Complete newbie!! Creating a bond
Hi! I'm completely new in the horse world, and so far I've loved every bit of it. My best friend is an Equinefanatic, as I call her. She loves everything horse! As well as most of you, I bet. =)
I just got my first job as a farm hand from a friend's dad. He has 1 horse and 6 mini's. 3 of which are foals and the little brown one with a star on his forhead as caught my eye, and it seems pretty mutual.
We've worked 3 LONG 5-6 hour days completely flipping this barn from the reportable state it was in. In 2 days we got all but 2 mini stalls done, and the last 2 were the WORST! (1 foot deep, at least, of just manure, piss, and shavings after shavings...)
So this morning, after day 3, we finally got to reap the rewards of a long day's work and get to know the ponies. The foal I'm in love with and I locked outself into the birthing stall and we investigated each-other. I had brought a halter and lead-rope earlier that day (Purple halter and neon rainbow lead rope!) and put it where all the ponies could see it. I used that to peek his curiosity towards me. He's still VERY wary of me, but I seem to be starting our bond. :)
Any tips? Tricks? Good bonding methods I should try?
If all goes well, I should be there every Fri-Sun to work at the barn and I'm going to TRY to make trips during the week on my own time.
Just approach the baby slowly and if its big enough for grain it could be a good motivating point. Let it sniff you be patient the baby will start to get used to you. If its real shy just try sitting with him and kinda ignore him a bit natural curiosity works pretty well. As you start to touch start around the head neck region and then you can work your way down eventually may take a few days got to be patient don't force too much. Petting and grooming are excellent bonding tools then once you get some established trust then you can try the rope halter thing.
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Take a book into the stall with you and sit down and read. Even if it's only for 10 mins, sit down in the shavings so you're more on a level with the baby and read. Repeat that as often as you can. He'll be coming up and sniffing and lipping and exploring you before you know it. If he's not trying to climb on your head or bite you (he's really only trying to taste you but we can't let that become a bad habit), then just ignore him and let him explore you. If he'll stand still for it, you can return the favor by sniffing him and rubbing your chin on his withers like another horse. Move very slowly and very quietly around him, avoid direct eye contact and keep your body soft. If you face off to him and tense up he'll get scared, that's predatory behavior. In less than 2 weeks I bet he's your best little equine buddy ever.
Thank you so much for the advice!!
I'll definitely try the book thing next time I'm out at the barn. Iee, I'm so excited. :) Friday needs to get here faster! Hahaha...
The foal is to be a weenling soon. He has to tilt his neck to nurse, the owner just hasn't gotten around to it...
How old is he?
Congrats on the awesome opportunity! Excellent advice has already been given by previous posters. Personally, instead of a book, I like to bring my camera and take pics of scenery, other horses, etc. I am a fan of using treats, but be careful as many horses want to get nippy or pushy for treats if given too often. I also would prefer to not be in a stall with a really young, green horse. They spontaneously have fun spastic frolic moments and you may get accidentally hurt. Be careful and alert...and have fun!
So I did the book thing today~ But my boyfriend and my friend were around me too so he was busy watching them AND me. He did manage to come up and nip my book, nearly dropped it! It was a good time, regardless. He took some hay from my hand and sniffed me a bit when I gave my attention to my friends instead of me.
Thank you! :)
The camera would be a good idea! My best friend and I took some pictures while we were there. Mostly for before and after photos.
First I have to get him interested in treats... The first time I tried he looked at me and said "You expect me to take that from you?" Granted, that was the very first day. I'll get some treats and see how it goes. :)
Depending on his age, he may not know what treats are and he may not have the teeth to chew them, so be ready for that. When I'm teaching my foals to take treats, I generally have to take something very small that I know they'll like and put it in the corner of their mouths and let them mouth and drop and finally eat it. It takes a little while but they eventually get the idea.
Sounds like you are approaching this situations very well already. Horses are quite curious by nature so it isn't generally too hard to bond with a shy horse.
Is the foals mother used to people and being handled? If so, you can spend some time with the mother by petting her and just loving on her with her baby close by. The foal should become quite curious and as long as the mother doesn't appear uncomfortable the baby should also begin to feel relaxed and would begin to feel free to move around you.
Good luck and keep us updated on your progress.
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