Teaching Foalsby Karen Tharp on 07/22/11
Many people ask what you can do with a foal. What should you train it and how much handling should it get used to? This is what we at Rising Sun Stables expect when training and handling a foal.
From the day a foal is born it should learn respect and the basics of good manners. Lessons should be very brief and not cause the mare or foal stress. Most handling can take place during the routine care of the pair.
Most of the foal's time will be spent napping, nursing and playing. As much as possible foals should spend time outside with other mares and foals. Occasionally you might see a foal sampling a pile of manure. This is natural and will not harm the foal.
Foals should not be allowed to nibble on people, strike out, or kick. While these behaviors may be cute in a small foal, they can become dangerous as the youngster gains size, strength and speed.
Foals should learn early to have their feet handled, especially if corrective trimming may be needed. This is done by holding the foot up for a few seconds and putting it down again. As the foal learns to accept the handling and learns to balance, the length of time can be increased.
A small foal halter can be put on, but it can be a hazard to leave it on if you're not present. Foals often scratch their ears and face with a back hoof and a hoof can get caught in the halter. Foals can stick their heads through gaps in fencing or stall walls that a larger horse wouldn't, catching the halter and becoming entangled.
Lessons in leading can begin and a foal should learn to walk quietly beside the handler. I do not like the idea of tying a foal. We start tying when the foal is about a month old, then we only tie beside the tied mother.
We always work with the foals with the mothers close by. This prevents the mom or baby from being stressed. The mother soon learns that her baby isn’t being harmed and the foal learns that mom is close by. This teaches them to respect their handler even more.
I hope everyone is making it through this heat. Please be extremely careful, keep plenty of fluids on hand for you and your horse. If you’re hot your horses is even hotter. If your horse has a foal at its side, there are two lives depending on your keeping enough fluids available. Have a great Day