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  1. #1
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    Default Interesting article on imprinting...

    Not sure if this has been posted before and I am NOT looking to start a debate..just a scientific study for all those with open minds...


    http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle....&WT.mc_id=news



  2. #2
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    How interesting! Thanks for posting. It supports what I've always believed...that pushing imprinting at an early age does not help and that gentle interaction a bit later is more productive. I might try doing less also with my newborns as I have been interacting a bit more with the foals than they are suggesting is beneficial. I suppose it helps if the mare is easy to handle and likes people but that is not always the case.



  3. #3
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    I think the article was very good actually. I do and don't believe in suckling part. I mean really, they are struggling to get up, have to bend at an awkward angle to drink, and really have it against them. Yes I know they do it in the wild. But I would rather them have a little help getting the all important first drink.

    Now as far as the other stuff. My interaction with my foals has always been with the mothers. My mares love having special attention after the foal is born. I give them brushes and just try to make them feel special as the baby is always getting looked at, ect. So while brushing mom, I usually stick a brush on the foals when they get curious ect. But, bad behavoir is not tolerated. They are free to spend their days as they like, but they have to have some boundries off the bat. Jumping on people is bad! I think really moderation is the key. Foals have a very little attention span early on and I don't like to press for anything.

    But to each his own. For some it probably works really well. Some people do all this desensitizing and somewhere along the lines the foal is calling the shots and becomes a grown up PITA. If I'm brushing mom and I get bit, jumped on, ect I don't hesitate to give a little smack while not paying them any attention. It's over, it doesn't hurt, they learn a little life lesson, and they are back respectfully. Of course now that I've written that I will probably be accused of beating my foals.

    Terri
    COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

    "I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.



  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Equilibrium View Post
    Of course now that I've written that I will probably be accused of beating my foals.

    Terri
    You foal beater!!!



  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Equilibrium View Post
    Some people do all this desensitizing and somewhere along the lines the foal is calling the shots and becomes a grown up PITA.
    Desensitizing is a separate entity from enforcing discipline. Where things seem to go really wrong with people trying to imprint is the lack of followthru, so they end up with a little horse who "got away with it" over and over, who grows up into a big horse who thinks he can get away with it. Dr Miller makes a big deal about making sure that if you start something, make sure you can finish it - don't get put into a position where the foal struggles to get away and he does, for example.

    Desensitizing is a whole 'nother issue and CAN be taken too far. Properly done, it's as much sensitizing to the right things as it is desensitizing to the right things.

    I'm not sure what to make of the article at this point. Based purely in the words, we know absolutely nothing about what sort of imprinting was done and how it was done - could make a huge difference in the results. I think there are thousands of now-grown-up horses and their owners who have had a lot of success with proper imprinting.
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET



  6. #6
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    I agree with JB. Unless Dr. Miller's techniques and the techniques in the study are identical(what the heck is "guided suckling"??), one can be talking apples and oranges, throwing it all under a blanket term of "imprinting".

    I have 11 babies (now ranging in age from 3 to 18), each of whom was imprinted at birth. None of the traits this study reports describes these youngsters. Totallly interested in everything like any other foal, but extremely trusting of human handlers, vets, farriers, throughout their lives.

    I think following 11 throughout there lifetime is a pretty good study group, eh?

    I've seen problems though with others' youngsters because they did not execute the imprinting correctly and/or had a poor relationship with the dam to begin with, and who constantly communicated negativity toward humans.



  7. #7
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    I agree with the article and prefer to let the foal and dam bond those first few hours and even days (except for the necessary medical interaction). I see no reason to intrude on that, and am very happy with our foal's attitudes and reactions to humans. We do halter the baby fairly early on (sometime in the first month or so), and teach them to lead, pick up their feet and be groomed, but we don't use any of the imprinting techniques when they are born. Personally I feel that imprinting is for the human, not the foal - I don't believe that there is any benefit from it, and I think it can be stressful and detrimimental to the foal in many cases - JMHO.



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by sid View Post
    I have 11 babies (now ranging in age from 3 to 18), each of whom was imprinted at birth. None of the traits this study reports describes these youngsters. Totallly interested in everything like any other foal, but extremely trusting of human handlers, vets, farriers, throughout their lives.
    Same here! I can't even add up the total number of foals we've had over the years. Each one was imprinted at birth...as well as in the following days. EVERY single foal grew up to be respectful of humans, had exceptional ground manners, stood quietly and in cross ties for the farrier by the time they were yearlings, trailered easily, etc., etc. Anyone who knows our horses knows they have outstanding ground manners! We do not have a sour or badly behaved horse on our property. Hmmm, too bad I couldn't have imprint trained by husband! Ironically, the one foal we were not able to imprint train, due to being born two weeks early and we missed the birth, was a holy terror, hard to catch, halter, everything was difficult and a chore! Never again!!

    That being said, I feel we have imprinted properly and did not allow any of the foals to miscommunicate anything we did. Unfortunately, not everyone should be imprint training, unless you are well trained in horse behavior and know imprint training down pat and the signs and signals to use and watch for. Otherwise, you could be instilling a "no" reaction in a foal, basically reaffirming the fight or flight reaction, which will theoretically stick for life. In those cases, then yes, I agree that foals should be left alone and dealt with a bit later.

    For us though, it's wonderful to have a completely halter trained foal at three days of age, one that trusts us unconditionally and will come up willingly for scratched and a pat on the neck, one we can easily halter, trim feet, load in the trailer, etc. I'd much rather get the imprint training done in the first three days and walk away with confidence, than having to struggle and stress them out later on. We can even go out in the pasture and vaccinate and deworm without putting halters on!

    As a Stallion Owner, it makes a huge difference when a mare and foal come in and we can easily catch and handle the foal. It makes a huge difference if a mare needs to go into the vet clinic and the foal is easy to handle. It also makes a huge difference when showing a young foal as well. It's wonderful to be able to go out in the pasture and pick up a foot with no problems. I definitely prefer to have our foals stress free!
    www.DaventryEquestrian.com
    Home of Welsh Pony, ISR/Oldenburg & RPSI pony stallions Daventry's Power Play, Goldhills Brandysnap LOM & Alvesta Picasso
    Also home to www.EquineAppraisers.com



  9. #9
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    One book doth not an expert make. It takes experience and knowledge with that certain instinct that some people have to do the right thing by our horses. Be it round penning, riding or anything else.



  10. #10
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    The key to this study, in my view, was the notion that positive interaction with the dam by human handlers was a better way to shape the future behavior of the foal than imprinting. A lot of this must have to do with the way that the dam feels about humans in general. A dam that is fearful or shy of human contact will transmit those feels to the foal--and may exhibit extreme anxiety when the foal is being handled. If the foal recognizes the dam's discomfort, then he too will be wary.

    This makes PERFECT sense. As herd animals, horses watch each others reactions to see whether something is a predator or is otherwise unsafe. So the lesson that I take home from the study is that dams who are bred should be comfortable and trusting with their human handlers, and should be handled frequently in the presence of the foal in order to maximize the foal's socialization with humans.
    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller



  11. #11
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    Don't forget the element of what I call Parellism. People who breed/raise a foal but have no horse sense, buy into the imprinting hype and then don't touch them for two years and wonder why they have an out of control 2 year old.

    I believe it's the constant handling and positive stimulation rather than smacking them around wet outta the oven (and I've seen those videos of the folks jamming their fingers in the babies mouth, smacking its hooves, etc).

    I dont' imprint, but I do towel dry from head to toe, which is stimulation. I like the foal to spend the first day bonding with mom. My Feb baby thinks she is a person, is leading, can be haltered, we pick her hooves and even trimmed her last weekend, etc. from regular and positive handling.

    I just shake my head at the folks that buy into this kind of training idea that have no common horse sense beyond it. If a person can't teach a foal to lead, they have no business imprinting one. JMHO. Same as parelli, if everyone can control your horse but you, the problem isn't training the horse, it's training the person.



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fairview Horse Center View Post
    My first foal (personally owned) that I treated like this is now my 18 year old broodmare. She has always been a rock.

    My mare has been incredibly trusting, and so have all her babies.
    Well, I think that was what the study proved, wasn't it?
    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller



  13. #13
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    We have found no benefit in actually "imprinting" them when they are born. We help where needed with the first few minutes and until they have nursed and then we leave them alone.

    We then begin to handle them as they show comfort with our presence and then simply play with them and pick up legs, play with ears, etc, almost daily but not to an overbearing point, and they have all turned out beautifully.

    So, I say, do what you find works and produces what you are looking for!
    Signature Sporthorses
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eclectic Horseman View Post
    Well, I think that was what the study proved, wasn't it?
    foals handled by humans during the first hours following birth remained closer to their dams and appeared to be more cautious about approaching humans at several weeks and months of age than foals in a control group that had not been handled.
    Not true at all. That is totally bogus. My babies have all been total pests.

    Human-handled foals were also less social with other foals and less likely to explore their surroundings or separate from their mothers, even at six months of age, Henry said.
    Definitely not true. They obviously have not seen my foals that don't feel the need to follow mom, or have her in sight within a day or two of birth. They are a pain in the neck they are so independent. I am sure many remember my orphan that was raised by my 2 month old filly. She would travel with him from the far end of a long 8 acre field every hour or so all night and wait while he drank milk from the igloo.

    Like I said, they needed to hire better researchers.



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fairview Horse Center View Post
    Not true at all. That is totally bogus. My babies have all been total pests.



    Definitely not true. They obviously have not seen my foals that don't feel the need to follow mom, or have her in sight within a day or two of birth. They are a pain in the neck they are so independent. I am sure many remember my orphan that was raised by my 2 month old filly. She would travel with him from the far end of a long 8 acre field every hour or so all night and wait while he drank milk from the igloo.

    Like I said, they needed to hire better researchers.
    I'm not going to cut and paste the many statements made in the article that support the conclusion that the human/dam interaction is the most critical element.

    The article makes BOTH points. You apparently have a quiet, human socialized dam and you have positive interactions with her. Your dam is not telegraphing fear or apprehension to the foal. Thus I don't see how you can judge this variable objectively in your situation.

    If you have a nervous mare that does not like human interaction, and you avoid her or have negative interactions with her, then tell me what the foal is like after "imprinting."
    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller



  16. #16
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    I have had all kinds of mares foal. Nervous mares, dominant mares, passive mares, mares that hated people, etc. The foals, with the exception of one have all been super, and very trusting.

    My 18 year old mare is one I foaled out as a baby, and her mom was not one I had a good relationship with. She, herself is proof that the interaction with the foal can create incredible trust, even when her mom did not. In fact, the more you mess with a mare that does not want to be touched, the more you could "train" the foal that humans are bad. Sticking to just the foal will eliminate that "bad impression of humans. The mother of my 18 year old mare had a 2nd foal. That baby had what we suspected was a cracked rib. We left her mostly alone. She grew up to be very herd bound, not cooperative, etc.

    The article tries to say that touching the foal is a negative, when it is definitely not.



  17. #17
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    No, it doesn't say that. It says that they found that interacting with the mare is BETTER, not the only way. And it doesn't say leave the foal entirely alone.
    Laurie
    Finding, preparing, showing and training young hunters, in hand and performance.
    www.juniorjohnsontrainingandsales.com



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by lauriep View Post
    No, it doesn't say that. It says that they found that interacting with the mare is BETTER, not the only way. And it doesn't say leave the foal entirely alone.
    Well, I don't know about you, but these quotes are a negative in my book.

    foals handled by humans during the first hours following birth remained closer to their dams and appeared to be more cautious about approaching humans at several weeks and months of age than foals in a control group that had not been handled.
    Human-handled foals were also less social with other foals and less likely to explore their surroundings or separate from their mothers, even at six months of age, Henry said.
    and those statements are a crock of **** They are totally wrong.



  19. #19
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    In your experience. Apparently, not in theirs. I object to the blanket statement it is total BS. The Horse magazine is not a "warm,fuzzy" backyard horse rag. They do legitimate research and post their findings in an impartial way. This is what they found. You have had a different experience, but that doesn't negate their findings. For those looking for guidance who do not have your experience, I think it gives very good information that one can read objectively and then make a decision on how to proceed.

    IMO, nothing replaces a good mentor when you are new to anything. But reading a VARIETY of educational material doesn't hurt, either.
    Laurie
    Finding, preparing, showing and training young hunters, in hand and performance.
    www.juniorjohnsontrainingandsales.com



  20. #20
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    The Horsemagazine has published a lot of stuff that is not correct. They are supported by the AAEP, but they print things that are directly opposite to what the AAEP sends out in their newsletters.

    Last year, they published that if your horse is itching its tail, and you have him on a regular deworming program, it is not pinworms. Well, just a few months before, the AAEP published that pinworm resistance has been found to ivermectin and other dewormers.

    I have found these kind of things a lot in The Horse.

    If they found that the foals were like they stated, then they did a p*ss poor job with their handling.



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