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THE FOAL TIMETABLE

BY
John O'leary
Horseman
2008

 

Almost weekly, I get letters asking for help when people can't catch or have many other problems, with their older Foals or weanlings. I have been asked to write a time table as to when and what would I do if I had a Foal. Here it is, but first, a little about the Mare.

It is the responsibility of the Mare, as set by nature, to quickly train the Foal to flee from danger and she starts imprinting that on the night of birth. By the second day, she has the Foal running on command and she is teaching it that pretty much everything in the World is a 'predator' and that they are 'prey animals.

This 'flight from fear' was and still is the mechanism by which the Horse protects itself from all things dangerous but the only trouble these days is that there are few 'predators' in our Society and that propensity to run, can be the very thing that causes them the most danger throughout their lives and in an ironic way, the most injuries.

The deeper the Mare instills this distrust in the Foal, the more difficult the Foal is to domesticate and train for us Humans. This distrust also causes the young Horse more grief during the breaking in process and above all, the most potential danger of injury. Such injuries include ripping their legs to the bone in fences or whatever they may get caught up in because their natural imprinted instinct is to rip and pull away to run, no matter what part of their Body is left behind and that is exactly what many of them do.

Different Mares have differing levels of imprinting of the Foal. Some are over the top and have the Foals absolutely feral in no time and impossible to catch going forward. If I see a Mare behaving like that after day one, I do something about it. I pen the Mare and Foal for a while until I get a complete handle on the Foal and over ride the Mares training to where the Foal won't run away any more and will disregard Mother :) They really love that hehehe.

For in this day and age, in the domesticated Horse World, the more Human friendly the Foal is, the easier it's life is going to be. The 'flight from fear' can be their biggest danger and I have seen many a case of serious injury and death caused by it. I reflect upon some as I write. Broken legs, cracked vertebrae, fractured skulls and so on.

  • Day two is the day that I start training them and on that day, I get hold of Mum and take her into a shed or stable where I can easily get a hand on the Foal without either of them running off. I then grab the Foal with my left hand around the chest and my right arm around the rump above the hocks and simply stop the Foal from moving away. It may struggle to it's heart is content and then, when it ceases, I begin the 'friendly game' and the 'pleasurable game'. Talking to the Foal softly and stroking it. Then I start dragging it about the place, pushing it where I want it to go, stopping it, changing direction and so on. I want it to learn to 'give to pressure. Training starts now.
     
  • It is important to remember to only work on a young Foal no more than 3 minutes or so. (depending on temperament of Foal and Mother) but roughly that time frame. You can repeat it more than once a day if you like of course but watch for mental fatigue and stress in the Babies. From day 2 until Halter Breaking, I repeat the same daily and from about day 3, I start handling the legs. All 4 of them. Lifting them up and holding them against the will of the Foal, just for 30 seconds each and playing with their hooves. Gently tapping them with the hand. Here the Foal learns some valuable lessons. That there is no point attempting escape, that it is easier to give in, that handling can be nice and that there is no point about thinking of kicking.
     
  • Repeat all of the above  daily, until it becomes 'old hat'. Remember, Foals grow up fast and get basically too strong for a Female by day 10 so be quick. The other thing is that the best lessons for them are the one's where they fight and lose. They are like 'gold dust' but the worst lessons are those where the Foal fights and starts to win. A win is identified as any moving of the handler off their feet, any snatch of a leg from the hand and so on. Right there commences the road to resistance so take full advantage of the first week. They turn out the best Horses.
     
  • Somewhere between day 7 and 10, it is time to 'Halter Break the Foal' and here you have two options. Do it with my system or do it with a 'Bum Rope' You choose but I can tell you that Halter Breaking Foals with a rope around their rump pales into insignificance when it comes to putting the foundations stones onto a Horse and the huge benefits of using the alternative method will pay you handsomely throughout the life of the young Horse. Use a webbing Halter

     
  • HANDLING OUR FOALS WITH RESPONSIBILITY  
     
  • Let's say Halter Breaking started on day 8, then by day 12, the Foal should be tied up solidly alongside it's Mother. During this time, the style with which you handle the Foal should be such that you basically treat it as it's Mother would. If I want it to move over, I will hip and shoulder it as a footballer would, teaching it to respect means us, the boss of the Herd and that I am number one in the pecking order. Therefore, the Foal or young Horse, will rarely ever think of kicking you or another Human being, Just the same as they would never kick a Horse that stood above them in the pecking order in the paddock. Not only for this reason will they not kick but they are then well used to being touched on the rump, legs, hipped over or whatever and will never kick out of surprise again. The natural reaction of the young Horse to kick will be gone. The benefits of this handling are too extensive to write here.
     
  • At this first tying up and then subsequently, (using my system of Halter Breaking a Foal only) it is a complete non issue and if they pull back a little, good. The more the merrier but I can tell you it will basically not happen. Until front leg lifting farrier style.
     
  • No matter how well a young one ties up, the day you go to lift the front legs, whether that be up between the legs of the farrier or out the front even more so, the foal WILL PULL BACK and this day is called 'end game day' Just persevere, don't drop the leg, let them hang back on three legs and regain their balance or if you did drop the front leg, pick it up immediately and ignore them. They will get over it and this is the 'icing on the cake' that cements the true tie up horse forever.
     
  • When it comes to the back legs, they rarely pull back but if they do, just hang onto them farrier style, even lift them off the ground if you want but just 'Man Handle' them like you own them. This is where they learn never to fight with a farrier and that the farrier is all powerful. Game over if you do. Act exactly like the farrier and go through all the moves and positions that the farrier does. Out the back, beneath their belly and on your leg, tapping, slapping, everything designed to upset them. Finish them off here and now. WHILE THEY HAVE NO STRENGTH. They will never kick later, they will always give.!!!!
     
  • On about day 14, or if you feel resistance rising where you may not be able to keep them light, change to the rope Halter and stay with it for the rest of their career.
     
  • By day 14, the Foal should be rasped up balanced and square as THEY ARE ALL BORN CROOKED and grow crooked from day one. Crooked legs on Horses is caused by Owners who do not have attention to detail where trimming is concerned. You can send the legs of a Foal in any direction you like, just like that.

HOBBLE TRAINING

http://www.horseproblems.com.au/DVD%20Sales.htm#Leg Restraints

  • From day 14 onwards, I hobble train my Foals (all of them) and this protects them from Thousands of Dollars Vet Bills throughout their life and from often horrendous injuries going forward or death in a lot of cases. I get this every week.

 "Hi john,
Just thought I'd tell you that the hobble training you recommended has saved my young horses life or at the very least some nasty wounds.
She is a bit of a pawer, and very nosey! Anyway she got her front foot caught in the ring lock (sheep fence) of the fence. When I came up to feed, no Tess! Strange I thought, I called her a she whinnied back but did not come! I investigated and there she was standing in the fence, perfectly still, not a scratch! She had been there for awhile, and I was relieved that the hobble training she had as a foal had worked!
So thank you for some really good advice on training that works!

Karen Lownds
www.equineart.com.au
"
 

Here is one of ours, thinking she is restricted but it is only a 19mm dripper hose :)

or perhaps you would rather this.....

VETERINARY

  • Commence the worming programme  by worming the Mare when the Foal is one week old. and ...
     
  • at 6 weeks worm the Foal and continue it for the rest of their life.
     
  • First shot of Tetanus/Strangles injection at the age of 3 months.
     
  • The Booster 4 weeks later.
     
  • Then every 12 months.
     
  • Cut back and trim minimum every 6 weeks but I do them at 3-4 weeks and if crooked legs are involved, every 2-3 weeks.
     
  • Treated for Sand once a year with the O'Leary Remedy.


FEEDING

  • The Mare must have been fed the prescribed range of Pellets at least two months before they are due to Foal and then all the way through whilst carrying the Foal. With a careful watch on the condition of the Mare (frailty etc) give the Mare whatever it is to keep her looking pretty reasonable. Spare no expense. We Bred it, we look after them properly.!
     
  • When the Foal is weaned, it must be on the prescribed Pellet for it's age and maturity and normally 2kg morning and night plus Lucerne Hay etc. The Manufacturer will have the feeding rates on the Bag. The Pellets are different than fed to other Horses. The Young Horse should be then fed this pellet right through until they stop growing but adjustments may be made due to work load later.
     

WEANING

  • Weaning should take place anywhere from 3 Months to 6 Months, depending on the condition and age of the Mare or in our case, earlier if the Mare is a particularly anti social type that is teaching the Foal too many bad habits. I will wean these at 3 Months and put the Foal with a nice Gelding.
     
  • The system of weaning that I use, due to the systems of Halter Breaking and the above, allows me to simply tie the Foal up, take Mother away, introduce a friend for a while and then keep them yarded together for a day before putting them into a paddock. Weaning over fence lines or even yard lines is fraught with much danger and you can never guarantee what will happen. This is 5 x 2 inch Hardwood with electrics attached. The Weanling went through all to the next yard.

ON GOING TRAINING

  • Tied up and groomed with Mother regularly.
     
  • Have a rope dragging off Baby for half hour regularly.
     
     
  • Go on with your training in any way that you like to dream up
     
  • Teach independence.
     
  • Get them used to wearing rugs, just for the experience.
     
  • Float train them with their Mother and take them for rides. Take them to shows and tie them up at the float with Mother .
     
  • Teach them

    THE 7 GAMES OF NATURAL HORSEMANSHIP




THE COMPLETE CEMENTING
 



  • AND IN MY CASE
  •  
  •   
  • Soldato Soldato 3 year old
     


and it all comes down to properly Halter Breaking your Foals and not using  the 'Bum Rope' system. 

Go here for the DVD.

http://www.horseproblems.com.au/DVD%20Sales.htm#Halter

 

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