Today we met Minstrel, a Warmblood foal whose mother, Smartie ((Friday Evening), is the daughter of Matinee du Madon and Friday Fox. She also has an illustrious sire: No Limit. She has just reached that critical bridge between shy and confident and quickly crosses from one to the other. It should be no surprise that she has a few acrobatic moves to try out on her world.
Training a foal, is not a one-time, one off, event. Things like gentle boundaries have to be established and maintained with clear, but measured, body language to ask them not to rear or kick out at you. This works much better than using physical force which they read as an invitation to play fight. Halter training, rather than halter breaking, is also a gradual process which needs to be built on slowly. Halter breaking, which involves a solid pull, can damage the foal physically and mentally.
Minstrel already knows how to accept a head collar so that it never has to be left on. However, she has not yet been led from the head collar. Her owner, Laura, demonstrates beautifully the correct manner of leading such a young foal. This flat lead rein is ideal for creating a figure of eight around her body which asks her to move forwards without putting any strain on her neck or head.
When working with foals it is important to allow them to rest and to drink, and not expect them to concentrate for long periods of time.
Fortunately I could demonstrate the methods that we would use on Smartie, her mother...
...and when we were able to work with Mnstrel she was a quick learner. First of all we asked her to move with just a gentle, giving, pressure on her neck, and then with the scarf through the noseband of the head collar. It's amazing how just a few strides to the left and right can then be translated to leading forwards.
Back in the field she demonstrated some of her future dressage moves.
"Just a quick note to say thank you for coming out today to see Minstrel and Smartie. It's lovely to know we're on the right track and I haven't ruined her already! She is already seeming a bit more respectful of my personal space when I go across the field too." LB