She has this one hindleg which gives her some trouble; she stands funny on it, and she doesn't like to pick it up. The other three legs are a little problematic too, as when you pick them up she has to balance on two legs plus the dodgy leg.
Anyway, long story short - she frequently took whatever foot I was working on off the stand. I made a decision early on not just to "put up" with this, or be tolerant about it, but to actively say - "It's absolutely fine for you to do that - I'm just going to leave my hand on your leg, and whenever you're ready, please pick up the foot again." And if she moved position four times in a row, and I had to pick up my bucket and hop after her, that was fine.
At first, I could tell she was sceptical about me, and her desire to retrieve her foot and retreat, although based in physical discomfort, was also a statement of non-cooperation. But as I persisted, she started working with me, and I was even able to work on the sore leg.
I'm getting more confident about talking about my approach, and I told the owner (a super-nice guy) that I think it's much safer to be patient and wait for the horse's cooperation, rather than forcing anything. I was talking about the mare's problem with her right hind, and as I spoke I put my hand on that leg, moving it from hip to stifle. I felt that she reacted a little bit when I rested my hand on the stifle area.
Anyway, I don't know if she felt I grasped the problem at that point, but a minute later, as I went back to working on the outside of her foreleg, she started licking my ears and head. Could be she just liked the taste of my hair conditioner.
I didn't want to do the outside of the hind hoofs, as I thought she'd cooperated long enough, but the owner rightly pointed out a crack in the RH toe, and after some adjustments, she picked up her foot and let me finish. When I was done, I went back up to her head to talk to her, and she licked my arms and shirt, which was sweet as she had been very distant at first. She's a sensitive, brave horse - and I think she really needed to feel that I was on her side.
This is all a lot about trust - trusting the horse, trusting that the horse will really help you in the end, trusting that the horse wants to help. There are no guarantees. Truth to tell, I'm just really impressed at these horses - how nice they are. What the heck? This is a strange, magical world we live in, no mistake.
|This must have been what she looked like in her glory days.|