Raising an Orphan - sorry kind of long - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 07-05-2012, 02:10 PM Thread Starter
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Question Raising an Orphan - sorry kind of long

Hello all! I am a new member here and am hoping you fine folks can help me out. I have been around horses my whole life but have never been the one to train them. Most of the time, I have been bought an at least fairly broken horse and I ride it and we learn together. My husband is more cowpuncher than trail rider and expects me to help him work horses.

The other day another cowpuncher got a load of horses headed for the kill. One was a mare and her foal. The baby is a sweet red and white horse colt and I couldn't let them take him. So I bought him for $40 and saved him from suffering the same fate as his mother.

Hes about a month old, they said. I bottle fed the first day but he didn't seem to like the calf bottle I had purchased. I read and read and read and learned that bucket feeding was the best option so we switched over to that and he took to it swimmingly.

The only problem right now is that when I go to feed him, he turns his rump to me. I know this is a bad behavior for big horses, but I don't know whether or not to try to correct it in this baby. For now, if he does that and refuses to eat, I leave and come back later and usually if he is hungry, he will come to the bucket and eat. He eats 2 1/2 to 3 pints every 6 hours or so and if I leave some Mare and Foal feed soaked in milk, he will munch it up before I come back. He is also nibbling here and there on some Timothy Hay I have in his bin.

My husband says he's already spoiled, but that I need to be petting and loving on him every time I go out there. His friends say that I am raising a worthless horse. But I am determined to make this little guy a great horse with great manners. He has already kicked me once, and I don't want that to happen again.

So, what should I be doing to correct the turning his butt to me? Should I begin halter training at this point? What should I be doing now to begin training him to be a well mannered horse?

I don't have a mare I can put him in with and our other three geldings have tried to hurt him already. I would appreciate any advice.

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post #2 of 25 Old 07-05-2012, 02:17 PM
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Yes you should teach him now right from wrong.

How incredibly sad that....never mind.
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post #3 of 25 Old 07-05-2012, 02:21 PM
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Don't allow a tiny horse to get away with anything you don't want a fully grown horse doing. The habits he develops as a baby may be hard if not nearly impossible to break as an adult. He's not too young to learn how a horse ought to behave. Just remember- never nag him. Make your point, make it strong and clearly, and then go about your business.
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post #4 of 25 Old 07-05-2012, 02:26 PM Thread Starter
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What's the best way to correct this behavior?
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post #5 of 25 Old 07-05-2012, 02:30 PM
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I do not raise baby horses, so listen to the experts when they chime in. I would probably carry a short crop and smack him good once on the rump when he presents it to me. Make sure you're in a position where you won't get kicked if he resents your correction. IF he does try to kick, he needs to be corrected for that too. He may have a tantrum because you're changing the 'rules' on him. He'll get over it... you may not get over a kick that lands in the wrong spot though.
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post #6 of 25 Old 07-05-2012, 04:09 PM
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I agree that he needs to be corrected. Remember that his mom would do the same thing and would be much stronger about it than you will be. She can shove or nip him, or even kick out at him if need be.
You might want to develop a 'glare' to use at him. He needs to learn about 'pinned' ears. I usually turn one eye and raise my chin to 'glare'. They learn pretty quickly. :) That is a warning to him, much like a horse's pinned ears are.
When you need to 'pop' him, try to aim for the neck/shoulder/hindquarter. Don't be afraid of hurting him. Your crop won't do much damage. Just make sure you can't get kicked. If he kicks out at you, you really do have to smack him again.
Personally I'd make sure he gets to be around other horses as often as possible. If he isn't, he's going to be socially awkward (I've got one of those, and my friend's horse might as well have been raised by llamas, he's so out of the loop), and will have trouble making friends. He'll also be rather unpredictable compared to 'normal' horses.
Halterbreaking should be fine. Just don't get hauling on his face. His bones are still growing.
I'd work on getting him used to other things too, like picking up feet, etc.
Also he really ought to be turned out as much as possible. His hooves are still shaping and growing and they might turn out weird if he's only in his stall standing still all day. Same with his legs.
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post #7 of 25 Old 07-05-2012, 04:21 PM
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There are a couple good books you can buy for training a young horse. I don't know if they elaborate on the orphaned foal, but they will show and teach you how to halter train on and how to train one to lead (halter on, lead rope attached to halter and swung behind the butt).

I would pop him when he is bad. A momma horse will do that to a baby when its bad. Make sure you pop him immediately after he kicks, strikes, bites, or does any negative behavior. If it takes longer than about 3-4 seconds to deliver a pop, your window of correction is up. I would pop him on the rump. Its like swatting a toddler on the bum for bad behavior. Lots of fat there, it doesn't really hurt, but it corrects behavior pretty well.

A baby horse will test you. Its just like a toddler testing authority. You have to catch it when it happens and correct it quickly for there to be any positive effect to the discipline.

Disclaimer: I'm not recommending beating him, abusing him or mentally or physically harming/scarring him in any aspect
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post #8 of 25 Old 07-05-2012, 04:25 PM
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Pet on hm very little. He needs to think he is a horse and not think that you are his mother. I know it is hard not to baby them, but they suffer in the long run if you do. Correctly him quickly on turning his butt. Spank him hard. I prefer a piece of twisted up baling wire. I can fold it over and keep it in my back pocket and then I have it any time I need it.

I would buy another young foal for him to grow up with or find a old 'baby-sitter- mare'. Anything will do. You can sometimes 'borrow' another horse from a friend and just feed it for a while so your foal has a horse companion. He just needs to be 'socialized' by other horses in order to grow up normally. Other horses teach them the basics of 'pressure and release', not people. It is absolutely vital that they start out on the bottom of someone's 'pecking order'. As a yearling, you can usually get rid of the baby-sitter or other foal and turn him out with any older horses.

If they do not get socialized and learn how to be a horse when they are young, they do not train very well and often times get so spoiled that they end up at a sale. They will get obnoxious and mean as they get older and it is then, too late, to fix it. I am sure that is why you are getting the dire predictions. They are right. They must be socialized and not become a 'pet'.

All of this advice comes from experience. I have raised more than 20 orphans and they have been very 'trainable' when they were mature enough to train. On the other hand, seeing as I trained professionally for the public for several decades, I can attest to how terrible most orphans are when someone tries to train them.

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Last edited by Cherie; 07-05-2012 at 04:29 PM.
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post #9 of 25 Old 07-05-2012, 07:55 PM
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Quit the petting and spoiling. You are making major problems for this foal if you don't.

And when he turns butt to you, pop him and make him move out of your space. If you don't, he will continue this until he decides to double barrel you.

I've raised orphans too, and you have to treat them, within reason, as you would an adult horse in terms of what you will put up with.
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post #10 of 25 Old 07-05-2012, 08:07 PM
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I just have to say, please listen to these people.
Right now I'm working with an orphan (now a 10yo mare) who was "messed up" by the people who previously had her. They coddled her, didn't let her around other horses, and let her get away with murder because it was "cute".
Well, lemme tell you, "cute" isn't so cute anymore when the "baby" weighs 800lbs.

It sounds like you're gonna do the right thing by him which I'm super glad about. Definitely find/borrow/whatever an older mare or even a really laid back gelding. At this point, I'd say that anything that won't seriously injure him is better than nothing.

You say you have three other geldings, did you introduce him to them all at once or one at a time? If you did a 3:1 intro, you might have better luck choosing the most laid back gelding and introducing him, alone, to the baby. If they work out, the baby'll have a "protector" for when/if you introduce him to the rest of the herd, if that makes sense.

Thank you for trying to give this baby a better life, in any case. :)
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