Teen Forum Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: South East Texas
I'm just curiouse as to why a mare who isn't well associated with humans was bred in the first place, especially if you don't have a lot of experience with foals. The exact same thing has happened to me and it's hard to undo all of the behaviors that a mare can teach her foal. The filly I'm working with is a three month old and her dam just recently died of a massive stroke (r.i.p Sierra) but she's scared to death of people. Tried to scale a wall when I came in to halter her.
IMHO you need to either get foal-professional help or you need to approach this from a totally different angle. Forcing that colt into a small area and pressuring him into letting you handle him is going to do nothing but make him resent you. Inside of a crush, there is no way for him to get away from you, which will make him insecure even if you don't accidentally hurt him. There isn't a way for you to release pressure either, when he does something correctly. And as a general rule- creating and releasing pressure immediately after an animal succumbs to your will is a very good way to use when working with unsure or untamed horses.
If I were you, I would do things this way. Catch the mare and tie her up where the foal can see her but cannot reach her. Get the foal into a small pen, as DCA said- and use a technique called 'shadowing.' With this technique, you simply approach the horse as a leisurely walk, eyes down and body approachable. When he moves away, follow him at this same speed. At first he might leap away from you and bolt, but if you continue to be calm and relaxed about it, he will eventually slow down and switch his brain from prey mode to thinking mode. When he slows down, slow yourself down as well so that you aren't getting any closer to him with each step- but you're merely following him. This creates a slight pressure on him to acknowledge you, but does not cause him to become nervouse again. Whenever he stops, take all of the pressure away from him and take a few steps back for a moment. This is his reward. After a moment, take a step forewards. If he stands still, stay there for a bit so that he gets used to you. If he moves forewards, follow him at the same distance as before.
Eventually he will allow you to get very close to him, and this is when you introduce body movement. Slowly raise your hand as if you're going to touch him. If he shies away, just walk after him as before. If he does not move, praise him in a soft voice and release pressure by stepping back and lowering your hand. Continue this until he allows you to touch him.
The whole point of this is to create a non stressful, direct way of teaching the horse that its OK for you to be in his space, and that doing what you want is the easiest way to go. I warn you though, it takes a lot of patience. But lowering his stress level rather than chasing him like a predator would and yelling will work much better with him, because he really just doesn't understand what you're all about. This could easily work with the mare as well, but seperately. No reason to let them feed off of eachothers nerves.
Other than this, spending as much time around their enclosure (not sure if they're stalled or pastured) as possible is a good idea. Sweep around their area, talk on the phone, read out loud, do chores, and just watch them. Let them get used to your body language and your voice. Eventually they will find that you aren't so bad after all, but only if you stop pressuring them with no way for it to be released.
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