Are foals scared of things? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 23 Old 11-24-2017, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by ApuetsoT View Post
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."
I think the apposite is actually true. It is 'natural, and in fact even vital for horses living as they evolved, and not domesticated, to learn to be afraid of stuff, react first, get to a safe distance and then evaluate'.

Foals that survived in the wild, learned this skill, asp.

Of course, that does not work so well for us, doing what we do with horses, and thus training programs center on having hroses learn to trust our judgement, become less reactive, dampen their built in flight reaction.

That is also why, animals raised in captivity, sometimes can't be returned tot he wild, or they at least need to be taught some of their natural survival skills before they are

Of course, horses are very good at reading body language, and if you, their leader tenses, expects them to react, they will. They don't think that their leader is tense, fearing their reaction, just that they are, so that orange blob up ahead must be something to be concerned about.
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post #12 of 23 Old 11-24-2017, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Smilie View Post
I think the apposite is actually true. It is 'natural, and in fact even vital for horses living as they evolved, and not domesticated, to learn to be afraid of stuff, react first, get to a safe distance and then evaluate'.

Foals that survived in the wild, learned this skill, asp.

Of course, that does not work so well for us, doing what we do with horses, and thus training programs center on having hroses learn to trust our judgement, become less reactive, dampen their built in flight reaction.

That is also why, animals raised in captivity, sometimes can't be returned tot he wild, or they at least need to be taught some of their natural survival skills before they are

Of course, horses are very good at reading body language, and if you, their leader tenses, expects them to react, they will. They don't think that their leader is tense, fearing their reaction, just that they are, so that orange blob up ahead must be something to be concerned about.
Of course they are scared of things naturally. They are prey animals.

My point is that instead of their dam teaching them snakes are scary, we teach them that fly spray, blankets, corners of the arena, ect, are because we react to them and give them a reason to worry.
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post #13 of 23 Old 11-25-2017, 01:01 AM
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Well, we try NOT to teach them those things are scary, although it does happen, as I mentioned, becuase of course, we can't help our own body language.
The mare teaches them something is scary, on purpose, as part of survival, we at times, ACCIDENTLy teach them to be scared of things we know are no threat, because we are scared of the horse;s reaction.
My point, is that there is a big difference in the two possible scenarios.
There is also the fact that good positive training, does the exact opposite, having horses learn to trust your judgement and not react like they are hard wired to do
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post #14 of 23 Old 11-25-2017, 03:54 AM
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Originally Posted by ApuetsoT View Post
Of course they are scared of things naturally. They are prey animals.

My point is that instead of their dam teaching them snakes are scary, we teach them that fly spray, blankets, corners of the arena, ect, are because we react to them and give them a reason to worry.
Nah, you can throw horses out in the arena on their own with new things and you'll see them reacting without any humans around. Many people blame a rider for being nervous or watching things if their horse spooks, but I've known of many situations where the rider didn't even see what spooked the horse. Had one myself recently where the horse was bucking before I saw anything or tensed up.

And I've seen really inexperienced people who had no clue that a horse might be scared of something come up and use a spray bottle on the horse, and be completely surprised that the horse reacted. No nerves from the human in that case.
Possibly the dam teaches the foal to be wary of things that they are not sure are safe. Then they translate this to new sights and sounds they are unaccustomed to, such as a flag.

It's more accurate to say that a person can cause a horse to react or be more reactive by getting tense, because horses are very in tune to our body language and even listen to us holding our breath as a sign of danger. But both can also happen independently. I've even "spooked" badly myself while on a horse, and not had the horse react at all.
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post #15 of 23 Old 11-25-2017, 05:29 AM Thread Starter
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My mare is one of trose that completely ignores my emotional state. I have issues with anxiety. It often happens that I'm a total wreck and she is completely chilled out. The few times she spooked I wasn't expecting it and I was just cruising along without a worry in the world. But I think that depends on the horse. Some are sponges for the rider emotions, others are more independent.
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post #16 of 23 Old 11-25-2017, 02:42 PM
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Well, we are getting off topic. Mature horses react according to their temperament, training, life experience and trust and confidence plus respect for their human.
Foals are born with a clean slate of a mind, and curious of their surroundings
Their dam has great influence far as how they learn to react to their environment, plus a herd setting helps them to learn correct herd behavior
A foal has to learn that sticking his nose into a porcupine is not a positive thing, whereas an older horse often has already had that learning experience, thus avoids those beasts. Dr Millar, with his imprinting, suggested exposing new born foals to things like clippers, with the idea they then don't need to learn to fear clippers , when they are later re - introduced.
So yes, foals can appear very bold, because they have yet to learn from their peers,or though sampling their enviroment
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post #17 of 23 Old 11-25-2017, 03:46 PM
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Horses have a natural survival instinct that's built into them but some seem more alert to potential dangers than others. Even humans have a fear/flight survival instinct but we've become less tuned in to it and more inclined to use out brains to evaluate things rather than just running, though you see similar in horses.
A foal that's been handled from birth and used to the general goings on around a barn/yard isn't likely to have any fear at all of things that would cause a lot of anxiety to one that was dragged from the wild and plunged into it.
We always bred from mares that were very bold and coped well with new things and that seemed to rub off on their offspring, when the foals were weaned they were put in with a 'nanny' horse that was calm, well behaved and also bold and then when they went out on their first rides off the property or to their first competition they were accompanied by a similar natured horse.
Everything was about them learning by good example and never being pushed so far out of their comfort zone that they got a chance to see the world as a big scary place and somewhere to panic about every little thing.
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post #18 of 23 Old 11-26-2017, 04:57 AM
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What I have observed with many foals is that when they are hours old they are unaware of dangers. They are curious and you can easily touch them, then after a day or two they become much more shy and will hide behind their dam.

The mare that is foal proud will keep the foal away from the human always keeping herself to the side of 'danger'. I have never had this problem with my own mares as the mares totally trust me, it had been with mares that came in for foaling and didn't know me.

The odd thing about this is that the foals on these mares are often more curious about human interaction and want to investigate but are prevented by the mare.

I remember watch a programme testing babies for fear. These babies were around 6 months old. Mothers were not in the same room. These babies were shown look alike spiders and snakes and many of them certainly showed a natural fear.
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post #19 of 23 Old 11-26-2017, 07:05 AM
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Speaking of fear of snakes, there's been some interesting research about monkeys and the fear of snakes where it has been clearly proved that fear of snakes at least in monkeys is a learned fear passed down, not necessarily by the mother.

Read about that in a book by Temple Grandin.
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post #20 of 23 Old 11-26-2017, 08:31 AM
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Hondo, there is a big Chimp rescue here, Monkey World. Most of the chimps are rescues taken from the wild when very young and used as photographers 'aids' with tourists, many very badly abused.

Most have never seen the wilds. As an experiment they put some realistic looking snakes in an enclosure, it didn't take the chimps long to see it and issues warnings. Eventually they did go closer to it and as it never moved they used sticks to poke at it, eventually realising it was either dead or not a real snake they just left it alone.
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