Sierra was very head shy when she arrived with Caña in February 2016. She also had shoes on and her feet were very overgrown and turning up at the toes. Her previous owners said that when she was shod the farrier had to sedate her. We didn’t want to continue her fear of not only being shod but of head collars and being caught, so the only answer was to help her realise it wasn’t anything to be frightened of. For a few days when she first arrived we made up a small paddock with electric fence in the sand arena so that she could make friends with the horses over the fence (we couldn’t integrate her until we had her shoes off but of course , with her fear of her feet being touched it was impossible to remove her shoes) .
Gaining Sierra’s trust
I sat on a mounting block with a clicker and treats and a head collar in my hand and just waited until she came to me. It didn’t take more than a few minutes for her to realise that if she touched the head collar with her nose she got a click and treat and in just a few sessions she was lowering her head into the head collar herself. Once that was achieved the next step was to start touching her feet and again, with the help of a clicker and treats , within a few days she was happy for her feet to be touched and Clive had managed to remove her shoes and even give them a little file! We have never had a problem with her feet or catching her since, she really is sweet and actually instead of running away, she follows us around the field.
Looking at her passport, it seems she has had a difficult life, with 11 different homes in her 14 years, no wonder she had issues. She also had sweet itch when she arrived , with a hogged mane , but now she is 100% fine and her mane is growing back . She came to us in a bitless bridle, which is unusual to see here , but the vet thinks she has some nerve damage in her face and her teeth also indicated previous trauma, so we think that probably it was not possible to put a bit in her mouth. She is a joy to ride, perfectly behaved with a lovely forward going canter.