello everyone my horse has developed this recent problem that I don’t know how to solve after a recently stressful vet visit.
My horse had a light suspensory ligament injury. We found this out because the vet came and had to do some nerve blocking. I don’t know much about my horse’s life prior to me - but he does not like vets or his feet being touched in certain areas. That’s the weird part. Anyways, here’s the basic issue:
I need to wash his feet after every ride - because some of the ground is muddy and hoof-picking is a mess at my barn your required to do this in the wash area. For the past 1.5 years, no issue.
Then the injury came. We needed to do a nerve block in one leg/tendon. He went mad. Every time the vet came toward that right fore leg with an injection he tried to kill him - had 4-5 very close calls, eventually had to sedate. Mind you this is all drama more than pain - he’s a very rude horse, when we first imported him he kicked our groom’s teeth out because he got startled by something. Anyways, he’s fine now, completely sound and almost fully back to work.
Issue is - he does NOT like that foot touched, mainly IN the washing areas only (and mind you he resists at ALL the washing areas although the “bad moment” didn’t even happen in a washing area, he just had to be around one of the washing areas ). In general he’s also a little apprehensive having that one foot picked up (he did not enjoy the flexion test with the vet) but he’ll shift weight for 2-3 seconds and give in, I stretch his legs every morning and he doesn’t protest. When I’m in the wash stalls - it’s almost impossible. He just keeps shifting weight back and seems to be unafraid if it causes him to trip or slip. In the past week it got worse when the only let me touch 2 of his legs in the wash stall, so this seems to have spilled into:
wash stall + leg attention = backup, ears back and head up
Again, I’m pretty sure it’s not pain related bc back int he stall I was able to put polo wraps and in general just pick up his feet, and the daily stretches so… probably something about fear/ bad association.
I’m soo confused by what to do. I need to be able to wash his feet in the wash area - I don’t feel like I should compromise with him on this given it’s a new behaviour. Any tips on how to help this? I get scared to be too persistent with forcing him to accept it because when he rocks back when I have his fore foot he’s sometimes ended up slipping and almost banging his head or jamming his hoof into my toe.
Please do let me know of any suggestions! I’m thinking of doing some general ground work as a start so he can respect and trust me more. But if anything specific that would be great. Also please nothing involving treats - he cannot handle them. If he knows a treat is in the vicinity it captures 100% of his attention and he will NOT do anything but search - I’ve had many hours of failed training attempting to use carrots. Gave up and just give generous praise now haha.