Monday, March 31, 2008

The Honduras Way

Sunday - was a free day for everyone followed by a nice bar-b-q at Dr. Loretta Potts house on the east end of the island. Dr. Loretta is the local vet. She does free spay and neuter and other pet services at her clinic on the island 1 day a week.

Monday – back to work. I made arrangements to be at the stable at 8AM. There are 4 young horses and one brood mare that haven’t had their hooves trimmed in a while, and because they are not ridden they don’t have the benefit of natural wear. By now I’ve got Hector and Sterlin trimming while I supervise. They do ok with the actual trimming, it’s the fear of getting kicked that’s getting in their way. Down here in Latin America they don’t hesitate to throw a horse to trim their feet if they give them the least bit of trouble. There was a 3 year old filly that hadn’t had much done with her hooves. The first 3 feet went pretty well. The last foot was another story. She continued to try to kick and just not want that foot to be messed with. So we gave her some time off in a stall and trimmed another horse instead. When we came back to her, she wasn’t any better. I’m no trainer by any means and only trim horses back home that have been handled already. This was all new to me and just didn’t know how to proceed. Well, the owner partner was there and gave the guys the go ahead to “throw her”. I never want to see that ever again in my life. The owner partner had never seen a horse thrown and was regretting it as soon as it started. The hoof got trimmed somewhat – the best a person can do when the hoof is laying straight out on the ground. While on the ground one of the gals in our group performed Animal Talk on her and again later before we left. This is something new I’m learning about. Her name is Natalie Morrow and she lives in Missoula, MT. If you want to learn more, as I do, there is a website called

Next up was a yearling that was still sucking on her mamma. We discussed with the man that owns that stable that it was time for him to be weaned. This little guy had not had anything done with him but a halter put on and learned to tie. His hooves had never been trimmed, but didn’t look too bad. Rather than jumping right in an attempting to trim this horse, I opted to just go into his corral and touch him all over and down his legs. I actually was able to pick up all four feet a couple times each, but I kept it short and let him have them back right away. I’ll do that every day if I can while I’m here and hope to trim him up by the end of the week. I’d really hate to see this little guy thrown for the first time to have his hooves trimmed. I’d think they’d have to do it that way every time after that. Needless to say, it’s a very different world down here. Good news is that both Hector and Sterlin are willing to learn a different way. I’ve showed them that by staying closer to the horse, they have a better chance of not getting hammered. They both tend to stand way away and grab the foot. Then the horse fights them. I can come along behind them on the very same foot, staying close to the horse and pick up the foot with no problems. They could really use some natural horsemanship training down here for sure. I showed them a method that I learned from the Tellington Touch world that I use quite often in my practice. Sometimes when a horse isn’t use to having their feet picked up they’ll tend to pull away immediately or even kick at what’s touching them. This is where a long stick comes in handy. The horse needs to know that their foot is connected to the body. I begin by running the stick along the back, to the rump and down the leg. The first few times the horse will pick up his leg and maybe even kick out at it. Eventually, they will stop. Then I use my hand and do the same thing, rubbing the leg all the way down. When I feel ok about things and see the horse licking and chewing, I will then attempt to pick up the foot. 99% of the time I then have no problems with them. But these guys would just reach and grab and not give the horse a chance to adjust. That was a sentence to be thrown to be trimmed.

This was also the first day of the others doing spay/neuter so we met up later in the afternoon and had some dinner and drinks together and swapped stories about how our days went.