Training Exercises – Foal 3 Weeks Old

By now your foal is getting pretty big and strong. He has also experienced a lot more of life:

He has been to the wash rack where his dam was bathed. His legs got sprayed (between his mother’s legs), and he got some over-spray on his face and head. He has been loaded and unloaded into the trailer twice for the foal-heat breeding of his mother.

He has had daily sessions of Loop control and halter control.

If your baby hasn’t experienced any of these routines, make it a point to introduce them right away.

He still isn’t standing still to be caught, but his escape efforts are pretty minimal and, once looped, he is easy to control. His halter is also doing more work.

It’s time to be more consistent with his pressure training.

Time to formally introduce the rear disengage exercise. Holding the halter and loop, begin to move his rear away from you by pressing into his haunch with your fist or knuckle while holding his head close. Notice that he leans into your hand – into the pressure. This is a natural instinct for horses. see: pressure

Start by pressing into his haunch very gently (a hint he doesn’t yet understand), then slowly escalate the pressure (to uncomfortable if need be) until he moves away. This is related to the Parelli “Porcupine Game”.

It has about 3 steps:
1. Soft request,
2. Insistent request,
3. Uncomfortable demand.

Given a few repetitions of this escalating pressure, horses anticipate the next level and begin to move with less and less pressure. Eventually, your baby will move away with just a soft request.

Work in Baby Steps. Ask him to move away just one step. Then release your press and let him relax there. Remember that he learns from the Release of Pressure. If you release when he steps away, he will start to understand how to get you to stop knuckling him in his little fanny. Essentially, you are making a step away desirable, and leaning into your knuckle uncomfortable.

After he gets easier to move, start asking for two steps away before you release the pressure. (shaping). Pretty soon he will move his rear away with just a finger-light pressure into his haunch. Be sure to let him rest after each successful maneuver.

This is considerably easier than trying to push a 1200 lb horse. But if we don’t start now, he will outgrow us very quickly.

The front disengage. Now, press his shoulder away from you in a similar manner.

Pick up his feet. One by one, pick up a foot and tap lightly on the bottom of his hoof. As you elevate the foot, make him let you hold it until he relaxes. If he starts to fight a little, try to just go with him until he stops. If he is too frantic, get a partner who can control him a little more while you accomplish the foot-lift.

As soon as he relaxes with his foot in your hand, put the foot down and let him rest. He needs to learn that the only way you release a foot is if he gives it to you and holds still.
Remember that he learns from the Release of Pressure. If you release when he stops fighting or moving, he will learn to stand in a relaxed state.

He is still not very good with just a halter.

Use a good, rope halter and let him move against it as you walk. (The loop will give you back-up if he gets too frantic.) Just enough pressure to restrain him with instant relief each time he stops walking.

If you get ahead of him and he will not come forward, let him sit back against the halter with his own weight (the poll is pressuring him) until he takes a step forward (whether by accident or on purpose). As soon as he moves forward, instantly release the pressure and let him stand. Do not drag him along. He may have to learn this one step at a time. The rope halter on his poll will do the work.

Soon, he will understand the halter.

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