Difficulty taming colt - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 03-01-2012, 12:14 PM Thread Starter
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Difficulty taming colt

Hi All
I'm looking for some opinions and advice. Early December three foals were born on our farm. Two of them a colt and a filly born about a week apart are mine. Now I'll just come right out and admit it I've been a bit lacking in my training of the youngssters. the filly I can approach and touch a little, her mom loves me, so no serious problems there. she still needs a lot of work, but at least she doesn't freak out if you touch her. The colt, Gypsy is another story altogether. His mom has only been mine for a little more than a year and wants as little as poosible to do with humans as possible. Which mekes taming youn master Gypsy considerably more difficult. Today we made the first serious attempt to touch Gypsy. He wanted no part of us and even escaped from my cruxh. (It was designed for bigger horses, but will be altered asap). Now the way I see the situation with my little boy is I have one of two choices I can continue to fight him (and mom who's difficult to catch and very evasive even when cornered in a crush), or I can wait three months, wean him, and then do join-up or something similar with him and take it from there. if you were in my shoes which would you choose?
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post #2 of 18 Old 03-01-2012, 12:20 PM
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I have VERY LITTLE experience with foals (be warned), but I would continue to try to get them used to you. I would start by going out and sitting in the field with them, and just spending general time with them. Then move onto trying to touch them, get to know them, etc.

At my old barn that's what was done.

I'm also going off of what was done when I got my new horse, you just have to get them used to you.

I hope that helped slightly :p
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post #3 of 18 Old 03-01-2012, 03:57 PM
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The colt is copying his mother so his behaviour is perfectly natural.

I would not get either in a crush but would get them in a small area and give the mare some feed. I would stand fairly close but giving her enough room to eat happily. Gradually I would get closer until the mare was happily eating from a held bucket.

Once you have caught the mare start handling her a lot more and allow the colt to sniff you and just get use to you. It will take a while but curiosity will get the better of him especially if the mare becomes more friendly.

Softly softly cachee monkey. It takes time but he will come around.
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post #4 of 18 Old 03-01-2012, 04:51 PM
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i would definitely keep working with both the colt and his mom. i have very little experience with young foals but i do have an 8yr old mare who was completely unhandled from the time she was foaled until i got her about 4 months ago and i have a feeling training her would be MUCH easier if she had been handled since she was young. She is however coming around very nicely and is the sweetest mare i have ever met, just very shy.

When i first got her, it was extremely difficult to even approach her without her bolting, let alone touch her. i started going out to the yard just so she could get used to my presence. I cleaned up the yard, messed with my other mare, just sat out there from time to time. In the beginning i did not ask anything of her, i did not try to touch her when she approached me to smell me, i just let her do what she felt safe doing. after a while i would extend my hand to pet her nose, give her carrots, slowly touching her more and more. it has been a long and slow process but i can now go out and touch her whenever/wherever i want.

she learned by me not asking something of her every time that i wasn't trying to trap her or force her to do something every time she saw me.

not sure if that helps or not! good luck with your little ones!
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post #5 of 18 Old 03-01-2012, 07:53 PM
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I'd seriously consider waiting until weaning time. No sense in aggravating them, and would not use a crush, too much potential for a wreck.

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post #6 of 18 Old 03-01-2012, 07:59 PM
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Work on mama's trust, baby will get curious and come to you too.

What on earth is a crush?

Also.. would not do join up on a young one.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #7 of 18 Old 03-02-2012, 04:32 AM Thread Starter
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Skyesternalangel a crush is a chute into which you put horses, cattle, sheep, goats, anything you need to confine in a space where they can't turn around. Usually used for treatments, e.g. those of us who don't rope calves for branding you can chase them into the crush and you can brand them without getting hurt.
My horses' crush is just a space between the ring and the stable wall where an untrained horse can be restrained for example when hurt or for shots. Sometimes I even have to put one of my older mares in there for her annual AHS shots. She is needle phobic and will jump sideways over anybody trying to restrain her if she senses that needle coming near her neck. It just keeps everybody safe.
We caught momma yesterday and then put them in the ring trying to cath Gypsy, but he just kept evading us, so trying to keep him from running away, we decided to use the crush. The pole on the far side was just high enough and he climbed out underneath it. Another pole will be added for future reference. Probably because of his mom's attitude he wants nothing to do with anybody and will go to any lenghts neccesary to get away. Strangely enough he is very good friends and very attached to Sassy, the pinto filly, but despite seeing her approach me and getting scratched in all the right places, he will just move off.
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post #8 of 18 Old 03-02-2012, 04:39 AM
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If possible could they be moved to a smaller yard / paddock. Hopefully if you catch and lead the mare the colt should follow. Then as others have said focus on mum and let him just get used to you.
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post #9 of 18 Old 03-02-2012, 10:41 AM
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Can you put them in a 12 X 24 stall or even a pipe corral? That gives room enough that you can work with them without too much pressure on any of you. I'd work on catching mom, then putting both in the stall or corral and if necessary tie mom so she can't interfere while you catch baby. I'd really work on it now while he's still fairly small, I've done the late halter breaking and handling thing and as a result, refuse to touch young horses not from my own program. Got tired of getting hurt.
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post #10 of 18 Old 03-02-2012, 11:00 AM
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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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