Update on my foals training
I wrote about 8-10 weeks ago about the troubles I was having with working with my foal. I did a lot of searching and modified by training approach a little (found a little change can make a huge difference) and wanted to report how my colt is doing.
We had to start his weaning today because the mare is ill. It is a little earlier than I had originally planned but he is a big healthy palomino colt. I realize now if we had not started his training today would have been a pretty difficult day. He is baying for her but he is also seeking us for comfort and our handling him definitely seems to make him more relaxed. He was interested in eating "mom's" food pretty early so we started him on some feed about 6 weeks ago...so hopefully he will be able to get what he needs without the mare.
Anyway, I downloaded a book "your foal; essential training" and I have to admit I didn't follow it exactly (I have no round ring, and there was simply no separating mare and foal at the time) but I modified the chapter 1 to walking around the mare (she was tied to pole). I was amazed how once I could "herd" him and make him change directions...which he quickly decided was a little tiring...then I could approach him. Within a week we were able to halter him.
Also, a friend showed me how to make a break away foal halter, which I had him wear for several hours one day (while I kept an eye on him) then he accepted it pretty well. The halter had velcro in the places where normally there would be buckles. That way the danger of him hurting him or getting hung up somehow. I used it two days and then didn't need it any more, he then accepted his normal halter and allow us to put it on and take it off with a struggle.
He struggled with learning to be led. The rope was a scary thing to him and it took a week or more (daily lessons) before he was not afraid of it. We can now catch, halter and led him anytime with no problems. He understands what whoa means. Leading has gone well as long as we are in "his" pen. We are starting to venture out and he gets a little scared. He did get really frightened once and took off when my husband was walking him. He came running up to me and stopped then acted like he was going to run off. However, with a few "whoa"s to him, he stood still and I got his rope and he was fine (other than breathing really hard).
I appreciate all the feedback I got when I wrote previously about my concerns on his training. I didn't really approach his training in any one way recommended by anyone but mixed it up until I found what worked for him. BUT the one true fact is that you MUST get them to trust you. With my foal, desensitizing seemed to be the trick...then treating with rubbing and brushing (he loves to be brushed) and daily training sessions.