Roping Horses’ Feet
- July 14, 2017
- Savanna Simmons
Roping horses’ feet, primarily colts, can be a fantastic tool benefitting many aspects of your horse’s mind and manners. Some horses react minimally to having feet roped, others can be quite dramatic, but both types can benefit from having their feet and legs worked with.
First, roping horses’ feet encourages them to yield on a mental level. They generally don’t desire giving control of their legs immediately, and they must make a mental mind switch to allow enough trust to give that foot over to the person working with them. In the video, Boe doesn’t try to hold up the horse’s foot, which can be very difficult for the person and isn’t totally necessary. Instead, he repeatedly asks the horse to give his leg and doesn’t totally relinquish pressure. This allows the colt to move about and try different things, while saving Boe’s arm from being yanked around too hard. When the horse settles upon the decision to give his leg, Boe let’s that “soak”, where the horse is made to feel good and relax. Boe should get to the point where he can stop the horse with any of his legs, and also lead the horse with any of the feet.
Second, roping horses’ feet desensitizes them to having their feet worked with, without the need to be underneath the horse. This is a great exercise for horses that try to pull their feet away from the farrier, rear up a little (or a lot) when their feet are being worked on, or to get a horse even better about picking up their feet. In the instance that a horse may be wrapped up in wire and needs to be fished out, or for horses who have frequent run-ins with ropes during brandings, etc., roping their feet encourages them to remain calm and yield to the rope or wire and potentially avoid injury.
The horse in the video, Siete, very much wants to be Boe’s pal, which is a good thing, but he needs to be far enough from Boe that he is feeling of the ropes on his feet. If the horse wants to be with you, use that to your favor, but your horse must maintain a mannerly distance from you. Be sure you do this on all of your horse’s feet and your pen should not be farther across than your rope. Your horse may step into the rope or you can rope his feet by swinging it. Roping your horse desensitizes him for when you will rope on his back, and he will be even calmer each time you do this.
When working with your horse’s feet while roped, please take care not to pull hard. Ropes can bite into your horse’s hide and leave cuts. You’ll notice that Boe doesn’t pull when his horse is kicking, but rather gives some, then picks back up as soon as his horse gets a bit quiet, trying anew. This saves Boe’s hands and his colt’s legs.
About Savanna Simmons
I'm Savanna Simmons and I live north of Lusk, Wyoming, on the Four Three Ranch with my husband Boe and our sons, Brindle and Roan. I grew up evolving my horsemanship with clinicians like Ray Hunt, Joe Wolter, and Jack Brainard, but not within a...