Foals, they are cute, soft, furry, entertaining, upwardly mobile cuteness, right? Well, yes.. BUT (yep that favorite word of mine hehe)
Foals are the building blocks to what you eventually want to be a SAFE, PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY FUNCTIONAL RIDING HORSE.
Isn’t that what we all strive for?
So, to get to my point for this blog post.. Anything you do with a foal and I mean absolutely anything, is opening a door for something small to get much much bigger.
So as the horse ages and gets bigger in size, those little things you do, get bigger too.
Babies of every kind are born striving for advantage and power, it might be the tinniest little thing. So that little child in your arms, cry’s, you pick it up, you put it down, it cry’s again, you pick it up, the baby has already got you worked out! If for some reason you miss this and keep doing it, the baby grows and so does the situation. This happens with puppies, kittens, human children and Foals!
So, you scratch foals bum, foal then starts backing up to you to get its bum scratched, you keep doing it cos its so cute and the foals are small after all…hello before you know it you have double barrels coming at you cos you didn’t want to scratch its bum!.. is that the horses fault.. NO!
This is where common sense comes into play, this is where you need to put those building blocks in place.. its very hard to tear down anything you have built.
Think before each step!.. If you don’t want a full grown horse or even that cute little foal, double barreling demanding that scratch.. NEVER EVER GO THERE, DON’T START IT.
If there is something that is not going to help you later on, with control, riding, behavior, then don’t go there.
How fine a detail do you need to go to.. weeeeeeeell, that can depend on the temperament of the foal, BUT.. hehe yep again.. even the dead quietest foal is giving you signals of climbing up the power ladder… that little stretch out to touch your arm uninvited, moving its foot closer to you without asking. These are all small tiny signals that we as humans miss. Down the track as an older horse this will take place as well, how you deal with it and how much you miss it can have certain effects. It might be the horse gets pushy, might try and knock you away at feed time and more.
I heard an interesting story just the other day of a stallion and a gelding paddocked together, loving it totally! Group grooming, eating together, loving the company. They went for a run around, then the gelding went down for a roll, what do you think the stallion did? Did he go down and roll as well? Did he just wait for his new best buddy to get up? Instantly we think of all the soft, happy stuff don’t we.. Well he went for the kill, he went for that geldings throat and tried to kill him, because that was the opportunity and the window he needed. (they are still paddocked together but only under supervision)
My point to the story is, no matter how quiet the horse, if you leave an opportunity open, if they feel like it they will use it. It has nothing to do with if we feed them or not, how much we love and care for them, how nice we are, its everything to do with the doors we open and that they are a HORSE and this is what they can and do, do.
That smooch in the horses face is not necessary ever! What part in any sort of training unless you are a PROFESSIONAL trick trainer of some sort, is it necessary to put your face near that horses or foals mouth? By all means stick your fingers in the side of the mouth to teach them to accept for a wormer or bit.
So, what is a good way to deal with this, as all of the above is telling you its wrong but giving you no tools to deal either..
*For a start, think about every little thing and where it might lead to when the horse is fully grown.
*Define your space! I am sure I have written this on here before somewhere, but you have a personal bubble, think how uncomfortable you are when that person you are talking to steps into it while talking to you and you just desperately want to step back.. hello! why do we let the horse in!! that is where the horse should be.. outside that bubble, I am not saying never let it in, but its in on your instigation only, and if while in that bubble it is inappropriate, send it out of the bubble make it stand and start again.. DON’T HIT IT!
*Always make it your idea and not the horse or foals! (this works for dogs too)
*Reflect each day, run it over in your head, how it worked, could it have been done differently, did I miss anything in the heat of the moment.
*Never ever get emotional about it, when emotion comes in, training goes out the window!
*Never ever inflict pain ever!
*Always finish on a good note and praise!.. I do not pat, I do not say good girl, because if I am talking and the horse does wrong and am accidentally praising the horse with the use of the voice. To prevent this I will step in, rub the forehead and step away…
In the end tho and yes I am repeating myself, you will either take this post on or not, what ever you do that is your choice and yours alone to own.