Friday, November 20, 2009

Raising Horses - Leading the Foal

The foal at this point is accepting of the halter and is not intimidated by it. You can halter the foal without incident and handle the foal all over.

Attach a lead rope of 8 to 10 foot length to the bottom ring of the halter and allow the foal to walk around with it attached. The foal will step on it several times and may even be agitated or angry a little. Patience will teach the foal to drag the lead rope in such manner that it doesn’t interfere with it’s way of moving and how best to get out of problems.

The handler stands by to ensure that serious problems are rectified immediately without harming the foal. Don’t let the lead rope become entangled in other objects. Detach the lead rope after about 15 minutes and let the foal wander around the corral without it for about another 15 minutes before re-attaching the lead rope. Repeat this several times until you observe the foal has become accustomed to dragging the lead rope.

Attach the lead rope as normal, but retain the free end while remaining in the center of the corral. The foal will wander off at an angle to the handler. Retain a strong hold on the lead rope. Once the foal reaches the end of the lead rope, it will be stopped and will attempt to keep going. Be prepared for some antics from the foal as it resists the lead and halter. The foal may buck, run in a circle or just stand while it attempts to figure out this new problem. Just be patient and wait a bit.

Once the foal has decided to stand quietly, you can proceed to instruct the foal on leading. First give a slight tug on the lead rope and see if the foal will step toward you. If it does, release the pressure and then wait a few moments and repeat. Continue until the foal approaches you with just the slightest of tugs.

Some foals will set back or dig their heels in and resist the tug pressure. To rectify this, simply walk around the foal while holding light pressure until you are 90 degrees to the foal. Then increase the pressure steadily until the foal turns to face you. Continue this until the foal starts walking forward to release the pressure.

Once the foal recognizes that following the pull will release the pressure of the halter on it’s head, walk to beside the foal’s head and gather up the slack in the lead rope. Don’t grasp the lead rope next to the halter, you want about a foot or two of slack hanging. Pet and rub the foal for being so intelligent as to recognize and solve problems. Then face forward and step off slowly until you feel resistance in the lead rope. The foal doesn’t yet know it’s supposed to go with you, so be patient. When you feel resistance, don’t turn around, just look over your shoulder and lean forward to increase pressure. Hold the pressure as the foal leans back against the pressure. Be aware that the foal may jump forward to release the pressure, so be ready to step sideways out of line. If you get a step or two following you, then relax and pet the foal some more. Take a few moments, then repeat until the foal is following you around the corral and keeping slack on the lead rope. Continue this for at least 30 minutes as a leading lesson. Repeat over the next several days until there is no longer any resistance.

Leading without resistance is mandatory for horses so it's best to teach it while they're young and impressionable.



Riverwalker said...

Thanks YeOldFurt!


Mayberry said...

Good stuff Furt. We may be riding horses again soon, heh...