Mare runs away from me - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 10-20-2015, 10:54 AM Thread Starter
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Mare runs away from me

I got a pregnant mare (not a maiden) 2 months ago. She is 6 and has been a broodmare all her life. When I first got her she would let me catch her, halter her, lead her, etc. Then she started to run away from me. This may be because the one and only time I reprimanded her (with voice and a hard slap) was when she tried to nip me. So the next time I caught her I left her halter on so I could still catch her with a carrot when I needed to.
She had her colt 8 days ago and now she won't let me near her, or her colt. The birth was not ideal - I missed the actual birth itself - and the colt took ages to learn to suckle. In the end, and after trying for a long time to get him to suck from his mum with no result, the mare was getting sick of it all and I had to call the vet to give him an enema as he still hadn't passed his first movement. The vet also gave him an antibiotic injection. The mare was tied up and hated every moment the vet (and I) handled her colt. She got so upset that the vet gave her a shot to calm her down, as well as a pain killer (as she had just foaled a few hours earlier). Because the colt still hadn't suckled and needed to get some energy we had to milk the mare to get some colostrum into him with a bottle and to teach him to suck. He finally got the hang of it and after 48h of observation in a temporary pen, we let them both go into the paddock.
Since then, the mare has been very protective of her colt. Whenever I come close, even with a carrot, she shies away and herds him away from us. I'm worried because the colt needs handling and she is teaching him to fear humans. I tried to catch her again today but she got away again, which is only reinforcing the problem.
I don't know what to do now, or even how I will catch her again. The last time we caught her we tricked her into our newly built 6m x 6m yard and closed both gates on her. The paddock is about 2 acres so there's no point in chasing her around and I think she is too clever to let herself (and her foal) get trapped in the yard again. I feel extremely frustrated (but don't show this to her - I stay calm and soothing).
What should I do?
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post #2 of 7 Old 10-20-2015, 12:00 PM
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Put feed in the 6X6 yard and take a helper or 2 to help you "herd" her and the foal into the smaller yard. Then, catch her, tie her up and handle that baby. Don't turn them back out for a couple of days. I think she'll calm down a lot when the "new" wears off the foal, some are just super protective for the first week or 2. Some just have to be taught that this kind of behaviour isn't allowed, that you WILL handle the baby whether she likes it or not and if she doesn't behave, she'll be tied up. Usually, after a few times of being tied up they get over being silly and will allow you to do whatever. She's being a good protective mom, you just need to educate her that she is NOT allowed to interfere with you in any way at all.

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post #3 of 7 Old 10-25-2015, 10:39 PM
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Agree with above, that it's important to handle the baby *well* & teach him to come to you, regardless of what Mum thinks, as at the moment, she's teaching him you're a Bad Thing to be avoided.

BUT her attitude will still rub off on him, especially if she's really stressed about it, so IMO it's a good move to get them both trusting of you asap. I'd focus on the mare's attitude towards you first, and baby will come. Not only has the mare 'hormonally' protective too, but she had a bad experience by the sound of it, so I'd start out just 'reteaching' her you're not a bad thing to be around.
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post #4 of 7 Old 10-26-2015, 08:54 PM
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With a mare like that I would say that the foal doesn't need handling. The problem is you can't catch the mare because she is over protective and trying to handle the foal is giving her a reason to stay away. The foal will come around on his own much quicker if you work on the mare and get her to relax. I had a maiden mare foal in the pasture and couldn't get near her for four days. In this case there was really no need to as the foal was nursing and eliminating and the mare had passed all of the afterbirth. I am not saying this is ideal. it did take a little longer with that foal but he was a very "in your pocket" little guy by the time he was three months old and was leading and standing tied for grooming and picking his feet up. I would give the mare a little time to settle down but remain present. Perhaps you can start getting her used to coming into the smaller enclosure for supplemental feed and eventually have her confined in a smaller space. We don't have to like her behavior but it is very valid to her and she needs to be reassured that no one is going to harm or take away her baby.
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post #5 of 7 Old 10-28-2015, 07:59 PM
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Foals and Mares

The first thing you need to do is handle that colt, immediately. Now, I say this with urgency, because if you want him/her to possibly end up like it's mother I wouldn't not start handling him/her, which builds trust. Now, onto the mother. It sounds like she has bad manners, honestly. I would start with some ground work. Lunge her, work her hard. Then, you can do join up. (I won't go into detail, but you can research that. ) After a couple days of that then when she turns to come in whistle or click, some sound that signals her to come. Then after a couple weeks of that you'll have a horse that will come to the signal. Also, the first couple days you let her out into the pasture and call her in with the signal reward her with a treat; for example calling her in for her supper (grain)... etc. About the colt problem; so instead of calling out a vet now you can get some chamomile and give it to her in feed. Chamomile is a natural sedative/relaxant. I'm not sure how much it sedates her/how much to give her so you should research that too. Also, everyday or every two days or so give her some raspberry leaves; it'll help with those mareish moments (mood swings, attitude... etc.) So you need to catch them in a small pen and don't let them out, so feed them grain. And I told you what to do above... ^^
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post #6 of 7 Old 10-29-2015, 04:36 AM
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Originally Posted by dawnandduke2002 View Post
I would start with some ground work. Lunge her, work her hard.
Dawn, the problem is *catching* and if you finally catch the horse only to do unpleasant 'hard work', that's not exactly likely to give her a warm fuzzy feeling about being caught in the future! Also, we can speculate that she maybe hasn't been taught 'good manners' in the past, but it sounds like the problem is, the horse doesn't trust the OP & this has come about since the foal & recent experiences.

So you need to catch them in a small pen and don't let them out, so feed them grain. And I told you what to do above... ^^
Agree that a small(ish - not too small that she feels trapped & more anxious! And I wouldn't be 'round penning') yard/paddock will be easier. Definitely disagree with feeding grain(unless there's a good reason & locking them up is not one), especially to a foal!
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post #7 of 7 Old 10-29-2015, 08:53 AM
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NO, you do NOT need to handle the foal immediately. Foals are naturally curious, if you don't make yourself an over baring presence he will come to investigate you. I agree with creating the 6x6 yard as a "safe" place where you feed them. While they are eating, just stand there quietly observing. Don't DO anything till you see them visibly relaxing. Do you know how to read the body language of a horse?
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colt , problem behavior , running away

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