Everything Horse Magazine August 2021 Issue 44 - Page 39

If you are breeding your own foal , you have an opportunity to get everything right for your horse ' s early years to set her up for success – plan carefully and follow the upto-date literature around breeding , weaning , and raising youngsters – a lot has changed over time , so it is essential to consult a behaviour professional if you are unsure of the best methods to socialise , wean and handle your foal / youngster .
If you are buying a youngster , try to gather as much information on your potential horse ' s upbringing so far – spending time with the owner / breeder to see their methods , management practices , and your horses ' early life stage environment is important when trying to purchase a welladjusted youngster .
If the history of your youngster is a little vague , then it is always safest to assume the lowest / least optimal levels of early management and then adjust expectations from thereon .
Take time to teach your horse the basics in a low-key , reward-based manner to set them up for success .
Early learning goals From a young age , train your horse to understand that you are a good person to be around and someone they can trust . Ensuring that you are calm and consistent when around your horse will reassure them and help them see you as a safe companion . Spending time just being around your youngster , doing nothing in particular ( apart from perhaps the odd wither scratch , head rub or treat ) can help to build a strong bond . Using positive , reward-based training methods makes learning fun , interactive and ' worth it ' for the horse , which means they will choose to engage with you . Play games with your youngster , including hide and seek , scent work and basic trick training to develop your relationship .
Start off teaching your youngster some basic clicker training and target training so that you can effectively mark the behaviour you want from your horse with a click ( or verbal marker ) and reward the horse with a treat . Use target training to teach your youngster to stand still , move around , move the forehand or quarters , load into a horsebox , stand for the farrier , cope with veterinary procedures calmly and safely – the list of positive early training is long and hugely beneficial to help produce a welladjusted and calm horse in the future .
By the time it comes to thinking about backing your horse , you should have trained calm and reliable responses to a range of cues so that your youngster can copewithout stress- with daily life , husbandry
EVERYTHING HORSE MAGAZINE : AUGUST 2021 • 39