Weanling troubles - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 08-06-2020, 11:51 PM Thread Starter
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Weanling troubles

So I have this 5 month old filly and she's really smart and headstrong and has so much personality. I haven't started training to lunge yet, and she hasn't been weaned. But, she does tie, wears a fly mask, and leads. Sorta leads. First few months, she lead perfect. No issues, as soon as she got what she was supposed to do, she was perfect. But recently she's been up on her high horse, so to speak? She throws her head around and then rears. Should this behavior be corrected? I know some behaviors from young horses are written off as sort of "kids being kids" and worked through as train progresses. I'm not sure if this is that instance. Because I know she will get much bigger, she's already so big. And if this habit continues on to adulthood, I could have minor issues turn to dangerous issues. And if I do correct this behavior, how do I do that? I Used to really get on her, get loud and make her back up a bunch and that seemed to help for a while. But then she started up again. So, my mom leads her now. And she puts more pressure and pulls down on the halter whenever she gets to shaking her head and rearing. I really don't want to ruin a nice horse. I've seen so many trainers ruin horses.

Here's a couple picture for size reference. Ignore me wearing flip flops, I wasn't planning on going in the stall but I want a look at her mom's hoof because she was holding it funny. Her mom is about 15hh and I'm 5'8
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post #2 of 19 Old 08-07-2020, 03:26 AM
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From the top picture she seems like a nice looking filly.

So, the very first thing that hit me was your statement 'I haven't started to train to lunge'yet' indicating to me that you intend to soon.

For the foal's sake please do not start to lunge her until she is at leat two years as it is a significant strain on their joints.

As for the rearing, yes, it does need to be corrected and stopped before it is an ingrained habit.m

The art of doing this is not to pull down on the halter as this will actually encourage them to go up against the pull,

Without seeing exactly what is going on I would have this filly walking so her shoulder is level with mine. The moment she starts her head shaking I would give her a hasty bump on her shoulder to put her off balance.

I would also carry a longish stick, for this a length of about 4' of garden hose is ideal, so that if she does go up use said hose across her hind legs. You would be attacking her point of balance making her think twice.

It is a baby thing that she is testing her strength and power. You prove to her, firmly and fairly that it doesn't work.
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post #3 of 19 Old 08-07-2020, 04:46 AM
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Ooh, baby fun! Haven't had a youngster to play with for a few years...

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Originally Posted by Jj Moon View Post
I haven't started training to lunge yet,
Yes, as Fox said, DON'T!! Babies are a lot more fragile than they look, when talking things like high impact exercise, weightbearing, overflexing, fighting a rope, etc. So no lunging, jumping, tying solid, letting a farrier fight with her... etc until she's close to 2yo. Well, any farrier that wants to fight a horse wouldn't be employed by me anyway, and she should be well 'broke' to lead/yield to pressure before you think about tying her firm anyway. And I'd avoid any 'real' jumping, lunging, and weightbearing/riding for a lot longer - not adverse to short, light riding, if you're a light weight & not asking much for eg, but 'real' riding I'd leave off until around 4yo and 'hard' riding, real jumping & the likes till she's around 6yo. If you don't understand the whys & wherefores about all that, study up on it. You can find good diagrams online of when certain bones & joints 'close'.

The other thing is, 'lunging' is but one small part of training, that's not actually one of the 'basics' & not even necessary. It is effectively an extension of leading/driving, only at a distance. Therefore I wouldn't be starting it even with a mature horse, until they were good at the other things, and with yielding to 'implied' signals - eg. bodylanguage & voice cues rather than actual physical pressure. And there are PLENTY of other things she should be gotten good at WAY before lunging anyway. Hoof care is one good eg. I urge you to find a good trainer to help you with this 'young lass'.

Quote:
She does tie, wears a fly mask, and leads. Sorta leads.
Aside from not tying a baby 'hard' for physical reasons, I'd advise they don't just 'sorta lead' but are very good & reliable about that, and about accepting being 'tied' with a blocker tie ring or some such, well before I'd consider tying firm. You want to set her up for success.

Quote:
She throws her head around and then rears. Should this behavior be corrected? I know some behaviors from young horses are written off as sort of "kids being kids"
I don't believe ANY 'bad' behaviours that you don't want to see more of should be 'written off', least of all dangerous ones such as rearing. Yes, 'kids WILL be kids' and they will test a lot of things out. But if you allow them to think saying 'pluck you Grandpa' is fine & dandy, they'll grow up to be obnoxious, disrespectful adults. And can't blame animals for not having been taught better, any more than rude kids who haven't been taught any manners. But that doesn't mean you should accept/allow it.

Quote:
if this habit continues on to adulthood, I could have minor issues turn to dangerous issues.
Exactly! Nip it in the bud now, before it becomes a bigger 'monster'. And I like Fox's way of dealing with it. Whatever you do, for whatever behaviour, ensure that IF you feel the need for punishment, you punish *at the time of* the 'wrong' behaviour and effectively enough to make her think seriously before considering it again. - Better to give 'a short, sharp shock & he'll never do it again'(Pink Floyd fans - these things just come out at times!) rather than trying to give a gentle tap that's useless, or worse, she thinks is a game or an irritating 'nag' that she feels the need to punish YOU for.

Last edited by loosie; 08-07-2020 at 06:02 PM.
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post #4 of 19 Old 08-07-2020, 07:17 AM
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Necks are a fragile thing. Not something you want pressure and possibility of twist injuries with. Same with lunging and young joints in those legs. What goes with baby is a short attention span. There is about a 15 minute window to work in. For me that includes getting the halter on, body rubs and grooming, handling the feet, expecting them to stand calmly. The clock starts when I approach. There's no reason to rush training.

At this age when the shenanigans start I release pressure and we just stand. If we take a step or two fine then a scritchy reward. If all we do is stand then after a fair amount of quiet they get a reward. Usually I'm talking through. Good stand, good walk.... I don't want them rearing, acting a fool and thinking time with me is time to fight so we pause before the action starts and start all over. Those reluctant I have a butt rope on. In a way it is like with kids, redirect, redirect, redirect. And quit before you've lost their attention at a good spot.

I do carry a dressage or driving whip simply to encourage some space and if the tendency to rear has already been established before they get here then a pop on the behind to move them forward rather than any tugging and fighting their heads.
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Last edited by QtrBel; 08-07-2020 at 07:24 AM.
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post #5 of 19 Old 08-07-2020, 10:52 PM Thread Starter
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I'm dyslexic and my brain doesnt work very quickly so I might have to make multiple responses to answer everything, and might understand things a bit late.
First of all, thank you. This is my first foal so I'm kinda feeling my way around. If I hadn't taken her she would be in a mud hole with no grass so no this is not perfect but its better.
Second, I don't see how teaching her driving pressure (different from driving with a cart) maybe without a lunge line in a round pen, is different from the zoomies and running around she does daily. Especially just at a walk or trot.
3.Ground work is huge part of my training method. I would never suggest getting in a horse that hasn't been taught ground work, and hasn't been taught lunging. Lunging is so much more than "move their feet, get respect" or whatever. If I have taught that horse thoroughly on the ground, I have a pretty darn good idea of how she'll act in the saddle. So much you can learn about a horse. How they react to scary things, how best for the trainer to react because every horse is different. If I know how that horse reacts to stimulus, confusion, fear, and know how to react, I can be ready. Not to mention that if you teach them shoulder yields, haunch yields, neck stretches, vocal cues like "turn, walk, trot, canter, left, right, whoa" whatever else you want to, they already know everything they are going to do in the saddle, the cues are just different.
4. Thanks again for the advice. Hopefully I wont have to come back here too often but who knows with this crazy baby. I'll try your ideas and update
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post #6 of 19 Old 08-07-2020, 11:31 PM Thread Starter
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*I meant for short amounts of time. Never too long at all. I'm not disagreeing that it can be high impact on their joints, facts are facts I'm no expert. I'm doing lots of research and looking for advice and help. 🙂 I'll decide soon whether or not I'll do some free range (liberty) type work for a short time with her. For now I'm sleeping.
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post #7 of 19 Old 08-08-2020, 01:19 AM
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I am experienced with foals and youngstock.

What I have found is that if a foal is taught to lead alongside its mother and then on its own, to pick its feet up comfortably, to give to pressure on its halter, then there is little need to do anything else with them. They can run 'wild' until 2 yrs old and will not have forgotten a thing in the interim.

I was very busy with the horses in work so the babies did get sort of neglected. They went in and out from the loose barns without being led. Sure, they had contact with me on a daily basis but only had a halter on when they were being trimmed or any veterinary work.

As for doing groundwork and you knowing what they will be like when it comes to riding them, that is not necessarily true, there are always exceptions!

When starting youngsters I did have them lungeing for about 20 minutes a day, the purpose of this was to get them use to a saddle and bridle, having a second line put on so it was fixed to the outside and ran over their hocks in preparation to driving them out and about, not in the round pen/arena. This put a mouth on them and they saw what was going on the the big wide world.

There was no faffing around waving bags at them or getting them to walk over tarps, they went where I asked with confidence. Sometimes a nervous horse would come in to be started, they were treated differently but, just handling them they soon settled and gained confidence.
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post #8 of 19 Old 08-08-2020, 09:26 AM
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Your youngsters @Foxhunter I suspect were older than weanling at 4 or 5 months....
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Some horse people change their horse, they change their tack and discipline, they change their instructor; they never change themselves.
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post #9 of 19 Old 08-08-2020, 09:32 AM
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Generally I left them until they were 6 months at weaning. I did much the same with orphan foals, though my mare was a wonderful foster mum.
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post #10 of 19 Old 08-08-2020, 10:30 AM
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@Foxhunter . Maybe I am misreading? I thought you left them until 2 years. No lunging for the babies prior just basics like lead, tie and stand.

The zoomies are different unless you have them in a round pen sized area. It is also at will and not consistently the same circular route for how ever long you choose whether walk, trot or canter.
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Some horse people change their horse, they change their tack and discipline, they change their instructor; they never change themselves.
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