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