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Discussion Starter #1
So, I have a few interesting problems with with my orphaned colt. I'll start with the background information. Mr Big Stuff was orphaned at birth. He is a healthy 8 month old Spotted Saddle Horse colt. He has been kept in a pasture with other colts his age, and he was put with an older mare for her to teach him to be a horse. He adjusted well, but this is where the problems begin.

Problem 1) He is lacking muscle for a colt his age. The mares all accept him, and he plays with the other foals, but his muscles are definitely behind others of his age. (They are definitely behind what his full older sister was at his age) We are planning on ponying him some to help make him more active. This problem isn't so serious because we have a solution.

Problem 2) He is not the least bit scared of humans. This seems like it would not be a problem, but we decided to begin teaching him some basic lunging. It doesn't matter what we try to use, he trusts implicitly that we will not hurt him. He just stands, or he will try to come over to see what we are up to. We have tried using a couple of the Parelli games with him, but he will not actually move away from us unless we touch him with something to force him to be away from us. He does the porcupine game perfectly. (my mother does the Parelli, I do not...so I would be passing an Parelli related advice to her) We even tried having someone he doesn't know attempt to have him move away. He just doesn't seem to understand. He has adjusted to horses, and he understands their body language. How do we get him to understand that we (like horses) should be able to push him away???? We even tried to see if he would move back if he was lightly popped with the whip...he doesn't.He stands looking at us like we're idiots. I have NO more ideas...so any are welcome.
 

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Hey Smoothtrails all I can tell you is what I would do in your situation, which may not be that helpful. I wouldn't even try to do anything with the little guy, I would turn him out with another horse or two in a back paddock until he was three. I would send him off to be a horse.

Then I would bring him back in and start again. Ofcourse I would check up on him while he was turned out, worm him as required etc but basically I would leave him alone. I wouldn't even try to handle him unless it was a neccessity. Like I said that is what I would do in your situation and probably not the advice you wanted, sorry.
 

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i have one question first !! haha sry !
does he yield his hind quarters ? or will he not do that either ?
 

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You need to escalate the cues. If you need to spank him on the butt then do it. Do it like you mean it and don't just pester him to move. Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard. I am sure that if you whack him on the *** he will move. Ask him to go, step toward him and ask harder and ifr he still hasn't gone then ask him harder while spanking him on the butt. If you repeat this then he will anticipate the escalation and move sooner.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you. We have tried the letting him just be a horse, but he's to the point that we are worried he will end up very behind on muscling and growth if left to just get fat and stay lazy. We have had him with other horses (including foals his age) constantly, and he is still staying with his buddy. She is 2 months younger than him and much taller and in better shape. She tries to get him to play constantly, but he still barely even moves around when she asks. He only runs if the mares move him.

He gives his fore and hind. He just won't go away.

Kevin, I think that you are right that if we make it hard enough he will go. So far the only way we can make him move is to herd him with an older mare. He just tries to stay with people because basically he seems to think we are "mommy" which makes us safe. I guess we're going to have to do what mommy would do, and be mean enough that he wants to get away.

For now we are going to start ponying him, and hopefully once he has more muscle we can get him to go play more to keep it up. He doesn't even try to play with us. Our main worry is that if he continues with poor muscling it could cause him to have issues with stifling later on. We got a colt at one poitn that had not been worked with enough, and even working him 15-20 minutes every other day caused him to start stifling. We would rather get his muscles going now than have to rehab even more later. (this is part of why we want to begin the basics of lunging)
 

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well he is only 8 monthes old- that is far too early imo...i would just leave him to grow for at least another year and then try some ground work again to see if he is ready. pyshically and mentally he is not ready; put him out with another youngster, and just give him time to grow up ...bring him in daily to get used to handling and grooming, picking up feet, give him a little feed, and turn him back out- thats all he needs at that age.
 

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He is only 8 months old. No need for him to be lunged at this time. As far as muscle development - even full siblings can develop at different rates.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks. Lillie and mls. He is still just running free with the other weanlings. We bring him in for treats and handling. We're not actually teaching lunging, but we are working on the basics of getting away to move out for lunging later.

With him being an orphan we have no issues with him being scared of us doing anyhting to him, but that is the issue. Without attempting to desensitize him he has become desensitized to anything we do, but this has happened to the point that we can't convince him that he should get away from us when we ask like he would another horse. We're just trying to work on getting him to understand our body language and moving out of human's space.

We are worried that he needs to learn this, especially since he is the only stud colt we have. Within this next year or so he will have to be seperated from his buddy and either put with our QH stallion, put alone, or gelded. We have mostly mares, and since we aren't breeding anybody back we can't put him with pregnant mares for manners.
 

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Some breeds of horse grow quickly - others take their time.

He is only a baby. He's got time to grow. We Brits don't even think of weaning a foal until it is 12 months.

What are you feeding this little chap - is he getting his minerals and his supplements? Is he eating what he gets? Can he get his nose in the trough?

And as for pushing him away because he wants to be with you - well I spend most of my time trying to persuade my horse that she is my gal but all she fancies is those big butch geldings. You should be so lucky.

One thing to keep in mind - nice big rounded horses are a modern invention. One of the most hardy breeds in the world - the mustang - are mostly scrawny bony creatures - yet they will march on for hours and hours.

Give him time and make sure he doesn't get bullied by the other horses.

B G

PS You have wormed him haven't you?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks Barry. He has been wormed, and is eating well. He has a huge fat belly at the moment, and no muscles. We would like to help him gain muscle so that there is less stress on his body from his big ole belly. He is on his 3rd worming. He's going to be an awesome boy because he isn't scared of anything we do, but we are worried that if he doesn't learn this stuff young we may end up with and unruly big boy later on, and that he may have health issues if left with no work. We would rather not have him thinking that he should play with us, adn we are very worried about his joints not being supported well enough by ligaments and muscles.

We had to work on him a lot after we finally put him with the horses. He decided that he should be able to play with us and tried to rear, paw, and kick like he would with horses. The only bad thing is that he doesn't do this with other foals. :( We're probably going to put him out with older horses to play and just feed him and our other weanling seperate from the rest. They have their own covered paddock.

He's our little guy so we don't want to let anybody push him around too much. When we first put him with horses he panicked so bad that he would run into ANY fence trying to get away because he thought they meant to kill him, but now he understands that they aren't going to kill him he just has to move.
 

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This is a very common problem for orphaned foals. Being raised by people, the natural prey predator barrier is pretty much gone. He now not only sees people as herd members, but from the sounds of it herd members that he can push around. Its natural for babies to play and to test "their elders" to see just exactly where that line is drawn. You will want to play with him, but at the same time be very firm with your boundaries. Like Kevinshorses said, just increase it until he moves away. He won't hold it against you, he will learn to respect your space. He needs to learn regular behavior patterns, how far he can go and who is there to protect him. Those big horses that you are going to put him out with will bite and kick when he goes too far, if he sees you as something to play with, he will be able to see you as someone to respect. He needs a good disciplinarian, both through other horses as well as humans.

I have worked with several orphaned horses, but usually not until they are fully grown and downright dangerous. One was a 15.3 4yr old appy, the other a 3 yr old belgian. Once they understand their place in the herd, they are a lot of fun to train, because, as you mentioned, they have no fear of our world. This can work for you as easily as it can work against you.

I would probably do some liberty work with him, push him around, if he isn't moving when he gets a smack with a whip, then he definately isn't respecting it. I am personally not a huge Parelli fan, especially for a young horse, but to each his own. I wouldn't do this a lot, as you mentioned, he is young and his body still growing. You don't have to make him run his butt off, just make sure he understands what you mean when you send him away. Gradually increase pressure until you get a response.

Hope this helps, Good luck with him!
 

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[He's going to be an awesome boy because he isn't scared of anything we do, but we are worried that if he doesn't learn this stuff young we may end up with and unruly big boy later on, and that he may have health issues if left with no work. We would rather not have him thinking that he should play with us, adn we are very worried about his joints not being supported well enough by ligaments and muscles.

He's our little guy so we don't want to let anybody push him around too much. [/quote]

I understand how you feel about your baby. I have been in a similar situation myself and ended up over invested with a very badly behaved naughty horse on my hands that no respect. I am wondering why your so concerned with his muscle development at 8 months old. Have you some concern that he is physically handicapped in some way that will not allow him to grow properly? Unless you know of a reason for him to not grow then I wouldn't worry about it, he will grow at his own rate and may even not really come into his own physically until as late as 5. You shouldn't have to put an 8mnth old foal to work. If he has weak joints, ligaments and poor musculature then you could do more damage than help.

The other reason I suggested leaving him alone is because people are already suggesting that you smack him on the **** and use the force neccessary to get him to move away. I think it will be hard to do what is required while he is still a fuzzy little colt and your baby. Also at this stage you are his security, he is looking to you for safety and is not in your face to be cheeky it may be hard to use physicallity to break this trust. Whereas you will have no problems doing what you have to when he is a nice burly 3 year old who thinks he can take the ****. Also you said that you are taking out treats to him and I would guess making a fuss of him. Be careful about turning him into a pet. I'm sorry but pet horses are *******s and their lack of fear can make them very dangerous.

I honestly think you are best to leave him alone from here on in. Give him a grounding in basics, feet, catching, leading. If it is a good solid grounding he won't forget. Turn him out, leave him alone.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks Flitterbug, we have worked hard to do that. We had to raise him literally in our backyard when he was born. He ended up in our house for a couple of days because we had an ice storm. We're not doing a lot of Parelli because he is so young, but some of the games seem to work with him. Do you have anything that you would recommend for working with orphans?? He is our first orphan so we are learning as we go. Part of the reason we are trying to begin work so young is that we are worried that he is still showing that he doesn't understand this and we would like to get that instilled in his head. He is not getting very much of anything done at all, but we are trying to figure out excercises to work with him in the small increments that we do. We have already started working with both him and his buddy at being herded by us on some of the mares. They both already have respect for the mares so we are trying to use them as helpers for now since we aren't sure what to do with him on the ground to get him to just move away. He's not mean about being in your space he's just persistent about being there, and he's quit trying to do the whole pawing and kicking at us.

Thanks Kiwigirl, the treats and stuff are just to catch the two foals. (mainly his less people friendly buddy) He is an orphan so he is already behind in growth and physical development. We're concerned becaue he is definitely a good hand behind in growth. His muscles resemble atrophied muslces of a horse kept alone in a small paddock with no friends (I say this because we bought a 2 year old in this condition and that is what he looks like), and we would like to help him gain muscle before it becomes an issue. His muscles have never taken on the look of muscles that a foal has when they are moving around plenty and healthy. Although it has not affected his health yet, we would like to add the muscle before the lack of musculature does cause health issues such as stifling (which could need surgery to fix if it develops, this was an issue we had with the older colt that we bought...the vet said that it was probably because his muscles and ligaments were not used to excercise of even being with other horses). We have already seen that he is not inclined to play with other foals for the excercise that is needed by a growning foal. He has to come up to our front pasture for the winter because he does not have as thick of a coat as he should so we plan to monitor him.

Our biggest things are that he should not come to us for everything adn we would like for him to grow as healthily as possible. We want to push him away so that he will not become a pet horse. I would rather him not turn into an unruly 1,000 lb 3 year old before we try to teach him that he shouldn't jump behind (or accidentally on) us when he is scared. We are trying to put him with a more active herd, but before we can do that he needs to be able to sustain more excercise. At the moment he gets exhausted within a few minutes of normal foal play and very stressed (which is why we are working on ponying him with some of those horses as well and keeping him with his buddy who was just weaned). The older horses that will be with them are our normal riding horses, they are a calm but playful herd of 4-5 year old fillies and geldings and one 11 year old mare.
 

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Tell your mom to, first, make sure she understands all 7 Games really well, and to move on quickly with the games because it seems like he picks up on things pretty quickly. Then she needs to find an EFFECTIVE Phase 4....even if that means really sending a coil down the rope and making it snap, he needs to understand that when you say Get Back, you mean GET BACK! :) Flick him in the chest with the savvy string, send a coil down the rope, use any of the techniques in the Levels packs to get him to understand. It sounds like he is a VERY "left brained" horse, and where they can be very challenging, they teach us a lot!
 

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And of course always remember to start out as soft and subtle as possible and go up from there, and once he responds, go back to neutral and rub him.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thank you Spirithorse. She has been using the Parelli games on a few older horses we got that needed some retraining. I think that I have gotten what I needed, it seems that we have been working on doing what we had thought we should...lol. I just wanted to be sure that we were doing what made the best sense. Basically, we need to up the intensity when we ask him to move away. Thank you all for your opinions, advice, and help. :)
 

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Stand up tall and stick your chest out like your a big bully. Easy horse lauguage, You slouch, Your welcoming him in, You act like your bigger stronger and more important he might come to respect you for being able to MAKE him do what you want. If you need to give him a smack on the butt do it, but dont do it too hard, Cup your hand, It will make a louder sound, and make it seem like you hit him harder then you did.
Try that : )
 

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i can tell you want to do what is best for your boy and, sorry to go on, but i really think he is telling you taht he is not maute enough in his mind to understand what you are asking of him. i really do think that a smack on the rear is going to give you problems in the future. at the moment you have a little baby who thinks of humans as a food provider, at least. if you ask too much of him, and smack him, you are going to have a young horse with attitude. the very most i would do with him at this stage in his life is fuss him, pet him, bring him in for handling, and let him with a buddy. if you really feel the need to do something with him, i would restrict it to only moving forwards on a lead rein attatched to an ordinary head collar- no pressure halters , no rope halter. just a person at his head on each side, and some treats to entice him forward when you say walk on. you can also have someone leading another well- behaved horse in front of you when you do this with him, and he will then see what you want him to do, by following the other horses lead; eventually he will come to assosiate the voice commands with the action, and you wont need the other horse. he is not being naughty in the things you have said he does, he is just being playful, so i would only go so far as pushing him away if he gets bargy, and try to avoid the rearing,m ie keep out of the way. if you cant ignore the rearing and he continues to do it, you could gently swing a soft rope at his tum, while you calmly say "down" i hesitate to even say that, as it seems harse, and i would only do this if it becomes a real problem later on. . he will probably outgrow the rearing but you dont want to establish a habit of avoidance in that way. at this time i would say he is only giving a natural response to things he doesnt understand or feels threatened by, and the best way to handle it is to give him time to mature. i too am not a great fan of parrelli; its way too complicated especially for a baby of that age. i hope it all goes well for you.
 

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As mentioned above, get firm with him!
As a older mare if he was disrespectful and ignored her asking him to back off she would use force to push him away (bite or kick) and for more severe punishment (repeated offences) she would continue to push him away from the rest of the herd for a good couple of miles where he is now vaulnerable and in a position where he is submisive, respectful and wanting back into the heard where he is again safe.
Try observing the herd he is in with to pick up signs and ideas.
I suggest doing some reading about Montey Roberts.
Its difficult because he has had little boundries and respect form the word go and so now trying to enfource rules can cause some confusion.
 

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sea to sky and kevinshorses are giving you good advice. i had a colt born here who was abandoned by his mom and i raised him on a goat. my wifes cousin loved and wanted him so i gave him to her for a gift and she was so proud. i also gave her good advice on how to treat him and to geld him. she's just too kind hearted to be unkind to him and by the time he was two he had put two grown women into the hen house and killed two of their goats. he was top of the pecking order in that herd of people. i took him to the vet for an attitude adjustment and brought him here to retrain in human/horse interaction. he turned into a good horse after he was shown the light. no matter how you feel about him, he looks at you as another horse. if you let him, he will be top horse and will treat you like a horse. watch how they treat each other and you will see that you can't take that kind of treatment. you must be the boss and he must be second in your heard of two. he must do as you say no matter that he doesn't want to. if you are unwilling to treat him like one of your mares would, then you aught to send him to someone who will.
also, i find it preferable to start my foals the day they are born. imprint and halter train them from day one. at 8 months (if he were mine) he'd lead, tie, trailer, and give his feet. and he wouldn't know that he was too young to know those things. also he'd know if he treated me with disrespect that the sky would fall on him.
i wish you well with you baby.
 
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