Trying to pony my foal, not going so well... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 08-30-2010, 11:10 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Arizona
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Trying to pony my foal, not going so well...

Hi all,

I have a colt that will be seven weeks old in a couple of days. I have been handling him from birth and he is fairly good at the following: leading in hand, picking up feet, being touched all-over, fly spray, and he even ties (supervised of course).

But the problem is, I don't have a huge area for him to run and play in, and I really want to pony him off of his Mom out into a national forest area about 3/4 mile away. He ponies when he wants to, sometimes he does okay, but more and more he just stalls and refuses to move forward. Even if I use a butt-rope, he will just randomly stop and refuse to move. If I wrap the rope around my saddle horn, I can sometimes get him to come forward, but he basically just sits back and refuses to move and I don't want to hurt his neck by forcing him too much.

Am I just pushing things too quick, or is it reasonable to expect a 7 week old foal to pony from his Mom?

I would love to just let him run loose following his mom, but he doesn't stay very close and I am afraid he will run out in front of a car, as he almost did the other day. (Neighborhood dirt roads with minimal traffic, but still, he is hazard to himself and others). So running loose is not working, but neither is ponying.

If I don't get over the ponying issue, I guess I won't be able to take him anywhere. And it's not fair to him to keep him in a corral until he's saddle broke. I really want him to get "out there" for his physical health but also because it will make him a desensitized, well-rounded horse.

Any suggestions? I guess I could try walking both mom and baby to the forest, but I think that would be a handful.
trailhorserider is offline  
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post #2 of 13 Old 08-30-2010, 11:14 PM
Join Date: Mar 2010
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Can you get a friend to help? Someone ride the mare, the other lead the colt until you reach the forest?
Or trailer them if you have access to one.
Skipsfirstspike is offline  
post #3 of 13 Old 08-30-2010, 11:33 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply. I don't have a trailer, unfortunately.

The forest is so close, I usually just ride there. But this is my first foal, and my first time training a foal. And we just can't seem to make it as far as the forest. I even have one neighbor who always sees me struggling and tries to stop and help.

How much should I be expecting out of a 7 week old foal? I know he doesn't have the longest attention span and gets tired easily. But each week that goes by, he seems to nap less and have a longer attention span.

If I'm expecting too much out of him, then maybe I just need to forgo the ponying for a while. But if it's not too much to expect of him, then I am letting him get away with being balky, and I don't want him to think he can do that.

If I am leading him on the ground and he balks, tapping him with a dressage whip gets him moving again. But when I pony, I just can't juggle the mare's reins, the foal's rope, and a dressage whip. I feel like we are an accident waiting to happen, and I haven't even tried riding with the whip.

I wish I could get him to lead right next to the mare, and stay there. Not balk or switch sides back and forth or drag behind. I just can't keep him moving forward and on one side of the mare.
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post #4 of 13 Old 08-30-2010, 11:51 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
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A foal's general natural tendency is to follow mom. I actually halter broke my Arab mare in a couple days by simply dallying her to the horn and riding around. She fought it for the first couple days and has been a champ on the ground ever since.

Many would probably disagree with this method, I was younger and my grandpa told me to do it. If he's already leading well on the ground, I would be inclined to just dallying it and letting him fight a few strides. If it's obvious he's still on the fight after several minutes, I could see the concern about his neck, but they tend to give up pretty fast.

I was ponying my filly everywhere at a couple months, I don't think it's to much to ask. Once they figure it out they're usually good as gold.

I hope God tells her to smash her computer with a sledgehammer.

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post #5 of 13 Old 08-31-2010, 12:27 AM
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I am kinda of the same mind as MM. When Rafe was a baby, once he was halter broke on the ground, we would tie him to the side of Mom when we took the team for a drive. Of course, he was about 3 months old before we really expected him to go any distance at all. He fought it at first because he had been allowed to just run loose up until then but soon, he figured out that right beside mom was where he was supposed to be and learned to stay there. For a while, he would occasionally pull back when he either got tired or wanted to go a different direction but once he figured out that there was no escaping the halter, he hasn't offered to pull on anything since. That is how my grandad taught all his foals to lead and my Dad did the same thing on foals who moms were part of a driving team. With one so young, you really have to watch for them to start getting tired or if they need to use the bathroom or feed. If your mare is trained enough, you can just dally up when he starts to balk and have her stand with just enough tension on the lead to make him uncomfortable until he moves forward. That might have better results (and would minimize the risk of injury more) than just dragging him along.
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post #6 of 13 Old 08-31-2010, 01:36 AM
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When I taught Gracie to pony off my mare, I just wrapped the rope around my saddle horn and when she tried to stop or slow down, I started Ricci trotting. It was enough of a tug for her to rethink the "fight me" method.
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post #7 of 13 Old 08-31-2010, 10:30 AM
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I agree with everyone else. Here at my work an owner had a unexpected foal born and they still wanted to trail ride which all trails connect to the property so even at a young age of just a month that foal has been ponied along. Even after some time was able to pony the foal off of another gelding. If the foal refused to move they would just keep trucking along. Not stop because essentially that is what the foal wanted and she was forced to keep moving. After a little while she did wonderfully and never fussed a bit.
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post #8 of 13 Old 08-31-2010, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by smrobs View Post
he was about 3 months old before we really expected him to go any distance at all.

Please - your foal is seven weeks old. Let him be a baby!
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post #9 of 13 Old 08-31-2010, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by mls View Post

Please - your foal is seven weeks old. Let him be a baby!
I second this.
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post #10 of 13 Old 08-31-2010, 12:46 PM
Green Broke
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I would be afraid you could end up hurting him being so young. I know you would love to take him and mom to the woods now but I really think you should wait a bit longer. Babies get tired and need alot of rest. They mostly eat and sleep for a while. This is just my opinion but I would not dally your rope to the horn. I have heard way too many wrecks happen. You do what you want. If for some reason there was a problem and you had to release the baby fast, you have all that untying to do. Me, I have a yearling and I just started ponying her. I waited til her neck and head were strong enough for the pressure of pulling. I hold onto the rope and do a give and take pressure. If she balks I turn my mare to off set the baby's balance and make her feet move. But I would not pull until she moved her feet. You need to make training fun and positive for the newbies. Until the baby is older, make sure the leading is down pat. You can probably still ride the mare and pony with the baby on your property but for a very short time. Try and have fun with it and just becareful not to go too fast. Lay a good foundation now. :)
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