Imprinting your foal

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If you are lucky enough to be expecting a foal in your stable, then you will certainly be brushing up on your tips for training a foal. Handling a newborn foal can be made much easier through imprinting. Imprinting a foal makes training less stressful and desensitizes the foal to many of the foreign issues that it will encounter in being around humans.

What Is Imprinting a Foal?

Imprinting a foal is a technique in which humans handle and work with a foal immediately after birth. By handling the young foal, the foal learns that humans can physically restrain it (something that humans can’t do once the foal starts to grow). The foal also learns to accept and trust humans.

Imprinting is a powerful tool because it immediately establishes a basis for training when the foal is not even a few hours old. Basic tasks, like putting on a halter for the first time, are best accomplished when the foal is a newborn. Once having been handled positively by humans, a foal will grow to trust them, rather than fear them.

Tips on Handling and Imprinting a Foal

It is best to imprint a foal almost immediately after birth, and before the foal is one hour old. Have at least two people on hand to assist you. One person will need to hold the mare and keep her calm; the other person will help you as you hold the foal.

Enter the mare’s stall calmly and carefully. Remember, mares may be highly defensive of their newborn foals, so use caution and watch for warning signs that the mare feels threatened. Have one assistant secure the mare with a halter and lead rope, and stand the mare against one side of the stall.

If possible, approach the foal immediately after he is born and towel dry him off. He will get used to your scent and relax in your presence. The action of towel drying is similar to how a mare would lick her foal dry – through this behavior the foal will learn to trust you.

Give the mare some time alone with her foal, then re-enter the stall, re-secure the mare, and approach the foal again. This time have an assistant help to keep the foal in place as you rub your hands all over the foal’s body. Go slowly and wait for the foal to relax and accept your touch.

After the foal accepts your touching him, run your hands down each of his legs and gently lift his feet up. Gently open his mouth and inspect his teeth. Run a lead rope all over his body, and then do the same with a foal halter. Put the halter on him and continue to rub your hands all over his body.

The Results of Imprinting on a Foal’s Intelligence

It is important to make imprinting a positive experience for the foal so that he recognizes human presence as being something to look forward to. Once imprinted, foals will have the basics of a training foundation – they will accept human touch, lift their feet when asked, and wear a halter comfortably. This will make future training much easier and less stressful.

Imprinting a foal is an excellent tool in training and handling a foal. Be sure to keep up with regular daily lessons to maximize the advantage in imprinting a foal. TOPHORSE–browse youngstock for sale or place an ad to sell horses.

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