Thrush on draft that won’t pickup feet!

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LoveShires

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Feb 9, 2020
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Hello,
I’m new to this forum. I have a 4 year old shire that now has severe thrush on three of his feet due to not wanting to pickup feet. The vet came out a couple of times with farrier and sedated him to be able to work with his feet but I need him to pick his feet up so I can treat him on daily basis. He is 18 hands now and although he lets me just pickup one foot, he won’t let me pick up the right back foot or two front ones. He tries to kick out when I keep his foot up too long. He is sweet as can be and very mellow but when it comes to his feet lookout. I don’t know what to do anymore. The vet told me she can’t sedate every few days or so it is not good for him. And I want to be able to pick his feet without sedation. Does anyone or can anyone give some suggestions on what to do to get him to pick his feet up and not try to kick? I can handle him very well but I just don’t know what to do in this situation as my other horses were trained from foals to lift their feet. I bought these two shire brothers from breeder and I thought they would let you pick their feet but nope. Please advise. Thanks.
 

domane

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Is he OK to handle/brush his legs and hooves but just won't pick them up?
 

LoveShires

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Feb 9, 2020
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Is he OK to handle/brush his legs and hooves but just won't pick them up?
He loves being groomed, don’t even have to put halter on to groom him, he stays and stands completely still till I’m finish. I comb their feathers all the time when I groom them and they just stand very still. Is when you go to pick his feet he does not let me do it. He lets me pickup his left back hoof but if I start doing anything to it he fights and takes it back. I can’t fight with a 18 hand Shire horse so I let it go before he starts to kick. I think he has been traumatized because every time farrier comes out the vet does to so she sedated him and he comes out of it quick. The vet says it’s his size and the adrenaline that makes him come out of sedation quickly so every time they do that they make it worse because the following day he won’t pick any of his feet up for me at all. I just don’t know what to do his thrush is really bad it has eaten some of his frog. It is not canker because vet had culture done to me sure, came back negative. So I decided to post here to see if anyone has any idea on what to do to train him to lift his feet without fear of pain cause I know he is in pain. The thrush is deep in central sulcus.
 

Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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Before you start always make sure he's stood up square so he is balanced and reward every try he gives you, ask for the foot and before he tries to snatch it down, release it with a 'down' word or cue, a good half way lift is better than a full failed one. Repeat it a dozen times back to back every day and gradually increase the time between the lift and down, once you can hold it up for 10 seconds easily then try cleaning the foot, again little by little with rests between always giving your down cue before releasing, gradually he'll associate that with the release and wait for the cue before trying to put his foot down.
Through all that remember his feet could be very sore from thrush so that could be adding to the problem. Consider if you can find a way to soak his feet in a thrush treatment until he's learned to have them lifted. Using a shallow tub if he'll stand in one, or even some old carpet wet with the thrush treatment (less effective but better than nothing), any thrush treatment designed for soaking will be suitable.
 

LoveShires

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Feb 9, 2020
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Before you start always make sure he's stood up square so he is balanced and reward every try he gives you, ask for the foot and before he tries to snatch it down, release it with a 'down' word or cue, a good half way lift is better than a full failed one. Repeat it a dozen times back to back every day and gradually increase the time between the lift and down, once you can hold it up for 10 seconds easily then try cleaning the foot, again little by little with rests between always giving your down cue before releasing, gradually he'll associate that with the release and wait for the cue before trying to put his foot down.
Through all that remember his feet could be very sore from thrush so that could be adding to the problem. Consider if you can find a way to soak his feet in a thrush treatment until he's learned to have them lifted. Using a shallow tub if he'll stand in one, or even some old carpet wet with the thrush treatment (less effective but better than nothing), any thrush treatment designed for soaking will be suitable.
Thanks for your reply. I heard good things about cleantrax. What do you think?
 

chunky monkey

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May 2, 2007
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I would try making up a foot bath that you can walk him into and through each day. They use them for cattle. Or you could try using one of those rubber feed bowls and sliding that under as he lifts his foot. Then filling it very slowly with solution once his foot is stood in it. I wouldnt try getting him to put his foot in full of water as he is more likely to kick out.
There is a video on youtube by Melanie Watson about clicker training a horse to teach him to pick his feet up.
 

carthorse

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Jan 6, 2006
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What are you doing to ask him to pick up his feet? Have you asked the breeder if they'd been taught to have their feet handled, and if so what cue was used? I'd be surprised if 4yo Shires coming from a responsible breeder had never had their feet handled, but one thing I've found with draught breeds and their part breds is that they seem to have a very wrong and right mentality and if they think you're wrong you'll get nowhere! So if you, for example are pulling feathers to lift and they've been taught a verbal cue and tap to the inside of the fetlock then those feet may well stay planted, likewise if you're holding them differently.

If it turns out they really have never been handled then, with such big horses, I'd get in some professional help. Often I'd say farrier, but if yours is going down the vet sedation route he might not be the right person. Maybe an Intelligent Horsemanship Recommended Associate? Or if you've got someone local experienced with Shires or other draught breeds? Whatever you do make sure it is someo9ne who really knows what they're doing, not someone who just has a background in straightforward riding horses.

In the meantime I'd forget about lifting them and see if you can get them t just tip the foot onto the toe, like when they rest a hind. From that position you can at least scrae the worst of the mud out and put some purple spray or whatever you use on.
 

LoveShires

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Feb 9, 2020
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I would try making up a foot bath that you can walk him into and through each day. They use them for cattle. Or you could try using one of those rubber feed bowls and sliding that under as he lifts his foot. Then filling it very slowly with solution once his foot is stood in it. I wouldnt try getting him to put his foot in full of water as he is more likely to kick out.
There is a video on youtube by Melanie Watson about clicker training a horse to teach him to pick his feet up.
Rubber feed bowl?? Never heard of it, can you send picture? I will look into the video. Thanks.
 

LoveShires

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Feb 9, 2020
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What are you doing to ask him to pick up his feet? Have you asked the breeder if they'd been taught to have their feet handled, and if so what cue was used? I'd be surprised if 4yo Shires coming from a responsible breeder had never had their feet handled, but one thing I've found with draught breeds and their part breds is that they seem to have a very wrong and right mentality and if they think you're wrong you'll get nowhere! So if you, for example are pulling feathers to lift and they've been taught a verbal cue and tap to the inside of the fetlock then those feet may well stay planted, likewise if you're holding them differently.

If it turns out they really have never been handled then, with such big horses, I'd get in some professional help. Often I'd say farrier, but if yours is going down the vet sedation route he might not be the right person. Maybe an Intelligent Horsemanship Recommended Associate? Or if you've got someone local experienced with Shires or other draught breeds? Whatever you do make sure it is someo9ne who really knows what they're doing, not someone who just has a background in straightforward riding horses.

In the meantime I'd forget about lifting them and see if you can get them t just tip the foot onto the toe, like when they rest a hind. From that position you can at least scrae the worst of the mud out and put some purple spray or whatever you use on.
Thank you. I don’t think the breeder ever handled their feet. He told me they had their feet done a couple times before they were transported here to Florida from Minnesota but when I had the first farrier come out they would’t lift their feet and that told me they had never been worked on to lift their feet. Other than their feet they are complete babies. They love being around me and if I’m working around their run in area they stay there the entire time. They come when I call them by their names, so I don’t have to go chase after them. Just these darn feet I need to get them trained to lift. Thanks again.
 

carthorse

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Didn't realise you were in the States, that's a shame because I think you have to be extremely lucky to get the level of farriery and associated handling skills that we have in the UK. Are there heavy horse groups that you could join that might put you in contact with relatively local owners who could maybe help you? In the meantime go with the tipping onto the toe and use a clear verbal cue fot them to associate with it then praise like mad if they even make the smallest move in the right direction such as lifting the heel.
 

chunky monkey

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LoveShires

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Feb 9, 2020
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Didn't realise you were in the States, that's a shame because I think you have to be extremely lucky to get the level of farriery and associated handling skills that we have in the UK. Are there heavy horse groups that you could join that might put you in contact with relatively local owners who could maybe help you? In the meantime go with the tipping onto the toe and use a clear verbal cue fot them to associate with it then praise like mad if they even make the smallest move in the right direction such as lifting the heel.
Yes I wish I did have those type of local groups. The closest I came up with is the American Shire Association, lol. where they are registered, other than that I can’t find anything close. It was even hard to find a farrier that does drafts, this new one I have now which has been with me for a year now is the best I have been able to find. He also trains drafts to drive. But he is about an hour an half from me and still he comes out every 5 weeks to get their feet done. I just can’t wait 5 weeks all the time or I won’t have a horse if I continue to do so. I am going to try what you said, the tip toe thing. Will start there and see how it moves along. I will keep you updated.
 

LoveShires

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Feb 9, 2020
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Ahh if your in the states they may not have that sort of thing over there. We use them alot over here as they are safe for horses as they can stand on them and dont break.
Awesome! We do have things like that here. I was going to try a heavy duty boot. I bought one before and put it on him but it broke even though it was pretty heavy. Thank you.
 

carthorse

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Silly question, but how do you get a boot on him if you can't lift up his feet?
 

LoveShires

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Feb 9, 2020
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Silly question, but how do you get a boot on him if you can't lift up his feet?
I did it to the only foot he lets me pick up and that is his left back foot. But as I mentioned before once the farrier comes out, the following day he won’t even let me pick that one up. No question is a silly question.
 

carthorse

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Right so if you have one foot you can do use that to help you teach him about the others. Pick it up with a clear and praise him, hold it a few seconds while telling him he's a star and then put it down and go and make a fuss of him. Make it very very clear to him that lifting his feet on command is the biggest, cleverest thing he could ever do! Then go and use the exact same cue on the least hard of the other feet, but ask for just the heel lift - if he gives anything praise him to the roof and leave it there for the day. Don't try hoofpicking, just lots of praise and leave. A bit later repeat with the good foot and pick another foot to heel lift - again praise even the slightest shift and finish. He may learn quicker than you think, particularly if you aren't doing anything to sore feet.

If he'll walk into it I do like the footbath idea, it cleans them without any stress and you can medicate the water or even just use salty water. If he's stabled make sure his bedding is immaculate, if he's out on wet ground then consider if you can do a footbath nd then stand in a clean dry bed for a few hours a day to give his feet some time when they're clean and dry. And if you haven't already then check the feathers aren't hiding cracked heels that may be sore to bend and so make him reluctant to lift and hold his feet.
 

LoveShires

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Feb 9, 2020
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Right so if you have one foot you can do use that to help you teach him about the others. Pick it up with a clear and praise him, hold it a few seconds while telling him he's a star and then put it down and go and make a fuss of him. Make it very very clear to him that lifting his feet on command is the biggest, cleverest thing he could ever do! Then go and use the exact same cue on the least hard of the other feet, but ask for just the heel lift - if he gives anything praise him to the roof and leave it there for the day. Don't try hoofpicking, just lots of praise and leave. A bit later repeat with the good foot and pick another foot to heel lift - again praise even the slightest shift and finish. He may learn quicker than you think, particularly if you aren't doing anything to sore feet.

If he'll walk into it I do like the footbath idea, it cleans them without any stress and you can medicate the water or even just use salty water. If he's stabled make sure his bedding is immaculate, if he's out on wet ground then consider if you can do a footbath nd then stand in a clean dry bed for a few hours a day to give his feet some time when they're clean and dry. And if you haven't already then check the feathers aren't hiding cracked heels that may be sore to bend and so make him reluctant to lift and hold his feet.
Awesome! Thank you so much for all your advise. I will start doing this early tomorrow with him. How often should I do this with him? I normally try 3 times a day but if need to do more often then I will. Thanks again.
 

carthorse

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Just see how it goes. If you have time to do three times a day then that's great because it lets you have a go at each foot, but if you suddenly get one lifted a bit I'd be tempted to leave it there for that day. Just see how it goes.
 

Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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Thanks for your reply. I heard good things about cleantrax. What do you think?
Cleantrax is really good stuff but you generally need the foot pretty clean before hand and have to soak for a long time (45 mins) with liquid up to the fetlock in some kind of boot, which I suspect would be challenging, I would probably do that once he's better having his feet messed with. Apple cider vinegar (non-pasteurized/'with the mother') is a good option, cheap, easy to get, and mild but effective. For soaks mix 50/50 with water and soak for 15 mins, it's mild and cheap enough that you can do it twice daily if you need to or weekly for maintenance :)

Something like this may also be good for soaking as it is large with a small lip around the edge and won't tip over, you could hopefully lead him onto it and get 2 feet soaked at a time https://www.amazon.com/Draper-31937-Mortar-Mixing-Board/dp/B00GYYB7MG/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=builder+mixing+tray&qid=1581320450&sr=8-3 If it's a bit slippy (as any rubber can be when wet) and small piece of old carpet in the bottom should help.
 
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