Suggestions for Getting my Horses out of the Field - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 11-19-2014, 03:57 PM Thread Starter
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Suggestions for Getting my Horses out of the Field

I recently purchased a mare and her 5 month old foal. We kept them in a stall the first couple days, but then introduced them to the herd, which went great except now the entire herd loves them and is making it difficult for me to retrieve my guys from the field.

The mare is sweet, but the foal hasn't been handled much. I can go out and lead the mare to the gate, but as the filly follows mom, the rest of the herd joins in and I have 7 horses at the gate, which is presenting a problem.

I can't get my hands on the filly yet when she's in the pasture - we're working on halter-breaking and leading, but when in the field, I have to rely on her following mom into the barn to catch her. The other horses are pretty pushy at the gate and I have to balance shooing them away without scaring away the filly.

I tried putting the mare in the barn temporarily while I went back out for the filly, but she was NOT happy being out of sight. The filly really didn't seem to mind being away from mom though, which is a plus. There isn't a good place to tie the mare up in sight - it is all electric fencing. There is a small "paddock" between the barn and their pasture that I can close off, but I'm not sure how helpful that'd be - I was thinking about letting the mare in there while trying to let just the filly in with her, but then I'd have horses on both sides challenging me.

Just for more info - the barn doesn't really offer stall board on a long-term basis - they did it as a courtesy temporarily when they arrived so they could settle in before being introduced to the herd and are letting me use it if needed when it comes to weaning (as opposed to hauling one of them off to a different farm), but we haven't crossed that bridge yet. It might be an option to ask them at least until the filly is more comfortable, but I also think it is good for her to be able to run around, graze, and have other horses to be around to learn from.

Any suggestions for how to do this by myself so I can go out and spend more time with them without always having to bring someone along? I'd love to go out everyday, maybe even twice a day, to work with them but I can't expect someone to go with me that often and I'd be restricted to mostly weekends.
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post #2 of 22 Old 11-19-2014, 04:26 PM
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Your easiest and safest option would be to take all the horses out of the field and stall them and then lead your mare and foal out to wherever you want to take them
I don't think I'd want to keep a foal in with a 'herd' of other 'random' horses - they can get too rough when they play and that's going to stress the mare out if she's constantly having to protect it especially when hay's put out
Can the BO not find you a small paddock for them to go in until you've got the foal better handled?
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post #3 of 22 Old 11-19-2014, 08:31 PM Thread Starter
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Unfortunately there are not enough stalls to do that and coordinating that many horses seems even more daunting.

The initial plan was to keep my 2 in the smaller paddock for awhile, but as it is the go between the main field and the barn, it didn't work out as they ended up with the rest of the herd (presumably when another boarder let them in while retrieving/returning their horse).

Even with 2 people, we weren't able to get the filly out of the field, but we were able to pet her. I think now that she's in with a herd, she's gaining more independence from mom. From watching them, I really don't have any issue with the herd dynamics. They integrated really well and no one bothered the mare and foal eating hay when it was put out, they let the foal get water repeatedly even when other horses were drinking at the same time, and the foal continued eating hay as we groomed mom in the adjacent paddock. No evidence of bullying towards either one. The dominant mare pushed a couple others away from the handfuls of grain we scattered to distract them while I took my mare out, but they just moved onto another pile. Mom seems pretty relaxed with the situation - only thing that bothered her was taking her into the barn alone.
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post #4 of 22 Old 11-19-2014, 08:37 PM
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It's good that they seem to be a nice lot of horses that aren't going to cause any harm to her or stress the mare.
Its understandable why the mare gets upset when she can't see her baby though - that's something you're going to have to deal with when you wean.
Can you not train the foal to halter and lead with its mother in the field - its something that really needs to be done before it is weaned anyway and you could then just lead them out together
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post #5 of 22 Old 11-19-2014, 11:25 PM
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Easiest & safest Jaydee? Going backwards & forwards, stabling other people's horses, every time you want to go play with yours? Assuming everyone else is happy with you taking their horses out & they had a safe place to be put too... & you've still got to contend with everyone barging at the gate when you take one out. I suspect you're used to vastly different management setups, but I have almost always had to agist my horses in a group paddock, with no facilities. Easiest & safest IMO is to teach the other horses what 'manners' you expect from them.

OP, what would happen if you haltered the mare & just played with her in the paddock, & shooed the others away whenever they came close? If the foal wants to be close to Mum, then you could just 'stay at home' & play. If you're consistent & clear about telling the other horses to stay out of your space, it shouldn't take much for them to learn to leave you alone, and the filly will also get the idea you're not directing energy at her. Particularly if Mum is also understanding of that - can you shoo others at close quarters without Mum getting uptight?

Then, be it for taking them out, or just a contained place to handle them, I'd also ask about creating an 'airlock' yard inside the gate. If it's already all electric, shouldn't be any stress to put in a few tread-ins & bit of tape.
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post #6 of 22 Old 11-19-2014, 11:59 PM
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Loosie - Where I worked we had as many as 20 horses on DIY board turned out together on a lot of acreage. Occasionally someone would buy a horse that proved hard to catch and if it got all the others running with it it was dangerous but the other owners would always turn up and catch their own horses and stable them all leaving just the problem horse on its own which would usually then give up and want to go in with the others
I wasn't meaning that the OP should do it all on her own - she has a friend who's helped her before and with only 7 horses bringing them in two at a time wouldn't take long at all - assuming they're all good to catch of course. Once she had the foal out it would be best kept with its mother in a separate paddock until its learnt to be handled and led
If there isn't stabling it can't be done anyway
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post #7 of 22 Old 11-20-2014, 01:50 AM
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I've taught all my horses to go through the gate without me. I stand on the pasture side of the gate, open it enough to let the horse go through and give it enough slack in the lead rope that it can walk around the gate. I stay behind to block any of the other horses from coming through and then I go out myself and shut the gate (I still always have the lead in my hand). If your mare's foal is good about staying right on her heels this method would still work but if it's off running around the other horses it won't work so well. Maybe try staying inside the gate and see if the foal will work it's way to it then open the gate again and let it through.
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post #8 of 22 Old 11-20-2014, 02:22 AM
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OP was also asking for ideas to be able to go alone to the paddock, not need 'backup'.
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post #9 of 22 Old 11-20-2014, 10:07 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaydee View Post
Can you not train the foal to halter and lead with its mother in the field - its something that really needs to be done before it is weaned anyway and you could then just lead them out together
It definitely does, which is the problem. I can't catch her in the field. She's got a halter(break-away for safety) on to make it easier, but that hasn't proved to be the case as I need to get close enough to get a hold of it. And even when I do(prior in the barn), she is very uncomfortable so I don't want to go trying that out in the field with a herd of horses around if she proceeds to freak out.

In the stall we were able to practice approach & retreat and were making some progress with her being more comfortable with her head touched and took advantage of her following mom to work on leading.
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post #10 of 22 Old 11-20-2014, 10:19 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by loosie View Post
Easiest & safest IMO is to teach the other horses what 'manners' you expect from them.

OP, what would happen if you haltered the mare & just played with her in the paddock, & shooed the others away whenever they came close? If the foal wants to be close to Mum, then you could just 'stay at home' & play. If you're consistent & clear about telling the other horses to stay out of your space, it shouldn't take much for them to learn to leave you alone, and the filly will also get the idea you're not directing energy at her. Particularly if Mum is also understanding of that - can you shoo others at close quarters without Mum getting uptight?
That's what we worked on yesterday as I had help and could judge how mom would react to me shooing the others away and she was fine. We groomed her in the small paddock so she was able to see her filly at any time and she was pretty relaxed. I wish there was someplace in that paddock to tie her too and then I could at least go out and work with the mare alone (and then only need help getting the filly) I think its beneficial for the filly to see mom being calm around us so even if I couldn't handle her directly, it's better than nothing.

Going to see if we can figure out someplace to tie her as that seems to actually be the most feasible option at this point...
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