Are foals scared of things? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 11-24-2017, 03:11 AM Thread Starter
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Are foals scared of things?

Silly question, are foals scared of typical horsey scary things or do they develop a sense of preservation later on?

I've never been around foals and I met a cute six month old foal the other day. This little critter did not flinch at anything. Plastic packet in her face, me swinging a lead rope all over her, tapping her with a stick, waving my hand towards her face, touching her all over - nothing phased her at all. Is this normal behavior for them?

I have to say, it was quite disconcerting - I was trying to get her to move away from me and failing spectacularly. She eventually moved and stood right on top of an old carpet without even noticing it.
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post #2 of 23 Old 11-24-2017, 03:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Horsef View Post
Silly question, are foals scared of typical horsey scary things or do they develop a sense of preservation later on?

I've never been around foals and I met a cute six month old foal the other day. This little critter did not flinch at anything. Plastic packet in her face, me swinging a lead rope all over her, tapping her with a stick, waving my hand towards her face, touching her all over - nothing phased her at all. Is this normal behavior for them?

I have to say, it was quite disconcerting - I was trying to get her to move away from me and failing spectacularly. She eventually moved and stood right on top of an old carpet without even noticing it.
How much has the foal been exposed to?
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post #3 of 23 Old 11-24-2017, 03:56 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Rainaisabelle View Post
How much has the foal been exposed to?
As far as I know, she's been handled from birth by people who have experience with foals. They already taught her to lift her feet and stand for rasping but they were busy so I didn't have time to ask what else they've been doing.
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post #4 of 23 Old 11-24-2017, 03:59 AM
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They tend to be very curious and less wary about new things.
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On the sixth day, God created the Quarter Horse.
On the seventh day, he Painted the good ones.
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post #5 of 23 Old 11-24-2017, 04:11 AM Thread Starter
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They tend to be very curious and less wary about new things.
I suppose like puppies and children - lots of curiosity and zero sense :)

Thanks
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post #6 of 23 Old 11-24-2017, 07:36 AM
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I wouldn't take it for granted that the next foal you are around that has not been handled a lot will act the same. They are always curious but can also be feisty, as in whirling around and striking out with the hinds, not for an attack necessarily, just more a form of play. Play that can hurt.

I've held two baby foals on their first day of birth. One was still wet and I was the first to handle him. Any foal on this ranch gets very frequent handling. And they will get alarmed about some stuff. They do have a fear instinct. Sounds like the foal you met had a lot of desensitizing already.
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post #7 of 23 Old 11-24-2017, 10:41 AM
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Humans teach them to be scared of a lot of things. We expect them to spook, then they think that maybe there is something to be concerned about, then actually spook.

I've got a fairly spooky horse. My trainer started him over fences a month or so ago. I was setting fences for him and asked if he wanted a particular combination of rails used since they were the only ones in the arena. Bright yellow, big plank, would have to be offset with another pole. I've seen more experienced horses spook at similar. Trainer asks what I think the answer is.

"I don't think he knows he's supposed to be scared of it."
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post #8 of 23 Old 11-24-2017, 11:41 AM
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As said, foals tend to be more curious than afraid.

Generally it is accepted that horses will be afraid of flappy things like polythene bags and tarps but it you were to leave these frighteners lying around the. Within seconds young horses would be investigating and destroying them.

One good laugh I had was when I had a heap of feed sacks on the ATV one of the youngsters grabbed a mouthful and pulled three or four sacks into the loose pen. He was frightened of what he had done and took off around the barn with one in his mouth, he didn't have the sense to drop it!

The other youngsters just stood where they were watching in surprise.
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post #9 of 23 Old 11-24-2017, 11:42 AM
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I have been present at the birth of many foals over the years,raising them.
They are born with a clean slate of mind, needing to learn about their environment.
That fact is what Dr Miller built his questionable foal imprinting around.\
Even that first suck is a learning experience, as that foal will try to nurse on anything, including a human who might be present
Foals are also mouthy, using taste to help gather information.
Like any other child, they must learn both social skills and survival skills.
That is why foals will try to kick or even bite people at times, as they have yet to learn as to where they fit, both in that herd and in relationship to humans.
They learn to involk their natural flight reaction, as they learn from older horses. While it may seem they are 'taught' to be more fearful, that is us looking at iy from a human perspective, as a foal that did not learn the 'react first, then reevaluate from a safe distance, did not live long in the wild .
We can moderate this natural learned survival coping method, by exposing a foal to many things, but we are also changing as to how a foal in the wild would become more tuned in to react, versus less, which of course, works to our advantage, doing what we do with horses, but it is a modification, because of human influence.
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post #10 of 23 Old 11-24-2017, 11:55 AM
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Think of it this way, in the wild, a foal is taught by his dam, survival skills.
Thus, while it might be cute for a foal to accept the family dog, go up and nuzzle him, it would not be in that foal's interest to not react to a cougar.
The dam,being used to that dog, also projects to her foal that the dog is okay
Foals learn that a rattling sound is to be avoided, movement in tall grass to be suspicious of.
Thus, while we might see a foal learning to be more spooky, afraid, as he matures as a negative, it is a natural progression in the wild for survival. Watching domestic foals might not show that natural learning process of survival, or only a modified degree of it, because of our influence.
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