Halter Training foal - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 12-04-2008, 09:25 AM Thread Starter
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Halter Training foal

I will soon be halter breaking my colt. (Soo exciting =D) He is 3 months old now.

I will have an experienced trainer helping me but I thought I'd ask how people here prefer to do it.

I'd also like to know any training with halter or on ground I could do after he is basically halter broken. I want him to be really responsive to the halter and easy to handle on the ground so I thought it wold be good to start now with manners etc.

Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and, once it has done so, he will have to accept that his life will be radically changed.
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post #2 of 14 Old 12-04-2008, 02:14 PM
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This should be done in an arena or round pen or other smallish and confined area, unless you are well aquainted with your colt I wouldn't recommend this in a pasture. I like to get the foal familiar with the halter in a friendly way at first, rub it on him/her starting with thier withers, and rub away from the face at first, rubbing belly and hips and butt and legs kind of thing, then back to the withers. Then I start rubbing it on his front legs, neck, and slowly close to his ears. Let him sniff, and if he isn't too pushy over treats now would be a good time to give him one, scratch and love and spend a moment bonding, and leave. Do this again (but don't keep giving the treat) and start passing over the top of his head and move around his eyes and nose with it, rubbing his face (not hard or rough of course) with it, balled up. As he gets used to this, start to unball it and let him get used to it full size. Then, put it out where he must put his nose in it to get a treat. You can just hold the treat in your hand and your other had has the round part of the halter open so his nose will fit right in. Then, when he grabs the treat, you slide his nose into it. Then I slide it back off again (before having buckled it) and that is it for the day. Next time (or day) we get to that point, I slide it off, and while they are precoccupied munchin on the treat (give the treat again when they reach thru the halter to reach it) go ahead and slide beside them and buckle it. Then, leave them alone in it for awhile (at least 30 minutes) supervising but not doing anything (just watchin so they don't catch it on nuttin) and then when they are completely forgotten about it you walk up and (approaching them quietly and softly of course, you mite even preoccupy tem with another treat) you take it off. Do this until putting it on, buckling it are no big deal. Then, I would leave it on, and take the lead rope and just clip it to the halter. Give him plenty of the lead, try to avoid putting any pressure at al on the rope at this point. Stay with him, don't pull, he won't go far anyway, just prolly swerve and try and outrun the snake that suddenly sprouted outta his jaw. Once he is settled with it, pet him and stroke him and remove the whole shebang. You wanna do this until he doesn't give any reisitance to either wearing the halter or seeing the lead rope coming from it.

To teach them to lead is another matter, but this will familiarize him with halter and eventually, lead. Be patient, don't set a goal, just have fun and let him get used to it in a friendly, playful type way. Treats are ok, but makes some horses pushy, if this is the case don't use food, just stand and scratch and become friends.

Know thyself, know thy horse.
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post #3 of 14 Old 12-04-2008, 02:30 PM
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i agree with darkchylde by getting the foal used to the halter first and then ease on in a small area. i start my foals i little earlier like 1 month old bc i dont want to fight with them once they get a little more muscle tone. they are not going to like you pulling on the halter and it may take hours to get the foal to understand to move when you pull. each time after the first will get easier and easier.

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but the strengh to trust lies between the horse and his rider!!!
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post #4 of 14 Old 12-04-2008, 08:23 PM
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If you do 'pull' on the foal, it is good to put a small but constant and consistant amount of pressure, and don't let up until the step forward (not sideways or back, but forward movement only) then INSTANTLY release the pressure.

Me, I don't pull on the babies (or bigger ones either) to get them to go, I swing my extra lead rope around thier flanks behind me (kinda hard to explain, I can post a visual if need be)and 'talk to their butt' to get forward movement.

See, horses have what is called an 'opposition reflex', it is the ingrained instinct to move into pressure, to push against something pushing you. THis is because when a predator attacks them they don't want to jerk or snatch away, increases the damage (and having been a vet tech for 6 years, it is true that if you snatch your hand back when a dog bites, you not only have the intial puncture wounds but since the teeth are still in the flesh gets torn and ripped that way.) In order to minimize the damage from a predator, they move INTO the pressure, trying to squish the predator to get them to release. So, when you put the pressure on the backside of the halter, the opposition reflex kicks in and they press against the pressure, tossing thier head back.

I don't pull them to get them to go, the grandfather of roundpenning (and no, it isn't Tom Dorrance as most claim, but Ray Clements, who I have had the utmost honor of attending one of his clinics) said something that always stuck with me. "You can't get a horse to go by talking to his head, he will only stop when you focus on the front. If you want a horse to go, talk to his butt." But that is my method, never have the pulling contests then.

Oh, and to get them to stop, put your hand in front of thier chest. Most horses will stop dead on if they think they have sun into something.

But this goes into lead training, and if you do what I have said you must have the colt between you and a fence, to avoid tempting him to spin around on you.

Know thyself, know thy horse.
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post #5 of 14 Old 12-04-2008, 09:00 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys! That bascially sounds like what the trainer I will be working with explained to me. ;)

Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and, once it has done so, he will have to accept that his life will be radically changed.
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post #6 of 14 Old 12-05-2008, 04:37 AM
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Sounds like you got a smart trainer!

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post #7 of 14 Old 12-05-2008, 05:51 AM
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Let us know howthe halter breaking goes!

Along with halter breaking, another important area to concentrate on are the feet. Work with the hooves regularly! When I halter break, and depending on how the foal carries along with it, I get into hoof work right away. Its imprinting thats very important and many overlook when first training. Your farrier will tell you all about how important it is that your foal gives you their feet as they get older! LOL!

Dixon's Red Hot Ember
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post #8 of 14 Old 12-05-2008, 08:54 AM Thread Starter
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I've kinda already started on the feet. I can sometimes walk up to him in the paddock and pick his feet up. Not for long cause he starts to nip my back and that can hurt! and I don't want him getting in the habit of biting.

Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and, once it has done so, he will have to accept that his life will be radically changed.
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post #9 of 14 Old 12-05-2008, 09:57 AM
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If he is nipping you, I would abandon working with the feet until he knows not to bite, first. I don't even let a baby into my 'bubble', my personal space if he bites at all, and if he tries to bring his nose to me he meets an elbow or a stiff brush bristles up or something unpleasant. IF he bites he gets an INSTANT reprimand, (it HAS to be within 3 second of offense or it won't register upstairs) and then act as tho nothing happened. Reprimand being a smack and a short, loud yell. But instantly after the reprimand it goes back to normal.

Once we have established that biting is not good, and he is repsectful, then I would work with the feet.

Know thyself, know thy horse.
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post #10 of 14 Old 12-06-2008, 12:35 AM
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All I had to do with my guy is once I build a bond with him, was to attach a lead rope and he followed me around. Quickly became routine and he figured out he had to follow pressure on his halter.

There are a couple ways of doing it. You'll figure out what works best for you.
how to halter break a foal - Google Search
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