He’s been here a week now, the pony, and as his personality started to emerge a name began to suggest itself to me. I got some really nice suggestions for names, and I let it all simmer away, but in the end I think the pony gave me the name himself and so we have decided on Arrow.
Arrow has had almost no handling, so he has no manners and he has never heard of things like boundaries or following a lead. Some training was definitely in order and because I couldn’t get a head collar on him I started him practically straight away with the clicker. Over the past few days I have done a lot of work with him. I can now touch him everywhere around his head and neck, stroke his ears and face and put a head collar on without a problem. Not only can I put the head collar on, he will stand still while I put it on and fasten it without fidgeting too much. Thanks to the clicker, Arrow has learned very fast. Food is an incredible motivator for him. Still very new to clicker training myself, I am absolutely astonished what can be achieved in a short time.
Arrow came in dire need of a good trim. High heels and pointy toes might look nice under an evening dress, but not on a pony. On a hard surface Arrow was standing on the hoof wall only, his frogs were floating in space and he had a classic toe first landing. After the head collar, trimming was definitely a priority. My experience with trimming doesn’t really go much further than maintaining the hooves of my own two horses and giving Maíre a hand with hers.
My horses received a proper professional set up trim and as I was looking at those long toes, high heels, elongated soles (forward foot syndrome?) and stretched white lines, I would really have liked somebody else to trim Arrow for me. I was also a bit worried about the amount of ridges in the hoofwalls and some reddish bruising on the hoofwall of his hind feet; I’m not looking for trouble but it did make me wonder if he could have been sub-clinical laminitic at some point last year. So, feeling a bit apprehensive about tackling those neglected feet myself, it would have been wonderful to have a professional nearby, but as that is sadly not the case, I had no alternative than to roll up my sleeves and get to it myself.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to do it on my own. Maíre came over yesterday to help. I always think it’s a good idea to have a second pair of eyes and to be able to discuss what needs to be done, but especially now that I was feeling a bit insecure. As Arrow was already tuned in to clicker training, we decided to use it during trimming and it proved to be a big help. We started by clicking and treating Arrow for lifting up a hoof and then for holding it up without pulling. I would lift his feet, while Maíre stood beside him at his head and did the clicking and treating. Then, as I started to trim, Maíre continued to click and treat him for standing still and not pulling his hoof back. As she was flooding him with clicks and treats for his good behaviour, I was able to trim and finish with hardly any drama at all. We used the same approach when I pulled his legs forward to put his hoof on the hoof-stand. It worked really, really well and I got all 4 feet done in a relatively short time. Arrow was absolutely great; he didn’t just accept the trimming, he also ignored the high winds and being buffeted by a hailshower during the process! Ah, April in Ireland!
I took off as much as I could (or dared), but on the whole I prefer to err on the side of caution so I trimmed conservatively. I think in this case it is probably better to trim regularly and give his hooves and legs time to re-adjust gradually than over-doing it or making a mistake. Afterwards, I took Arrow out for a walk. He walked without a problem on the rough, stony surface of the track and on the road he happily bobbed beside me, bursting with energy. And landing heel first.
Twinkle likes going for a walk too!