Help haltering a foal - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 10-07-2017, 07:28 PM Thread Starter
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Help haltering a foal

Hi all! I'm not sure if this is the right forum for this topic but I'm in desperate need of help haltering, or should I say, re-haltering my foal. She just turned 3 months and was haltering so well. In fact, we were just starting to train her to lead line. One morning we woke up and she had cut her leg pretty good and we had to treat the wound. Unfortunately, this meant that we had to halter and tie her while we tended to the wound. She was a champ throughout all of it, but since then, has not let me put the halter on her. That was one of my biggest fears having to halter her for the treatment of her leg but her health was more important to me at the time. For three weeks now, I have tried the pressure/release (or attack/retreat) method but have not succeeded. At first, I thought she may have been traumatized about the first aid experience. But, honestly, she is just being a... butt head. (God I love her so much though) LOL. She lets me get it around her neck and over her nose, but as soon as I go to tie it, she pulls out of it. I really don't want to force it on her because I don't want to lose her trust, but at the same time, her being able to get out of it makes me feel like I'm losing her respect. GAH! Any one have advice for me? Do I just force it on her? And, if so, what happens the next day and the day after that? Will I have to force it on her every single day? Please help and thanks in advance!!!
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post #2 of 9 Old 10-07-2017, 10:18 PM
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Unless I was showing a foal in some foal futurity, I did not really bother haltering them until weaned, but no saying it can;t be part of the program early on in foal's life, I just never saw the point of it, far as end results
I still trimmed their feet, de wormed them, but I did that just leaving them loose, tying the mare and letting the foal stand beside the mare
Once weaned, I halter broke them, and they were led back and forth, between a corral and their stall at night, and soon learned that being haltered, meant going into that stall and eating some favorite food
If you really want to halter break that foal now, then get that halter on, and make no big deal about it, but don't let that foal make a game of it, by eluding having that halter done up. In other words, either do it, or don't.otherwise you are just teaching her that she can just evade having that halter fastened, whenever she feels like it
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post #3 of 9 Old 10-07-2017, 11:00 PM
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I suggest trying to halter her in a stall so she can't back up too far. Stand at her shoulder facing forward. Place the halter under her neck & hold the crown piece in your right hand, with that hand over her neck. With your left hand slip on the nose piece. When she throws up her head & runs forward or back, or whatever she does, stay with her while you do up the halter. It might not be pretty but as Smiley said, just get it done.
She's still small enough to control. Don't give in.
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post #4 of 9 Old 10-08-2017, 01:28 AM
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I would be careful with a young foal. I don't know if I would force it on her or put her in a stall. Now I have never worked with a foal. So take my word anyway you want. I just think babies need a gentle touch until they are old enough to really understand (weanling sounds good). Patience is key in this situation. If you aren't sure don't take the next step. Like you said, you don't want to lose trust. But I do understand working with a stubborn horse. Sometimes you gotta be tough.
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post #5 of 9 Old 10-08-2017, 01:43 AM
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Originally Posted by natisha View Post
I suggest trying to halter her in a stall so she can't back up too far. Stand at her shoulder facing forward. Place the halter under her neck & hold the crown piece in your right hand, with that hand over her neck. With your left hand slip on the nose piece. When she throws up her head & runs forward or back, or whatever she does, stay with her while you do up the halter. It might not be pretty but as Smiley said, just get it done.
She's still small enough to control. Don't give in.
This^^^^ and once you get the halter on, praise her, scratch her and treat her leg if needed. Lead her around and praise/reward her. If you're using a rope halter, replace it with a nylon foal halter.

Then, remove the halter while still in the stall and put it on and take it off over and over until she accepts it calmly with no fuss.
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post #6 of 9 Old 10-08-2017, 09:24 AM
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I'm one who prefers to halter as soon as possible after they're born. They all go through the horsey equivalent of the terrible twos, "NO" to everything you say. I like to put mine in a stall, with mom (assuming you have mom), and I walk up and offer them the halter. Usually the first few times are pretty non-eventful but if they aren't here's my way of getting the halter on. I'd rather have this discussion now than when they outweigh me by 400 lbs.

#1 I pick the "Learning Corner" and tell the foal, "Go to your corner" while using my body to direct them to that corner every time I want to do something new.

#2 1 Person version: Face the foal into the corner and face into the corner with them, standing right up against them but not shoving, and slip the halter over the nose. If the foal starts to back out at any point, use your hip to push her into the wall (gently, no real force, she doesn't weigh a whole lot yet), and hold her while I finish doing up my halter. I use a leather foal halter, it's quicker to buckle and unbuckle than to tie at this point.

2 Person version: Face the foal into the corner and face forward into the corner with the foal. If the foal tries to squirt out at some point, person #2 stands behind and blocks retreat, then pushes the foal up to the wall while you finish doing up the halter.

#3 Praise, praise, praise

#4 Go away for a few minutes and let the foal have a fit and get used to wearing the halter.

#5 Come back in, say "Go to your corner" and put the foal back in the corner. Pet and praise and undo the halter. Pet and praise some more and let her go. Some foals will have a fit about having the halter undone, so take your 2nd person in with you if you have one, same instructions as for putting it on, but take it off.

#6 Do that as many times as you can in a day and in a week or 2, it's no big deal.

#7 Use the butt scritch for reward, foals LOVE to have the top of their tails and down the backs of their butt cheeks scritched. Some like their inner thigh scritched. Find the foal's favorite scritchy spots and use them to get what you want.

It takes time, patience, lots of repetition but they all get it fairly quickly. I have a 6 month old who now puts his head down for the halter and 'helps' when you put his halter on. I've used this method on many, many foals and haven't had one who developed 'trust' issues. It's all about YOU establishing yourself as her leader. And if you can tie mom and make mom behave while the foal watches it makes your job easier.

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post #7 of 9 Old 10-08-2017, 10:48 AM
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I would just give it a little time. We had our foal halter broke some when she was little but, then she wouldn't let me put the halter on again until she was six months old. Just work on gaining her trust.

Always get back on the horse.
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post #8 of 9 Old 10-08-2017, 11:32 AM
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A friend of ours does a lot of work with mustang and kill pen weanlings and yearlings, many of which arrive at his place scared and wild as deer. This is how he teaches them to be haltered; it's low stress, safe, and it works. Of course, if your foal is wild and scared, you take more time getting up to them, but after you can walk up and touch them and rub on them without them leaving, this is what he does:

Put her in a stall or small corral, and get her used to you walking up and putting a neck rope on her-- an old leather belt or stirrup leather works well for this. It's easier to get on than a halter as it doesn't go over the face, and when properly placed, loosely up behind the ears, you still have some control but it won't pull tight like a lariat rope will. Put it on, pet her, take it off. Repeat until she stands quietly when you approach, isn't bothered when you put your arm over her neck for it, and doesn't take off when it's removed. It may take a few days. When she's comfortable with that neck strap, clip a short lead rope to it.

Then put it on, lead her with it (a step or two is fine, just enough for her to learn that pressure on it gets her to move her feet) and when you ask her to stop, place a hand on her nose, too. Then rub on her, including her face and head until she's good with that. Remove the neck strap and you're done for the day. Repeat a few days.

Next, put on the neck strap and then rub her all over with the halter, including her face and head until she's good with that. Then open the halter and put it over her nose and back off, over the nose and back off, over the nose and back off. If she raises her head or turns her nose away, simply stop with the halter right there until she moves a fraction of an inch back toward you or down, then step away. Teach her that lowering her head and waiting for the halter is what you want. If you only get it to touch her nose the first day, fine. You have time. Once you can get it over her muzzle and back off, be done. The next day, put it on and off, on and off over her nose. Don't rush to buckle that halter; the time you take here will pay off the rest of that baby's life. If she moves away, you have the neck strap and she knows how to stop with that, but she likely won't move if you do this right.

After a day or two, then put the halter on and off, on and off, on and off. If she's comfortable with your arm over her neck to pull on the halter, as she should be, she really can't pull away, and you can control her if she does. Make that such a normal part of her life, she accepts it like she does the water tank, hay feeder, and barn dog. Start in the small pen or stall so she can't run off too far, then graduate to a larger area. The idea here is not to go to a larger space until you're 100% sure she's fine with you haltering her, so she doesn't learn she can pull away. Keep using the neck strap if you need to to ensure this. Go halter her whenever you think of it, then rub on her or occasionally offer an handful of grain, unhalter her, and leave. Let her associate being haltered with good things. If you need to catch her for something unpleasant, do ten good halterings after that. Go catch and halter her before you lead her in and let there be a handful of yummy feed or a treat in her feeder. Catch her and scratch her favorite spot, then let her go. Make her think that halter and you approaching with it is a good thing.

Within a week or two, your foal should be very easy to catch and halter. And because you used the neck strap, simply putting the lead rope or arm over her neck will mean she stands quietly for haltering or bridling, too, and she won't turn into a ten foot giraffe or try to back or duck out of a halter. Good luck with your baby!

*don't ever leave a neck strap or halter on a foal without you being there. Make sure that you're in a place where you can get up to her to take it off, too, even if she does pull away at first.
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post #9 of 9 Old 10-08-2017, 07:03 PM
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Agree with others. I would not tie up a youngster hard, at least until they were very well trained n reliable at yielding to pressure - too much risk of injury. That goes for any seriously forceful handling too. So starting in stall or small yard with long rope also means you dont have to use force not to lose them if they try to escape.

If you can put rope over her neck or nose & she doesnt object, sounds like shes just objecting to it being done up out of a growing habit because youre allowing her to do so. First time maybe she said 'id rather not' & pulled back & cos it worked, you didnt stop her, shes learned that is the Right behaviour - & every time you allow this, she is being further reinforced for it.
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Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]
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