VIDEO: 3 Year Old Semi-Feral Horse Has 1st Hoof Trim – At Liberty!

Kesia Nagata shows us, through video and photos, how she teaches my semi-feral mare to pick up her hooves and hold her feet up. And how this leads to the mare being willing to have her hooves trimmed – all at liberty!

Kesia uses yet another intuitively-led version of play-based learning – or 5-Minute Fun Equine Collaborative Learning – where the horse gets to choose, at all times, whether to play, or walk away – and how long she wants to play for.

A note from Kesia:

This video is not a follow-along How To, so please don’t take it that way! I know Aude well and can feel when it’s okay to hang on or when I should get out of the way – and I know if I make a mistake it’s on me. As in, those elephantine hooves literally ON me. Every horse, every human, and every day is different, and I am not a trainer, just a trimmer with a pocketful of carrots slices! I’m also feeling for whether she’s worried, or just finding her balance – but I can’t see her face for signs of stress, so I might miss some early cues here and there.

As Kesia points out, this video is more to give you inspiration and an example of how hoof trimming can be done – in a way that is actually a fun, positive experience for the horse. Rather than a chore, or a burden to be endured.

And while every horse is different, Kesia has used a similar method to teach her 3 month-old foal the skills needed to have her hooves trimmed. As Kesia writes:

“Stay relaxed, and actually let the muscles go loose in your arm. Hold her foot and move with her as she kicks and sways, she has to find her balance and can’t do it if you have an iron grip. Let her explore what standing on three feet feels like without terror. Let go the second you think she’s having trouble. Pile on the praise.”

I also have to add – in all honesty – that I personally do not like picking up or holding horses hooves. My back doesn’t like it and unless my horse is limping, or I suspect a stuck rock, or injury – I find it rather pointless. So call me a bad horse mama, but unless required, I just leave all the hoof action to Kesia. Thrush? -No. Frog condition? -Good. Okay, we’re good for 6 weeks then!

Of course, if a horse needs it, then I will pick out their hooves regularly. But in my experience, if you give them a great environment; enough room to exercise naturally, varying surfaces, large enough areas to stand on and dry out when wet (or in a dry climate, a water hole to hydrate hooves) and a low sugar diet with all the needed supplements – their hooves pretty much take care of themselves.

If, for some reason, Kesia was no longer able to trim my horse’s hooves, then I would either convince my daughter to learn, or I would follow Maureen Tierney’s method in her fabulous Hoof-Guided Method DVD. Maureen and Kesia’s methods are based entirely on listening to the hoof.

My Andalusian mare, Zorra, kept telling Kesia to leave the sides of her front hooves alone – which seemed very strange. Until we realized she was using the extra height there to fix a shoulder imbalance – which was the root cause of her tendency to stand a bit pigeon-toed. By the time she had corrected her shoulders, and allowed Kesia to trim her sides normally, she stood straight and in perfect alignment!

Listen to your horse. They’re pretty amazing creatures.

VIDEO: 3 Year Old Semi-Feral Horse Has 1st Hoof Trim – At Liberty!

5 thoughts on “VIDEO: 3 Year Old Semi-Feral Horse Has 1st Hoof Trim – At Liberty!

  • March 25, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    It’s lovely to have such a succinct example of how to condition a horse to do something difficult with no drama or trauma. Thank you. I will share it far and wide. We can’t have enough examples of the ease with which it is possible to negotiate with horses.

    • March 27, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      I agree Pat and I’m continually amazed at the deep sensitivity of these animals, I keep getting softer and softer but don’t seem to ever hit the threshold where I am TOO soft and gentle that they don’t understand or bother to respond.

      Yesterday I phoned my equine chiropractor to tell her I was running late. She said, “That’s okay, I got here early, so I’m just sitting in my car outside the paddock gate reading a book. So take your time.”

      Then she said, “When did you get in your car and start driving?” Puzzled, I replied, “Uh, about 3-4 minutes ago.” She said, “I thought so. Because when I arrived, your horses were nowhere to be seen. And about 3 minutes ago, they all came into the paddock and peered down the barn road. And I thought, oh, Jini must be on her way!”

      So they are in such close communication with me/my body, when I’m not even there! No wonder we can just get softer and softer, yet our message or communication stays loud and clear for them. What a privilege, responsibility and a challenge – all at the same time.

  • March 25, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    Hi Jini and Kesia,

    I trim my horse at liberty too. It can become much easier if we use a marker signal before delivering the treat. Equine Clicker Training is a way of communicating clearly with the horse. He learns to wait for the marker (click – easily done with the tongue, or use a special word/sound) and knows the treat will follow promptly.

    It s a system that allows us to build ‘duration’ or a task (such as holding leg up a bit longer) because the horse will learn to wait and listen for the marker signal, rather than be hunting for the carrots in the pocket, which with some horses would not be safe.

    I’ve written a book called: How to Begin Equine Clicker Training. It is available by searching with my name (Hertha James) on

    • March 29, 2016 at 11:39 pm

      That’s great Hertha! I know Kesia’s been experimenting with clicker training – so I’m sure she’ll have some comments/thoughts on this. She’s away right now but should be back next week.

  • March 30, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    Hi Jini,
    It is so good to see more and more people looking into training with positive reinforcement. Hertha


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