I have been gone from blogging for a while because of being so busy, but here I am again to continue my stories about my broodmares and their babies.
Many people talk about imprinting foals when they are born, etc. I have learned over the years that the way I handle them may not be the text book "imprinting" but it seems to work. I have rarely missed a foaling so I am the first human contact they have. I help them stand for the first time, towel dry them off and I cup their nose in my hands and blow my breath into their nostrils so they will remember the scent. After they are standing and nursing I leave Mom & baby alone to have quality bonding time together (unless there is an obvious problem, but I've never had one!).
From birth on it is daily touching and handling of the foal at least 3-4 times a day, sometimes more but always at least twice. I don't try and go over every inch of their body, but just general handling and caressing in a way to not upset them or scare them. I also hold them every day by wrapping one arm around their chest and the other arm around their hips and make them stand while I hold them. Even if they jump and buck, I don't let go! This teaches them that I am in control and they can't get away and must learn to stand quietly.
By the time they are one week old, they have been haltered and learn to walk next to Mom as we head from the barn to the pasture. I gradually add the lead rope to that exercise but do not actually lead them, I let them just come along as they would without the rope. I then introduce the concept of leading with a lead rope and with a butt rope and they learn to lead by me putting pressure on their rear end. After about a week of that, they are leading well! Once they are leading with a halter on and a lead rope, I lead them everywhere and every time I need to move them and their Mom. It becomes second nature for them. Rarely do I have a foal who wants to fight it - some have lots of spunk and want to play, but no fighting.
There is no magic formula for teaching your foal to be quiet and handle with ease. But this is the method I have used over the years and have much success with it!
Of course it helps that I only have 1-2 foals a year. Because only having 1 or 2 gives me more time to handle them and teach them, that is my choice on numbers. If I had more foals, I wouldn't be able to do what I do. And, the biggest compliment anyone can give me is to say that my foals are well behaved and have good manners.