How to Start a Foal's Training

When raising a foal, there are certain helpful ways to go about it. The most practical way that ensures the safety of the foal around farriers and vets, or people in general, is starting with tack. This allows a foal to learn to be contained and led by the halter, which can be very helpful in the event that a risky situations come up.


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    Motivate the foal's natural instincts. Instilling a horse's natural behaviour is an important concept of training. These behaviours include following what is leaving them and going away from what is coming toward them. The idea is to incorporate this while keeping the foal comfortable and not alarmed. A foal will act upon its herding instincts the more it feels connected to you, which makes it easier to train and ride afterwards.
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    Make use of the mother's involvement for halter training. Depending on how strong your foal is will determine when you can start halter training. Having the foal's mother know that you have the foal's best interest in mind is your first step. Having a happy mom is asking for a happy foal. Foals follow their mother. This is something all trainers can use to their advantage:
    • By leading the mother from one side of the field to the other a few times, the foal understands the pattern.
    • You can then put the halter on the foal. However, you will want to teach your foal to hold still. This will teach it not to struggle in frightening situations. Putting your one hand on the foal's chest and the other around the foal's backside, hold the foal in your arms. This is the time to use the reward system. After the foal stops struggling, let it go. Repeat this until the foal understands the routine.
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    Use a butt rope to keep the best control over the foal when needed. Having put the halter on after teaching the foal to be contained, you are ready to lead it. At this point, go along with any outbursts while walking along by the foal's mother. This will help the foal to settle down knowing that you aren't trying to make it leave its mothers side. You can use the butt rope to turn the foal back to you if it tries to get out of your grasp. With practice and repetition, by the time a week is up, the foal will understand the routine and should be able to lead with just a lead rope.
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    Advance the training. Depending on how well the foal's training is progressing, you can start at about three months old to start teaching it to stand and turn towards and away from you. You can teach a foal to stand for longer periods of time by taking the time to scratch it if it wants to be scratched. Taking advantage of small things like this is to your benefit as a trainer. Your foal should be able to lead with a lead rope at this stage.
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    Teach the routine of leading and stopping next. Lead the foal around and stop at different intervals. At these stops, you can get your foal to practice standing and/or turning towards or away from you. As your foal learns how to stand still, it will also be learning how to pick up its feet. However, the picking up of the feet can be started sooner than at three months of age.
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    Do not handle your foal too much, otherwise your foal can turn into a brat. After you have taught your foal the basics of standing, leading, picking up its feet, etc., you can leave the foal alone. Until it is about two years old, give your foal a break in training so as to not have a horse that can outwit you. No extra training is needed. Of course, the practice of already learned skills is necessary but only enough to ensure that your foal remembers for the next time it has to learn something new.
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    Undertake all foal training gradually. Your best chance in your approach to training your foal is to progress in baby steps and to determine the level of training your foal can exceed at and then you're good to go.

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Categories: Horse Training