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Working with a foal

This is a discussion on Working with a foal within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

     
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        12-11-2008, 11:40 AM
      #21
    Foal
    Alright, fist off, no one is saying to not handle them for three years. Whoever had that idea took what was said completely out of context. The point that I am trying to make is, that before they hit the one year mark, what you do with them, and how much you do it should be limited. Babies need that time to grow and experience things on their own. They need to be babies without having to think of worry about things like tricks and trail rides. I never said that I don't believe in any work with a foal, and lets get this straight right now, I don't just leave my foals sit either. You are the one that pointed that one out. I have a three year old who has come along beautifully, however she by no means knows everything she needs to know. She is still learning and growing everyday, I would like to think that part of this is because she was not overloaded as a foal. Yes, you are correct, to each their own, a very... very true statement.
         
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        12-11-2008, 11:44 AM
      #22
    Weanling
    Nobody is saying that taking your baby out to handle them for manners is a bad thing. Myself, and I believe Newheart as well, are just trying to say that there is a point where it can become too much. Trick training and ponying down the trail with babies under two seems to be too much. Every baby I've ever had has had manners and while I do handle them I don't like to fuss with them and I don't teach them much beyond manners.

    Mayfieldk- Maybe I think that babies shouldn't be shown that early and shouldn't have to behave like veteran show horses horses. Not to mention nobody ever said anything about leaving a baby to sit for three years and then expecting it to be tolerant of a long training session, that would be ridiculous and unkind. I'm just disagreeing with taking a baby and not allowing it to be a baby, which happens quite frequently in the show world. I can't help but think you just furthered my argument with your first example of the stall baby.
         
        12-11-2008, 12:47 PM
      #23
    Trained
    I think we are all more or less agreeing on the same thing here.

    *Babies should be babies
    *But babies should be respectful handled babies.
         
        12-11-2008, 01:24 PM
      #24
    Foal
    I see both points of view here. I suppose you can go from one extreme to another. I personally do not show, but if I did, no I would not show a foal. That can be a bit stressful. On the other hand if the foal is never handled, then the stress would come at a later date when it's older. There certainly needs to be a medium there.

    With the foal I have now and the ones in the past the most I ever did was halter train, teach to lead, picking up feet & daily grooming. Then on the weekends we take them for short walks (hand leading not ponying) . With the previous foals I did this until a little over a year before adding anything to it. Even then the most we added was longer walks.

    I think the individual horse needs to be considered. The other foals we raised were very mild mannered from day one and extremely curious about us and their surroundings. My new girl is far more spirited and independent, so I believe we will go much slower with her and let her come to us. I like to go stand/sit in the pasture for a little while everyday. Just stand there and watch them, if they come up and smell me or nudge me I'll reach out and rub a forehead. It seems to be working, she now comes up to us on her own when we go out there and she a little more patient at grooming time.
         
        12-11-2008, 03:44 PM
      #25
    Foal
    You basically just stated the point that we are trying to get across. No one ever said don't handle the babies period. Small steps and little pressure is the point that has trying to be made here. Teaching very basics, nothing more.
         
        12-12-2008, 02:24 AM
      #26
    Trained
    Thanks Mayfieldk, glad I'm not the only one who thinks some of the conclusions here a little silly While I believe in each to their own, I suspect some comments may not have been fully thought through, and some seem to have been said only to make me seem silly too, so here are my (respectful) rebuttals….

    This is a statement that I’m sure we’ll all think of as silly, but seeing as the comparison with humans has already been brought up, here’s another analogy… The more a child learns, the duller they will become. I wonder why it is less silly assuming this of horses?


    Quote:
    Okay, yes trick training is very different, as in I find it useless information. Lets keep in my they are horses, not dogs. I would find that teaching a horse to properly lift up its hooves, is a little more relevant than teaching it to bow?
    So you don’t personally like trick training as you perceive it? Perfectly fine. I don’t like a lot of tricks I see people doing at shows, for eg. It’s my personal preference. I’m not going to knock you for doing it tho. The comparison with dogs is a curious idea – I’m guessing you think I treat horses like dogs just because I like teaching particular tricks & some people like to teach their dogs tricks too?? Where’s the logic in that?

    I find the whole idea of being against ‘useless’ trick training for horses a little weird tho, because many ‘tricks’ such as retrieving, for eg are useful. Your eg. Of bowing is one ‘trick’ I find useful for getting a horse to stretch & supple up before exercise. Many other ‘tricks’ are great for helping horses become calmer & braver in the human environment. But conventionally popular tricks, like passage & piaff for eg, apart from looking nice, don’t seem to have any point whatsoever. I don’t get why there should be a line drawn between some tricks & others.

    But this is all largely beside the point anyway, as I only mentioned tricks as one more thing you could teach your young horse if you got bored with other stuff.

    Quote:
    So you are a hoof care practitione May I ask just what methods of hoof care you choose to follow?
    Sure. I don’t really believe in ‘following’ any one ‘method’ tho. I’ve learned from a number of sources, including conventional farriery, but my thinking seems to be most in line with Pete Ramey & the likes.

    Quote:
    I don't know what your paddocks look like, but pretty sure mine are fairly well maintained...Not too cushy... Not too firm... Nope just right.
    I have no idea what your particular property is like of course, and if it were set up with Jaime Jackson’s idea of ‘Paddock Paradise’ for eg,(you can google it) it might well be perfectly adequate. But it seems that most people’s idea of an ‘ideal’ horse property is far from it, with regard to the long term soundness & health of the horse. If you have a conventional set up, with good grazing, little hard rocky ground, etc, the horse is unlikely to get adequate exercise, not to mention hoof stimulation.

    **I am not asking anyone to take my word for it, change their property/practices because I said so or anything, but if you know nothing about the disadvantages of normal domestic horse management, you might want to look into it & not bag my opinions, at least until you know more.

    Quote:
    You're telling me that you knew mostly everything you needed to know by you were 10?... upper level mathmatics, classic British literature, philosophy, theology. … as you still don't know the nature of an analogy.
    I didn’t expect anyone to take me that extremely<G>. I also said most not all. Call me ignorant, but I didn’t think of things you list above as ‘needs’. Interesting assumption about analogies(aside from that being another unnecessary). My comments that you took so literally were to point out that I thought that analogy was not an appropriate one to the discussion. Beside the point again, but I do think that even in this day & age, a 10 yo child does actually know(or at least can, with good tuition) the basics of about everything he will need to survive, and since we’re talking analogies, who’s to say I was talking of modern, western civilisation anyway? Consider the necessary knowledge of a 10yo a few hundred years ago for eg.

    Quote:
    Yes they do know everything they need to know to get through their life in a few months... in the wild. When we take them out of that environment though and are requiring them to learn added forgien, behaviors we are introducing new patterns into their lives. We are expecting them to respond with a desired behavior to a stimulus. This is not instinctual learning and they most certianly would not be learning these behaviors on their own. Any creature that has too many stimuli introduced in a small amount of time will begin to stress.
    So because there are different things to learn in a domestic environment as to in the wild we should desist in teaching them to babies? Because a foal is domestic means that he shouldn’t be expected to cope with anything like the same level of learning as a wild foal? I don’t get that attitude. What is the real difference, aside from different lessons needing to be learned? I don’t think of learning as instinctual at all, except if you mean the desire to learn appears to be instinctive(so therefore why not encourage that & teach?). No behaviours are really learned ‘on their own’ either, in the sense that they are not linked to some ‘stimulus’.

    I agree with your last sentence completely tho. Never once suggested ‘too many stimuli’ should be introduced in a short time. I tried to emphasise this previously. But that sentiment is precisely one of the reasons I believe in starting learning young. Why wait & have to pile a whole new world onto a 3yo(for eg)? Why not start young so you can introduce it gradually, take your time?

    Quote:
    You also seem to be suffering under the misconception of "old dogs can't learn new tricks." Oddly enough, old dogs can learn new tricks! Lets take a parade for example. If you were to take a three month old foal and put it in a parade, it would freak because it would be over stimulated, no matter what kind of prep the foal has had. In another scenario we can take a ten year old horse that has been brought along slow and easy and put it in the same parade with much different results. Yes, the ten year old will be spooked, but not nearly so much as they have learned from a life time of experience to trust their handlers.
    There are some big assumptions there. Firstly, I never ever suggested you couldn’t teach an ‘old dog’ or anything of the sort. But by the same token, horses are precocial, and it seems that generally speaking, all animals(human included) are rather more ‘plastic’ mentally when young than as adults, so they do tend to be more open to learning, particularly where it involves getting confident with different environments, situations, things. Just ask any canine behaviourist when is the easiest & most effective time to socialise a dog, for eg. Dogs aren’t precocial either, BTW.

    I’m interested in evidence you may have for assuming a well handled, well travelled, trusting foal(you said regardless of handling) would freak & be ‘over stimulated’ at a show, or that a 10yo(or whatever age in maturity) horse with little away from home experience would necessarily cope so much better. I suggest the complete opposite is the norm and your scenario would be quite unusual.

    Quote:
    Or maybe you just haven't really had experience with hot horses? Perhaps the horses you think are very sensitive and responsive are actually plugs to the rest of the world.
    By the same token I could be equally justified in assuming that your comments mean that you’ve only dealt with ‘hot horses’ who are likely that way because of their lack of experience by the time they’re expected to cope with everything thrown at them. I don’t however believe I’d be justified in that belief. We don’t know each other in the least and I do not profess to know whether you are good, bad or otherwise with your horses. I’d appreciate it if you don’t make disrespectful, unfounded assumptions of me either.



    Cheers!
         
        12-12-2008, 02:46 AM
      #27
    Yearling
    Lol, most of the babies aren't SHOWN. If weanlings are shown it's in halter, and they just have to stand there.

    I think it's silly to not take babies to shows. So many people say that you will never be at the same level at a show that you are at home, because you're in a new environment. I say rubbish. I have never had a problem at any show ground with either of my horses--one of which is very hot, very spooky. To start taking them when they're two or three, that just sounds like a romantic human notion, to let a horse get used to being left alone and just being pet and groomed and then all of a sudden to be put in work for the rest of its life. Kind of sounds like a really, really rude awakening, doesn't it?

    On the other side, I'm not saying a baby can't be a baby! Mine are at pasture 24/7, unless I take them out and fuss. If I take them out for 30 minutes a day... they still have twenty three hours and 30 minutes to learn to be a horse. I don't see why he 'can't be a baby' in all that time!

    And trail rides, ponied or walked... what in the world is the harm with that? Walking is one of the BEST things you can do for weanlings and yearlings, and its just like him in the wild, walking through a ton of new, never-before-seen land. How's that any different? It's stimulating, he learns confidence as long as he is handled correctly, AND he learns to build his trust in me.

    And you know what happens? In a five acre pasture my baby runs up to be haltered. What's more 'natural' to his development... moving around, learning new things (of course at his own pace, but everyone has to be pushed a little past their 'bubble' at some point--if they weren't they'd never get anywhere.), learning manners, or standing in a pasture with other horses bored out of his mind? Ponying or hand walking, I see no difference--either he's with a 'member of his herd' or his with me.

    This is the time in their life when they'll easily take in information (good AND bad), just like kids and how they learn other languages rapidly at young ages. Nature has pre-programmed us to learn rapidly. Why in the world would I not take advantage of that? When my three/four year old is ready for under saddle work, I'll have a trusting partner who understands that I'm not just a buddy--that I will require his attention, and he'll have to work. Then all he has to do is learn, instead of a baby who has no attention span, or a baby who doesn't care about people, or a baby who just thinks you groom and feed him. Like I said, the /end/ result is the same... I just prefer my way better for the mentality of the horse.
         
        12-12-2008, 07:26 PM
      #28
    Trained
    Yes, I really can't think of any 'cons' to doing everything(aside from obviously things they're not physically ready for) with babies. I'd be interested to learn of any valid reasons why not, as the good of the horse is the most important consideration to me. Tying firmly by the head or neck is one thing foals aren't physically ready for, so this is the only real restriction I can think of.

    I believe in horses being allowed to be horses regardless of their age & *as a rule* don't agree with stabling & penning horses alone, etc. I don't see why it should be more important for babies to be allowed to 'be horses' any more than adults??

    Re ponying, with my last foal I was lucky enough to live in an area which I could safely ride out on his mum & he'd just come for the trip loose. He started coming out with us at a few months old, after he was reliable about coming when called & responding to the halter(I got them when he was 2 months old & took my time teaching that). He spent much more time capering backwards & forwards over the rough ground & exploring than walking sedately with his mum!(So he was obviously very nervous, over stimulated<TIC>) I only put him on the lead to 'pony' when we were in the vicinity of roads, or going through town, which we also did regularly.

    Boy, he had the best feet! They're still good now, but he's been in a 'good' paddock with little time on trails for the last few years(having kids got in the way of horsey time), so they're not conditioned tho. I have more time lately & currently gathering supplies to put the 'paddock paradise' idea in use, so hope to change that hiccup shortly.

    Your baby runs up in the paddock to be haltered? I taught mine the useless but fun 'trick' of bringing the halter for me to put on him when I call<roll eyes> I decided to teach my horses to retrieve after losing my hat out on a trail - I no longer have to get off to get it if I drop something!<GG>

    Funny, I used to have an aversion to teaching dogs what I thought of as namby pamby, useless tricks too - if you say 'shake' to my dogs, they shake their bodies, because I taught them to do it on cue when they came out of a dam or river, so I wouldn't get wet. If I tell people I've taught my dogs tricks, the first thing they usually do is stick out their hand & say 'shake' to one of the dogs - they usually look confused with the behaviour they get!<GG>
         
        12-12-2008, 09:33 PM
      #29
    LMW
    Foal
    We have had a few foals at our barn in the past couple years. Handleing is one of the best things you could do with a young horse, even if its only a little handling each day. Thing such as picking up hooves, grooming, and even trimming the bridle path help the horse become trusting of the handler and so many other things.

    They are most impressionable at a young age, so anything you do will stay in their minds.
         

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