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sjharris53 06-05-2011 06:35 PM

Socializing rejected foal
 
On May 1, my AQHA mare had a fine colt and immediately rejected him. Three days later, Tuff went to the University of Georgia Veterinary School of Medicine for 10 days. He is home and doing well physically; my concern is how to safely socialize him with a companion horse. My vet has loaned me her gelding, a large 15 year old appaloosa who appears very laid back. He has been pastured next to Tuff's stall for the past two weeks, and the two have touched noses a few times. I know he needs to learn how to be a horse, something I can't do for him, but I am fearful that he will be injured by this gelding. This little fella has had such a rough start to life, I guess I am afraid to risk anything that might harm him. Tuff is just 5 weeks old today - is he too young to turn out with an adult horse? Is the risk too great for the benefits of learning how to be a horse? My vet told me this week I just need to take the plunge - she said she would be amazed if her gelding caused Tuff any harm, but I keep thinking it would only take one time to really do some damage to Tuff.

DutchFeather 06-06-2011 06:43 AM

My yearling was weaned early, at 3 months (serious health issues with his dam), I know it's not 5 weeks, but, they learn quickly what they're allowed to do and what they aren't allowed to do. Sam was turned out with a mare and a gelding. He was an outcast for the first few days, being forced to stay to the perimeter of their grazing circle, but other than a few charges, pinned ears, tail swishes, and a few kicks, he wasn't harmed. They're hardier than they look and don't break as easy as we think. He will be fine. He has a natural instinct to submit to older horses, you'll see him characteristicly mouthing to the gelding and he'll quickly learn what a tail swish or ears back means. Don't be afraid. You don't want to end up with a spoiled foal who doesn't act like or horse, or doesn't know how to act toward other horses. My 3 year old mare was by herself from the time of weaning until the day I got her last month, so a little over 2 1/2 years... She had no social skills at all, and while she's doing better, she still has some issues with typical horse language. Listen to your vet, your vet isn't going to give you bad advice.

mbender 06-06-2011 08:46 AM

I would say if your vet loaned you a horse for this very reason, she/he must know the gelding is fairly good around babies. Here's what I would do to make yourself feel better. Have the baby run loose while you have complete control over the gelding. Let them sniff noses. That baby will do the talking. The gelding instinctively should know that the baby is no threat to his status and should be ok with his presence. The baby will learn how far he can go with an adult and will learn the language of the distance he should keep from the gelding. If anything, after the initial meeting let those two together for a while and just watch. I wouldn't leave them alone together but as long as your able to watch, let them get acquainted. Just my opinion.
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sjharris53 06-06-2011 09:18 AM

Mbender and DutchFeather, thanks for pointing out the obvious. I do have faith in my vet; she has always taken great care of my horses. I feel like the overprotective mother who is trying to shelter her child, but as a teacher, I've seen kids with real issues because of that kind of mother. I want this colt to thrive, so I'm going to take your advice, say a prayer, and let the two begin with supervised time together.

natisha 06-06-2011 09:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mbender (Post 1057405)
I would say if your vet loaned you a horse for this very reason, she/he must know the gelding is fairly good around babies. Here's what I would do to make yourself feel better. Have the baby run loose while you have complete control over the gelding. Let them sniff noses. That baby will do the talking. The gelding instinctively should know that the baby is no threat to his status and should be ok with his presence. The baby will learn how far he can go with an adult and will learn the language of the distance he should keep from the gelding. If anything, after the initial meeting let those two together for a while and just watch. I wouldn't leave them alone together but as long as your able to watch, let them get acquainted. Just my opinion.
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^yes...

mom2pride 06-06-2011 03:34 PM

i agree with the others...you just have to start getting them together and seeing what will happen. Most adult horses aren't going to savage a baby, simply because they know that the younster is no threat to them, or herd hierarchy (until he is much, much older).

Bring them out into a large pen that is safe for the foal, and let the foal roam around while you walk the pen with the gelding in hand. Then when they both seem settled in to the surrounding, unclip the gelding and let them be; stick around, but don't be in too much of a hurry to "rescue" baby...the older horse will show him what he needs to know without causing him harm (as a general rule).

sjharris53 06-07-2011 06:23 AM

Yesterday evening, I put Tuff and the gelding together. Mom2pride, I followed your good advice and held Payote with a halter/lead rope while Tuff ran around. He came up to Payote, smacking his gums in submission, and Payote was the perfect gentleman. After a few minutes, I snapped the lead off Payote, stood back and watched. A few times Payote put his ears back or nipped at Tuff, but was never aggressive. Once he actually put his ears back and trotted after Tuff - I was so tempted to intervene, but stood back, and Tuff got out of the way. So I would say the first turnout went as well as could be expected, and Tuff got some much needed lessons in being a horse. Thanks all, for the good advice - I feel like a major hurdle has been cleared.

apachewhitesox 06-07-2011 06:33 AM

Sounds like it went pretty well my friend had a similar situation awhile ago. Only the foal was a few months older and I think the mare he was put in with was a bit smaller. She had to stay out and let them sort it out even when the mare was giving him a good beating for being naughty and he was looking like he wanted help to get out. He needed to learn some horsie behaviour :D

mbender 06-07-2011 06:41 AM

Good so glad to hear that. I would try and do this everyday until you feel comfortable enough that they are starting a friendship. The other thing to note is I'm betting once they have a bond, he will probably protect him from another horse. When I brought my pony home from a purchase I put my seasoned mare in with her. There was the initial meeting of squeals and my mare proved her dominance but when I released them back into the herd my mare was protective and followed that pony like it was her baby. Mind you, she has never had a baby. It was so cute to watch them bond like that.
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sjharris53 06-07-2011 10:58 PM

Turnout two for Payote and Tuff was today - and Tuff didn't go up to Payote quite as much as yesterday. Payote did trot after Tuff with his ears back, but again, that was it. When I opened the paddock gate to the run that leads back to Tuff's stall, he was more than happy to join me and leave Payote. I'm hopeful that the two will begin to enjoy their time together.


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