What should I know before getting a foal?
I have owned my own horse before, and have regularly worked with 4-5 of them. I have experience with foals, but have never owned one myself. I am interested in adopting a foal from a guy who is going to ruin him. This guy 'thinks' he can train it, but has already failed in everything he has done and has not learned from it. I found a trainer that would help for free, but he is too proud to even accept free help. One main concern I have is he assumes when the horse turns 2, he can throw his 6 year old daughter on it, and everything will be fine. Plus, he wants to keep it a stallion (beautiful foal, but not breeding quality).
He was separated from his mother at about 2 months, and has had no contact with any horse since. Because his current owner doesn't know how to handle it, he has a kicking problem (not a dominance problem, I'm pretty sure he is just trying to play). The foal can be very disrespectful, but for whatever reason, seems to have taken a liking to me.
I have never owned a foal myself, but unlike the current owner, I am more than willing to ask for help from an experienced trainer. What should I make sure I know and can do for the colt? He is currently 7 months old.
If I get him, the first thing I will do is geld him. Then I will turn him out with horses his own age, and hopefully they can teach him basic things (like kicking hurts). Then after a few weeks with other horses, I will work on some more of his manners and ground work, and hire a trainer if necessary.
Does that sound like a good plan, or should I change any of it?
Well, from what you are saying, it definitely sounds like you are a better home for him. You seem willing to learn, have the experience and you will know when to get help if needed. Do you know why the hell he separated the foal so early and isolated it like that? I hope the foal is okay.
It is early enough that if you started socializing him again, then he could get back to normal. I've seen some freaky horses who were isolated. They were really unsure how to act in some ways.
Also, you do have about another year and half until you are even close to start doing riding work. Two and a half if you wait until he is three.
Recently the owner started paying for all of her food now because he can't bare to let this one die too. Her owner just hasn't done ANYTHING for it. Simple enough; if it is too much time and or money, sell it to someone who can handle it. If you can't sell it, give it away. The irritating thing is i used to help her out, feed them when she is out of town and such. She wanted me to feed it 1/3 of what it actually needed, when it was skinny. Her reasoning: "I can't afford all of the hay it needs, so it will learn to go on less".
Anyways, back on topic. I planned on getting the horse some socialization as soon as I can. I hope that will work out the majority of the problems.
You need to read up on everything foal related
Training Your Foal: Renate Ettl: 9781592287772: Amazon.com: Books
The Foaling Primer: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising a Healthy Foal: Cynthia McFarland: Amazon.com: Books
I personally own this one:
Amazon.com: John Lyons' Bringing Up Baby: 20 Progressive Ground-Work Lessons to Develop Your Young Horse into a Reliable, Accepting Partner (9781929164127): John Lyons, Jennifer Denison: Books
But for less than $20, you can read all you want about foals and more. With the help of these books, and a trainer, you will be much better prepared.
If he were mine and I wanted him to grow up strong and well-adjusted with a variety of experiences under his belt like knowing how to travel outdoors, I'd find someplace with a lot of space to move and other horses on 24/7/365 outdoor living. Young horses (really all horses) need room to move in order to properly develop physically and socialization so that they know something about living life before they're so large and strong. Then I'd make sure he was gentle and halter broke enough so that if I needed to I could walk out and catch him, lead him out, load him in a trailer and drive down the road to the vet. If you wanted to teach him to stand tied you could, and I'd be using a high-line to do it so that there's less chance of him getting hurt (though these also have to be set up properly to be safe). I'd practice picking up his feet very gradually, and I'd be giving his feet back to him before he even thought of trying to take them away. You can't go too slow teaching them about that. You could literally spend a whole week doing nothing more than getting them comfortable about having their legs rubbed first with a flag or stick of some kind, and eventually your hands as they get more comfortable. Eventually you could teach that thing to stand balanced on three legs and keep his foot on a shoeing stand for ten minutes. One day! I'd get them to where they enjoyed being rubbed all over their body with my hands and later a saddle blanket. Finally, in addition to being gelded as you said, you'd want to curb that nipping behavior before he gets very much bigger. That's just a guess, but I'm pretty sure it's going on. ;]
You could do as much or as little of that stuff as you want and it would all be good in the long run. The main thing is that he has room to run, travel, socialize, and learn about life. In a perfect world, right? If I couldn't do all that, I'd work on finding creative ways to simulate it as much as was possible in my particular situation!
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