Keeping them close. If you turn out the mare and foal for a year, then when you bring them back the foal has gained lots of muscle, will, height and freedom. It will be like touching a wild horse for the first time, everything will take a bit longer.
I have no objection to letting them become an actual horse without people, but a bit of work before and during their time of freedom would definitely make this a bit easier in the long run.
Is there a reason you can't do both? After my foals are handled and used to humans I really don't do much with them until they are weaned.
We handle them get them used to a halter. Teach them to lead pick up their feet and that is it. After they are weaned we start teaching them to load in a trailer. Shalom
The guy who owns the barn I have my horses at does NOTHING with his foals until they are two! They are wild and want nothing to do with people. He says it makes no difference until you break them, which is a total crock of horse apples! He doesn't handle them except for the initial check...no halter training, absolutely nothing.
His mistake is obvious! I've seen it when it comes time to break them and it's ridiculous. So many issues could be avoided if they were simply handled some, instead he starts from scratch with a nearly grown horse.
This is definitely NOT the idea I plan to follow when my mare foals. I think a good balance of handling/horse time is most beneficial.
I imprinted my foals, and they were turned out with mom and the herd...BUT, I would still go out and mess with them every single day for short periods. I would fool with their feet, put a halter on them every day (I NEVER left it on them unattended)....just little things. By the time they were ready to bring in and wean, they already enjoyed being handled, and there were no surprises for them because they were already accustomed to everything a weanling is expected to do.
It doesn't matter how big your pasture is, as long as you have hands on them on a daily or every other day basis to keep them familiar with human contact. It's just as important for them to be out in the fresh air and sunshine so they can grow, stretch their legs, learn coordination, etc, so I definitely advocate the whole "growing up in the pasture" scenario...just not the growing up unhandled and wild.
Exactly Bella, not only vaccines but if they get injured - you need to able to handle them.
Zephyr hurt his leg and I had to put salve on it every day for a couple of days - easily done without even popping a halter on him because he has been handled every day since birth.