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How to Train Your Equid to Stand for a Foot Soak

From softening the hoof so that it’s easier to trim in dry weather, to drawing out an abscess or treating a hoof condition, there are many reasons why you might need to soak your equid’s feet. Here is a brief guide to training your equid to stand for a soak.

Photo by Joss Broward on Unsplash

Step 1: To teach your equid to stand for a foot soak, I like to start with training them to stand on a mat. This behavior is useful for many different things, and the more you strengthen this behavior, the more likely your equid will be to stand on- or in- just about anything you ask them to.

Step 2: You’ll need some sort of container to soak your equid’s foot in. It’s important to use something that won’t be slippery when wet. Rubber feed pans work well for this task.

Place the container on the mat and lead your equid up to it. Some equids will step right into the bucket, but I prefer to have them step onto the mat and then place their foot in the bucket. This step means less spillage if their aim is not very good.

Step 3: Once your equid is comfortable standing in the empty bucket, add a little bit of water, ask your equid to stand on the mat, and place their foot in the bucket. Some equids will allow you to add water while they’re standing in the bucket, but I find that most do better if you fill the bucket first then place their foot in it, as demonstrated in the video below:

As in the video, make sure you’re helping them remove their foot from the bucket as well so that they don’t end up tipping the bucket and splashing themselves, which may make them reluctant to put their foot in the bucket again.

Additionally, keep in mind that the smell of whatever you’re soaking your equid’s foot in will affect their willingness to stand in the bucket, so make sure you gradually acclimate your equid to the scent of the soak before you ask them to put their foot in the bucket.

A little bit of consideration goes a long way to building trust.

About the Author

The author, Michelle Martiya, and a zebra
©Michelle Martiya

Michelle Martiya is a certified animal trainer offering virtual coaching services anywhere in the world. She works with all species and specializes in fearful and feral equids. You can contact Michelle through  or .

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