Bottle feeding baby horses
Feeding the Aged Horse and the Orphan Foal - Management and Nutrition
Sarah L. Ralston
, VMD, PhD, DACVN, Department of Animal Sciences, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University
Last review/revision Jan 2021 | Modified Oct 2022
Aged horses often lose weight because of dental wear or metabolic disorders. Aged horses also may have reduced protein, fiber, and phosphorus digestion. Feeding a complete pelleted ration designed for aged horses or easily chewed hay cubes or pellets may improve the horse’s well-being if its teeth are a problem. However, a thorough medical and dental work-up should be done before drastically changing an old horse's ration.
If an orphan foal has not received colostrum from its dam, it must receive either colostrum from another mare or frozen-stored colostrum within 24 hours of birth—preferably within the first 3–12 hours. Antibody-rich plasma-replacement products for IV administration are available but are expensive and provide protection of questionable duration.
A nurse mare is best for the overall care of an orphan foal. The mare and foal should not be left unattended until the mare has accepted the orphan; physical or chemical restraint of the mare may be required initially and repeated on several occasions before she will accept the new foal. If she is in a late stage of lactation (>3 months) and the foal is a neonate, supplementation with a foal milk replacer may be necessary, because the nutrient content of the milk is altered over time.
If a nurse mare is not available, a lactating dairy goat (trained to stand on a bale of hay or straw so the foal can nurse) may serve as an alternative.
Mare’s milk replacers and goat’s milk have also been used successfully to feed orphan foals. Foals should be fed every 1–2 hours for the first 1–2 days of life, then every 2–4 hours for the next 2 weeks at the rate of 250–500 mL per feeding, using a warmed milk container and an artificial nipple. Of the various artificial nipples available, those designed for use by lambs are best suited for foals. The feeding intervals may be lengthened gradually after 2 weeks; however, the amount per feeding also should be increased so that the foal consumes 10%–15% of its body weight/day in properly diluted milk replacer.
A foal should be encouraged to drink freshly prepared milk out of a bucket, ad lib, early in life. After 1 month, the foal can be encouraged to eat grain mixes (with ≥18% crude protein designed for growing foals) and good-quality hay in addition to the milk or milk replacer. The foal can be weaned off the milk replacer at 3 months of age. Fresh water should be available to the foal at all times from birth. (Also see Perinatal Mare and Foal Care Perinatal Mare and Foal Care Pregnant mares need adequate daily exercise in a paddock or pasture. Any horses kept together should be compatible, which helps to decrease stress. Vaccinations and deworming should be done... read more and see Overview of Management of the Neonate in Large Animals Overview of Management of the Neonate in Large Animals Appropriate management in the peripartum period can substantially reduce morbidity and mortality for large animal dams and their offspring. As much as 5% of foals, 5%–10% of calves, and 10%–15%... read more .)
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Feeding the Orphan Foal – The Horse
Every breeder dreads finding himself or herself with an orphan foal—a baby left alone when his dam dies of foaling complications or from a later, unrelated injury or illness; or a foal rejected by his mother or for some reason, unable to nurse. Even a foal which can’t derive enough nourishment from nursing his dam (as when she is a poor milk producer), or one prematurely separated from her, can be considered an orphan, because for all intents and purposes, he’s going to depend on you for all of his meals.
Orphans tend to be bad news for breeders for two reasons (quite apart from the tragedy of losing a broodmare). First, they are very high maintenance, particularly in their early days, needing attention every two hours or more, and second, there’s a perception that orphan foals, no matter how conscientiously you raise them, will always be playing catch-up with their peers, and end up stunted and unable to reach their full height or genetic potential.
There’s some truth to the first assumption, but the good news is that there’s none at all for the second. Orphan foals, raised with a correct balance of nutrients and monitored for growth, food consumption, and weight gain, can be every bit as tall, strong, and athletic as foals raised by their dams. Studies have repeatedly demonstrated the viability of commercial mare’s milk replacers in producing healthy and correct foals—sometimes even champions.
First Things First
If your foal is orphaned at birth, or rejected by his dam (a problem that occurs an estimated 2% of the time, and is most common with first-time mothers), your first consideration is to get him to ingest some colostrum. That all-important first milk will jump-start his immune system through a process called passive transfer of antibodies. A foal can only absorb and utilize colostrum effectively in the first 12 hours of his life, so time is of the essence.
For this reason, it’s always wise to be prepared for an emergency by keeping on hand some frozen colostrum, milked from a mare with an abundance of the thick, creamy fluid to spare (or in some cases, from a mare whose foal was stillborn). Colostrum can be collected by the mare owner and stored (after filtering to remove dirt particles) in an ordinary freezer bag, for up to two years. (Freezer bags are ideal because they easily can be labeled with the date, and thawed quickly when immersed in warm water). It’s important not to microwave frozen colostrum to thaw it; microwaving will destroy most of the protective antibodies.
You can milk colostrum every two hours from a mare which has had a stillborn foal, until six to 12 hours after foaling. A mare which is supporting a foal usually can afford to donate about 250 ml (a half pint), after her foal nurses. About 16 fluid ounces constitutes a single feeding for a newborn foal, and most experts recommend that an orphan receive three to four feedings within the first eight hours of his life.
If your breeding operation is a small one, and you’ve been unable to collect any colostrum yourself, you might be able to purchase some from large breeding farms, where it undoubtedly will be kept in good supply, or veterinary clinics, some of which run colostrum banks for this reason.
Feeding a newborn colostrum usually is a matter of gently warming the milk to equine body temperature and offering it by bottle. Some perseverance is required, as some foals take a while to get the idea. Hunger, however, tends to be a great motivator. If you can’t get your foal to nurse, your veterinarian might have to administer the colostrum via stomach tube. To ensure your foal has absorbed sufficient antibodies, you might wish to ask your veterinarian to test his serum IgG levels, a blood test that must be performed when the foal is between six and 10 hours of age. In a pinch, it’s possible to use bovine colostrum, which is well-tolerated by foals but provides a shorter-lasting immunity (averaging about nine days instead of the 26 afforded by equine colostrum).
There are a number of commercial colostrum substitutes that can be recommended by your veterinarian if mare’s colostrum is unavailable. Discuss your options with your veterinarian before foaling season, since supplementing foals with compromised or low IgG is time-critical.
After the critical newborn stage has passed, your next task is to arrange some method of regularly feeding the orphan foal. His digestive system is not yet equipped to handle solid food, so some sort of milk or milk substitute needs to be provided—and it needs to be available on a very frequent basis in the first weeks of the foal’s life. The lowest-maintenance way to do that is to find a nurse mare which can play surrogate mom to your motherless waif.
For the owner, a nurse mare is the ideal solution. Once such a mare has accepted your orphan as her own, the pair can function as any other mom-and-baby family in your herd until it’s time for weaning. Many large breeding farms maintain a few nurse mares. There also are a few farms (largely based in areas where breeding farms abound, such as Florida and Kentucky) that will lease you a nurse mare if you find yourself in need.
Getting a nurse mare to accept your little stranger as her own offspring sometimes takes a little work. A mare with a full udder often will welcome a hungry foal more readily, and many breeders find it helps to make the foal smell a little more like her, by rubbing his coat with the mare’s sweat, milk, or even manure. Alternatively, you can short-circuit the olfactory response on a temporary basis by rubbing a mentholated ointment, such as Vick’s VapoRub, in the mare’s nostrils and on the foal’s head and perianal areas.
Still, you might find that you have to restrain the mare at first until the foal has nursed long enough for her to become familiar with him (usually within 24 hours). Tie the mare in her stall, offer her hay or grain to distract her, and consider placing a bar or pole along her side, at about flank height, from the front to the back of the stall, to prevent her from kicking the foal or her handlers. Some farms even create stocks with solid wooden barriers and a hole cut to allow the foal to nurse, but such steps aren’t often necessary. She might initially squeal and threaten to kick or bite the orphaned arrival, but a healthy, hungry foal will not be easily discouraged, and once he manages to latch on, most mares will relax. (Resist the temptation to tranquilize the mare, however. The drug can be passed in the milk and accidentally sedate the foal, reducing his efforts to nurse.)
Observe the nurse mare and her new charge closely for a few days. Once acceptance has occurred, you gradually can remove the restraints on the mare and let them proceed as Nature intended.
A caution with regard to using draft-breed mares as surrogates; in one study of orphan Thoroughbred foals raised on draft mares vs. foals raised on Thoroughbred mares, the draft-raised babies had faster growth rates (presumably due to the draft mares’ higher milk production rates). Those foals also had a slightly higher incidence of developmental orthopedic disease. For that reason, some farms now prefer to use light-horse breeds for their nurse mares.
Because nurse mares are relatively scarce, and can be expensive to lease, a great many farms hand-raise their orphan foals. While this is a valid approach, it often can result in a foal which is more socialized toward humans than to horses. But as he grows, his lack of equine social skills can make him dangerous.
To avoid this, don’t spoil orphans. Treat them like normal foals. Exposure to other horses, and the herd environment, will help an orphan foal develop the same skills as his pasturemates, even if he doesn’t have a dam to discipline him.
Hand-feeding is a time-consuming project under any circumstances. During the first week of life, a normal foal can nurse as often as seventeen times an hour. Thereafter, the frequency decreases to about three times an hour, but even that would require a staff of humans to be at the foal’s beck and call. With the caveat that the more frequently the foal is fed, the more optimal his growth rate, most orphan foals can be placed on a feeding schedule of once every one to two hours in the first week, then every four to six hours after the second week of life. Within a few weeks of their arrival, most foals will begin to show interest in consuming solid food, which will allow you to taper off the milk feedings as you gradually make the switch to a milk-based pellet formulated for foals. But bear in mind that large, twice-daily feedings tend to cause diarrhea.
How much should a foal drink? At one day of age, his intake should be equal to 10% of his body weight; that figure should be gradually increased to 25% of his body weight at 10 days of age until he is weaned. For example, a 100-pound foal could consume 25 pounds of milk a day, or 50 cups.
RELATED CONTENT: How to Build an Automatic Milking Device for Orphan Foals
Both cow’s and goat’s milk have been used successfully to feed orphan foals, but neither is an ideal solution. Both are more concentrated than mare’s milk; they have about twice the fat, and one-half as much lactose (milk sugar). But both are similar in terms of protein (about 25-27%) and mineral content. Because their lactose content is low, and their fat is highly digestible, they can be used for horses.
But cow’s milk, in particular, tends to cause foal diarrhea when fed “whole.” It can be made more like mare’s milk by diluting it 2:1 with saturated lime water (prepared by adding calcium oxide, or lime, to water until no more of the mineral will dissolve, then letting the mixture stand for several hours and saving the clear water to mix with the milk). Or, try using 2% milk rather than whole (homogenized) milk.
Whether you use 2% or whole milk diluted with lime water, you must add dextrose, a highly digestible sugar, to the mix. The easiest way to do that is to purchase pectin, a powder that is largely dextrose and used to set jams and jellies. One two-ounce package of pectin is enough for three liters (three quarts) of milk. Or you can add 20 grams per liter (four teaspoons per quart). Don’t try to improve the milk’s nutrient content by adding corn syrup, honey, or table sugar (sucrose) instead of dextrose. All of these products contain disaccharide sugars, which are poorly utilized by foals and can cause diarrhea or colic.
In some ways, goat’s milk is a better solution than cow’s milk—its makeup is sufficiently similar to mare’s milk that it is often tolerated, unaltered, by foals. If digestive upsets do occur when your foal drinks goat’s milk, try the same doctoring you would use on cow’s milk—adding lime water and pectin. Impaction can happen when feeding goat’s milk, so some breeders recommend adding 30 ml of mineral oil daily to the liquid.
The down-side of goat’s milk is that it is usually several times pricier than cow’s milk, and can be difficult to find in large quantities. Often cheaper than buying the milk is borrowing a nanny goat, which can be trained to allow a foal to nurse while she stands on a platform of straw bales. Goats also make good companions to foals, but as the foal grows, it might take more than one goat to supply all of his nutritional needs.
Then there are the commercial mare’s milk replacers. There are several brands on the market that mimic to varying degrees the protein, fat, carbohydrate, and mineral content of real mare’s milk. Most come in a powdered form and are rehydrated with water. Foals generally do very well on milk replacers, with growth rates similar to foals raised on their dams (the growth rate in the initial one to two months often is slower, but the foals catch up by weaning time).
A foal on a commercial milk replacer often will have soft, watery manure, although that doesn’t seem to cause significant problems. More serious is the incidence of gas and colic symptoms some foals suffer when being switched onto a milk replacer, and the possibility of constipation if the milk replacer is too concentrated. Some commercial milk replacer products have misleading directions on the package which, when followed, will result in a solution far more concentrated than real mare’s milk (which is about 10% dry matter and 90% water). If you have such a product, you will have to disregard the package directions and aim to dilute it to the tune of one to 1 1/2 pounds of dry powder per gallon of water (or 110 to 190 g per liter), for a dry matter content of between 10-17%.
Although it should not be difficult to find a mare’s milk replacer under most circumstances (if your feed store doesn’t stock any in the spring, it certainly can order some for you), calf milk replacer can make a good emergency substitute, provided you locate one formulated with milk proteins (skim milk, buttermilk, whey, or casein) rather than soy or other plant or animal sources of protein, which a young foal is not equipped to digest. Look for a crude fiber content of more than 0.2% on the label as an indication that the product is based on milk protein. You also will need to determine that the product has at least 20% crude protein and 15% fat; 22% protein and 20% fat are even better (for both calves and foals).
Some calves’ milk replacers are “acidified,” a process that enhances its nutrient digestibility and also allows the reconstituted milk to be stored for up to three days without spoiling. These acidified milk replacers are a particularly good choice for foals. They are well-tolerated, cause a
minimum of digestive upset, and might even be cheaper than non-acidified calf or mare’s milk replacers.
Other kinds of milk replacers, such as those formulated for lambs, are generally a poor choice for an orphan foal. Most are considerably higher in fat, and far more concentrated, than mare’s milk, and will be poorly utilized. Some breeders have had good success, however, with a 50/50 mixture of mare’s milk replacer and goat’s milk, an approach that might result in less diarrhea. With some foals, a process of experimentation might be necessary to find the ideal mix. If your foal isn’t doing well, consider trying a different brand of milk replacer, offering goat’s milk, or mixing the two in different concentrations. Each time you make a change, give it a few days before you decide to try something else. Your foal might well adapt to the offering.
Bottle Or Bucket?
You have two options when feeding an orphan foal—offering milk from a bottle with a nipple attached, or providing it in a bucket from which the foal can drink. Very young foals are most likely to accept a bottle, at first; the usual recommendation is to use a large calf’s milk bottle with a sheep’s nipple (a human infant’s nipple also will work for the first one to two weeks of life). The hole in the nipple should be small enough to prevent the milk from streaming freely when the bottle is inverted.
While the foal is learning to nurse, hand-feeding is the best approach; just be careful to keep the foal’s nose below the level of his eyes, so that he can swallow easily (and to reduce the risk that he will aspirate the milk into his lungs). Once he has the hang of it, you can hang a bottle on the wall, as if your stall were a giant rabbit-cage. This way, your orphan will have free access. You will have to arrange the bottle so that the milk doesn’t leak out on its own, and check it frequently to monitor consumption and make sure it doesn’t become contaminated with bedding or dirt. Offer a new bottle every two hours or so, and thoroughly wash and rinse bottles and nipples after every use (formula residue is a perfect place for bacteria to grow).
Feeding by bucket generally is considered easier and faster than bottle feeding, so most breeding farms try to switch their orphans to a bucket system as quickly as possible. Foals usually adapt to a bucket fairly readily. Start by letting your orphan suck on your milk-wet finger (if he does not take hold at first, move your finger against his upper palate and tongue to stimulate the nursing response), then gradually draw him toward the milk until he is drinking from the bucket. Gently remove your finger. This process sometimes takes some patience, but most foals will begin to drink unassisted from a bucket in two hours or less (some only take a few minutes to catch on).
Other managers find it easier to start the foal on the bucket from the start. It might take them a bit to get the idea, but if you’re patient, you’ll find that the vast majority of foals will adapt well.
Once the foal is successfully drinking from the bucket, hang one in his stall in an easily accessible location. A plastic bucket in a contrasting color (so the foal can find it easily) with a fairly wide mouth is the best choice.
Although you’ll want to monitor the milk bucket for contamination on a frequent basis (and it should be replaced twice a day for freshness in any event), it generally can be left in the stall so that the foal can drink at will. (There is no advantage, by the way, in warming the formula; it’s best left at the ambient temperature of the foal’s surroundings. )
Foals will work their way up to consuming four to five gallons a day of milk replacer or formula—about the same amount a mare will produce in a day at the peak of her lactation. There is little danger of overconsumption, according to most researchers. To make sure the formula stays fresh, however, mix only as much as your foal will consume in about 12 hours (half the daily ration).
In addition to the milk bucket, it’s important to provide your foal with access to water. Around the same time that he begins to be interested in solid food, he will begin to drink from the water bucket.
Switching To Solid
As useful as milk replacers are, most breeders agree that the sooner you get an orphan foal to start accepting solid feed, the better. A handful of milk-replacer pellets can be offered from the time the baby is about a week old. It might even be helpful to place a few in the foal’s mouth (since he has no dam to demonstrate for him). Gradually, he will work his way up to consuming about two to three pounds of milk-replacer pellets, at which time he can start to receive a small amount of a commercial creep feed formulated for nursing foals. (He also should be offered small amounts of a good-quality legume-based hay, or good pasture, from the time he is a month old.)
By the time the orphan is eating four to six pounds (2-2.5 kg) of milk replacer pellets or creep feed a day, he can be weaned off the milk—sometimes as early as nine weeks or so. Most orphans can be completely weaned by the age of four months, after which they can be treated like any other weanling. This is the best time for an orphan foal to catch up on his social skills, going out with the herd, or, at least, with a companion (such as an older gelding, a barren mare, a donkey, or even a goat). Although orphan foals sometimes are a little more hesitant to explore their environments, they are by no means learning-impaired or “slower” than their normally-raised compatriots—and physically, they should be indistinguishable from non-orphan foals.
How to feed a newborn puppy or kitten
Unfortunately, sometimes newborn puppies and kittens are left without a nursing mother for one reason or another. The successful preservation of their life depends on the creation of the necessary conditions:
- proper and regular feeding,
- care and exercise,
- stimulation of urination and defecation,
- maintaining a constant body temperature.
For the first two weeks of their lives, puppies and kittens are not able to maintain body temperature, and it depends on the ambient temperature. Therefore, it is especially important to ensure a temperature of 30-32C near the orphans and a humidity of 55-60% in the room where they are. Heating pads work well for this, or if nothing else is at hand, a plastic bottle of hot water wrapped in a rag. During this period, stressful situations for newborns should be avoided and disturbed only for feeding, exercise and hygiene procedures. nine0003
Food for orphans must be of high quality and high in calories. Of course, it is best to find a foster mother, another lactating bitch or cat, but if this is not possible, it is necessary to feed the cubs with appropriate substitutes, which should contain all the nutrients necessary for growth and development. You can use natural products for this or buy mother's milk substitutes at the pet store.
When self-feeding, remember the following:
- calorie content in the first 3 months of life should be 22-26 kcal per 100 g of body weight,
- it is imperative to heat food to 37.8 C,
- feed orphans every 3-4 hours, then 4-5 times a day day.
Here is one recipe for homemade food: 90 ml concentrated milk, 90 ml water, 120 ml yoghurt (high fat), 3-4 egg yolks.
If you have purchased ready-mix from a pet store, follow the instructions on the packaging carefully. nine0003
In any case, the utensils you will use for breastfeeding must be perfectly clean. The food is best prepared immediately for 2 days and stored in the refrigerator at a temperature of 4C. Puppies should gain 2-4 g / day per 1 kg of weight of an adult dog of this breed, kittens 50-100 g every week.
When feeding newborns, use a bottle with a nipple, the hole of which should be such that when the bottle is turned over, the milk slowly drips and does not pour. Hold the puppy or kitten so that he does not swallow air, squeeze out a little milk and insert the pacifier into the baby's mouth. When the cub has begun to suck, in no case do not put pressure on the bottle and nipple, otherwise the food will enter the lungs. nine0003
Before each feeding, give your newborns exercises that stimulate the development of muscles and the cardiovascular system. And also, every week, gently massage the coat with a damp, soft cloth, simulating licking by the mother.
Do not forget about such important physiological processes as the act of urination and defecation. It is necessary to stimulate these processes after each feeding. This should be done by massaging the genital area with cotton wool or soft toilet paper. Also help massage the abdominal wall - run your index finger along the belly. If after two feedings you failed to stimulate the act of urination and defecation, place the newborn in a bowl of warm water, horizontally, holding him by the breast, lowering him into the water at a level just above the navel. After three weeks, puppies and kittens are already able to excrete on their own, without additional help. nine0003
Orphans can be transferred to the first complementary food, a teenage diet, already at the age of 3-4 weeks.
To stimulate weight gain and prevent possible digestive disorders, the PrenoKan feed additive based on the extract of fir legs and food lactose has proven itself well. All components of PrenoKan are harmless, so they can be used even by newborns. Puppies and kittens left without a mother, very often there are various problems with digestion. This is due to the fact that newborns are born sterile, they are transferred to the microflora from the mother during the first weeks of life. In cases where there is no contact between the mother and the newborn, it is necessary to ensure that the orphan receives the necessary types of microflora. For this, prebiotic and probiotic preparations are used for newborns. PrenoKan can be combined with any drug, it will help the beneficial microflora to gain a foothold in the intestines and serve as the basis for the development of a healthy and complete organism. nine0003
The article was written for the site Dobropesik.ru.
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Raising foals, how to feed and care
Many articles on the Internet begin with the words: “Foals should only be bought by experienced people”, but in fact, examples of the opposite are increasingly common. Equestrians who are willing to spend time with their foal, read educational articles, train with trainers, raise beautiful horses. How do they do it? nine0003
How to raise a foal?
You are mistaken if you think that the first teacher in a foal's life is the person who started grooming him. In fact, the first teacher of a young horse is always his mother, later - peers in the herd and other, older horses. That is why it is important to keep young animals in the company of relatives as long as possible.
Contrary to popular belief, a herd or a specially selected group will not make a foal wild, on the contrary, he will learn to understand body signals (which a person can later transfer to his activities), respect personal space, read emotions, divide his behavior into right and blamed. nine0003
In addition to strict hierarchy, the herd satisfies another need of a young horse - the need to constantly move. Short but regular runs improve the stability of the horse on different types of ground, train his cardiovascular system, strengthen the musculoskeletal system, help build enough muscle mass to reduce the load on the bones.
After weaning, if conditions are sufficient, the foals' natural activity in the grazing is reinforced by group training for 2-3 kilometers a day, which includes such parts as: warming up with a free gait, moving at a calm trot and walking. nine0003
What do you need to know about feeding?
In stable conditions, the mare feeds the foal with milk until about 6 months, but from the first days of life, this does not exclude additional feed. Some central strip studs deliberately calculate the foaling date so that foals are born in early spring, despite all the difficulties with controlling the queens and putting on blankets for newborns. The reason is to raise foals for the grazing season, which will be able to absorb all the nutrients of the pasture, since grass is the best roughage for a young organism. If this is not possible, the foal should be provided with constant access to high-quality hay of the current crop. nine0003
Concentrates are also needed, especially after weaning - what the horse does not get in the first months of life, it will be impossible to make up for any further feeding! The standard formula for calculating concentrates is: number of months x 300 grams of feed. When choosing food, you should pay attention to special mixtures for foals, as well as products in which, with a high protein content, there is no grain. These are vitamin-herbal flour, beet pulp and flaxseed meal.
Foal training stages
This is the first thing to teach a foal. He must allow himself to be touched everywhere: first with his hands, then with various objects - parts of ammunition, including a halter, a whip, a shambarier.
It is important to remember the rule: if the foal moves away, in no case do not remove the pressure - otherwise you will teach the young horse to dodge contact with you.
Touching should not be only stroking: it can be rubbing, patting, massaging, and even pinching movements - the latter are very important as the future preparation of the foal for injections. nine0003
Many equestrians put a halter on a foal from the first days of life, so that later he gets used to it and stops noticing it. Our editors are of the opinion that the halter should be put on consciously, at the age of several months - this will be the first step on which the foal learns to learn.
How to lead a foal?
- Teach him to touch the face. When the owner sees that the foal is calm and relaxed, you should remove your hands and give a treat. nine0098
- Teach him to scratch with a halter.
- Accustom in advance to the sounds that a halter can make so as not to frighten a young horse in the process of fastening (multiple repetitions of clicking a carabiner next to a foal, rattling of buckles)
- Try putting on each part of the halter separately, fasten to automatism: nape strap, nose strap. nine0098
- And only after passing through all these steps, a full-fledged putting on of a halter on a foal prepared for this.
Tip: Most horses will feel more comfortable if an unfamiliar object moves towards the muzzle from the side of the neck - it may be wise to start the massage from there.
Preparing for the first trimming
This stage involves getting used to standing on the crossroads, brushing, walking on the lead and giving legs for unhooking. It is recommended to devote time to this from the age of 5 months, since the first adult trimming should take place at six months.
In learning to give legs, gradualness is important. The foal is growing rapidly, each new week its balance is not similar to the balance of the previous one, parts of the body grow disproportionately, which negatively affects the balance. For such a horse, standing on three legs for a couple of seconds is already an achievement that needs to be praised! And if at the same time the foal has not yet transferred its weight to you, it is probably worth finishing the training on such a successful attempt. Foals are like children - they cannot concentrate on one task for a long time. nine0003
One more note: the foal should be taught to give each leg separately. He does not remember the general principle - for him, each leg is a new experience and new sensations. Once all four feet are comfortably in your hand, you can begin the unhooking followed by tapping movements to prepare the young horse for the farrier's next visit.
Games with foals
What to do with a horse when it is led, gives legs, easily follows a person, allows you to carry out all the necessary manipulations at the junctions? Of course, play and learn by playing! nine0003
Active games help to build boundaries: you should immediately stop all attempts of the foal to brazenly invade your personal space, and also send “candles” and “goats” in your direction.