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Raising a colt - Difficulty level?

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  • Raising a colt - Difficulty level?

    Hello- I am a very experienced horse person but have never owned a horse under 5. I now have my own place and in about 5 years or so my trail mare will retire. I am really considering raising my own trail horse. However I have so many questions, like is it worth it? I do have a playful Arabian who is 6 and would love a baby! But what do I need to know? How hard is this going to be and what kind of facility to I need? I have seen some unregistered colts for sale with 6 or 9 months that look like they need a little rescue, but maybe at this stage I would be looking for one that has been handled since birth so I don't setup for failure. Or at this age are they still OK to work with? I do everything- I am the farrier and the trainer. Also I have good trainers by me and a friend who has raised some that will probably help. Any advice appreciated.

  • #2
    I don't know if this is still in print, but I used it for the first 2 yr old colt I raised and trained and it was very helpful. The title is, Starting Colts: Catching/Sacking Out/Driving/First Ride/First 30 Days/Loading, by Mike Kevil with Pat Close, published by Western Horseman Inc, 3850 North Nevada Ave, Box 7980, Colorado Springs, CO 80933-7980. My copy was published in 1990. The person who purchased the colt/stallion after I was finished him and after he had sired 5 horses and was then gelded, was very happy with the training he had received and trained and showed him in dressage and Intro level Eventing. If I were to do this over again, I would keep the book handy.

    ETA I would also use a feed that is designed for colts and doesn't make him high as a kite so he can actually hear you and process what you are asking for so he can learn. At the time I did this, I had to take him off of Blue Seal Trotter and put him on Triple Crown Sr, as he was high as a kite and the weight was falling off of him (which was why I ended up with him in the first place). With the feed change I had an entirely different horse who was a joy, loved to be with people again, and was a joy to train and handle. Good luck!
    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein

    http://s1098.photobucket.com/albums/...2011%20Photos/

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    • #3
      Young horses do well with room to move around, a herd situation to teach them social skills, and short bursts of human interaction like maybe ten minutes of halter training at one go, since they don't have a lot of focus yet.

      They don't do so well in stalls or small paddocks, because moving around lets them develop feet and legs and balance.

      I would say you are better off with a basically unhandled 6 month old colt, versus one that has been spoiled (like an orphan colt that has no boundaries) or one that has been roughly treated and has fear issues.

      If you have land and one extra mouth actually doesn't cost you much, it's a great idea. If each additional horse needs full board in an expensive barn, then keeping a colt that you can't ride for 4 more years is not very cost effective.

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      • #4
        It is recommended to keep young stallions with horses the same age - playing and fighting for rank can cause bad injuries if one is way smaller than the others. Foals need space - pasture, pasture, pasture.

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
          Young horses do well with room to move around, a herd situation to teach them social skills, and short bursts of human interaction like maybe ten minutes of halter training at one go, since they don't have a lot of focus yet.

          They don't do so well in stalls or small paddocks, because moving around lets them develop feet and legs and balance.

          I would say you are better off with a basically unhandled 6 month old colt, versus one that has been spoiled (like an orphan colt that has no boundaries) or one that has been roughly treated and has fear issues.

          If you have land and one extra mouth actually doesn't cost you much, it's a great idea. If each additional horse needs full board in an expensive barn, then keeping a colt that you can't ride for 4 more years is not very cost effective.
          Thank you! I have a giant arena/paddock area so plenty of room, but it is fenced with chain link and I am a little worried about that. I also have an older mare, young gelding and a mini. So there should be plenty of herd interaction. My stalls are pipe fencing. It wouldn't cost me much of anything to keep one around and wait. I think looking at these they are pretty much unhandled at 6/9 months and I was hoping to geld ASAP. That would be another new one for me!

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          • #6
            My 3 have been easy.
            But when you say colt, do you mean an actual colt or just any gendered weanling? Stallion will be more work, what with testosterone raging & all as it grows up.
            I treated them the same as other horses, let them be horses 24/7 & pull to work with them & back out.
            I had to teach my younger gelding to lunge early on because he suddenly got a surge of testosterone before 1yr. Got him gelded at about 14mo, no special care needed.
            Any work was super short & tiny baby steps. Like, 5min may or may not be too long, so have fun with that one!

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            • #7
              I have raised most of my horses and I prefer it.

              I have also done it with minimal land. A few were raised when I was at a boarding stable and we had arenas for turnout but the mare/ foal lived in a 12X24 stall paddock area.

              I just made sure they had plenty of arena time and I took the foal along when riding the mare. Later after weaning I started to pony them with my gelding.

              Under normal at home living my babies were out on a couple of acres with all my other horses and I just handled them daily.

              Be gentle but firm and give lots of love and praise . Remember that youngsters have no problem getting the upper hand .

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              • #8
                I raised my gelding from birth and I previously had a well handled filly I got at weaning age. I preferred the experience of raising my boy from birth far more

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                • #9
                  years ago I got a QH weanling filly - six months but limited handling. It was a great experience bringing her along. I was lucky -she was at a very small barn, other 4-5 horses were County Police, and they had all kinds of cool stuff to desensitize, also they shot some guns, so my girl was exposed to a lot even while out in her pasture.
                  She was driving and riding lightly at 4.

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                  • #10
                    Depends on the individual you end up purchasing, some are naturally "dead easy", some are "psycho" and not easy. I like Scribbler's advice here. It's a learning experience, for both you and the horse at the same time, if you haven't raised one before, which is always risky for both, and not often "recommended". But everyone has their "first" one. Research what advice you can find, and choose what advice you feel you want to follow. You may or may not do the same the next time, the theories you endorse may change over time and with experience. I've had a great many youngsters over the decades, both home bred and purchased as weanlings (I used to go to the PMU sales each year and buy a couple of likely looking prospects to raise, train and sell). The PMUs were untouched, other than being haltered and wormed in a chute before the sale. Most were my friend and happy to see me within a week or so.

                    I like to keep actual "training" to a minimum, and instead focus on establishing a relationship of mutual respect, and friendship. I want their little faces to light up with joy when they see me, and I want them to want to be with me, and want to do what I want them to do for me. I want them to crave my touch, crave my attention. I don't feed treats. I like to find a spot that they like to be tickled, and my touch and my attention and the time they get to spend with me is what they crave, and that is their reward. Build that relationship, and they are easy to raise and train (usually). Keep in mind that a horse is a herd animal, and is looking for a friend, and mentor, to tell them what to do and where to go. Be that mentor for him.

                    If you buy a colt, make sure that both testicles are accessible, and geld early. Usually by 6 months, gelding is possible. The younger they are, the easier the surgery is on the horse, and the easier to recovery. If you buy a filly, you escape the cost of gelding. Cost of gelding can vary, depending on the vet you use.


                    If the foal has been skillfully handled, then yes, a previously handled one may be easier. But an unhandled one is easier than one that has been ruined already by unskilled handling. They are much like raising a human child (I hear)… they have a brain, they have a personality, and learn quickly what you teach them, whatever that may be. If you teach them the wrong thing, things may not go well, so be careful what you teach them, and it's not their fault if you teach them the wrong thing. Hitting and disciplining them is rarely needed, if you teach them right, because if you teach them right, they are trying to do the right thing for you. Notice the try.

                    Good luck, and happy shopping.
                    www.cordovafarm.weebly.com

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                    • #11
                      The great thing about raising up your own horses is that you have control over what they learn, how they learn it and when they learn it from Day 1.

                      The crappy thing about raising up your own horses is that you control over what they learn, how they learn it and when they learn it from Day 1...and can potentially royally screw them up.

                      I don't take starting horses lightly, but I find that otherwise good, knowledgeable horsepeople who don't have direct experience starting young horses can do so successfully with help from more experienced mentors.

                      It's easy to overhandle very young horses - I'd far prefer a basically feral colt to one that's been manhandled since it hit the ground. Overhandling babies creates dull horses later on, which unfortunately is what a lot of people prefer because dull horses are predictable and robotic. I am looking for partnership while maintaining as much of the horse's dignity as I can and still allow him to be a horse. Far easier to get that from an unhandled youngster than from one that's been constantly handled since birth.
                      Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not. Remember that what you have now was once among the many things that you only hoped for.

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                      • #12
                        The key to raising a foal/weanling/yearling/two year old to be a good equine citizen is to treat them like they are a full grown adult horse. By which I mean expect them to behave the same way you expect a full grown, good equine citizen to behave. By expecting. the behavior you want you will be able to correct the undesirable behavior by asking for the desired behavior rather than vague, ill defined "Stop that!" corrections.

                        When I got my first foal I already owned a 1300lb horse (who I got as a green broke 3yr old) and my mantra was "If it ain't cute when my 1300lb horse does it, it ain't cute when my foal/weanling/etc does it."

                        Which is not to say I made no allowance for age. I specifically trained the good behavior I wanted, and set the youngster up for success. Short interaction, redirected behavior to DO the desired behavior rather than stop the bad behavior. Plenty of praise and scritches (baby horses are always itchy and love scritches far more than pats or stroking - just don't let them return the favour and scratch you; block or redirect their nose away. If you stop scritching until they move their nose away, they learn very quickly not to try scratching you back). Always knowing what I want them to DO so I can recognize and reward any movement in the right direction.

                        After that first foal reached 3yrs old I thought it had been an enjoyable and valuable experience, but I wouldn't do it again. Years later, when contemplating the loss of my 1300lb horse, I changed my mind and bought another foal. I still have both and our various care professionals often comment on how good they are about everything. I'm not sure about raising another foal - I would prefer to do so, but I'd also like to be a one horse owner for a while I think.

                        My (totally irrelevant) vote is go for it!

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                        • #13
                          For the cost of buying a weanling and then caring for it and feeding it plus potential unplanned vet visits PLUS training, you’re often time much better off to find something started under saddle when the time comes....if you’re able to ride a potential new horse you will also have a good idea if it’s a good fit or your type of horse. Aka, he’s lazy, hotter type, spooky, or not. Etc

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