But then I thought more about the ones who haven't always been so easy. I trimmed 2 mini donkeys earlier in the day who used to need to be tied hard and fast for me to trim them and if they hadn't already been caught, I didn't have a chance. I started out of desperation using the cheerios that I always had on me (for my toddler!) to try to win them over. It took me 6 months to be able to catch them on my own but now consistently, I can get them to come up to me and just stay with me. I do halter them, which is just funny because the other donkey who isn't being trimmed always tries to run off with the lead rope! I might be better off trimming them at liberty...
Other horses who would yank their legs away on cross ties or if their owner was trying too hard to hold them still. Horses who would spook and freak out because we had tried to take them away from their herd into a barn that they had never been in. I started realizing that the more I tried to "hold" these animals, the stronger they made it known that they would not be held. It's not as easy on me to trim out in the field, especially in the winter. But if that's where the horse is happier, where I can get my job done safely and effectively, I'll do it (maybe with a little grumbling when it's 10 degrees without the wind chill)
Another thing I have realized is that I have pretty much stopped "moving a horse's feet around" or doing any kind of ground work or training on the spot. The reality is that I'm not a trainer and I'm not going to make the kind of progress I need to make by shaking a rope or making a horse back up. I always found that I could do all that stuff until I was blue in the face but if the owner wasn't doing it in between visits, I got the same reaction from the horse every time I went back to pick up the foot and that was just more frustrating.
I had better results just by going slowly, talking softly and taking my time. Once I put the "trainer hat" on my relationship with the horse changes and sometimes not for the better. For my purposes as a hoof care provider, I need the horse to know that I'm not there to ask them to work or be uncomfortable, just to pick up all four feet for roughly 5 minutes each. That doesn't mean that I don't ever reprimand or make a horse know if they made a bad choice. Biting is one of those behaviors that I just don't tolerate and a horse will get verbally and perhaps physically reprimanded for. Kicking tends to be more out of fear or pain and I either just don't put myself in a situation where it can happen or minimize the potential impact.
I have taken a few horses off my books who are dangerous and to be honest, not a single one of them was "just a rank horse". Humans have failed them in some way and unfortunately, I'm not going to risk my life to get their hooves trimmed. I do my best to work with the tougher ones but if it's a clear pattern of behavior that doesn't change due to an owner's negligence either to training or addressing a cause of pain, I walk away. I should have always valued my well-being but now with having a young child, I just don't take unnecessary risks.
All that said, I give a big shout out to all of my amazing owners with great horses who make my job fun and safe! I rarely have a bad day and it's all because I work with the best people and horses there are :) There are plenty of other hoof care providers out there I'm learning from who are doing this the same way and many are doing it better than I am. I'm a work in progress just like everyone else and I like seeing these improvements and enjoy the moments that make me see them in a better light.