!Call Now! Button Tablet

!Call Now! Button Desktop

Call Now! 575-378-4708

!Social Icons

!Call Now! Icon

Socializing Your Foal

April 5, 2022

Has a baby horse just joined your stable? Congratulations! Foals are an absolute delight to have around. It’s almost impossible not to smile when watching little Silver trying to figure out how all those legs work! While most of your horse’s training will wait until he’s fully grown, there are a few things he’ll need to sort out now. In addition to mastering basic shifting and gears, your little equine buddy will also need to be socialized. A Ruidoso, NM veterinarian offers advice on this below.


Treats can go a long way towards earning an animal’s trust. Foals are no exception here! Carrots, apple pieces, sugar cubes, and mints are all safe bets. Be sure to share with Mama, too!

Let The Little One Investigate

Horses are both inquisitive and skittish by nature. Indulge little Silver’s curiosity a bit. Let your little buddy sniff and investigate various things, such as halters, bridles, and brushes.

Watch Body Language

Take time to build trust slowly. Avoid scaring or cornering little Silver, and pay close attention to his body language. Rolling the eyes, holding the head high, and/or hiding behind Mama are all signs of nervousness in foals.

Respect Mama

Giving the mare treats and ear scritches will help her teach by example. However, never put yourself between mother and baby. That will unsettle both of them, and could get you bitten or kicked!


You want little Silver to grow into a calm horse, instead of one that goes into meltdown mode at the sight of a sandwich wrapper. Desensitization is key here! Get him used to being handled, and gently expose him to different objects, noises, and textures.

Be Gentle

Always touch and pet foals very gently. Never slap or pat little Silver! That friendly rump smack your older gelding loves may scare a baby.

Keep It Positive

Only work with a foal when you’re in a good mood. Horses can pick up on our moods, so if you spend time with little Silver when you’re grumpy, you may make him wary of you. (Note: watching foals hard at play is a great mood booster!)


Horses often groom their buddies. Scratching and petting your foal will help him see you as a friend. Don’t skimp on those ear scritches!

Our Advice on Socializing Your Foal in 2024

How can you safely indulge a foal’s curiosity during socialization?

Safely indulging a foal’s curiosity involves controlled exposure to new experiences in a secure environment. Begin by calmly introducing objects like halters, bridles, and brushes, allowing the foals to approach and investigate at their own pace. Always supervise interactions closely to ensure the foal feels safe and prevent potential scares. Encourage gentle exploration with treats as positive reinforcement, but maintain a careful distance to avoid startling them. This gradual, positive approach helps build trust and curiosity, critical components for a well-adjusted horse.

What are signs of nervousness to look out for in a foal?

Signs of nervousness in a foal include rolling or wide eyes, holding the head high, and attempting to hide behind their mother or other objects. Ears pinned back, tail swishing, and shying away from touch or sudden movements are also indicators. A nervous foal might also display an increased respiratory rate or whine as signs of discomfort. Observing these behaviors is crucial for adjusting interactions to ensure they feel safe and secure, fostering trust, and aiding their socialization and overall well-being.

What is the correct way to touch and pet a foal?

The correct way to touch and pet a foal involves a gentle and cautious approach to foster trust and comfort. Start by allowing the foal to sniff your hand, signaling your peaceful intentions. Then, gently stroke or pet the foal on the shoulder or neck, areas where they are more likely to tolerate touch from humans. Avoid sudden movements and loud noises that could startle them. Always observe the foal’s reactions; if they seem uncomfortable, give them space and try again later. This patient and soft approach helps build a positive association with human contact.

Why should you only interact with a foal when in a good mood?

Interacting with a foal when in a good mood is crucial because foals are susceptible to human emotions and can easily pick up on stress, anger, or frustration. This sensitivity can influence their perception of humans and either foster trust or fear. Positive interactions, characterized by calm and happy emotions, encourage a foal to associate human contact with safety and comfort. This foundation of faith is essential for their learning and socialization, making it easier to handle and train them as they grow. Engaging with a foal in a positive mood promotes a healthy bond and aids in its overall development.

How does grooming contribute to socializing a foal?

Grooming plays a significant role in socializing a foal by mimicking natural behaviors observed within the herd, where horses often groom each other to strengthen social bonds. When humans groom a foal, it helps the animal to associate human touch with positive, comforting experiences. Grooming sessions allow the foal to become accustomed to being handled, promoting trust and ease around humans. This interaction introduces the foal to various sensations, preparing them for future handling, such as veterinary care and training. Additionally, grooming enhances the foal’s well-being physically by maintaining coat health and emotionally by establishing a connection with humans.

Do you have questions about caring for foals? Contact us, your Ruidoso, NM animal clinic, anytime!