4 month old, is this normal? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 10-04-2008, 01:21 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: NW Georgia
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4 month old, is this normal?

My 4 month old filly is very smart and as near to bombproof I have seen for her age. As I work with my 6 year old, I've seen her try do the same things we are doing. Out of curiosity, I put the filly (Boss Lady) in her halter and tried them. Nothing fast, nothing that is "work"

She will walk over a 3" high stick on a halter, walk over a pinned down tarp that's very noisy, walk through a tarp suspended from a branch or doorway, stand for fly spray, stand for my farrier to tap her feet, back up, move over with only a slight push, and longe (very slowly, not pushing her at all). She's not weaned fully yet, but will load out of sight of her dam if asked.

I never taught her to do any of this (other than the feet), I asked her to do it and she did it, or she did it on her own and I reinforced it at halter. One thing about Boss Lady, if she doesn't get it right the first time, she will try again and again until she gets it. Then she does it perfect from that time on. She was also completely halter trained at 3 days old , and you could lead her with a piece of dental floss. She learns so fast I have trouble keeping up.

Is this out of the norm for a 4 month old? I've had people tell me how wonderful and smart/well trained she is, but I've never been around foals this young, so I wouldn't know. I imprinted her at birth. She's also already 12.2hh, her dam is only 14hh, sire is 15hh. She is my first Tennessee Walker baby! You can see her on my "barn" page.


Hugs and Blessed be
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post #2 of 4 Old 10-04-2008, 07:49 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Greenville area / SC
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Angi, I've heard about great things coming from Imprinting. Just like people, dogs, and other creatures, horses learn at different speeds and some are just plain smarter/more talented then others. It sounds like you have a horse that really wants to learn - enjoy her!

The only negative thing I've heard about imprinting is that some owners take it too far and end up with a horse that has no respect for people but in a way that is hard to overcome. Those horses think of themselves as equals to their handlers and become real difficult to train.

Another problem that can develop with a talented horse is the tendency to overload them even if they seem like they can handle it. Sometimes it is a real effort to remember how very young they are.

I'm not arguing with you, I'm just explaining why I'm right.

Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

It's not always what you say but what they hear.
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post #3 of 4 Old 10-04-2008, 08:30 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: NW Georgia
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What's funny is, I face the overload problem with my older horses, but I have never yet with her. She knows her limitations, and when to tell me she's had enough without becoming hard-headed and stubborn. I'm not entirely sure if it's that she wants to learn, though. She is very competitive, and has to be the best at anything she does. If she sees another horse doing it, she has to do it too and will do it once or twice. Then she seem so take a day to think about it, tries it again and does it perfectly. I'm a very laid back person, so it's hard keeping up with that sometimes.

I've imprinted dogs before, but this is my first horse. One thing I've noticed with her is that she is able to "tell" me when something is OK or not. She's taught me that the best way to work with a horse is to make it a two way conversation. To read the subtle signs, and stop when she says enough is enough. I was pretty tuned to them before her, but she's helped me a lot.

I can see some areas where they might be right about respecting the person they're working with. My situation is a bit odd, but I think it applies. Boss Lady's mother thinks of me as her foal, and corrects me as such. If I'm doing something stupid, she'll nip at me or paw gently. Not to hurt, but to let me know that I'm being a complete idiot and need to fix that as soon as possible. So Boss and I behave like sisters, our personalities are even similar. I keep expecting her to start borrowing my clothes and ID. So, to me, she's an (at times) annoying younger sibling that I'm showing the ropes. We don't have dominance issues because we don't feel the need to create any.

To me, the only issues from imprinting would be if the people doing it were already prone to being pushed around. When she was a few days old, she tested me once, and I responded gently but firmly by simple body language. We've had no issues since. My mom, however, has with her because no matter how tough she acts she is prone to being pushed about by humans, animals, and anything else. I always keep my emotional and personal state in check before I even attempt any training. Other than that, being too hovery is the only other way that I can see that you can mess it up.

Thanks, she really is great. Almost too smart lol.

Hugs and Blessed be
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post #4 of 4 Old 10-04-2008, 10:59 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
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It has nothing to do with whether or not a person is prone to be pushed around, but that the horse doesn't react to people in the way a horse normally would - his reactions will not be true. Have you ever heard the term "dead sided" when referring to a horse who does not respond to leg cues, even with spurs? An overly imprinted horse essentially becomes "dead" to you. If a foal struggles and you let it go while imprinting it, you have imprinted upon it that it can fight with you and you will let it go...particularly bad if it was submissive to touching but not restriction. If a foal is totally submissive during the imprinting, and you take it too far, you risk having a foal who has no natural instincts toward you at all. A horse whose owner improperly imprinted it as a foal is an absolute horror to train. The horse doesn't react properly using his natural instincts as we need him to as trainers/handlers. We depend on the built in flight response to get the horse to move out when we want by twirling a rope, raising a whip, a tap on the rear, advancing, etc. An improperly imprinted horse won't respond to those. He'll just stand there, ignore you or become aggressive towards you since he has no idea that he SHOULD react.

A properly imprinted horse can be a dream to work with, but an improperly imprinted one can be your worst nightmare!
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