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Can taking foal from mother too young create "problem" horse

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  • Can taking foal from mother too young create "problem" horse

    Hi. I posted earlier about a horse I recently bought who bolted on me to get back to a goat! Several people advised me to 1) use baby steps to get her secure in leaving the goat and 2) get a trainer's help with her, both of which make a lot of sense. Only I'm wondering if she has unique issues that will make it especially hard. I was told by a person working at the barn where I bought her (after I bought her!) that she had been taken from her mother as a very young foal and that had caused her some problems. Before I bought her I was just told she was ring sour and could be balky but should do great with more variety in her life. I know what can happen with humans who don't get enough maternal attention when they're young, so I'm wondering if my horse could be effected the same way. I'm not trying to get into a dispute with the barn that sold her to me but I would like to figure out if she is likely to respond to me putting a lot of additional time and effort into working and training her. I already spend a lot of time with her and do everything I have read about to establish myself as her leader. I would definitely invest in a trainer if it would pay off - I'm just worried that she may be emotionally challenging. Again, any input at all would be appreciated. Thanks!

  • #2
    I have no scientific evidence to give you, but can only share my thoughts..

    Stewie the Moose was pulling his mother down horribly at 12 weeks, and I was thinking about weaning him for her sake. I held off though, and fortunately have managed to get her food in to exceed her burn up, so she is gaining weight, and I'm relieved to delay weaning.

    I genuinely believe that Mommas provide far more to a foal than just nutrition, and I would worry about the long lasting affects of weaning to early.

    I'll be interested in seeing everyone elses views.
    I'm not sure if I grew out of stupid or ran out of brave.

    Practicing Member of the Not too Klassy for Boxed Wine Clique


    • #3
      I *think* you need to get her assessed by a trainer who is known for dealing with difficult horses and get an objective opinion on whether or not it is fixable. (I read your other thread) NOT a trainer/person/worker from the barn you purchased her from - a trainer who has never seen this horse before trainer. Then get said trainer to work with you and your horse - leaving home etc etc.

      Don't get sucked into making excuses for her - horses from all different backgrounds/experiences etc go on everyday to become model citizens of the horse world, with the right handling.

      I deal with spoiled horses alot (re-training) from your desc on other thread, I wouldn't consider this a hard thing to get this horse through - however caveat being I'm not there to see what all is going on exactly, - just the desc.

      Being that you are an older rider (no offense!, I'm getting there myself) and this mare seems to have your number or has gotten away with this behaviour a long time - in the end a good trainer who knows his/her stuff is going to save you time and heartache.
      Originally posted by ExJumper
      Sometimes I'm thrown off, sometimes I'm bucked off, sometimes I simply fall off, and sometimes I go down with the ship. All of these are valid ways to part company with your horse.


      • #4
        I read your other thread as well as this post and I really think that you are making this overly complicated.

        In my experience orphans or other early weaned horses can be very different from other horses if a) they were raised with no other horses to learn from and b) they were raised without learning to respect people (as in babied too much, treated like puppies rather than horses). The orphans that I have dealt with have actually been happier and more comfortable leaving their herd than youngsters who were raised normally. They had their own issues, but not herdbound.

        However, none of this matters in your current situation.

        You know that she was ring sour and balky and now you are experiencing that. The problem is compounded by your being overmounted for your current abilities. It would benefit you to get the horse and yourself evaluated by a professional and find out whether or not you will be a good match in the future. Then decide on a course of action from there.

        I hope that you do get this worked out in such a way that you can enjoy riding and be safe.


        • #5
          No, horses don't end up with repressed memories and mommy baggage. The issue with orphan foals is that they can easily become bullies toward people, but even this can be addressed with training. What you're describing is a horse that's is buddy sour.
          "I did know once, only I've sort of forgotten." - Winnie the Pooh


          • #6
            Thanks again. This input seems to cover all the bases and makes me feel more confident in going ahead with a good trainer and getting expert advice from someone who can evaluate us both. She's still a young, healthy horse with a beautiful trot and canter so at the least I would want to find a way for her to have a good future.


            • #7
              I have a mare that was an orphan foal, and she is definitely different from the other horses that I've had. Because she was bottle-raised, she relates more to humans than horses. We've had her for almost twenty years and we often joke that she'd rather be in the house on the couch with the remote than out in the barn snuggled in her stall.

              She has had some difficulty relating to other horses and has always been on the low end of the pecking order, so I've been very careful about her turnout companions. When we found a buddy who she bonded with (finally!) she was completely devoted to him.

              I think the others are right when they urge you to work with a trainer to help you help your horse get over her herdbound behavior. Your mare sounds lovely and with the help of a trainer and consistent work, I'm sure you will make some progress. Best of luck to you.


              • #8
                I have to agree with those who posted who had said the this mare's issues are in the present tense, not related to whether she was an 'orphan', pulled from her dam or whatever.

                I have raised 5 orphans, from 10 hours old to about a month old (orphaned to save that colt's life) when I got them. None of these horses have 'issues'. They were raised with the same parameters as those of our youngsters who had mothers. One of those I raised is my now 9 year old stallion-he was the one orphaned at 10 hours old. Did I baby him, sure did, heck I slept in his stall and bottle fed him those first few days. Did I let him get away with unacceptable behaviors "Hell NO"

                He's now a 16.3 hand 1500pound stallion who has tremendous respect for not only humans but other horses b/c he was raised with herd. With all of my horses it's the rule of the farm. Respect. Work with this mare to gain this respect, create a new normal for her and set the ground rules.

                Firm, fair and consistent. It's like raising kids.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Aggie4Bar View Post
                  No, horses don't end up with repressed memories and mommy baggage. The issue with orphan foals is that they can easily become bullies toward people, but even this can be addressed with training. What you're describing is a horse that's is buddy sour.

                  Don't anthropomorphise. Your horse does not love you. She will not do things specially for you, to look after you or because she loves you.

                  IMO, this is the major reason older women returning to or starting out with horses crash and burn. If you want a pet who will love you especially, get a dog.

                  Horses do not have behaviour problems which can be "counselled" away. They have very little reasoning ability and so can't work out that they should or shouldn't behave in a certain way. They behave in the way that you allow.


                  • #10
                    Being clearer

                    Hi Phoebetrainer. I'm not anthropomorphizing, I assure you. This is the stuff I was told by a member of the barn that sold her to me. Since I'm far from being an expert I hoped I could get some input from those who are. I don't give a ---- whether she loves me or not, now or ever - I don't love her. I want to ride her and have her do what she's told to do. I think older women riders find themselves in over their heads sometimes, like me, and decide they have much higher priorities in their life than some horse. With five grandchildren in my life I have to ask myself how much time I'm going to have to invest in Serene. If it's too much time, I'm going to, hopefully, pass her on to a younger person who wants her. Then I'll go back to enjoying my trail rides. I don't think generalizing about older women riders helps anyone. Do you?