Foal training questions - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 03-28-2012, 09:03 AM Thread Starter
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Foal training questions

I have a colt who's now 5 days old. Since day 2, me and my helper have been putting a halter on him, leaving it for for about 30 seconds/till he was calm, then taking it off. We've also been leading him around with our arms around him, and today I led him around with the halter on and my arms around him. He does pretty good with that. He'll accept the halter being put on him, but he doesn't really like it, he'll toss his head a little bit, and when I go to take it off he wants to hurry it up. Should we just keep doing this for a while, putting it on every day, maybe a couple times a day, taking it long does it usually take for them to get used to it? When can I start introducing him to leading with a lead rope? Also, he's kinda hard to catch. He'll usually bolt away when you get near him, but sometimes he'll stand still. But you can catch him if you squat down- he'll come to you. So how can I make him easier to catch? He's very playful and active and runs around all the time. I know he's only 5 days old, but I want to make sure he gets a good foundation early on.
Oh, and when could you start doing natural horsemanship training with him? Once he's old enough I would like to do join up with him; I've done this with two other horses, including his mother, and they've responded to it really well.
Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 9 Old 03-28-2012, 09:19 AM
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I would just keep the halter on him. Maybe take it off at night so he gets used to the on/off process but leave it on for more then 30 seconds.
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post #3 of 9 Old 03-28-2012, 10:05 AM
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definately keep the halter on for more than 30 seconds you should keep it on him for a few hours at a time, this will get him used to the halter, the longer you leave it on him, the less of a big deal it will become, also you should work on approaching him and retreating so that he accepts coming to you or you walking up to him. start by walking up very calmly to him if he takes off, mosey around and visit the other horses, dont make it look like you want to catch him, keep trying to get close to him, once he stops and looks at you stop, praise and walk away. let him be alone for a bit then try again you want to get a little bit closer each time you approach him until eventually you can walk straight up and rub him. after you can walk right up to him in the pasture start to work on haltering and leading. bring out a lead rope and make a big loop and slip it over his head (kindof like a makeshift collar) rub him as you bring it over his face and rub him once it passes over his ears, if he jumps and freaks out, dont retreat because it teaches him that if he bolts he doesnt have to have the halter on. once you can put the loop over his neck with no problem you can try leading him around with the lead rope (no halter yet) if youd rather lead him with the halter its a good idea to desensitize him to the rope by rubbing it all over his body and by throwing it around his legs over his back and etc. do this when you have the loop on him so he cant take off while your doing it. to work on his fussiness when you put on and take off the halter, put the loop on like before (this is so he cant take off) bring the halter up to his face (close it so its big enough you can just slip it on and off) rub it on his face and retreat once he stands still and relaxes, move it a little closer to his face every time you approach and retreat once hes good and relaxes. eventually you want to be able to slip it on over his head and off at least 20 times, this gets him used to having stuff slip over his ears and touching his head, do this until hes no longer super fussy when you take it off, once hes good with having it on his head you can leave it on him for long periods of time so he gets used to it. once hes good with the halter you can start teaching him how to lead, what ive found works best is to clip the lead rope onto the halter then looping it around their butt and back up to their head, when you pull them forward, if they get completely stuck you can pull on the rope around their butt so it pushes them forward while you are up by their head, be sure to reward for a single step at first and let them rest (your going to be doing a lot of stopping and starting) good luck with the foal! sorry if i rambled but ive done quite a bit of halter breaking so its fun for me to talk about!
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post #4 of 9 Old 03-28-2012, 04:39 PM
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What we do with our foals is, while we're at home or doing barn work we leave the halter on.

But don't leave it on when your away from home; as it could get hung up.

As the foal gets older, leave it on for long periods of time. Getting the foal used to it; Leading it around, etc.
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post #5 of 9 Old 03-28-2012, 04:51 PM
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What i did with my last filly that seemed to work well is got the halter on her at a week and left it on her for several hours while she and mama were in the small pen.
I did this several times a week until she got used to wearing it. I also brought ropes along and touched her with them but nothing more. I got her to first associate the halter & ropes with nothing unpleasant, such as pressure or leading.
Then after a month, just went out (about an hour after putting the halter on), hooked a rope to her and led her around. This way she didn't immediately put the halter and the unpleasantness of learning to lead together.
It always helps with a nervous foal to have a small area. Another good way to get them good to catch, is just spend alot of time hanging out with them without haltering (or afterwards) find a good spot they liked scratched, bring treats, pretty much anything to get them interested and liking your presense.

As for natural horsemanship, i would maybe wait to do a real join up until he is weaned and away from mama. That way he will be more willing to look to you as a leader instead of his mother. It also helps if mama isn't in the way lol.

"If a horse fails to do something that is because he was not trained to do it. If a horse fails to do something properly that is because he was not trained properly."
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post #6 of 9 Old 03-28-2012, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by CLaPorte432 View Post
I would just keep the halter on him. Maybe take it off at night so he gets used to the on/off process but leave it on for more then 30 seconds.
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No - please do NOT do this as it is VERY dangerous. All it takes is for the halter to "catch" on something in the stall or pasture, or even heaven forbid he scratches his head with a hind hoof and gets hoof caught in halter, for foal to die. Years ago I saw pictures of foals that had gotten halters caught up on things like fencing and they ended up with broken necks.

Instead take foal and dam inside a stall. Give dam hay to keep her busy. Then take a halter into satll and kneel on stall floor. When foal approaches talk quietly to foal, scratch neck as foal gets closer then once foal is fine with your topuching it's neck, nose, shoulder, gently slide nose part of the halter on the foal's neck, all the while talking quietly.

Once that is easily done (do not make the session long but rather 15 minutes or less at least once a day, twice is better) then once you move the nose band of halter over the nose start sliding the crown piece behind foals ears. Suggest you do NOT try to slide over the ears (yet) as that is more threatening.

Now once you can easily halter foal this way then practice sliding halter over the ears.

As far as catching & leading - work on teaching foal that once they are caught they are to stand still then help them relax. Do this by wearing leather gloves and getting a thick cotton rope (NOT nylon - I use a thick cotton lead line about 10 feet long). Start in a larger stall so foal has room to move/walk but not a pasture (too much room). I wrap around foal's neck - and hold both ends in one hand, use other to scratch neck. Once foal is comfortable with than I stand on foals left side, look forward and walk forward - you may want to click at same time.

Foal can either stand still (Pull then release on lead rope), walk forward a step (one is enough more than that great - just do NOT push for too much at once, or leap forward. For the leap forward try to give foal enough room to go forward (you are asking for that) but not keep going (here's where the leather gloves are important to prevent rope burns.

Once foal "leads in the stall then you can try in the pasture. Another trick (in pasture) is having a rop around their butt and using them to encourage them to go forward - but that can be cumbersome, so better to just use the lead line of you can.
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post #7 of 9 Old 03-29-2012, 12:22 AM
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I just don't understand the fascination people have with bothering foals during the first month or so of their lives.

Better to leave foal alone to be with dam, and wait for all of this until foal is weaned. Pestering the foal is not good for it.

They do just fine with some time to be baby, and don't make one bit better horse with all of this.

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post #8 of 9 Old 03-29-2012, 07:49 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by CL30 View Post
What we do with our foals is, while we're at home or doing barn work we leave the halter on.

But don't leave it on when your away from home; as it could get hung up.

As the foal gets older, leave it on for long periods of time. Getting the foal used to it; Leading it around, etc.
That's what we're now doing. When we're out there we'll leave it on him, and when we leave we take it off. He's gotten better about, he accepts it pretty well. Thanks!
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post #9 of 9 Old 03-29-2012, 09:00 PM
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I imprint my foals from day one. I touch them all over. Handle feet ears muzzle tail etc etc. I get them accustom to odd things like clippers and such ( I do not clip them though ) I leave the foals halter on while out with momma and off in the stall. But make sure halter is well fotted and cant get foot threw. My babies are easy to handle by the time they are ready to be weaned. They know the basics grooming leading bathing loading picking up feet ( I have farrier handle them and tap feet to get them used to being handled for future trimming.) I even go as far as handling the foals tongue and having my hand in their mouths. I dont want to have to wait till they are bigger to achieve this. My babies are even used to being tied. ( I do not leave them alone when teaching this and never had a issue with it ).
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