Feeding a 7 week old Foal - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 04-26-2012, 09:35 PM Thread Starter
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Red face Feeding a 7 week old Foal

I have a foal that lost her mother at 5 weeks, she has never took a bottle because she was already eating hay, grain sweet feed etc when we got her. I started her a sweet feed, oats and milk replacement either pellets are putting the powder in her feed combo 4 times a day now feeding 2 to 3 times a day mainly not wanting her to be without food because if she was still with her mother she would be nibbling on her ever so often. She is doing great getting fat, a little to fat maybe, I don't want her to get a pot belly should I get some type of probotic supplement for her? Or should I be feeding something besides sweet feed?
Also she is SOOO hyper!! She bucks and kicks which is fun to watch but she has already kicked me once and it not a pretty site! Someone says Oats will make them hyper??? Can I change her food to calm her down? Or is this just the colt in her. Only problem is she seems to be doing the raring up bucking stuff with me more than my husband or anyone else. Kind of like she has an attitude with me when at first she was very loving with me.. Not sure whats up with that. Still working on her halter breaking but she is doing good with it her attention span is like a kids so can only work with her about 20 minutes at a time and when I turn her loose she takes off bucking and kicking. Any suggestions on how to stop her from bucking and kicking with me? I am being stern with her yanking her lead rope down etc but is there anything I need to do different with her to calm her down? Change food or something?
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post #2 of 10 Old 04-26-2012, 09:51 PM
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Get her off the sweet feed, ASAP. It's not good for grown horses...and especially bad for youngsters like her. The amount of sugar in there could account for her energy level too.

I don't know much about oats and how they effect horses as I've never fed them, but if it was me, I would replace the sweet feed with something like alfalfa or grass hay pellets and keep her on the milk replacer for at least 2 more months, maybe 3.

I would leave her with 24/7 access to good quality hay that is very fine stemmed or really leafy (the thick, coarse stems can cause the typical "foal belly" because she can't digest them effectively yet) and give her 3 or 4 of the smaller pelleted feedings a day.

Good luck with her and I hope the lack of sweet feed with help with her attitude a bit...either way, you really need to watch and not let her play with you or play around you.

Does she have a couple of older horses that she can be turned out with so that she can learn to be a horse?

Have you ever handled/trained a foal before? If not, I strongly suggest that you get some professional help from a trainer. Training a foal is not for the faint of heart and not for the inexperienced handler. There are so many little things that you have to pay attention to/correct when they are young that can turn into huge issues, and dangerous ones, as they grow older and bigger.
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post #3 of 10 Old 04-30-2012, 07:55 PM
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I can't be of much help with the best thing to feed a foal that young, but I do know that sweet feed is not a good idea and can make even adult horses hyper.

You'll need something without any added sugar (molasses), and stay away from grain-based feeds if at all possible. With losing her mother so early and having been fed sweet feed, I'd also watch for signs of ulcers.

Hopefully someone with some experience feeding foals can chime in with some specific product recommendations.
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post #4 of 10 Old 04-30-2012, 08:35 PM
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If you don't have any other horses, or any horses she can safely mentor with, you might be stuck having to learn how to be half horse and half human, I'm afraid lol!! That's going to be a super great learning experience for you which few people probably would like to take on, but so very rewarding if you're up to the challenge. It sounds like if she's less respectful toward you than toward your husband, she may see him more as an authority figure and you more as a playmate. Is he the one doing most of the feeding?

If she's bucking and running around having joy spasms, I would say there's little to be worried about, but I agree with others who posted that backing down grain is a good idea - but if she's kicking at you regardless of whether it's during your lessons or just out and about with her, I think you're doing the right thing to keep your lessons short; I would even shorten them to 10 minutes instead of 20 if you notice she acts out more during or after you spend time with her. Keeping your lessons playful and fun, always, with tons and tons of praise, helps a bunch. She may be kicking out in frustration or confusion because she doesn't understand what you are asking or wanting when you're working with her, and the fact that, from the sound of things if I'm correct here, she has no horses to mirror to learn how to be a horse, so she needs your leadership that much more critically.
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post #5 of 10 Old 05-02-2012, 10:12 PM Thread Starter
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smrobs- my biggest concern with her right now is her getting any of the nutrients she needs right now, I know she is getting a lot of that in the milk pellets and milk replacement powder although she doesn't like it much but I can't get her to drink the powder mixed up either in a bowl or in a bottle. I read something about probotics being something she gets from eating her mothers poop, said this helps her digest stuff better and not get that foal belly you spoke about the milk pellets have that in it but I worry about it not being enough. Is there any type of bagged food or something I can feed her that will give her any extra nutrients she might not be getting from not being with her mother?
I am new at this, My husband and I both have had horses all our lives he has broke every horse he has owned which is 4 total we have lost 2 of those over the years told age they where 27 and 30 years old. We still have two of them one is a gelding and the other is a mare. The problem is they are out at my inlaws about 20 miles away where I don't go very often so I have her here in a round pen right in my side yard so I can mess with her all the time. She has gotten better with the bucking and I have her pretty much halter broke for the most part. I always go in the pen with the halter and she knows to calm down then. teaching her to stay at the stall door when I feed her is a chore she gets a little excited when it feeding time but she getting better with that and learning quickly.
If you have any advise in things I can do to train her properly it would be helpful.
Verona1016- thanks for the advise I am looking into other things to feed her to ensure she gets all of the nutrients she should be getting from her Mom is my main concern.
DRichmond- I have 2 other horses but they are to far away for me to be able to be with her a lot as I said I have her at the house where I can spend lots of time with her before work during lunch and after work. We are in the process of fencing in our extra lot which is a little over half acre so we can bring them in and be able to make sure they are not going to be mean to her and such. one is a gelding but he is very head strong and the other is a mare and I worry about the who going be head mare thing with them. So "mama" wants to be where I can watch them closely when they are together for a while.
I think her bucking and kicking is joy spasms as you said. I was spending a LOT of time with her when I first posted mostly working with her more than just being with her. She was glad to see me but I think she got tired and was ready for me to leave LOL. My husband was coming and just spending a little time each time he went out there. As he had time off work and spent more time with her she did the same thing with him. I have cut my time to about 10 minutes or so of training then I go sit in a chair and she comes up and I love on her, brush her, talk to her etc. She likes that time and is learning quickly if she gets tired before I get ready to quit she goes over and pushes the chair over like she saying sit her enough LOL
She picked up real quick on the halter is on she is good and listens she still bucks and kicks some but she waits until the halter is off and I am out of the pen most of the time. Like I said she still gets excited when feeding time comes around but she is learning to not come running in the stall and stay outside and wait for me to get out. She is a very good horse and pretty if I can figure out how to post a picture of her on here I will try to do so this weekend when I have some time to sit at the computer. If you have any suggestions on things that I need to be sure she learns I would appreciate it. I have a beach ball and one of the Jolly balls that has the handle on it she can learn to pick up with her teeth its for stall stress. She will roll the beach ball with her nose and even kicked it today more on accident I think than purpose but she noticed it so I think she will get that soon. She is rollling the jolly ball around and has tried to bite the handle a few times so I think she learning that one also. My main concern is her not being bored and knowing she can't run over us and then learning the basics of halter breaking and not being scared of noises etc. We will put her with the other horses in time I just think she is to young and small to be with the older horses that she never seen before. My thoughts are waiting until she at least 6 months maybe even a year before we try to put her with the other horses. Although I wonder how she will do out there where someone won't have contact with her like she is getting here... Any suggestions you have in training or anything else you feel I need to know I am very much open to hearing anyone thoughts and ideas I want her to be a good rounded horse but I also want her to be very loved. :) She not a performing or show horse she is just my pet so I want her to be loving but I don't want her to think she is a 1500 pound lap dog when she gets older. I still want her to be a horse and do all the things horses do. I am committed to her for the long haul as I am very attached already! :)
Speaking of I need to close as it time for her to go to bed and I have to go say goodnight and brush her down for bed. :) yes she spoiled. :)
Thanks all for the help
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post #6 of 10 Old 05-03-2012, 03:18 PM
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Time to start teaching her to tie.

Then you can start with light work on a lung line.
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post #7 of 10 Old 05-03-2012, 09:51 PM
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SpdDrv, my hat is off to you for devoting yourself to this baby. From what you described, she is very attached to you and very responsive too.

You mentioned she is in a stall. Does she also have a safe contained area where she can run and exercise as well as the stall? The toys are a great idea to introduce her to different objects and entertain her a bit, especially with widdle teeth erupting. Btw, if she seems out of sorts or cranky sometimes, that could be why.

An idea for her stall might be to have a radio on a soft music station which might help your little orphan. Lots and lots of bedding she can snuggle up in since she doesn't have mama to curl up with.

The more touch you give, the better, and it sounds like the two of you are bonded :) With her trust in you, any training will come almost effortlessly as she knows you won't harm her in any way, and it sounds like the two of you are going to be quite the pair, and she will learn quickly when you offer her a new learning experience.

Here is a not too well known training tip: horses have two hemispheres just as we do, but they can't cross-reference concepts like we do, hence they need to be shown a new thing on both sides of the body to fully comprehend. Depending on what you're showing her at any given time, something to keep in the back of your head.

Another very important concept, especially with an orphan, is to provide body contact if/when she is nervous or frightened, and in general babies love and need tons of body contact anyway like all babies do. Horses in general instinctively seek out another horse and make bodily contact when frightened, and you'll see how they comfort one another in their own language by one horse draping his/her neck over the other's neck or back area.

(I do the opposite of what most owners do when a horse is scared - I bring them in to me, or let them enter my space for comfort, not push them away, and addressing their needs in their own language builds incredible trust. There are times of course when that isn't appropriate, it's a matter of knowing when it is and isn't.)

She may do things which are appropriate for a horse but not for you lol, so if for instance she rears up and wants to be playful, please be careful about reprimanding her but be safe too. I had a orphan POA colt, for instance, who snuck up behind me and suddenly I had a hoof on either side of the front of my shoulders, and I turned around and said "Andy, NO!" and laughed so hard I almost fell. So get some knee pads and a helmet ROFL. He never did it again, and no I wasn't hurt, and yes he is a happy, well-adjusted and beautifully mannered little guy. But he was an orphan, and orphans can do off the wall things without realizing what they're doing isn't normal.

I'm going to surf the web and see if I can find a couple of videos I think you might find helpful about body language.

The younger they are, I think the sooner you can show them how to give their feet to you, without using anything - no halter, lead rope, nothing - the better off you'll be. And like you're already doing, keeping the lessons brief. One thing I learned is how important it is to make huge fusses over them as a reward. I make a big to-do about them, and there is nothing like that look in their eyes that just beams with pride and confidence in themselves!

My thoughts about her diet: at what I'm presuming is her age about now, 8 weeks?, you might try mixing some mare & foal feed or some senior feed in with the milk pellets, and soak that into a mash using some of the milk mixed with a little water. She should be nibbling on hay, I hope so, and if you give her free choice grass hay and a little bit of alfalfa but not too much - too much protein is as detrimental as not enough - with a salt/trace mineral block, and if she is able to get plenty of exercise, you likely won't need to supplement her with anything else. I think probiotics are a good idea, I would ask a vet you trust what he would recommend for her, these are just my own thoughts and opinions.

It doesn't sound like there are any suitable horse mentors available at your place right now, and when she's older and it comes time to introduce her it I would suggest being careful. She will probably be both terrified and exhilirated to see another horse, and will probably need time from a safe pen or pasture to just soak up horsie lingo from a distance and get caught up. That'll save you a potential vet bill too.
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post #8 of 10 Old 05-03-2012, 11:35 PM Thread Starter
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DRichmond- I am loving taking care of Pepper and learning so much about her so I think we are both teaching each other.

Right now she is in a round pen about 30x30 with a stall off it for her to get in out of the weather, we have her food and little wall hay manger in her stall with a sand bottom and lots of hay for her to lay own that is changed out regularly, She also has one of my shirts in with her that we will hang on the bottom of fence and every morning it is pulled down into her bed with her. She can stretch out in the stall and sleep we have the back, sides and front closed in so the wind or rain can't get her. Plus she has a radio and a light in with her, and thinking of adding a fan when it gets to where it stays to hot at night and day? she tends to like country better than any other music, I told my husband we need to find Christian music so she will be a godly horse. LOL We are hoping to finish fencing in our extra lot next weekend when we are both off work, it will be a little more than half acre with lots of room and nothing she can hurt herself on. We also have a fenced in ball field just up the road that once she gets good and halter broke I can take her to let her run if she needs more room.

I give her a lot of loving and put my arms around her and pet and love on her some people tell me she will think she is a lap dog by giving her so much attention. But I feel she needs this especially right now.. she knows not to move during this time she just stands there and takes it all in I think.

She is picking up on anything I show her quick and today when I went to feed her I didn't have to tell her but once to wait at the door while I poured her food. She a smart cookie I think, we have a chain that raps around and locks on the gate and today she was working on that chain grabbing it with her teeth trying to get it loose when I was standing outside the pen. It was so cute and I didn't have a camera with me. LOL Thanks for the tip on the two hemispheres I will remember that with her training.

When I am not in the pen she bucks and kicks and darts around running and playing. She seems to be picking up on she has to play nice when I am in the pen but when she gets a little excited I have to remember she is a horse and that will happen. I am kind of leary on running with her and stuff but I know if she was with her mother she would do that. I do get outside the pen and run around it and that gets her to running and bucking we were all laughing today at her I think she was showing off big time. LOL We do play ball and I kick the ball around mainly to get her used to objects but she is nosing it around and playing with the ball and will run to it when I kick it away from her. I not sure how much or if I should be doing more with her to help her be more active though..

She was Born March 6th so she is 8 weeks and 2 days old today. She has kicked me once but it wasn't on purpose she just moved faster than me and I did like you I told her NO and after I found out I wasn't really hurt my husband and I laughed so hard till we almost cried then she came up and sniffed of my leg and rubbed against it was to cute and I couldn't of punished her if I wanted to. LOL

I did some searching online but mainly on food for her and found they need something high in protein but low in sugar with vitamins etc. So today I found a food by Nutrena called Safe choice original says on bag it vet recommended plus the man at store said he raised a colt on it. I am feeding this feed with the milk pellets and she has hay and grass to eat. Does that seem to be a good diet? I am concerned about under feeding her and over feeding her both. I found it online just not sure about if I can post a link to a site on here so will leave that for you to choice to look at.

It was suggested I use Probios equine one oral gel, it is a microbial product contains a source of live viable naturally occurring microorganisms for help with digestion. I got some but haven't used it yet as we wormed her today so thought I would wait a day or so at least. I found the site online about it just haven't had time to read all but so far it sounds good. You know anything about this?

I haven't thought about a salt/mineral block but will get her one of those for her.

Thank you so much for taking the time and answering my questions this site has been so helpful, I am a newbie at this and I want to give her everything she needs in these growing years. If I ask to much just let me know and I will quit. :)
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post #9 of 10 Old 05-04-2012, 12:26 AM
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She's one very lucky baby, bless your heart :)

On the topic of probiotics, they are really good to give just before during and after you deworm. Here's a link for the Safe Choice feeds, looks like there are 3 options: SafeChoice Horse Feed by Nutrena

It really gets into muddy water discussing dietary needs for individual horses so I don't want to insert foot in mouth lol. I personally would check with a vet to get recommendations, and describe what you're providing for her now, and see what they recommend for supplemental feed. They'll also probably be more likely to recommend what's available in your area too.

Something she might like that'll be a way to help teach her horse lingo for future socializing is to scratch her withers, and if and when the time comes she gets a herd mate she'll know what that is all about lol.
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post #10 of 10 Old 05-04-2012, 01:23 AM
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I'm all about spoiling my foals. I don't think you can spoil a horse by loving it too much. Letting it be disrespectful or pushy, yes, but not because you touch it and love it lots. Hugs and kisses are great and I insist that all my foals and horses tolerate kisses on their noses and just behind their ears but I also do lots and lots of wither scritches, that little special spot where their neck meets their shoulders, in between their front legs and right on top of their tail/butt area. I actually 'teach' mine to back up for scritches on their butts. Not a one of 'em will kick you but they will track you down backwards for scritches.

I feed my foals Purina Omolene 300 and I add milk replacer powder to it. The feed and the milk replacer both have pre-biotics and probiotics in them and the foals love it. They always have free choice grass hay or grazing and if I need to bring them into the barn for a night or for several hours, then I toss them a nice big flake of grass hay.

Right from day one I put a halter on them to get them used to wearing it, then I add a short rope that I make by braiding hay strings together. I usually use about 6 hay bale strings and a heavy snap and make the rope about 2 feet long so they get used to having something flapping around their shoulders but not long enough to step on (YET). I pick up feet several times/day and basically make them allow me to touch them anywhere I want at anytime.

We also work on walking on a lead and in another couple of weeks we'll start with bathing and clipping. I toss a lead rope over a rail or something but I don't tie a foal until I've made very sure they know to 'give' to pressure so that if they get scared and sit back they don't break their necks in fear.

Once we have walking on a lead and they've started to give when something pulls on the lead rope, I put them in a round pen or small corral and let them drag the lead rope and step on it and get used to stopping and giving to the pressure and if they start to run I let them go until they learn that a flapping lead rope isn't going to kill them. I make sure it's a safe, contained area so that they don't take off all over the acreage and maybe get the rope caught on something, but they can run in circles in the round pen all day long and not hurt themselves.

I hope this helps you a little bit! Sounds like you 2 are making great progress.
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