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Imprinting first half hour

Equine-Reproduction.com Bulletin Board » Foaling and Immediate Post-foaling Issues » Imprinting first half hour « Previous Next »


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Cjskip
Breeding Stock
Username: Cjskip

Post Number: 159
Registered: 03-2008
Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 - 01:03 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

My daughter has told me that in the first half-hour of life, anything the foal expereinces is normalized. So if we buzz clippers around its ear, mess with hooves, put a "saddle pad," or something like it, on the foal, etc., that it will not be afraid of those things ever.

Is this true? And if so, then leaving the foal and mare alone for 20-40 minutes after the birth, as usually recommended, might not be the best thing to do?

I'd love to hear others' comments.
 

Emily S
Breeding Stock
Username: Cowgrl88

Post Number: 143
Registered: 02-2008
Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 - 01:29 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Yes, I've been reading this too. I've been reading Imprint Training by Robert M. Miller, and he says that as soon as the foal is born, you touch it all over to normalize it to certain stimuli. I have heard different opinions, however, on the interference with the mare and foal bonding right away, so I'm still not sure how soon I am going to begin the imprint training...
 

Cjskip
Breeding Stock
Username: Cjskip

Post Number: 169
Registered: 03-2008
Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 - 04:04 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I wonder if the bonding really is interferred with? Imean, sometimes the foals are taken away for a bit, if they are having complications. So I wonder how the bonding works then.

Maybe the more knowledgeable people here can answer that one for us. Please?
 

Bobbi Govro
Breeding Stock
Username: Hh_farms

Post Number: 194
Registered: 03-2008
Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 - 09:26 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

My opinion and experience...no it doesn't necessarily work. When they come out...they are stunned at the ordeal they've just gone through and I don't know that there is much knowledge retention going on. When they perk up within a few days...they have a mind of their own.

I believe it was Jos who said it best..."Its far more important that your mare bonds with the baby."

Its more important, to me anyway, that you condition them to "life as you want it to be" throughout that first year. I've never found that total bonding in the first few hours has made any impact on their personalities or what bugs them and what doesn't.

Its always interesting though to get so many other opinions. I really respect everyone's viewpoints and I have certainly learned new tricks by keeping an open mind.
 

Jos
Board Administrator
Username: Admin

Post Number: 1838
Registered: 10-1999
Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 - 09:41 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

If you are going to perform "imprinting" then we strongly recommend that you follow the University f Arkansas' philosophy on the subject, which is that it is started after the foal has had at least one good belly-filling nurse (not just a couple of "slurps"); and that it be stopped immediately if the mare gets distressed in any way.
 

Cyndy Wiser
Yearling
Username: Cyndy

Post Number: 66
Registered: 03-2008
Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 - 12:54 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Bobbi, Jos, I agree totally. It is far more important for the very basic "needs" of the foal and the mare be met first. There is always time to "imprint" or begin working with the foal later. It takes all of their efforts to learn to stand, balance, walk and to get that belly filled!

I also somewhat compare it to how I felt when I had my kids. I wanted to see them, hold them, marvel, ooh, ahh, and all that stuff us girls do. I didn't want to share them with others right away! Not even the doc or nurses!
 

Cjskip
Breeding Stock
Username: Cjskip

Post Number: 171
Registered: 03-2008
Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 - 01:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thank-you all. As usual, you've given me a lot to think about. I will look at the University of Arkansas philosophy. Of course I want what is best for the mare and foal.
 

Emily West, Gracie Due 04/11/08
Breeding Stock
Username: Paintlover

Post Number: 567
Registered: 06-2006
Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 - 01:33 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I do both at the same time. Like drying off the foal with a towel. I rub all over while doing what I need to do for the foal anyway. When the foal gets up I'll help guard it from the wall. If the foal ends up needing help nursing etc. These are just examples. I am there for the foal without interfering but I get mostly the same results. :-)
 

judy cervantes/chenoa born 3/30/08
Breeding Stock
Username: Judy1

Post Number: 342
Registered: 12-2007
Posted on Thursday, April 17, 2008 - 12:26 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

HI, LORNA AND I WONDERED TODAY HOW HER LITTLE GUY IS GOING TO EXCEPT PEOPLE AFTER ALL THE NEGATIVE HANDLEING HES HAD SINCE BIRTH,IN REGARDS TO ALL THE VET WORK,GETTING PLASMA, SHOTS DAILY AND ULCER GARD PAST,POOR GUYS NOT TO FOND OF PEOPLE RIGHT NOW.
 

Tim Popovitz
Yearling
Username: Dystocia

Post Number: 61
Registered: 02-2008
Posted on Thursday, April 17, 2008 - 01:17 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I believe in imprinting, to a degree. I don't believe that things such as clippers or saddle pads are necessary though, to me and for my purposes, it doesn't need to be that complicated. It is a simple matter of establishing TRUST from the moment they hit the ground and for a just few minutes at a time on a regular basis during the first several hours of thier lives.

Like Emily pointed out, just doing what needs to be done can be counted as "imprinting" as long as you are aware that those first few encounters you have with the foal are very important. What you do is not nearly as important as how you do it.

Establishing trust and to a lesser degree, respect, at a very early age conditions them to learn from you with less resistance(hopefully) in the future.
 

Cjskip
Breeding Stock
Username: Cjskip

Post Number: 182
Registered: 03-2008
Posted on Thursday, April 17, 2008 - 01:31 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Yes, I believe trust is very important, as is respect. I think I will be hiring a trainer early on in my foal'slife, for I want a well behaved youngster that I, or anyone else, can handle safely.

The trick is finding the right handler, but I already have someone in mind.

Yup, the foal ain't even here yet and the obsessing begins!!
 

Michelle Richardson
Yearling
Username: Carefreemom

Post Number: 71
Registered: 03-2008
Posted on Thursday, April 17, 2008 - 09:29 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Alot of people believe very strongly in inprinting. But I feel like if done wrong it have a negative response for the foal and mom as well. I will leave the strict imprinting to those with much more experience than I. Tim put it very well when he said that what you do is not nearly as important as how you do it. I think this holds true with all horses and your relationships with them.
 

judy cervantes/chenoa born 3/30/08
Breeding Stock
Username: Judy1

Post Number: 343
Registered: 12-2007
Posted on Thursday, April 17, 2008 - 12:45 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I BELIEVE IN DOING THE SAME JUST WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE,B U T ...IN LORNAS CASE THE FOAL NEEDS, MUCH MUCH MORE THAN THAT,HE SEES YOU NOW AND GOES THE OTHER WAY BECAUSE HE KNOW THERES A SHOT OR PAST OR SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE ARE GUNNA DO,SO DO YOU SEE THIS AS NEGATIVE??I THINK THAT ONCE ALL THE SHOTS AND STUFF IS OVER SHE CAN START THE POSITIVE TUCHING AND GAIN HES TRUST,DONT YOU??
 

Pamela Witt
Nursing Foal
Username: Jdalwitt

Post Number: 13
Registered: 03-2008
Posted on Thursday, April 17, 2008 - 02:11 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Here's a great website from the pioneer in imprint training. We did imprint training but did not push the timelines like to ones in the book. Our little boy is curious about us and comes right up to us at 5 days old. Too soon to tell how the training will translate as he gets older.

http://www.robertmmiller.com/imprint-training.html
 

Emily S
Breeding Stock
Username: Cowgrl88

Post Number: 161
Registered: 02-2008
Posted on Thursday, April 17, 2008 - 03:29 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Pamela: did you do all of the touching and stuff that Dr. Miller suggested, right after the baby was born??
 

Linda Bauer --Rita due 4/29
Yearling
Username: Llazyt

Post Number: 61
Registered: 04-2007
Posted on Thursday, April 17, 2008 - 05:57 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I am a true beliver in imprinting if done right. the question is when does imprinting end and training begin. I think it is a fine line. I imprinted my gelding. I was there shortly after the mare foaled. He still had the sack on him. I didnt interfere with the mare. She was still down so I dryed him with towels, rubbed him all over put my fingers in his mouth, ears etc. I did all this before he got up the 1st time. Then I let him be. Let nature take its course. He is 5 now and still the best natured fella. Easy to worm, clean his ears, what ever I want to do to him.
 

Michelle Richardson
Yearling
Username: Carefreemom

Post Number: 75
Registered: 03-2008
Posted on Thursday, April 17, 2008 - 06:45 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Linda thats great I think there is alot to the imprinting. Alot of really talented horse people swear by it. I am glad to hear it has worked for so many of you. My biggest concern with any training is doing it correctly and at the right time. I am more concerned for my human error than I am about the training method itself.
 

Emily S
Breeding Stock
Username: Cowgrl88

Post Number: 163
Registered: 02-2008
Posted on Thursday, April 17, 2008 - 07:07 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Michelle, I feel exactly the same way. I do not want to do anything wrong and train the foal in a negative way.
 

Tim Popovitz
Yearling
Username: Dystocia

Post Number: 66
Registered: 02-2008
Posted on Thursday, April 17, 2008 - 07:32 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Judy

The negative stuff can be "unlearned" with time and patience. The important thing I've found out dealing with the unsociable ones that were sick or needed to bothered for health issues is to always try to stack the odds in your favor. By this I mean, have help in catching them and handling them so they don't have a chance to freak out too much. You are going for tolerance at this point, trying to make it "pleasurable" to be caught will come in time.

It's just like the positive imprinting, all that can be unlearned in the wrong hands. The initial imprint is important yes, but not nearly as important as continuous, skilled handling.
 

judy cervantes/chenoa born 3/30/08
Breeding Stock
Username: Judy1

Post Number: 345
Registered: 12-2007
Posted on Thursday, April 17, 2008 - 09:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

TIM,THANK YOU !!!
 

Cjskip
Breeding Stock
Username: Cjskip

Post Number: 190
Registered: 03-2008
Posted on Thursday, April 17, 2008 - 10:55 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Michelle, I agree 100%. I wonder if the people who believe in imprinting, simply by their interest in caring for the foal in the best way they can, end up with a great horse, simply by their caring approach. Just a thought.

Tim, those sound like wise words. You are the new horse whisperer for the board!

I think I will do exactly what Linda did, if offered the opportunity. But if not; if momma horse wants the baby left alone after I know he is okay, or I miss the birth (NOT) I'll do all that stuff as soon as possible after, but a little at a time. Let's remember those feet. The farrier will love us and maybe give us a break on the price!
 

Michelle Richardson
Yearling
Username: Carefreemom

Post Number: 77
Registered: 03-2008
Posted on Thursday, April 17, 2008 - 11:02 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Cj- the feet thing is very important. Maybe you can put a good word in with my farrier. Twenty sets of feet (almost 21 gets very expensive!!!)
 

Cjskip
Breeding Stock
Username: Cjskip

Post Number: 197
Registered: 03-2008
Posted on Thursday, April 17, 2008 - 11:54 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I paid $80.00 the other day for one horse! She is fearful, is very pregnant and has an injury. So all of those combined to make a routine trimming, into a very long trimming. But the guy was worth it. Still, I couldn't do that with more than one or two. So I really want to get that right with my foal.

I read an article from a farrier about getting off our behinds and going out and handling those little monsters' feet. I'm thniking who knows, maybe the farriers will be so happy, they'll give us a price cut, huh? Although, now that I mention it, I don't recall any mention of a discount for a well behaved horse.
 

Sora
Neonate
Username: Sora

Post Number: 4
Registered: 04-2008
Posted on Sunday, April 20, 2008 - 11:13 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

As someone who comes from a exotic animal training and handling background, horses do not imprint. The term used correctly is for animals that have to establish some kind of immediate bond to recognize mom amongst hundreds or thousands, like sea lions and birds that hatch in large numbers together. When an animal imprints, it will recognize the sound of mother even when separated by years.

For example, my friend worked with marine mammals and became mom to a sea lion pup who imprinted n her and was trained. Years later the sea lion went off to live in a zoo far away. My friend went to see her years after that and called her name. The sea lion immediately recognized "mom" and started barking for her.

The only reason why what people call "imprinting" works is because they are actually handling and doing things with the baby. If you're into it all, you're likely to keep doing things with the baby, picking up feet, insisting on good behavior, etc. This is just good handling, and any animal brought up this way is better off for it. If it were true imprinting, you could do all of this and not tough them for four years, and they would still all be good.

It's like all the "natural" horse stuff (versus the unnatural kind?) It's stuff good horse people have always done, but they call it by something cool sounding and make money off of it.
 

Jos
Board Administrator
Username: Admin

Post Number: 1850
Registered: 10-1999
Posted on Monday, April 21, 2008 - 10:40 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

If it were true imprinting, you could do all of this and not tough them for four years, and they would still all be good.

That's the general idea - it's been shown that if certain things are done within a time frame shortly after foaling, the behaviour patterns established will remain with the horse for a considerable amount of time. A good example is running clippers around the head (not actually clipping, just holding them on the head by the ears). Even if the foal is not clipped for the next couple of years, when the clipping does finally happen, they are far more accepting of the practice than one that was not "imprint trained".

My personal inclination is very much in line with Tim's above - that one can go overboard, and that a limited amount of imprinting is all that is necessary - but it has been shown to have a long-term effect, so it is by all definitions "imprinting".
 

Sora
Neonate
Username: Sora

Post Number: 6
Registered: 04-2008
Posted on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 - 01:01 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Jos--I would say that, for example, if you run the clippers over the foal's ears near birth does not imprint the behavior. I would say that, as a person who is into handling their foal, you would regularly handle it, the ears and everything, in general training it to accept all kinds of behavior. So, they do not remember the clippers and what happened, but the aggregate of all of how to behave that you taught them. They would tend to accept clippers, strange situations, or anything you do to them in a more accepting way because you taught them a way to behave and gave them the background to deal with a situation.

A scientific definition: "imprinting is a wonderful example of the interaction of innate, species-specific [like ducks and geese] behavior, and the properties of a special kind of learning, which has been called "perceptual learning" (Bateson, 1966). These studies maintained that animal species are genetically constructed to enable them to learn specific types of behavior that are important for the survival of their species.

Even when you look at horse people defining what they call imprinting, they describe it as training--they are very different ways for species to learn things.
 

Jos
Board Administrator
Username: Admin

Post Number: 1851
Registered: 10-1999
Posted on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 - 09:39 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

You might want to check out Spier SJ, Pusterlaa JB, Villarroel A, Pusterla N; (2003) Outcome of tactile conditioning of neonates, or “imprint training” on selected handling measures in foals; Veterinary Journal 168:3, 252-258.
 

Cjskip
Breeding Stock
Username: Cjskip

Post Number: 256
Registered: 03-2008
Posted on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 - 02:12 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Interesting article that Jos posted a link to. I won't attempt to interpret it, but for those who want to read it, you may be able to access it from a university library, as I did.

One of the factors it pointed out is that early, poor horse handling, may be the cause for many propblems we see in foals that resist handling.

It did say that at three months of age, it was easier to touch the legs and feet of foals that were part of the study, as opposed to the control group, which gave a lot of resistance at three months of age and had not been handled at birth.

My own take on it, very simply is, if you do nothing else, handle the legs and feet early and often.

I think it was interesting too that the study was concieved in part, to look at possible ways to decrease handler injuries. Most were from kicking and second, was crushing.

So for me, I see the value of early handling as two fold:

1. Get the foal used to handling, at least for a few minutes, while newborn, so it becomes less threatened by it.

2. Learn proper horse handling technique, remembering to work with instinctive horse behavior. The more we know, the better the outcome, which is a well bahaved and safe horse.

I hope I don't sound uppity here. I am a novice after all, but what I wrote above is what I took away from the article, regardless of whether we call it imprinting or conditioning. I will leave the absolute definitions to those with more knowledge than I. I am more interested in the practical aspects of the study and found it to be enlightening.



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