Foals.. what exactly are they?…..

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.

Complanency, Common Sense and Humans…..

HORSES DO NOT FART BUTTERFLIES, THEY DO NOT KNOW HOW TO FEEL AS HUMANS DO AND THEY DON’T BREATHE FAIRY DUST OR THINK THAT HUG AND KISS YOU GAVE THEM MEANS YOU LOVE THEM!!!!!!

Ok now that I have that out, what is my point..My point is that there are many that forget what horses actually are, they are animals! While it is wonderful to have them domesticated and we can have them as close friends and soul mates, and we can work towards being as one with them as possible, we should never loose sight of exactly what they are, they are horses.

Horses can do amazing things for us humans, but they can also do amazing things TO US HUMANS.

There are stories through out time right to modern times, of horses attacking, there are attacks that are arranged, there are attacks that happen for reasons known to the humans, but there are also many many attacks to the human, that are not called for at any point in time and are not known about to anyone but the horse.

Many attacks and or accidents, ARE just sheer human complacency, in basic terms we get way to comfortable and we stop watching what we are doing and forget that we are working with a living being that is a horse not a human. While this is human nature and will probably be so for an eternity, there will be people who have had this sort of attack happen that will need to feel heard from the roof tops, that this is always a possibility.

Horses are evolved creatures, that can technically be omnivores and this, many a time, is by choice. There are many around the world that kill and maim and even eat other animals moving through their paddock, sheep, cattle, goats, chickens, rabbits and more have been documented. How does anyone think they managed to get horses to the north pole and back? can you imagine the amount of feed they would have needed to carry? Well they didn’t carry much normal feed at all.. those horses ATE FISH! They ate fish and not only survived but thrived! What does that tell us?

A vital read and reference Deadly Equines: The Shocking True Story of Meat Eating and Murderous Horses by Cuchullaine O’Reilly FRGS

The author of this book, is a widely ridden man, he is part of a group called the long riders guild, they have to have the most trust, faith and true horse knowledge known to man to travel as far as they do successfully.

From foal to horse, what you do or sometimes don’t do, CAN sometimes become the above result. From letting the foal nuzzle your face, letting it push you, letting it rear up on you, to letting the full grown horse do the same.. Then there is the other side of the coin, forcing without giving in return, abusing them, over sensitizing, pushing till they have a mindless snap..

A perfect example of complacency..(quote below) this foal has not stopped what it is doing because because you have cuddled it, it has stopped because you have given it boundaries and limitations BUT! yes another but.. what this foal has shown this person will always be there, in its mind, dna and life.. it might never turn up again, but it also might happen again and if and when it does I hope to hell no one gets killed…

if cuddling is bad for foals then something must be wrong with mine, when i got her she hated people, was really aggressive and dangerous all i did with her was show her love and affection, that means millions of cuddles! She is a completely different foal now and loves her cuddles nothing anyone says will stop me cuddling my baby (: and i will continue to do so till the day she dies (very very far in the future) (:

A high percentage might never do this, but there is also a good percentage that do, do this. While you can and do choose to put yourself at risk of your own complacency, there is a snowball effect that needs to be thought about as well.. You are never the sole provider and carer for these wonderful creatures.. Husbands, Agistment owners, stable-hands, friends, farriers, vets and even children are within reach and handle them. Are you truly willing to allow the complacency to run over this way? Complacency similarly to backing out of a driveway is what this is.. know where the kids are, know that you have done everything possible. If it is then an unavoidable accident you might then be able to live with your choices. That is what it all comes back to, having a full and truthful knowledge of horses and understanding their species in their entirety.

But! What but I hear you saying.. there is a massive one… the GENETIC.. its not always obvious, people are not always honest enough to tell you that their particular stallion throws horses that can hurt you in this way. Many find out much to late. In my 35 years of horses, I have met many that have done what I have just mentioned, and exactly one that did what we all should do when we come across a genetic failure such as this.

A few stories…
the one person that put a stallion and his first 10 babies down. why? you say… because every single one of those babies were from completely different mare lines, the only common denominator was the stallion and every single one of those babies, would throw a tantrum and throw themselves on the ground, as a responsible breeder and human being she put them down.

Stallion well known and extremely well utilized till he died of old age.. majority of his babies would find something they did not like and go mindlessly ballistic with no caution to themselves or the humans around them.. one baby was a mere one day old and it attacked its owner. And no it was not youthful exuberance it was a full blown attack. To a particular gelding that had a penchant for anything blonde and would attack them, he never in his entire life had any reason for any of it.

Filly purchased at 6 months of age, by 9 months of age, was put to sleep.. it was incapable of standing human touch or presence. You could stand in the stall in a completely submissive pose only to have this filly climbing the walls literally.

What do I expect from this blog post, not much really, I got to say what I think, feel and know that I for one will never ever be complacent (did that once, got picked up by a horse and tossed like a rag doll).. Do I expect this to help or change anyone, NOPE… By human nature we are complacent, stupid creatures that take unnecessary risks every single day, when we do tho, it has to be our singular choice, if another gets hurt because of a choice you made, then that is when you come unstuck. Choice, Choice, Choice! Every individual has a choice, be it how they respond to one another, how they communicate, decisions they make that effect themselves and those around them and the snowball of results from those choices.

Its a bit like the man who killed that beautiful lady over east, it didn’t just effect her and him, it effected both their families, friends and the community itself.  The baby that was killed by the stallion, he was from a very long line of horsemen, the families and the horse community that he was directly involved with will never every be the same again.

The people I know with shoulder muscle missing, fingers, thighs, ears, face, throat and those that had to not only see, but assist with these things, will never be the same again.
Make your choices as you see fit, learn from them and live with them. Some might listen, many will not, but the choice and path of not listening is theirs to take.

Setback….

Well we have a very very large setback….

I have a new friend and while she has a fair amount of horse experience, she is not aware and does not understand horse…

Si’Ann gave her not one but three warnings…

  1. ears back
  2. ears back
  3. ears back – attack

I was present thank goodness. I wasnt far away only a metre from the pair of them, she was busy talking to her dad, I said watch yourself (1st), watch out for Si’Ann(2nd), to late (3rd) I went after the mare as she went for the kill, she saw me before she made any contact with the person and lit off across the paddock with me after her.

I have discussed this with a few trainers and also had an extremely compitent friend come out to assess her and I have run my thoughts about what the next step in the journey is.

Those I have discussed this problem with are

Diana Western – Hassanemisis Arabians (my friend)

Erwin Van Vliet – Tales of the Western Ranch

John Oleary – Mr Horseproblems

the letter to John Oleary and his answer

Hi John,

Have been reading your site for quite a while. I agree re the catalyst episode, absolute crap article.

Gona be a long one lol

I took the time to finally watch your tap videos on youtube. I have been watching endos for quite a while. But never
Thought I would even be thinking or needing to implement them.

Being an experienced horse person with timing and feel, I can sort 98% of things out. I am a thinker before I make
My next move and will sit back and take the time to work out what might work and what wont.

After seeing your first ‘The Tap’ video, I’m fairly sure I will have to go there and implement it… I have layed a horse down before
But it was more a case of teaching my horse to play dead so it was an extensive process for him. My girl is going to be different.

To the girl, I know her full history, till the age of 9 months she was in a safe and reasonable horse home. At 9 months of age she was sent to a new home. Here at this home she learnt to not only defend herself, but make a preemptive strike against any human without horsemanship knowledge. She would strike, lunge at you with mouth wide open in full attack, gallop past and rip the lead out of your hand then kick on the way past and crack the air with her feet if you tried to brush past the girth. I have fixed all of these ‘WITH ME’ after rescuing her back at 20 months of age, with a vet visit within 3 hrs of her coming home and given a 50/50 chance of survival…

Well she is still here 2 years later to tell the tale, but here lies my problem.

This mare is now fine with me, she is fine with any horse person who is a horseman and pays attention to her body language.

But we had an incident, where I had a horse person around who had no idea about horse body language, she missed the ears back the first time (should have sent the mare packing out of the herd) missed them a second time and on the third time, the horse went in for the attack, ears back teeth bared and out for the chew, being alert myself, by the time the mare pinned her ears the third time I was after her, and sent her off from the herd (the human being is fine and well, just got a fright), problem was she still pegs this person as a twit in her eyes, and I fear that anyone in her personal space that is the same might be in danger.

My thoughts on my situation are that I might still have to resort to the tap eventually, I’ve still got a thing or two up my sleeve to try first.

So to the crux of my thoughts and a question for you. If I do end up tapping her, will I need to have maybe the horse person she tried to get over and get her to take part in the handling of the mare while down? Do you think this might be a crucial part of the process or just use anyone so that she realises its not just me to be alert and respectful of?

Thanks in advance
Liesl


Johns answer – Could it be that this person has to be always around? If so, yes, have them present but if they don’t need to be involved with the Horse, keep then right away from her.  Just having the person standing by would be enough. Keep us informed.

My plan of action for the mare, is to get her started under saddle, get some leg work under her, then with the help of the 2 experienced people above, will expose her to a couple of situations to see how she handles it.

If there is any sort of violent reaction, I will then take the next and last step of Dropping her using the Endorphin Tap, developed by Paul “Endo” Williamson aka Endospink