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start making contact with your foal as soon as possible. If you wait till they are weaned, your own safety becomes a greater concern as the horse gets older. I have attempted to halter break horses that were 4 and 5 years old. It's a very stressful process for all involved.
 

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I have attempted to halter break horses that were 4 and 5 years old. It's a very stressful process for all involved.
Respectfully, I think there was something wrong that was nothing to do with their age - halter breaking a horse of any age can(& should IMHO) be done in a non confrontational, non stressful way. I will try to get permission to share the film that was taken of a girl who I watched just last week, who 'tamed' & then 'halter broke' a 15yo brumby band stallion, the way it SHOULD be done, with no running in circles or such - hoping hers & my son's egs will get through to some other brumby people...
 

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The sooner the better. Starting from the MOMENT the mare will let you.

But not for ease of halter breaking, which can be done easily enough at any age if you know what you're doing and aren't just brute-forcing the horse around. No. It's because the earlier you halter break, the lower the chances are that your horse will hurt itself while unhandled. Horses that are injured while unhandled and therefore have a first impression of humans that's full of pain and fear are so much harder to get through to, if you even can. Plus doctoring unhandled horses is a nightmare.

Handle your foals.

I have halter broken a LARGE 2 year old. He'd worn a halter before but really didn't understand leading. There's no physical way I could have FORCED that horse to do anything. He's a lot bigger than me, and a LOT stronger than me, and that didn't matter because I halter broke him by teaching him to yield to pressure. I taught him that the only way to make the pressure go away is to give to it. At first I released if he so much as shifted his weight forwards. Then once he consistently responded to forward pressure on his halter by shifting his weight forward, I started only releasing when he took a step forward. Then two. Then three. Then four. It only took a couple of days to get him leading beautifully consistently. He's now 3, and broke, and incredibly easy to handle in every way. Oh, and he ties solid, 100% consistently, even though I never formally taught him to. Why? Because he's properly halter broke.
 

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I agree with doing it as soon as possible, of course. It's hard to argue with that.

But I also tend to agree with @loosie that it shouldn't be that stressful with an older horse if it's done right (calmly, patiently, listening to and respecting what the horse is telling you, no brute force). I can only speak from my own experience, but I just halter broke the mini donkeys that live in the pasture where I board. They are older and had pretty clearly had no experience with halters before. I had some mis-steps, I made some mistakes, and there were times where I had to take a step back, figure out why something wasn't working, and try something else, but overall it was pretty easy. Even though they were minis, I didn't have to use any force, nor would I have, as they aren't my donkeys and I wouldn't have wanted to traumatize them. A donkey isn't a horse, but they aren't that different either.
 

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My granddad’s philosophy was “git to handlin’ that foal before it gits to handlin’ you”.

His foals had a perfect setup. There were two of us cousins at all times. One handled the mare, while the other of us handled the foal.

Granddad always gave the ok as to when each foal should start being handled but, by the time they were a mo th old, they were halter broke and broke to lead. That is because of the “your legs are younger than mine,so get busy”, lollol

It would have been a longer wait, had granddad had to do all the work but my cousin and I were pretty responsible 9 & 12 year olds when he first put us to “work” with the foals:)
 

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^Yeah, I'm definitely all for handling foals 'before they gits to handling you'! My current 3mo foal is good at leading, being 'driven', yielding to fingertip and implied(bodylanguage) pressure in all ways, had her feet well handled & trimmed, goes on the trailer like an old hand... etc. She has learned to 'tie up' by using a long rope wrapped around a rail, or through a 'Blocker Tie Ring'(type thing). I will not tie her 'solid' or put weight on her back or ask her to do anything 'high impact' like jumping, until she is far more mature though.(prob won't own her then).
 

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I don't really agree.
I bought a weaning filly and her breeders don't handle their foals or mares much. I had bought a yearling from them over 10 years ago and she came to me untouched.
For the last two years, I've let this filly be a horse and learn horse things. Only just started halter breaking the last month and it has gone very well. In the first day she was roped and haltered. Second day she was leading. Third day we were touching her legs. Of course it's not the kind of thing everyone can do but it's possible and works just fine with no harm to the horse at all.
 

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Of course you CAN leave them, and as per my first reply above, I agree fully that age doesn't matter - halter training is no harder, still can/should be done in a non-stressful way. But that you have taken on weanlings & left them untouched until they're over 2yo implies that you also have never done their feet till later than that, they have never had their teeth done/checked even. Let alone other veterinary or emergency care that hopefully wasn't needed.

Neglecting their hooves, especially in early life, is indeed very often detrimental. I don't know about dental work, but back in the recesses of my mind I vaguely recall something about certain degrees of 'parrot mouth' & the likes being correctable if addressed early enough. Chiropractic work can be really helpful on foals who have 'birthing trauma' injuries, whereas those same injuries are difficult/impossible to fix if a horse has been left with them chronically until maturity. And of course, basic exercise is also generally extremely lacking in domestic horses, often living in 'nice' paddocks where they need to move very little for their feed & water, and often aren't kept in a herd either. Unless you live out in the boonies, where it's safe to just let the foal follow along while you ride, they need to be halter trained to be able to take them out on walks too.

So... if for no other reason than for easily giving the babies the necessary care and medical attention they need, I think handling them & getting them basically trained ASAP is VERY important. And my own current foal - I can't keep her long-term, will need to rehome her once she's weaned, so for that situation, she also needs to be halter & trailer trained, and, well, the more well trained she is, the more she's worth too!
 

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I don't know about dental work, but back in the recesses of my mind I vaguely recall something about certain degrees of 'parrot mouth' & the likes being correctable if addressed early enough.
My 3 year old is parrot mouthed. He had never had his teeth done before I bought him, and was basically untouched aside from the 12ish weeks I had him for breaking in as a 2 year old.
His mouth has self-corrected to a degree since I've had his teeth done. He will always be parrot mouthed, but I will always feel like he might have self-corrected completely had he been given routine dental care from weaning. My equine dentist told me that his mouth had the worst ulceration they'd ever seen on a horse his age.
His feet were also tragic, obviously, and they're going to be a work in progress for some time. The flares are growing out well and the quality of the horn is markedly better above the line in his feet from when I bought him but they have a long way to go.

The strongest case I can make for handling a horse as young as possible is a family friend's horse Flash. He rolled under a fence aged ~5 months, unhandled because his owner was planning on halter breaking him on weaning, and shredded his hind legs badly enough that he needed extensive surgery and rehabilitation at a university vet hospital, and had to be taken off his dam to facilitate this. His first real experience of human handling was surgery and surgical aftercare, immediately after being ripped away from his mum. Obviously that was very painful and VERY frightening for the poor little guy, and even now, 15ish years later, he has major behavioural issues that are rooted in that trauma. He is manageable, but he's majorly mentally messed up. This horse was never abused, I've known his owner all my life and she is the SOFTEST person. He has been babied a little, but the root of his myriad issues is the fact that his introduction to human handling was extremely traumatic. I will never do that to one of my horses. I handled my weanling quite extensively, and I will handle any foal I breed from the first moment its mother will allow it.
 

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I hope I'm not hijacking this thread, but... how do people buy and sell an untouched horse? Specifically, how do they transport it? Do you have to back up the trailer to a pen and then scare the horse into the trailer and then shut him in real quick? I have always wondered this.
 

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I don't really agree.
I bought a weaning filly and her breeders don't handle their foals or mares much. I had bought a yearling from them over 10 years ago and she came to me untouched.
For the last two years, I've let this filly be a horse and learn horse things. Only just started halter breaking the last month and it has gone very well. In the first day she was roped and haltered. Second day she was leading. Third day we were touching her legs. Of course it's not the kind of thing everyone can do but it's possible and works just fine with no harm to the horse at all.
That is true. Some breeders in the western U.S. leave the babies run free until, I believe, they are almost old enough to ride before they start handling them.

We didn’t work the foals to death. They might have had 10-15 minutes as babies, then turned out to 40 acres of pasture that included some woods and a creek running thru it. They had an idyllic life. They didn’t get worked every single day either, as there were the yearlingswho also needed attention.

Shoot —— we had an idyllic life, as children, spending summers on grandad’s farm, so long as we didn’t get him so mad, his neck turned purple and we found ourselves sitting on the front porch swing a LOT more hours than our busy selves wanted😉😉
 
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I hope I'm not hijacking this thread, but... how do people buy and sell an untouched horse? Specifically, how do they transport it? Do you have to back up the trailer to a pen and then scare the horse into the trailer and then shut him in real quick? I have always wondered this.
Yes, exactly.
 

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I hope I'm not hijacking this thread, but... how do people buy and sell an untouched horse? Specifically, how do they transport it? Do you have to back up the trailer to a pen and then scare the horse into the trailer and then shut him in real quick? I have always wondered this.
I moved this filly a couple times and it was pretty easy. Back the trailer up to the gate and let her investigate and if she'd try to leave just nudge her back to the trailer door and be patient about it.

If you try to just chase them in it will never work. It really only took a couple minutes the second time I did it. It did help that I had two other horses loaded in the front half of the trailer so she could probably smell other horses in there and wanted to be with them.
 

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I hope I'm not hijacking this thread, but... how do people buy and sell an untouched horse? Specifically, how do they transport it? Do you have to back up the trailer to a pen and then scare the horse into the trailer and then shut him in real quick? I have always wondered this.
I've bought a couple of brumbies that were wild. Last one was a few months ago. Best with a stock crate, rather than a normal trailer. Backed up to a race/ramp, so the horse can be hustled through the race onto the trailer. Of this mare & foal pair I have, the foal was untouched & terrified of strangers, tho the mare was friendly, so loaded her and cornered the foal behind the trailer & she (eventually, with a lot of stress) jumped in with her mum. Bought 6 untouched many years ago, 3 mares each with a foal at foot, didn't have an appropriate trailer at the time, so hired a cattle truck. Also run through cattle race onto the truck. And we're considering doing it again... but for newly caught brumbies, need pretty solid, high fences, to start with, so they don't see fit to try escaping, before they're friendly & trusting. We need to address that issue before we take on a brum.
 

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Just about from the minute their feet first hit the ground when born. I give a little time for mom & baby to bond and then I'm in the stall checking baby out, putting my hands all over him and slipping the halter on and off a few times. I do that for several days, never trying to lead. After a few days of just on & off haltering, then we take MAMMA out of the stall for a walk. Before we take her out, we put the halter on baby and just let him follow her around. After a couple of days like that we attach a short lead/catch rope and again let the foal follow mom around for a few minutes but occasionally letting the foal "bump" into the lead rope by just doing a sort of half halt while we follow mom. Keep doing that, step by step for several weeks and before you know it, the foal is halter broke and starting to lead pretty well.
 

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like start working with in the foal being a week old so they learn what is what. and do little short exercises with the foal. they need to learn how to be have. Touch all over them be with them and have people come and pet them, Halter breaking needs to be taught ASAP
 
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