Hey guys, last week I purchased a TB broodmare that came as a package deal with a 2 month old filly at foot. The filly is purebred, and the breeder will send me the registration paperwork when the Jockey Club sends it to her. I knew at time of purchase I wanted to sell the filly after weaning, as it is the mare I wanted. The mare is an absolute sweetheart, loves attention, will let you do absolutely anything around, under, over her, you name it.
My problem is the filly. The farm I bought them from had approx. 10 mares with foals already on the ground and about that many more still due to foal, so a decent sized operation. I'm not sure if they handled the foals all that much. In the week since I've brought them home, the filly will not let me touch her. She'll always stay just out of reach, hiding behind momma. If I reach around the mare to stroke the filly on the butt, she'll kick out. A lot of times she'll end up kicking her dam, but the mare does nothing to reprimand her. If I try to touch the filly when she's a little ways away from her momma, she'll immediately try to kick. If I approach her from the front, she pins her ears back and tries to bite. I've crouched down to make myself seem less imposing when approaching from the front, but makes no difference. The filly either turns away, or tries to bite and then turn away (and then may also kick). I've never in my life met a 2 month old foal that was so mean, and shows absolutely no curiosity in people.
This past weekend I put them in a stall to try and work with the filly, but over an hour later finally had to give up. I would've been happy if I could've at least gotten the filly to stand still while I petted her for a moment, but we couldn't even make that much progress. She gets so mad, she actually makes snorting and huffing and grunting noises-- I mean she gets seriously pissed if I try to touch her. Forget about even trying for a halter! Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I can do to try and teach this filly that people aren't bad, we're not out to eat her, etc, etc? I'm concerned about not being able to worm her or do just simple husbandry that she may need over time. Any advice is greatly appreciated!
My colt was like that - he just could not stand to be touched as a baby. At 4 months he suffered a bad injury to his hoof and subsequently had to be handled daily - he is now 11 months and just as sweet and easy to handle. He stands for his feet, you can give him shots, brush him etc. I have had a bit in his mouth and a saddle on his back. I would give her some time to settle and then just be patient - 15 mins at a time as they have a very short attention span at this age - TB's can be very sensitive to change - I worked with them for years - my colt is half TB actually. Good luck with her - keep us posted.
Jan Owen Senior Stallion or Mare Username: 1frosty1
Post Number: 2809 Registered: 04-2006
Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - 01:33 pm:
She must have gotten her tude from her father I would just be present lots...but don't back off of her if she threatens to charge maybe carry a soft rope and if she threatens to fire toss the end of it towards her rump and cause her to move her feet....I would only offer treats to mom from a bucket soon enough she will get curious and want some too but always be prepared to send her away if you don't like her demeanor. You need to be of "horse" mind and not tolerate the behavior. She sounds like she has alpha horse potential hopefully she is nicely papered and you will be able to sell her go a good home. Best of luck....
Thank you both for your advice, it is much appreciated. It's a hard line to walk, reprimanding while also trying to build trust. Luckily, I can report that I actually made a bit of progress just this morning. I noticed yesterday that she was scratching her butt on a bucket hanging on the fence. This morning when I went out to feed, there she was again at the same bucket. After I fed her momma and my old broodmare, I went back over to try and touch her again. (I try every single time I go out in the pasture.) I reached across the mare's chest to scratch at the filly's butt, and she stood still. I took a step forward and the filly craned her head around and fully realized it was me scratching her, and she still stood still. Even let me rub my hand across the top of her hindquarters and down her flank, never even threatened to kick. Only spent about a minute doing this and then simply walked away and left it at that. Never thought I would say Hooray for Worms! but this just may give me an "in" with her to start building from. Now just hope she'll let me do this again this evening when I get home. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
I agree with everything above but I'd add 'always leave them wanting more' its worked so well for me. I know what you're saying about the fine line, its so tough to discipline but gain trust too. Some horses really challenge you. Ive always found if they are being good instead of getting as much as I canout of them on that day and pushing it I'll leave early, and before you know it they are waiting for me to come back! Good luck.
I have had 2 "mean" foals, one snapped out of it at weaning the other never did come around and was put down when she was 2 1/2. I wouldn't call your foal mean, I'd call her unfriendly. My foals would come after you the second you walked in the stall not hide behind the mare. I have had lots of unfriendly foals and they all snapped out of it after weaning. I would not be all that concerned at this time, at weaning (after she gets over being mad) she'll figure out you are the one that supplies her feed and water she should have a change of heart. I would wean her off by herself not with another foal, so she has no one to hide behind. I would keep an eye open for signs of ulcers. I think she is actually behaving like a foal not a puppy.
Thanks again for everyone's advice, I sincerely appreciate it. I still think the filly might lean a little more to the "mean" side than the "unfriendly." She has seemed to go out of her way to try and bite or kick you, and I have never heard a foal make the kind of noises this filly made when I first started to try and pet her.
But, I can happily announce that I've made progress with her. Started out with the smallest of baby steps, then a big leap forward, then more baby steps followed by another leap. Only about 20% of the time can I just walk right up to her. Most of the time it's following her in a slow circle around her momma until I can place my hand on her butt. Then she'll stop and stand still. She'll let me rub and scratch all over her butt and up to her neck, but haven't tried for her head yet. Can do the tops of her legs, but haven't gone all the way down yet, and the first time I tried to rub her belly, she took off. This is significantly better than it was! She still tries to bite and kick occasionally, but her attitude is different; it seems more like typical foal behaviour rather than spite. I thought about ulcers too, but her appetite is good. She still nurses like she should and cribs food from her mother's bucket without acting like it's bothering her to eat.
I don't do any formal imprint training with my own foals at birth, but I am always very hands-on from the beginning, so they're used to being handled. This filly has taught me just how important it is to at least mess with them a little, so that they're acclimated to humans. I didn't foal out any mares at my place this year, so she'll have to be weaned by herself. Anyway, in short, looks like I've turned the corner with her. Gonna try to halter her in a couple days-- wish me luck!
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