Imprinting/training early vs letting a foal be until he is 2y/o - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 43 Old 05-04-2012, 09:52 PM Thread Starter
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Imprinting/training early vs letting a foal be until he is 2y/o

**Sorry up front as this is going to be some what of a rant. **
My mare is expecting in a few weeks or so. I have been so excited and having been reading as much information I can find and watching DVDs on foal training. So tonight I got an hour and a half lecture that imprinting/training should not be done. The BO where I board sits there and tells me that the baby should be put out to pasture until he is 2 or 3 years old before I do anything with it. He doesn't believe in imprinting or training foals. I have been super excited and wanting to make sure that baby starts getting trained. I also want to avoid the spoiled horse. I don't want to have a little monster on my hands.

He went on to say how I am going to get myself hurt because my mare is going to be super aggressive and is going to let us near the baby. I am fully aware that momma could be very protective and I am pretty good at reading her body language. I don't have a problem disciplining her for aggressive behavior. She respects me right now and doesn't try to be dominate over me at all.

Any way long story short. What do you guys think? Should I start working with the foal from the beginning or just putting him out to pasture for 2 years?

I should also let you know I do have my riding instructor who is very experienced that is willing to help me. She did give me the foals might be cute and cuddly but they are a lot of work. Again Sorry for the rant. I do truly want your guys opinions.
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post #2 of 43 Old 05-04-2012, 10:01 PM
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I believe that many foals are over-handled to the point that they are too comfortable around people. I've been guilty of that one myself....however, if you can train a foal properly, then I see no reason to not get started on the training right when they're born. The inevitable fights are much easier to handle when they are a month old and weigh 100 pounds as opposed to being 2 years old and weighing 800.

That being said, if you have any question about being able to maintain respect....if you start to believe you are having a respect issue, I would just stop and turn him out or get a good trainer to help you. Most average horse owners are unable to maintain the balance between respect and comfort with their foals because they don't want to punish a "baby" for bad behavior.

The horses I get in for training, I often much prefer an unhandled 2 year old to one that's been "imprinted" or handled since birth because so many of those have no idea what true respect is. IMHO, it is much easier to gain the trust of a cautious horse than it is to gain the respect of a spoiled one.

I would want him to lead well and stand for the farrier and vet. Beyond teaching that, I would leave him turned out with a herd that has a good solid (and strict) alpha to teach him how to be a horse and how to respect his betters.

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog: http://robertsontraining.blogspot.com/
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post #3 of 43 Old 05-04-2012, 10:06 PM
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Some mares are protective. Some aren't. Maybe your BO sees something in your mare that suggests she will be protective. I don't know.

Personally, having worked with horses raised both ways, I prefer to start ones that were not "imprinted." Touched a bit is okay. Halter trained as weanlings seemed fine. The 'imprinted' ones I've been around seemed to be spoiled. I know that is not the intended result of official imprint training, but people seem to go beyond it and miss the point.

Given a choice, I'd take one that was run in at 2 or 3 not having much human contact beyond seeing us feed hay in the winter than what I've seen from spoiled, babied horses whose owners attempted training under the guise of imprinting.

All that being said, I don't know how you could resist some handling of your mare's first (at least for you) foal.
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post #4 of 43 Old 05-04-2012, 10:10 PM
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I handle mine at birth, do the belly button, touch them all over, pet them, love on them, then I leave them alone to bond with mom. I'll pet them and play with them, when they come up to me, but I won't try and catch them and do things with them, I let them come to me, some are friendlier than others are. I don't do any real training other than halter breaking and feet picking up, until they are about year and a half.
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post #5 of 43 Old 05-04-2012, 10:11 PM Thread Starter
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smrobs- that is fair enough. The last thing I want is a spoiled horse. I want to work with the foal to lead, trailer, stand for the vet and farrier. And most of all I do want to make sure that he respect my space. I appreciate your opinion.
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post #6 of 43 Old 05-04-2012, 10:16 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boots View Post
Some mares are protective. Some aren't. Maybe your BO sees something in your mare that suggests she will be protective. I don't know.

Personally, having worked with horses raised both ways, I prefer to start ones that were not "imprinted." Touched a bit is okay. Halter trained as weanlings seemed fine. The 'imprinted' ones I've been around seemed to be spoiled. I know that is not the intended result of official imprint training, but people seem to go beyond it and miss the point.

Given a choice, I'd take one that was run in at 2 or 3 not having much human contact beyond seeing us feed hay in the winter than what I've seen from spoiled, babied horses whose owners attempted training under the guise of imprinting.

All that being said, I don't know how you could resist some handling of your mare's first (at least for you) foal.
I think what he has seen is that when she was in with my gelding she was super submissive but now we have put her in a different pen and he put a mule in with her. She doesn't like the mule at all and chases him around a lot. I haven't found a mule yet that she likes. That being said I am prepared if she does get protective.

I definitely don't want a spoiled horse. Thanks for the opinion.
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post #7 of 43 Old 05-04-2012, 10:21 PM
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I've heard the term "imprinted", but I guess I'm not sure exactly what it is or covers in the way of handling?

When Walka was born, he was touched all over, and his mother , T was very good about his being touched by the owner at the time. Later, when he was probably 4 or 5 months, he was taught to lead and I actually took him for walks. We picked up his hooves and tapped, he was brushed and introduced to different obstacles. This wasn't done everyday, and he pretty much was out in the pasture with his mother and the other horses mostly.

When he turned 2, we got more serious and regular with his training, but he certainly wasn't afraid of us. He seemed able to concentrate on what we asked or showed him without being nervous. He's 14 now, and still looks to me to see if he needs to be concerned. If I'm cool, he is too. Actually, he is pretty chill about most things.

Would he have been considered "imprinted"?

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post #8 of 43 Old 05-04-2012, 10:21 PM Thread Starter
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Sound like its good to handle them some but don't over do it. I know I keep repeating myself but I really, really don't want a spoiled horse that has no respect for humans.
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post #9 of 43 Old 05-04-2012, 10:32 PM
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I have never had a foal from birth, but I did adopt a 4 month old rescue who had not been handled at all. That was a long road, as his mother was also unhandled. Leading, tying, hoofs, clipping... everything was a challenge for the first little bit.

When we bought his companion, a 7 month old who came from a great breeding program, it was a difference like night and day. Since he had been handled from birth he didn't blink at some of the very same things that our rescue found terrifying.

Given that these two are miniature horses, I would be very wary of not handling a full sized horse until they were 2-3 years old. There is still loads of stuff you can do with them, like leading, tying, bathing, clipping, and hoofs. Hoofs are a big one, as they will still need trims even if the horse is just turned out to pasture.
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post #10 of 43 Old 05-04-2012, 11:00 PM
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If you're really worried about the possibility of ending up with a spoiled horse, then minimal handling will probably be your best bet.

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog: http://robertsontraining.blogspot.com/
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