Unhandled Month Old Colt... Ideas?

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Unhandled Month Old Colt... Ideas?

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  • Brushing the unhandled horse
  • 2 month old colt training (halter)

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    07-12-2012, 12:22 AM
Unhandled Month Old Colt... Ideas?

I just rescued a month old colt and his mother about two weeks ago. The mother is awesome! She lets us do practically anything to her. Baths, fly spray, you name it. The colt however, isn't entirely thrilled with human interaction. He's starting to venture farther and farther from her and I'm afraid if we don't get him halter broke soon, he'll go exploring and get hurt. Not to mention he has a pretty ugly superficial cut on his leg that we can't treat without being able to get near him. The vet wrangled him on the first day, cleaned and stitched it and gave him tetanus and a whole bunch of other shots.

If we move slowly and crouch low he will smell us. We are able to touch him sometimes. We've even had a curry comb and brush on him on good days. Other days he will flee at the sight of anyone walking into the stall. He gets scared even though we did nothing different, he will even run underneath his mother.

I don't want to force him in any way, but I know that I need to get him comfortable with human interaction and a halter as soon as possible. I'm looking for ideas on how to teach him that I'm not going to hurt him.
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    07-12-2012, 12:46 AM
Spend more time out there just "being." Let him explore you and put him in his place quickly if he starts getting frisky.

Win over his trust.. don't try to rush anything because that'll back fire.

There is a thread on here about someone teaching an unhandled stallion. It has some really good basic lessons in there that you'd benefit from reviewing if you haven't already :)

Halter Breaking a Virtually Untouched Clydesdale Stallion
    07-12-2012, 01:04 AM
Don't do the "creeping and moving slowly" thing any more. Think about a horse's instincts - in the wild, predators creep and move slowly and crouch. That is not going to help. As Sky said, moving normally and just "being" is the best way to go.

When you work specifically with him, tie Mum up. Don't give her anything interesting to eat - maybe some hay if she won't stand quietly, but ideally nothing at all. You only want to work with the foal for 10 minutes tops, so she should be ok to stand.

Find a treat that he really likes. At this stage, don't worry about if it is nutritionally sound, just that he loves it that much that he really will do anything for it. Start off by testing them in Mum's feed - what is he trying to steal first? Then start feeding it to Mum by hand, making a big deal about offering it to her, and really lavishing the treat on her. Soon, he will need it, and will start creeping to your hand for it. Let him nibble, then offer some more. He will soon learn that you can't touch him if he stretches out for it and stands far away, so once he starts doing it like that, bring your hand closer to your body. Don't try to touch him at this point, let him start to think that you are just a food dispenser. Eventually you should be able to have your hand by your side and he will reach for it. At this point, I would start using a bucket with the treat in it - putting his head in is a big deal because he won't be able to see what you are doing. Still don't try to touch him - let his trust develop.

Once he is coming to you, looking for a treat, putting his head into the bucket without worrying that you are going to touch him, you can start trying to touch him with the hand not offering food. DON'T try while he has his head in a bucket, he needs to see your hand otherwise he will freak. Just casually touch his shoulder - if you position your food hand correctly you should be able to get him to stand across the front of you. Just give him a little scratch, then give him more food. Don't push it - if he moves away, don't chase him - but don't give him more food after he moves back. At this point, you should only let him have the treat if he will stand for scratches.

Continuing in this fashion has worked for me in the past.

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