I will never forget my trip to beautiful Norway. Besides the fact that I was awed by the stunning nature and the beautiful fjords, there was also a horse that I will always remember.
In preparation for a show, we always get eight to ten horses that we check for soundness to be in the demonstration we are hosting that evening. The most suitable are the horses that really show their problem. The horses that we end up not selecting for the demo are trained that afternoon where possible, so that we can give the owners as much advice as possible, with which they can continue at home. Kjeld was one of the horses that was nominated for this selection. This Kjeld was an animal with an enormous farrier problem. In fact, he had already hospitalized three farriers. One of these farriers had suffered a complex leg fracture from this adventure, and he had also come along to the selection together with Kjeld’s owners. This he had to see! Grant took Kjeld into the round pen to begin with, and released him there. A nice horse, sweet, and he responded well and positively to body language. Grant reattached the lunge line and I came in to hold the animal so we could see what behaviour the horse showed when you lifted its legs. After all the horror stories we had been told, we were very careful about this! And I can say that we were very surprised that Kjeld had no problem with it. Without any problems he lifted all four legs for Grant, and placing his hind leg in a farrier position was no problem either. But let’s be honest, of course Grant is a top horseman!
Completely convinced of ourselves, we turned to the owner. He looked at us and said, “Put on the leather chaps the farrier wears…” Oops… And then we had a problem. This sweet, willing horse who had no qualms about lifting his legs turned into a very dangerous and aggressive horse in the blink of an eye, as soon as Grant put on the chaps. Immediately it was impressed upon us all again just how well horses can form associations. We decided not to use this horse for the demonstration, but to train it immediately. It took an hour of work, but then we had the problem fairly under control. We started again with the basics, just touching the horse while Grant was wearing those scary chaps. We worked slowly until the horse realized that nothing exciting was going to happen. The farrier understood the work we were doing and then continued with the owner. As a result, a month later, Kjeld could be trimmed for the first time in his life.