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Am I rushing things?

Dear Franklin:

I have owned miniature horses for 5 years. I recently purchased (two weeks ago) a 6 month old Arabian colt, and a 4 month old Appaloosa colt. The Arabian is mine and the Appaloosa is my husbands. We had decided to get babies so we could raise and train so we would know how the horse was raised. When we got them they were not halter broke or broke to lead, although they had a halter on to get wormed and their feet filed. We have not taken the halters off because we only have a run in for them right now no stalls. We don't have a round pen put we do have a smaller pasture.

Anyway, the second day he was home I was able to approach him. I put a lead on and without using a line around him I taught him to lead around the paddock both ways, back up, and I also touched him all over his body and picked up both his front feet. I got him to lead by applying pressure to the halter and immediately releasing the pressure when he stepped forward. He did so well, after he accomplished this I rewarded him by petting him and telling him "good boy" He accomplished this all within about 45 minutes. I then left him alone and several hours later I went out and did everything again and he had remembered. I mix things up I go out sometimes and work with him and I also go in the paddock to just watch him, approach him then walk away or let him approach me. After the fourth day of him being home I took him for a walk on the driveway and around the house not pushing him but taking it step by step on how he was handling it. He pulls pretty bad, like he is excited. The other horse also came with us, the other horse is really dependent on mine which I need to get him used to not being with my horse but when I take mine out of the paddock the other runs into the fence and really panics. I want to train this horse correctly, I love him very much! I don't want neither of us to get discouraged. Am I moving to fast? What are the proper steps in training a young horse? How do I get the other horse used to being separated from mine without causing him to get hurt?

Please help me!


Hi Sandy,

Actually, sounds like you are doing quite well. With really young horses like you now have, I wouldn't do too much. Perhaps one session a day for 15 minutes. A morning and evening session would be OK but then give a day or two between session days. Work on one thing for only 5 minutes or so. Keep it simple and fun. A mistake a lot of folks do is when things are going well, they keep going for more and then more. I would avoid that mistake. Let them learn one little step at a time and put them away as their reward. If you were on a ranch, the weanlings would be halter trained, trained to handle feet and would have been imprinted at birth (many ranches anyway). Then they would be put out together to grow and play. They would not be handled very much until they were two years old. Then they would be ridden once or twice, handled a bit more and turned out to grow. At three they would really start schooling under saddle (once a week maybe). At four to five most horses are ready for a job of some sort. So, normally the foals are not overly handled and allowed to grow with other horses (sometimes mature horses are in the pasture and they teach manners to the babies which is a good thing). Seems like you both are pretty adept at this and I can understand the temptation to go at these foals a lot to teach all kinds of things. I think somewhat more handling than 'normal' is OK, but please resist the temptation to be 'on' them too much. As they are so young, it is normal for them to really want to be together. Especially is they are not turned out with other horses. Better if they could go out with some mature horses as well. The more 'horse' support they have the better. To help with them being herd bound, move one out of sight of the other for a few moments only and then bring it back. Do this a lot. Once they begin to understand that they will see each other shortly and settle a bit, then increase the time of separation gradually. Have fun and simple activity a lot. Simple things mean a lot with horses. It will also set you up as their trusted leader. Get good at asking for and receiving a hind end yield (tight circles in both directions). This simple action will get the horses attention back on you immediately. No matter what the horse is doing, if you do not want it, immediately ask for a hind end yield, both directions and maybe 3 rotations. This should stop any unwanted behavior immediately. It is a good tool. Practice it gently in a safe, small paddock. Then you both will have it when you need it.

Keep me posted and the best of luck to you.

Sincerely, Franklin

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