Raising Your Foal

DSC_1170Our elite and exclusive breeding program delivers much excitement during foaling season. The mares due to foal are brought down to the stable yard and  placed together in a big paddock, a strategically planned area with sufficient food, water and shelter. These paddocks are safe and secure ensuring natural safety for the mares and their foals.

It is vital to make sure that the afterbirth is intact and that no pieces remain in the mare. Should this happen the mare will either suffer from Laminitis or death.

Once the foal is born, we do periodic vital assessments. These range from health and mobility to fluid intake and digestion. The mares and their new born foals will stay in the maternity paddock only until they are nursing consistently. They are then moved to a mountainous camp for natural stimulation and muscle toning.

raising-your-foal---heiressWe introduce them to good quality alfalfa hay and small amounts of concentrate at an early age, thus encouraging a balanced diet stimulating correct growth, bone density and muscular development.

We believe that manners learned as a foal will carry over into the mature horse. Every one of your actions will create a reaction from the foal, this trail of thought predominantly framing his mind set for life.  We encourage teaching the foal ground skills based on the Equus. Consistency and fairness, key to its interpretation of human stimulation.

Understanding that horses are animals of flight, your interaction with the young foal should always be kind, gentle and quiet. A firm but subtle approach is best. We are of the understanding that a horse is unable to learn in flight mode, in essence, the foal must be comfortable under your leadership to learn and process thoughts.

7514Our first physical interaction with the foal would be through touch. We halter the mare and proceed in touching the foal. Once the foal is at ease, wrap your left arm around its chest while holding its tail with your right hand. When it accepts your touch, introduce a handler onto the scene. As soon as the foal grants you permission, by means of acceptance, let the handler rub the foal from head to tail in gentle circular motions. Phase down its legs, teaching it to leg-up and eventually stroke it around the head and ears. Positively enforce these actions daily. Once you and the foal have formed a relationship based on trust, introduce it to a foal halter and teach it to be lead, never removing it from its mother. Let a handler lead the mother and you can lead the foal behind her in a relatively calm environment.
We generally wean our foals at six months. The mares and foals are bought down to the stable yard where we will put them into a small secure paddock which has been fenced with poles and electric horse tape. An older mare is introduced into the paddock with the mares and foals. Place about six people around the perimeter of the paddock on the inside. Now remove the mares from the paddock and take them back to the veld. One needs to move them to a area where the foals can’t see or hear them. During this weaning period we will teach these foals to lead correctly and to behave in a safe manner, takes plus-minus a month for them to be weaned. They are then returned to the veld with the older mare in a separate camp from their dams.

14510Mountain-View-Stables-with-a-foalAt nine months of age, foals become sexually active. The colts and fillies need to be separated.
We will remove the colts from the herd and put them in a separate camp with a gelding. This geldings temperament must be such that he won’t lash out at the colts and will gently keep them under control, preventing unwanted behaviour.
Both groups of foals are led by an adult, dominant in nature. This mare/gelding is responsible for enforcing disciplinary codes; it teaches them to respect the herd hierarchy and imprints acceptable social behaviour. In principle, these alpha horses set the foundation for you as trainer. Once these foals leave the herd and move into the training program, your primary responsibility would be to replace the herd leader. This post demands loyalty and devotion in exchange for their trust and respect.

When the foals turn two and a half years old, we gently usher them into the training program. However we have found that a unusually large colt would be better off to start as a three year old thus allowing his body to be physically strong enough to be worked. By this stage they need to be physically capable of carrying your weight without straining themselves.

Throughout their training career, we encourage social behaviour and relaxation time outdoors.  We respect that they are herd animals and enjoy nurturing their souls by adding good companions, sunlight and freedom into their daily routine.