12-09-2010, 12:44 AM
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Rain is my first foal, so I had no real idea of what to do. Most of my horsey friends recommended putting a foal halter on her as soon as she was born and leave it on her for the first few weeks, with a very short length of rope on it. Unfortunately, we didn't have a foal halter when she was born, and my daughter, who will be adopting Rain shortly, didn't get her one until she was nearly a month old.
Sadly, we wound up having to rope her to catch her. It still wouldn't have worked if our farrier hadn't taken pity on us (or on Rain, more likely) and stepped in. He held the lasso and spoke quietly to her, letting her work out her terror for herself. It didn't take but a minute - it was like flipping a light switch - she went from terrified filly to sulky little filly all at once. The farrier worked his way up the rope until he could put his hands on her, and slipped the halter on with absolutely no fuss. We left about two feet of rope on the halter to make it easier to catch her for a while. (Did I mention we all love our farrier?)
Unfortunately, Rain's momma, Dancer, is a smart bugger, and she had unbucked the halter by the next day. It was still around Rain's neck, but not her muzzle. We caught Rain without too much trouble, but she suddenly pitched a fit and the halter popped right over her head, and she was completely free. Crap!
The next day, we put Rain and Dancer in our small backyard to feed them. We were able to get our hands on Rain (she's always been a friendly, affectionate little girl!) and slipped a rope around her neck and hung on long enough to quickly slip the halter back on. After she settled back down (not fighting, just dancing around), I zip tied the halter so Momma couldn't unbuckle it.
Rain is five months old now, and broke to lead...for the most part. She can be a little stubborn, but as long as we are more stubborn than she is, she will suddenly act like following you was exactly what she had in mind all along.
We quit leaving the short rope on her after the first week or so - it wasn't necessary since she was so friendly anyway. Her new halter (she's five months old, but her head is so big she has to have a yearling halter) is still zip tied to keep momma from unbuckling it, but it's actually loose enough it can slip off of her head if necessary. She's in a pen, and while there's not much she can hang it on, accidents can happen. The halter will come off once she's turned out in the pasture. We don't keep halters on the horses in the pasture - we can't see them if they get into trouble back there.
Other than the first few minutes that she had the lasso on her, Rain has never acted afraid of a rope. We've even done the Clinton Anderson thing and flipped the rope all over her back, legs and head. Rain wasn't impressed with our best Clinton Anderson impression and completely ignored the rope and us.
I am no expert, just a novice. All the advise I can give is to be patient. If you can get her into a smaller area - say a round pen - away from the other horse, you might have a little more luck. You might also think about putting the though of catching her out of your head and on the back burner for a short while, and just work on getting your hands on her.
"Touch is the greatest communicator" is what our farrier is fond of saying. He doesn't want us giving the horses food treats to get them to stand still for him. He wants our hands on them. He runs his hands all over each horse before he starts working on them. It's really something to watch the daughter's nervous stud colt settle down and relax - he practically melts!
Once you can get your hands on your baby, catching is easy. With Rain, NOT catching her is the hard part!