Foal Education - Maserati's Kindergarten Time - Leading [Slideshow]
The next task on Maserati´s To - Learn - List is leading. There are many ways to teach this, and I just want to share with you what worked for me at that moment.
Maserati is very cute but also very playful and not always perfectly well-behaved. I want to show you also how it sometimes looks between the perfect pictures.
I had already quite a lot of people ask me what to do when the foal rears or pulls against the halter. I am sure everybody who already had a foal - especially a colt - already experienced some kind of demonstrative behaviour.
Not everything looks always perfect - it is about how we react to it what we do with it.
My goals are, that he understands:
- how to put his nose over the lead rope (not eat it)
- how to release the pressure of the halter
- how to follow the feel of halter and lead rope
- that the big idea is to follow the human
When doing these exercises, I always stay in his known environment. Maserati´s mom and his other herd mates are always close by. This will help him to feel safe - the first condition to make learning possible.
Click through the pictures for more detailed descriptions!
Maserati with his good school boy face. I ask im to follow the feel of the rope, I put light pressure on the halter and wait until he starts walking and taking the pressure off. I like to walk about 2 m in front of him, I can observe him well like this and see what he is up to and I am out of reach of his little mouth.
There he goes: cheeky boy is coming out, trying to bite the rope and starting to resist
A few seconds later. In this situation I do my best to keep a gentle feel on the rope, stand my ground and smile. If I would give release on the rope, not only do I risk that he falls but he will also think that this is the way to get release. eventually he will stop
Didn’t take long for him to find out that the release on the rope is when he follows the feel, rather than fighting it.
Good boy. Scratches, cuddles and time to think are important
There we go again: Maserati is feeling very playful today. It was always about trying to bite the rope
He must have watched his sister Mayana a bit too much! If this happens, I keep my smile and a light feel on the rope to avoid him getting caught with his feet. He will eventually come back to earth. No need to get excited, just stay out of reach.
There we go - the sweet boy is back
Well, not for long! You see that I already lift my hand to keep the rope away from his feet.
Yes, he is expressive! He really is his sisters brother! Again, I keep my smile, I don’t stress out and just do my best to stand my ground, keep his feet out of the rope and prevent him from falling. Little note on the side: he never pulled really hard or tried to get away - he was really just playing little stallion rearing games.
Eventually they will touch earth again: A bit close and almost on top of me this time - I let him know that this is a no go - don’t worry, I didn’t even touch him (though it might be necessary at times), just lift my hands to block him and to protect my space. Once foals get confident with us, they very quickly try to play foal games with us. Unfortunately we are not only slower than them, but also breakable. The sooner they know to respect us the way they respect other older herd members, the better. That doesn’t mean that we can never engage in play, but it has to stay in a certain frame.
After this little reminder, the good school boy was back and he behaved perfectly.
If he blocks and stops, I rather do a little bit to the side than standing right in front of him while keeping a gentle feel on the halter. That way, he will naturally shift his weight just a bit and almost automatically make a step. The thing not to do in this situation is to increase the feel on the halter and start pulling - most foals will start to fight harder because it make them feel trapped and triggers survival instincts.
There he found the release.
What a funny man! We definitely have some room for improvement, but I really liked his attitude in the end - and that’s what counts!
When doing things like this, I stay in the environment he knows best and close to his friends where he feels safe. I don’t want to have the excitement of new environment in the mix yet.
Read more about Maserati's Foal Education