Thursday, December 18, 2008

part 6 training your foal

Patience and Persistence, I can not say this enough when you are working with your foal. Remember...they are babies! The first thing a foal will learn is flight. This is really their only source of defense. Even though our foals are not endangered in anyway by predators, it seems the mothers know the foal still needs to learn this defense. When foaling season is in full swing and we are expecting 10 babies in one month, the first thing we do in the morning is look out the window into the "maternity ward" to see if any new foals have come in the night. One sure thing that will tell us there is a new one born, is the mares will be running around the field. We think the other mother-to-bes want to see the new baby and the new mom is just not willing to let that happen yet. However, I also think it is instinct to get that baby up as soon as possible and get it moving. With all the "new and improved" monitoring of foaling that so many people do to avoid all the calamities that we can, it is comforting to know that a horse still knows how to be a horse.

O.K. back to where I started, patience and persistence. This is what it takes to work with a horse, particularly a foal. For a long time all they can think of is getting back to mom and if you restrain the foal from flight, then they are going to give you all the "fight" that they can. This by no means is an act of aggression but done out of fear only. I will stress again... do not try to "out pull" the foal (you will not win) and you will cause a lot of physical damage if you are not careful. However, you will not want to let the foal get away from you. You don't want the foal to learn that all he has to do is pull on the lead and he can get away. A couple of times doing that and you will have some real trouble on your hands. I suggest you keep the foal in a closed area such as a round pen until they learn to lead without really getting away from you. This way you can give them some line, but you always have contact. You usually do not have any problem with foals that you have worked with from day one, but if you are starting a foal that is a couple of months old they can be pretty big and strong. Keep safety first always stay to the side of the foal/horse. Don't let them get ahead of you or behind you. Both can be dangerous places to be.

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