need tips on halter training a rescue

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need tips on halter training a rescue

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  • 3 Post By LadyDreamer

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    10-02-2012, 08:06 AM
need tips on halter training a rescue

So the short version is... last week our farm took in 3 rescues from a case of severe neglect. They are very malnourished, skinny and to top it off two of them are possibly pregnant. One of the rescues is a 3 to 4 month old filly and her Momma who I estimate at about 3yrs old. They have settled in and are doing really well... easily handled, getting used to humans (feral horses basically). We have no issues handling the two 3yr old Fillies, they greet us at the fence now and love being touched, groomed and handled...BUT... that little 4 month old filly needs to be halter broke and yesterday as far as I'm concerned and has yet to let me lay hands on her!

She is very very small for her age due to malnutrition and considering the conditions she was living in and the traumatic events last week she's beyond freaked out by things. Now, I have everyone giving me advice on how to get this girl separated from her momma and halter broke, very knowledgeable people, but I like to ask and research every possible source on how to do this before I tackle it.

Over the course of the week that she's been here.. she's stayed at her momma's side while I've desensitized Momma to a lot of things... but since I'm new to this Foal thing... advice and tips on how to do this without making the poor girl think I'm going to kill her would be great :)
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    10-02-2012, 12:05 PM
Take something comfy to sit on and a book and just spend time reading in the pen with the mare and foal. Perhaps place hay close to your feet. As the mare eats, the foal will eventually check you out on it's terms, not yours. Don't attempt to touch it or even acknowledge it. When it does, try to look away at first but as it gains confidence then do so. This may take a week. The mare will welcome your presence when you bring hay and the foal will sense this. It may seem like a slow method to you but people are often in too much of a hurry. When this foal trusts you everything else will be much easier. Since it's a pony foal, you are pretty big and have the eyes of a predator (in front). It thinks you want to eat it.
    10-02-2012, 12:22 PM
Let her settle in first before you wean her. A LOT of people don't touch their babies until they are weaned, so you really don't have a problem. It isn't even a case of her past that is causing this. She is just an unhandled baby. No big deal. Separating now isn't going to help her become less afraid. Her momma is her safe place. She isn't being bad at all. She just doesn't know. It is also extremely common to wean at 6months, so unless she is pulling down the mare's health to the point where what you are doing isn't helping, I'd leave her where she is safe.

I would ignore her for about a week and work with momma. Get to know her, get to know how defensive she is, how protective of her baby she is, how inclined she is to kick, and all that, and really, just ignore the baby. Don't try to touch her or look at her(other than the once over daily wellness check), or anything. Just go in, and do what you want to the mare. Just go in and groom the mare, fuss over her, do what you do as if the baby wasn't there. Now don't go in shaking a tarp and jumping up and down with a bag whip to desensitize her right now, just do simple things. Do this for about a week, of total interaction.

Getting to know momma is great because she can easily become a fence in the stall. If you absolutely have to have a halter on the baby now, you can use the mare to trap the baby long enough to get a halter and lead rope on her. It is best if know the mare isn't going to eat you for messing with her baby.

Other than that, right now I would suggest doing a search on here for "halter training foal" and see what you can find.
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    10-02-2012, 12:42 PM
Saddlebag, been doing exactly that for a week, made my day when she actually got brave enough to give me a sniff the other day. Where we are as of this weekend is while both Momma and foal have their heads in the feed dish, I kneel down with them and give momma plenty of hands on around the head and neck, she loves it... when the foal is comfortable enough I can move my hand over and give her a few good rubs on the neck before she remembers that I'm a monstrously huge horse eating machine (all 90lbs of me, crouched down as small as possible) ...obviously this is only possible when food is involved... before they are finished eating I walk away and clean up what ever messes they have left for me over night. Momma is quite comfortable with me, whinnies for me at the gate when I arrive because she knows food is coming, can put hands all over her with no issues, has learned to lead well, the foal usually hides behind her though until the grain hits the feed dish, then she can work up enough bravery to allow a few rubs.
    10-02-2012, 01:15 PM
Yeah just keep messing with momma you will find that the foal with get more used to your presence and get curious and come to you. Just ignore the foal let it stiff you and stand by you. Eventually you be able to touch him a little and your relationship will start to develop and you will be able to touch him more and more then I'd worry about halter breaking. Good luck with your new horses I'm so glad you were able to save them from a bad situation.
    10-02-2012, 01:34 PM
How do you desensitize? Before you can even think of touching the horse with the scary object, the horse has to get used to being near the object. Having it move around them. YOU are the scary object, and just by you being there are desensitizing the baby.

Oh heck if you can touch her, even with a couple strokes on the neck you are doing FINE! Try to stop Before SHE moves away next time. If she moves away after three pets, stop after two.

If you have her interest, stick your hand out. If she goes to touch it, let her touch you and then take it away. Babies are very keen on the keep away game.
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    10-02-2012, 03:54 PM
LadyDreamer, I desensitize by doing exactly what you are saying. For example, I want Momma to understand that lead rope will not strangle the life out of her if it's moving around her body, tossed over her back, or brushed up against her sides so this morning we spent with a few minutes learning that a lead rope is not a 50 foot anaconda if it's tossed around her. We'll do a few more minutes tomorrow and so on... I know how to manage the older horses (although 3 is barely "older") but handling a foal in the correct way from the start is what I'm trying to get the basics of so I don't mess this up. She's already had a rough start in life... trying to find the least traumatic way to get her training started... but get it started nonetheless.
    10-02-2012, 04:08 PM
And it sounds like you are doing fine. I did give you tips too on how to build trust. If you feel like you need to get her over it, you could trap her between the mare and the wall, get a halter and a short catch rope on her so you can catch her and then just work through it, with touching and leading and handling. I have done this to some, and it does work. Or you can continue to go slow, work on getting her to accept you slowly, which may take a week or a month of just going slow and being inviting.

Keep in mind that her attention span will only be as big as she is, so you don't

The best advice is to quit and/ or retreat before she does.
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    10-02-2012, 11:56 PM
Milo, don't think about their past life or you will become a victim of it. It will haze your thinking. If the foal accepts you only when eating then it's sensing you have an agenda when it is done. If the mare is safe enough just go sit in a corner. You do need to read tho. Horses sense when your mind is on them. If you went into a pasture to fix fence you'd have an entire herd for an audience yet go in there with the intention of catching one and they'd be gone in a flash.

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