FOR THE FOAL

EQUUS - - Eq Tack& Gear -

• Start early. It’s prac­ti­cally never too soon to get a foal used to hav­ing his feet han­dled. In fact, Tia Nel­son, DVM, a vet­eri­nar­ian and far­rier in He­lena, Mon­tana, rec­om­mends hav­ing a far­rier look at a young­ster at 1 or 2 weeks of age, par­tic­u­larly if you are wor­ried about crooked legs or other im­per­fec­tions that may re­quire cor­rec­tive trim­ming. “The ear­lier, the bet­ter,” she says.

• Es­tab­lish a re­la­tion­ship of re­spect. Foals and young horses un­der­stand the con­cept of dis­ci­pline be­cause it’s the foun­da­tion of the herd’s peck­ing order: A bold young­ster who tries to have his own way gets put in his place by dom­i­nant herd mem­bers. Sassy foals also need to learn re­spect when you are work­ing with them and un­der­stand that nip­ping, biting, kick­ing or tem­per tantrums when you pick up a foot are not al­lowed. “You have to treat them like your own kids. You want them to love you but you also want them to re­spect you,” says Tommy Boudreau, a cer­ti­fied far­rier in Min­eral Wells, Texas. “There has to be some firm­ness along with kind­ness be­cause you don’t want to spoil a young horse. Some­times it takes a firm jerk on the lead rope if they are try­ing to bite or paw at you or go over the top of you. They have to learn their lim­its of be­hav­ior and re­spect you.”

• Get the foal ac­cus­tomed to all sorts of han­dling. De­sen­si­tiz­ing a young horse to be­ing touched and han­dled is the first step in teach­ing him far­ri­ery man­ners. Once a young­ster is hal­ter trained, teach him to ac­cept your touch over his en­tire body. Go slowly and make it a pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence---if he begins to be­come anx­ious, stop briefly to al­low him to calm down, then re­sume your ses­sion. And make han­dling

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