aggressive foal?

Last post 06-08-2011 9:12 AM by SpottedPony_horse. 5 replies.
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  • 05-15-2011 11:33 AM

    aggressive foal?

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    Hello All,

        I have a 2 month TB filly that showed some aggressive behavior for the first time a couple days ago.  She has always been quite shy and scared of us and I stupidly did not push the issue of contact.  Then over the last 2 weeks we started trying to establish some contact with her just spending time brushing and scratching on her mom (who is a sweetheart) and hoping curiosity would bring her to me.  At first the filly would run in circles and baby gum, but after a few days would come up slowly.  Then she would reach out and touch my hand but then would turn and run as soon as contact was made.  So a couple days ago I got my husband to help and we both tried to get her interested in some grain we had in our hands.  It wasn’t going well and the filly was getting frustrated... at first she ran by and kicked at me but it was at a safe distance.  Then finally when that didn’t work to get me to leave she came up again stretched out her neck and touched my hand but this time she lifted her head, started shaking it with ears pinned and struck out at me (did not hit me- and I waved her away) it shocked me to say the least.  I didn’t though have much time to ponder that because then she started backing up toward me.  I just aligned myself close to her mom and the filly never actually kicked again.  A few minutes later however she struck out at my husband. 

      I thought about it that night and was hoping maybe we had just put a little too much pressure on her with 2 of us there and I hoped it was a fluke.  I went out by myself the next morning, and just caught the mare and started brushing her right there in the pasture. The filly came up to me and wanted to mouth on me a little (with my back turned to her) but as soon I turned to face her she started the ears back head shaking thing (although did not strike).    So sadly a pattern has emerged and I am not sure how to handle it.  I have raised a few foals and been around many more but this filly has me perplexed, I have never had one as shy of people as this one is.  How do you both assert your dominance, and also gain the trust of a foal (who is people shy)?  She is pastured alone with her dam, (my other mare slipped her baby). 



  • 05-15-2011 5:06 PM In reply to

    Re: aggressive foal?

    I saw a really good video once by John Lyons. He tied a pony mare to the fence and slowly herded the foal so that he couldn't join the mare. The foal would walk around both sides of the mare trying to get to her, but John was always inbetween them. The foal soon learned and gently, that John could control his feet. If the foal showed his bum, John would make him move away farther. If the foal faced him, he stood quiet. It didn't take long for the foal to figure out who the boss was.

    I think your foal has missed your earlier contact by it not being constant. He's wondering what these people are doing around his Mom.....his Mom, his Milk! Take the mare for a its your milk, lol. A lot of things can straighten out  simply when you're moving.  Showing a gentle display of control over him and his Mom, will help some different thoughts prevail in his head.I figure that getting into a rhythm of a walk, will get you closer to that foal and walking beside her soon enough. Horses need to move for relief....go with her....all of you walk together and get used to being together. You want the foal to come with you and keep coming. You don't want her challenging and constantly running away. Walking will do that.....kinda like moving forward with things.Smile

    Happy trails...... 

  • 06-07-2011 2:05 PM In reply to

    Re: aggressive foal?

    It is to bad that you didn't take the time to "imprint" this foal when it was only a day old, it would've saved you all these problems and ones yet to come. Hopefully, in the future, you will decide to do the imprinting and discussions like these won't be necessary ever again.

  • 06-07-2011 5:19 PM In reply to

    Re: aggressive foal?

    Does the mare discipline the foal?  If so, to what degree?

     My 16 yr old TWH has been with me since he was 2-1/2; he has always been a disrespectful snotface and got more "ccorrections" than all my Keeper horses put together.

    I did eventually learn that he is oat/corn/soy intolerant and removing all that helped, but he can occasionally still be disrespectful not only to me but to his herd buddies, of whom he is third of four in the pecking order.

    A breeder once suggested to me that he is that way because his dam probably didn't correct him when he needed it and let him get away with murder so-to-speak.

    That is why I am asking what kind of disciplinarian the mare is.

    I agree that handling the foal as soon as possible is important; my granddad raised Welsh/Morgans and my cousin's & my job was to "git to handlin' those foals afore they git to handlin' you".  The fancy modern day word for that being "Imprint".

    However, that is still no reason for the foal, as young as it is, to be so disrespectful and again, is why I ask what kind of mom the dam isBig Smile

  • 06-08-2011 5:46 AM In reply to

    Re: aggressive foal?

    We have the same problem with the foal at my boarding barn.  He wants very badly to bite people.  He is about 4 months old at this point and I hesitate to start physically correcting him, but I have popped him on the nose lightly a few times because he will just come right at you with teeth.  I am not trying to handle the foal, but he is extremely injury prone and I have to assist with doctoring him by either holding his mom or assisting with bandages.  This has been a bit of a nightmare because he was getting hurt before he was halter trained, so we have this baby who is all feet and teeth and having to bandage him every day and cold hose him.  I have encountered many, many bratty babies in my time, they tend to grow out of it, but I am glad this particular baby does not belong to me, there is a long road ahead for his owner getting him to learn his manners!
  • 06-08-2011 9:12 AM In reply to

    Re: aggressive foal?

    I think this wouldn't be happening if you would have been messing with her a few minutes a day from day one rather than letting her come to you.  I'd suggest that you bring the pair into a stall at least twice a day for feeding.  While the mare is eating, offer the foal some grain and when she gets to eating it, ease up to her and start start petting her.  Find her itchy places and give her a good scratching.  Finding out that humans are good for something other than bringing the feed may help.  Depending on her size and the size of you and your husband, you may need to catch and restrain her so that you can get started on brushing and scratching her. 

    There are foal halters out there that have a short catch strap on it.  Once you have this halter on her, you will be able to restrain her and start teaching her to accept being restrained and accept being handled.  Just get ahold of the catch strap and stay with her until she realizes she can't get away and you can start grooming her and working on her feet.  Again start doing this in a confined area such as the stall so that she can be caught without having to chase her all over the place.  Then once she accepts being caught and groomed, then start teaching her to lead around the stall with a rump rope. 

    Once you can get her to accept that humans rank higher than her and she must tolerate being handled, then she'll be much easier to handle and train later on.

    Good luck.

    Spotted Pony

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