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Socializing rejected foal

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    06-08-2011, 01:11 PM
Mother nature

There is an excellent story about an orphaned foal that was at Tufts. The reality is that horses know way more about horses than we do. We were 'given' a foal a couple of years ago and like everyone we felt that nutrition was the most important factor. It isn't, it is socialization with other horses not with people. Don't get me wrong, I can't get our horses out of my side pocket, they come when we call and they love to visit with us, but they live as a herd. Our foals go out with several adult mares the day after they are born, they understand respect, unlike humans they 'get' non verbal communication. They are also very flexible and bounce. Oh we cringe when they get bumped but that is part of their life. The worst is when they are about 2 months old and decide to run like maniacs kicking up and bucking, someone always gets kicked in the head.
The down side of not putting foals with other horses far out weighs any thing that might happend to them, the emotional well being is probably, for a social animal, the most important factor in their life.
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    06-11-2011, 03:58 PM
Yesterday I decided to put my other mare in with Tuff - Lily is submissive to Tuff's dam, and she has shown some interest in Tuff since the beginning. I am also thinking that Payote will eventually need to go home, and it might be in Tuff's interest to have him bond with Lily. They have been turned out three times so far, and no real problems. Lily does put her ears back and squeal at him when he gets a little too pushy, but that's it.
My question is this - when would it be safe to leave Tuff out with an adult horse all day? I have been letting him have supervised turnout twice a day for an hour each time in the paddock. The reality is that I can't spend a whole lot more time than that watching him each day. My goal is to get him to the point where he can stay outside during the daytime hours, and just be stalled at night. He will be six weeks old tomorrow. Any insight is appreciated!
    06-11-2011, 03:59 PM
Gillwood, I tried to find the article about the foal at Tufts, but haven't been able to. If you have the link, would love to read it.
    06-11-2011, 05:24 PM
My mare and foal are turned out all day with 4 adult horses. Was turned out with them at about 3 weeks old I just left them to get on with it they all get on fine now
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    06-11-2011, 06:28 PM
If their supervised visits are going fine, then I would try it for a day. I'm sure they'll be fine. He'll learn horse language and they all fall in love with eachother. It'll help him grow up and be a better horse, and he'll get more energy out and all together be a healthier horse.
    06-17-2011, 09:58 AM
Sorry SJ I had a quick look for that article, the internet can sometimes be a black hole. The mare I read it for has just turned 5 and had her first foal. She is an excellent mother, and balances that with being a polite respectful horse. If we would have changed anything we would have given her more contact with the other horses, not that she wasn't with them a lot and now is very involved socially in the herd. The vets initial advice was to remove her from the other mares with an eye toward infections.
As the new studies are now showing kids who grow up with animals tend to have less allergies, some of our old thinking really doesn't cut it. I had a doctor friend who used say "you'll eat a pound of dirt in your life, your body can handle it" Natural is always better and when we get in and do thinks that "make us feel good" we damage our animals for a life time as we go merrily on with our lives.
I will keep poking around for that article, a good friend has just lost an amazing Appaloosa mare so if I can find it I will send it along to him too
    06-17-2011, 06:58 PM
Turnout is going great for Tuff and my mare Lily. I'm leaving him out all day, but I leave his stall open so he can go back in whenever he wants, to eat Foal Lac and Omelene 300. I have a board up 4' high to keep Lily out. He is still on a four hour bucket schedule, and he knows when it's time for his milk, as he is nearly always in the stall waiting for it.

I'm now thinking about turning Tuff out with his mom in another week or two. They never bonded as mother and baby, so I expect it will go like it has with Payote and Lily. Gillwood, my goal is to turn them all out together, and let Tuff get on with all the lessons the others will teach him about being a horse. My slight concern is that the adults may react to Tuff differently as a group then they have as individuals.

companion horse, orpan foal, socializing foal

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