Raising Baby

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Raising Baby

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  • When foals go through growth spurts

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    07-22-2008, 02:30 AM
Raising Baby

Is there any general times when a foal goes through major growth spurts, or is it very individual? Our 2 and a half month foal (blizzard) seems huge to me right now in proportion with his parents, and I am wondering if they just go through the majority of their growth really early and then level out for a while.

Also, from the first week he was born, blizzard has been eating with mom more and more. At this point he eats her entire meal (hay and grain) with her, and is just as excited about being fed as she is. He grazes all the time also. I know he is growing, so that makes sense that they would both be very hungry, but he does not seem to nurse a whole lot. Is this normal?

What is the best way to go about reprimanding/correcting blizzard when he nips? Rears up and strikes? Pulls on the lead rope in an attempt to muscle his way to where he wants to be (which he is nearly strong enough to do now)? He is an only foal, so I think he thinks it is a good idea to play with us humans because he does not have another young one to do it with...we have never let him think is was acceptable, and he is much better than he used to be, but I would like to keep improving his behavior.

The other day, I went to let him nurse (while on halter and lead) because he made toward mom like that is what he wanted, but he changed plan last second to rear up on mom's butt with his forelegs, and whapped her rider pretty good in the hip with his hoof.

He has a very sweet, friendly, BUT bold personality, and does not even acknowledge verbal scolding for unacceptable behavior...

Anyway, he is progressing and improving everyday, but I would appreciate any helpful hints for keeping him out of trouble.
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    07-22-2008, 12:22 PM
When he nips, rears, etc. you should get on him right away (it sounds like you already have been) When he rears or bites at you give him a firm but not a hard tap on the chest just to say "Hey, that is not allowed, now you behave." They actually catch on really quick and you no have to give them taps for long.

The other thing, if he is trying to get away from you on the lead, don't let him walk to his Mom. Then you are letting him do it. And he doesn't understand when it's allowed and when it's not. Keep him with you and in check all the time.
    07-22-2008, 08:36 PM
As far as growth spurts go, I think it really depends on the horse. I have an arabian gelding who just turned three this month. He is still a midget. Looks like a yearling. His breeder says that his mother was only 14 hh until she hit 5. She is 7 now and 15.1. Some horses are late bloomers and some mature quickly I guess. Not that I'm an expert.
    07-22-2008, 11:12 PM
They do most of their growing in their first year. (percentage wise) with growth spurts at one year through their 3-4th year. Depending on the individual horse, they can get spurts up to thier 6th year.

As for discipline, I treat them the same as an adult horse. Anything that I wouldn't want an adult horse to do, I wont put up with in a foal. (what seems "cute" now is not so cute in a 1000# horse) The 5 second rule applies. The only thing different I do, is not physically discipline them as hard. And that only applies to the first 6 months or so, after that, there isn't much I can do physically that will hurt them. They are much stronger than me by that point. But they will still get the screaming arm waving "crazy woman" as a baby that they will get as an adult if they try to bit, kick, etc me. While I understand that they may be "teething" or something, they learn quickly that they can't teethe on me.
    07-22-2008, 11:19 PM
Well said TxHorsemom! Good for you!
    07-23-2008, 04:19 AM
Thanks for the feedback guys. I am glad to know I have been on the right track discipline wise.

About his growth....I guess I am just surprised that he is already SO big. It seems like if he keeps up at this rate, he will eaily outgrow both parents. Is this a normal feeling at nearly 3 months...growth slowing down any day now?

Also...he eats so much like a regular horse, and nurses so little...is that okay. He was put in a round pen while his mom was ridden out of his sight on the trails on our property for about half an hour today, and he could not have cared less - is that normal for his age?

He is also very bossy to adult horses - he walks up to them and nips them in the nose repeatedly. He was yanking on our 20 year old geldings tail last week with his mouth for quite a while before the gelding finally got fed up and scolded him a bit.

I guess this is all so unknown to me as to what is "normal" and what isn't. :) :)
    07-24-2008, 12:25 AM
Yes, his growing will slow down after the first year. If you think about it, if a human baby continued to grow at the same rate that they did that first year, people would be something like 17 feet tall!!

After the third-fourth month nursing is more for emotional comfort than for actual nutritional value. The older the foal is the less nutrition they get from mama. Totally normal for him to be eating grain, grass, and some hay. I generally like to wean my foals at about 4 months, but if the dam is having an exceptionally difficult time keeping weight on, I will wean them at 3 months. They have all done fine. They eat, drink and act like a grown horse.

As for the playing with the older horses. Totally normal. It depends on the adult horse, but some will have more patience than others, but eventually they will discipline him when they get tired of it. (and they are usually a lot "rougher" than a human/could would be.)
    07-25-2008, 04:40 PM
With the youngsters I have raised and currently raising I have found that it really depends on the horse. The larger breeds as well as the larger horses grow thru growth spurts in later stages. Most not until they are at least 5 or 6 years old.
Take a look at the knees and their bum. Are they still bum high, did they suddenly go bum high?

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