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  1. #1
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    Default Weanlings and the Grooming Routine

    I have a 8 month old weanling. He has been weaned for almost 2 months, and has adapted well to the barn routine. He leads, loads, straight ties, cross ties, and is in general, a friendly, well mannered, good citizen.

    BUT, he is so sensitive to groom and it often leads to issues. His dam is also very thin skinned. I even went and bought a brush specially for him that is soft and wide, and he seems to enjoy it. I only run him through the grooming routine about once a week, in addition to his normal daily handling of being turned out and brought in etc.

    The problem comes when I get to picking up his feet, and the inherent ticklishness just makes it worse. From the time he was born, he has been seen by the farrier each time he comes. The farrier is great with him, and as this colt gets bigger, I want him to become easier to handle for the farrier and the vet, not worse.

    This colt is very dominant, and his alpha-mare mother was way too lenient with him. Every couple of weeks, we had a "meeting of the minds" where he tests me and I have to really step back and think "if I told this story on COTH, would I be proud of my actions?" Today was one of those days. He is very ticklish on his legs and stomach. He decided to kick at me (seriously) over picking up the left hind leg. I am not hyper flexing it, and the goal is to pick the foot up and let me hold it until I decide to put it down. If we can do that calmy only 6 inches off the ground, fine with me.

    But, he took a swipe at me in cross ties. So, after a very short scuffle, I tried straight tying him to the wall of the grooming area, but there was another horse nearby who was fueling his fire, so I had to stop, shuffle horses around, and I took the colt to his "thinking post" on the wall of the indoor arena. There, the struggle ensued.

    I got through thte front left with not much trouble, but whenever I tried to lift the left hind leg, he would violently kick at me. That met with an open handed slap each time which triggered a tantrum bad enough for me to stop and go put my riding helmet on. I did get that leg picked up, as well as the other 3, but it was a dicey situation with me alternately dolling out punishment for totally unacceptable behavior and soothing rubs to reward him for the moments of good behavior. I felt like I had gone 10 rounds, and I was so out of breath and out of sorts I had to sit down and recover.

    I left him at the "thinking post" and groomed my gelding. I could watch him easily from the grooming area, and he was well behaved and standing tied. After about 10 minutes, I broke a cookie in three small pieces and went to revisit the issue. I got round all the legs with only one kick, and the cookies and praise were given to reinforce the good behavior.

    He was returned to his stall, and when I was cleaning stalls, I just tied him in a corner and cleaned around him. He isn't a kicker and was well mannered for that. Afterwards, I picked up the left hind a few times before untieing him. He was as polite and respectful as anyone could wish for.

    I am not fooled into thinking the problem is over. If it isn't the leg handling, it will be something else. He is still an entire. He only has one testicle dropped and yes, I've gone as far as to have the vet sedate him and drop him to make sure the other one isn't there. Until I get him gelded, he is going to be a real challenge. I've worked around weanling and yearlings before, but this is the first one I've raised myself so naturally I want him to grow up to be well behaved.

    Any advice, or comiseration? Am I expecting too much of him? I don't think I should leave this until he's a strapping big yearling. I thought once or twice a week was a good interval for a youngster, but obviously there are going to be days when he just doesn't want to behave. What would you have done differently?



  2. #2
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    Jan. 4, 2007
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    We used to handle weanlings for a little and then turn them out in small same sex groups.
    After they became yearlings, turn them out with the older horses and horses taught them some manners.
    We still handled them regularly, but not that often and so they didn't use us to play and see what they can get by.

    Horses raised when very young in close contact with people tend to be well desensitized to much around them, but can also become less respectful of people than those that still keep a little bit of distance.

    I say, if you have to regularly get after him, you are not being effective.
    I would say that, with young horses, is not so much what we demand, but that we don't put them in a position to do wrong.
    Some days you can do much with one, other days you do less, but if it gets to having a fight over something, the time to do other was long before that.

    Can't explain it any better, but I have seen it time and again with the many race colts we got to start, that came from all kinds of environments, some that were run into a stock trailer and had never been touched to some that came out of a trailer all covered in blankets, poll guards, shipping leg and tail wraps.
    We were sure glad for those that, no matter how they had been handled or not, we didn't have to re-teach them basic manners.

    Now, you may be already doing everything right and your colts is just having a bad few days and will revert back to his easy going self.

    If not, maybe it is time to let an older, more dominant horse teach him his place in this world for a little bit?



  3. #3
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    You must ABSOLUTELY keep dealing with this. If he were mine, I would carry a dressage whip while working around him. If he even threatens to lift a hind leg, lace him 2-3 times with the whip (have a hold of him with a shank in case he pulls back and breaks tie). Then go back to what you were doing as if nothing happened. No more drama, just completely normal behavior UNLESS he tries it again. Then, repeat as above. I also accompany this with MUCH shouting to make him believe his life on this earth is over. When back to normal, talk to him as you normally would. Praise for doing what you want.

    Kicking is about the biggest sin there is, in my world. MUCH worse than biting because it can kill you. A few more come to Jesus sessions should get the message across and he'll probably never do it again.
    Laurie
    Finding, preparing, showing and training young hunters, in hand and performance.
    www.juniorjohnsontrainingandsales.com



  4. #4

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    [QUOTE]
    Quote Originally Posted by SmartAlex View Post
    I have a 8 month old weanling. He has been weaned for almost 2 months, and has adapted well to the barn routine. He leads, loads, straight ties, cross ties, and is in general, a friendly, well mannered, good citizen.
    he problem comes when I get to picking up his feet, and the inherent ticklishness just makes it worse. From the time he was born, he has been seen by the farrier each time he comes.
    This colt is very dominant, and his alpha-mare mother was way too lenient with him.
    for baby boys feet are much much more about being "submissive" than it is for their sisters....this is the way another colt gets you on the ground and whups you....

    any slapping and smacking and clobbering and reactionary things from you reinforce his nerves about his feet being removed from him...

    does he have to hold himself still,yes but his testicles are going to require a different tactic from you I think...

    my biggest stallion views a visit from the farrier as a Pap smear I think...he does not move but the disgust on his face is comical...all the boys think this way...nostril on that side drawn back,ear on that side back flat and still as a stone...

    they lift quickly sometimes snap the up and under their body but the farrier knows that stallions who live all out with colts part of the year just do this naturally...so he's not offended by them...but they are by him for sure

    for a little baby like yours he is just learning the foot game as it applies to what he is ( a little boy) so if we are getting feet up we may only hold them for a count of 3 sec and then drop and reward...you can't hold and fight a leg with a colt as that is a deeply ingrained in them as looking at girls over the fence...

    for the back legs find a 5 foot bean,cane pole or some such and use it as your hand...a serious swat out from him and he gets popped,all still and he gets nummies...

    best
    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.



  5. #5
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    But, he took a swipe at me in cross ties. So, after a very short scuffle, I tried straight tying him to the wall of the grooming area, but there was another horse nearby who was fueling his fire, so I had to stop, shuffle horses around, and I took the colt to his "thinking post" on the wall of the indoor arena. There, the struggle ensued....whenever I tried to lift the left hind leg, he would violently kick at me. That met with an open handed slap each time which triggered a tantrum...I felt like I had gone 10 rounds, and I was so out of breath and out of sorts I had to sit down and recover.....I left him at the "thinking post" and groomed my gelding...After about 10 minutes, I broke a cookie in three small pieces and went to revisit the issue. I got round all the legs with only one kick..He was returned to his stall, and when I was cleaning stalls, I just tied him in a corner and cleaned around him. He isn't a kicker and was well mannered for that. Afterwards, I picked up the left hind a few times before untieing him.


    I am shocked.

    That was WAY too much to do to a baby and not the way to go about teaching him to be a good citizen. Can you get help from someone with more experience? In these scuffles I hope he is not pulling back, babies necks are very delicate. Is there no other horses or youngsters for him to go out with?

    It sounds like you escalate and then even worse, you prolong the sessions. Babies have short attention spans and are BABIES. Yes, they need to learn, but not like this. Pick your battles and keep it short. Give him a chance to listen and be good. If he is best to pick his feet up in the stall, do it there for a while. Pick his feet up for just a few seconds in the beginning and then slowly increase the amount of time each session. You want to set him up to succeed, not be bad.

    I often get babies in that I am told are terrible for the farrier. so far, none have ever been bad for more than one session. And it is not because I beat them or have a long session with them.

    I would think you'd get more replies in the Breeder's forum.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb. 28, 2001
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    [QUOTE=Tamara in TN;4526054]

    for baby boys feet are much much more about being "submissive" than it is for their sisters....this is the way another colt gets you on the ground and whups you....


    best

    I never thought about this but it makes sense.

    With my two weanlings, the girl was MUCH faster to learn about her hooves.

    I just kept telling them it was because girls are smarter.



  7. #7

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    [QUOTE]
    Quote Originally Posted by LMH View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Tamara in TN View Post

    I just kept telling them it was because girls are smarter.
    well girls rule and boys drool...

    but it's the same reason you get (what seems) over reactive flanks and bellies and back legs...these are the "seats of power" (to quote Conan the Barbarian) and baby boys are just wired this way........

    a little kindness and consistent handling to make them comfortable with the idea goes light years and makes them better stallions later on

    best
    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.



  8. #8
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    Since this is only one particular leg, the first thing I would have thought about is to assume he has stressed, sprained or hyper-extended that leg in play and is ouchy.

    Are you physically hauling the foot up, or asking the colt to give it to you then you take it very calmly? This is just a thought, but what I would do, is introduce a voice cue, if you have not already, like 'foot' or 'pick it up'. The faster the baby gives you the foot the more effusive your praise is. Practice picking up feet, in the same order each time for a little while, in which all you do is get the foot, praise, and set foot down, making it just a 'no biggie'. Instead of turning this into a battle, just make it an exercise in you asking for the foot, getting it, praising, and 'all done'. I highly doubt a colt of this size actually needs his feet 'picked out', maybe just lightly tapped with hoofpick.

    It is really not a good idea to have battles like this, much better to just set things up so that it is easier for the colt to do the right thing, simply by asking, and waiting waiting until the colt even thinks of picking up the foot, then praising if he even thinks of offering it. If you can, you may find this more easily done with you holding him with a lead rope, not tied, so that if he does try to kick, immediately make him work, either backing up, moving forward or over, trotting a few steps. That way he figures out it is less work just to let you have the foot. It occurs to me you may be asking him to let you hold it longer than he is currently comfortable with, due to short attention span. Keep us posted on the progress!
    Jeanie
    RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.



  9. #9
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    I'm on the fence about how much discipline is too much for a baby. I find it depends. Since I don't know this baby, it's hard to say but I tend to not get too wound up about anything with a horse under the age of 2.

    That said, you say you are only grooming once a week due to his sensitivity. If you expect him to get better, to learn, I would groom him much more often. Takes a lot of good reps to make it a pleasant habit for him. If he's super sensitive, ditch the brush and use a small rag. The point of the grooming session is to teach him manners and to show him people are good to him, not so much to get him clean.

    These sessions do not have to be long to be effective. 5- 10 mins tops 5-6 days a week. And always pick up his feet.

    I bet if you picked up his feet the very next day instead of waiting another week until you try again, he will probably remember the good end of the lesson much better.

    Don't get too jagged out about this until you put more back to back handling sessions in on this little bugger. If he is still being a Pr*@# after a month, then we'll talk about discipline and the gonads game...



  10. #10
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    Nov. 13, 2007
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    Funny y'all have had the experience of the boys being worse with their hinds, because my colt was wonderful. Sometimes he didn't want to pick them up, but he never kicked out or was naughty.

    My filly, though, holy crap. You would have thought that touching her anywhere behind the belly was going to kill her. She would kick if she even thought you were going to touch her hind leg. What helped for her was to let her lean up against a wall or fence. If she did kick, she got smacked, and I got smart enough to stay out of the way. When I would eventually get a hoof, she would get praised and petted, and the hoof went down. We reached an understanding where if I growled her name at her, she knew she better not try it.

    I did do a bit of grabbing the hoof as it was threatening to fly through the air, and just holding on until she chilled the heck out. Once she figured out that I wasn't really trying to kill her, she would hold still for a second, and then I could reward.

    With her it was very random. She would be an angel one time and a little devil the next. Since I trim her myself, I would do just the fronts one day, and then the hinds another. It helps to break it up a bit.



  11. #11
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    I just thought of something else. You mentioned it is his left hind that is probematical. What side is the undescended testicle on? If it is also on the left, it could be that lifting that leg pulls or puts some internal pressure on it. It may be good to ask Vet if he can get the surgery done sooner rather than later, to remove both the descended and undescended one.
    Jeanie
    RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.



  12. #12
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    I think you're committed now to holding the course and finishing the struggle for dominance. Can't see how backing off is going to help.

    Advice? Geld him YESTERDAY.
    Click here before you buy.



  13. #13
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    Let's not forget that things did end with him being a good boy after what sounds like a long time for a baby of being tied up and beaten.

    I don't think lacing him with a dressage whip or battling it out is the answer. And even with the toughest youngsters I have gotten in, I have never whipped one. I have never found necessary. IMO, this can be solved easily with knowledgeable handling, time and patience.
    I think taking a deep breathe and not making it a battle is a better solution. The session you describe above was much too much. Timing is everything and patience is so important. There should not be 10 rounds of battling with you dolling out punishment, you are not doing something right. When he is good it is time to quit. Don't tie him up some more and put him through it all over again.
    This is a baby. And no he shouldn't be dangerous, but take baby steps with him. And again, set him up to be good. Don't go into it expecting a battle. And even better than a brush if he is ticklish, just use your hands all over him to start.



  14. #14
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    Well, I have only delt with one baby of my own, and I also spend a lot of time with her.

    I think to make things so structured right away might be setting yourself up for these bad days. He must be extremely smart and easy going if he is already good about the daily life of an adult horse, like tying in all positions and being led and handled. If he is good in his stall, then by all means keep him in his stall to do his feet. Then it wont be a match, but more of a... I dont want to say "partnership"... because you are the leader, but more of an understanding. You are trying to teach him how to be a good horse, not necessarily what NOT to do. If working on him in his comfort areas helps him understand how to be a good horse then its a useful tool to solving your problem.

    When my girl came to me, she was already started with her feet, and I am going to be honest, shes been great. But I still did everything in the leaset stressful way first. Grooming and feet, all in her stall, not tied. Then I worked on her in the aisle with her lead (not crosstied) and to keep her busy I usually did it while she was eating, although not always, since in real life they dont always go together. :-)

    Personally I think thats one of the best times to groom just on daily basis. My horses arnt food aggressive toward other horses or people, and for my little one, she has something to keep her attention. Since even most quick groomings are still longer than the babies can stand still for.
    Recently she cut her eye, so now I am having to crosstie her to clean her face and put meds in her eye. (ps. she'll be perfectly fine) but she stands so good! I mean, shes a baby, she moves this way and that a little. But she doesnt pull against the ties. I dont tie her unless I have to, because I am afraid for her neck, but I really think all the time spent in small steps up, helped tremendously to avoid it being a super scary situation for her.

    I guess basically, avoid setting up the situation where he could act up. Right now, if a baby isnt being a baby, the only thing they should be learning is how to be a good horse. You wont need to correct if he does the right thing.

    Best of luck!!

    PS. Sdlbrefan might have something!
    "I just thought of something else. You mentioned it is his left hind that is probematical. What side is the undescended testicle on? If it is also on the left, it could be that lifting that leg pulls or puts some internal pressure on it. It may be good to ask Vet if he can get the surgery done sooner rather than later, to remove both the descended and undescended one."
    "Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work." *Thomas Edison
    A champion is a dreamer that refused to give up!!



  15. #15
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    We have had better luck with foals to sometimes 2yr olds, behaving with feet handling when they are stood up beside a solid wall. They can lean on the wall, not fear falling or losing their balance when you hold up the hoof.

    We try to have a handler at the head, controlling head, with 2nd person doing the feet. With two, it can go faster, easier, with foal learning to pick up and get his feet cleaned. You can move to the single person doing the work alone, after Baby behaves well after some practice with two people.

    We have not noticed a difference with the fillies and colts, on learning ability, resistance. However the colts will CONTINUE to test your demand for behaving as they get older. Herd dominance is always part of horse keeping, and the colts try harder to move up in status.

    We do not pick hooves up high, want to keep the animal balanced if possible. However with the wall behind them on their body sides, they are more confident and stand quietly with much less work, than they would in an open aisle type setting.

    Punishment is dependent on how well the colt usually behaves, if there is temper involved with deliberate shots towards the handler with his feet. Temper is punished, while small problems are worked with, corrected to give Baby more confidence while feet are handled. Trims are done quickly, so he is rewarded for his short, good standing times.

    We NEVER want foot handling to be a bad experience, but bad temper needs to be nipped in the bud. CAN NOT have a growing colt learning how strong he is. Our most severe punishment is making Baby back up away from us, which signifies submission of him to us. Sometimes horse may have to back up for a ways! Sometimes he has to back up several times, before he accepts that he is NOT the top horse here, gets his feet handled ANYWAY.

    Most young babies can be quite well disciplined with some lead rope jerking at the correct time, distracting him from the bad behaviour. Then he gets backed up, and you try doing feet again with him tight beside the wall, for even a LITTLE good acting to put him away on.

    I really would not want to be using a whip on such a young animal. Whacking on them, especially kicking or biting, turns into "Touched you last", a game you may lose if he connects and hurts you! Colts can get real resentful, so situation just escalates badly in all his behaviours. You can't lose to him or he will be even worse after.

    He is a baby, should be easy to out-think him, remove the fear he may have now with that one leg.

    Better to think of a very different method than your present one, so the fight doesn't develop. Lots of little steps, with no regression, bad habits developing, is going to be much easier on both of you.

    A couple touchy babies like the softest face brushes for grooming. Most like the Grooma type rubber finger curries. Some liked the softer, shorter rubber bristle type groomers better. It may be a learned thing, to enjoy grooming, so practice and time will be needed on your part.



  16. #16
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    Having raised a few colts and learned the hard way... With your young fellow I would back up to remedial training desensitizing from a safer standpoint. Using a longe whip, or anything long and giving, stand safely at his shoulder and softly stroke the rear legs with the end of the whip. Praise and reassurance if he quietly stands. Do not take the whip off his leg if he moves, kicks, or resists being touched. I like to have them on a lead for this and not tied. hold the front end close to your body, so you are never in the strike zone. You may go round in circles, don't insist he be still. Simply keep the whip on his rear leg until he stops moving. Remove it to reward him when he finally stands quietly, or quietly lifts the hoof without evading the touch. Until he will do this, I would stay out of harm's way and not try to handle the rear hooves. It's similar to teaching babies to accept fly spray, some don't mind from day one, and some will fight you every step of the way. But you sue don't go putting you head down there in the kick zone until you know your foal will stand quietly (or you farrier's head!). By tying him, you made the issue into a fight, reinforced with hitting on your part and kicking on his part. I'm in the group that sees this as setting him up for failure. He's still a baby and you are asking too much, too fast (per his consistent kicking reaction). Back up and start over with baby steps... The soft and of the longe whip can also be used to help him accept grooming and touching other areas of his body with you safely at his shoulder, praising him when he is still. Keep his sessions short and reward him by stopping as soon as he gets it right.

    Yes, my pp trainer showed me this...



  17. #17
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    That's how we do it goodhors. We don't go out of the stall to trim feet until they are very good in the stall. And using a wall helps a lot.



  18. #18
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    Think -- what is the strongest way to have a horse change its thinking? -For a horse higher ranking to move the feet of the underling. Hind end disengagements work for youngsters as well as older horses. The difference being the youngster will need constant 'reminders' until he's about 3 years old. Hind end disengagements are non-violent, non-forceful and reap some serious mind changing and awesome results. Think in terms of 'teaching' rather than 'training'. If you're teaching your son or daughter to stand still while you comb the snarls out of his or her hair, you wouldn't be slapping them up the side of the head everytime they move. Try to ignore the unwanted behavior and reward the wanted behavior. If this is consistently done then the unwanted behavior will self-extinguish. Remember that the hooves are the horses' defenses. They aren't going to willingly offer them to you if they feel threatened in any way, shape or manner. That means physical threats as well as emotional threats. Emotional threats are stronger than physical with horses.
    --Gwen <><
    "Treat others as you want to be treated and be the change you want to see in the world."
    http://www.thepenzancehorse.com



  19. #19

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    [QUOTE]
    Quote Originally Posted by winfieldfarm View Post
    That said, you say you are only grooming once a week due to his sensitivity. If you expect him to get better, to learn, I would groom him much more often. Takes a lot of good reps to make it a pleasant habit for him. If he's super sensitive, ditch the brush and use a small rag. The point of the grooming session is to teach him manners and to show him people are good to him, not so much to get him clean.
    absolutely!!!!! above bolding mine

    he cannot process in his mind what you want done to his feet with once a week fiddling...the OP needs to do that 3 times a day for the next month...

    a bit from the OP post stuck out at me as well...paraphrased > he needs to hold his foot up as long as I decide<

    well that is all well and good, but it seems your time airborne may be too much for him...
    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.



  20. #20
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    Thank you all for the well thought out responses. You have given me much to think about, and most of it reinforced my thinking too.

    For bingbingbing: No, I did not spend 10 rounds beating on a tied up colt. A kick gets a slap. My belief is, even with a whip, if you hit a horse more than three times for a single infraction, you have lost your temper and are hitting for your own gratification. The ten rounds was from holding on to the leg I had already committed to and being jerked about like a rag doll. The colt is a good 300 ppounds, so he is double my weight.. Picking up a leg and then letting him snatch it away is teaching him to misbehave. I wasn't angry, but I was upset with being in over my head and trying to come up with a win-win outcome. I hate to get to the point where I feel the horse is fighting me. The fights you avoid are more important than the ones you win.

    I also agree with those who said that the goal should simply be yielding the leg in a relaxed manner even if the toe is just off the ground. I am always happy with that. I don't even need to pick the hoof out. Just see the bottom once and set it down in a moment when I am feeling no resistance.

    I am not too worried (yet) with him becoming a kicker. I have always been able to work around his hind end, even manipulate his tail with no problem. The issue is surrendering the leg, and I agree it is a hardwired "stallion" response. At one point, I just tried to put a hand on his ham string or the inside of his gaskin. He has certainly always felt that a predator going for his "nads" is a threat to life and limb

    As for grooming and his sensitivity. Up until this week (when I bought the soft brush) I had only been grooming him with a towel. He is happy enough with the brush on his back and rump, but the towel is still a requirement for his chest, sides and flanks. Some days I do groom with a short whip in hand, but I've never had to use it other than to tap him for pawing or something. I keep our sessions short, about 5 minutes so he doesn't get antsy.

    I would love to turn this colt out in a herd situation. He dominated his mother from the first week, and weaning was a necessity because he was getting so confused and riled up during her heat cycles and riding her around all day. I put him out with the submissive gelding, and he ran the poor guy constantly. My mother (half owner) refuses to put him out with the dominant gelding for fear of getting him hurt. Obviously, he cannot go back with the "hoochy-mamma" mare.

    So, in conclusion. I think my plan will be to save picking up legs for when he is in his stall. He was so quiet when I did it in there, probably because he feels more secure. We'll see how that goes and maybe I can get through a dozen sessions in there with no problems before I try it out of the stall again.

    I don't want to over handle him because I don't want him to be desensitised to people. That is why I was only having training sessions once a week. He is very smart, and still quite fearless. I loaded him once with the mare when he was 4 months old and took them for a ride around the block. 3 months later, the trailer happened to be available, so I led him up to it, and after only a moments hestitation, he hopped right on.

    He has only been on crossties about 4 times (besides times when I led him to the grooming stall to investigate) , and already stands quietly. My view is once he has learned something, I want to just present the situation now and then for a short period to reinforce it, but most of his time should be spent playing outside. Only yesterday the only thing I reinforced was that picking up the hind legs has to be a battle.



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