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2nd "child" syndrome, anyone else go through it?

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  • 2nd "child" syndrome, anyone else go through it?

    I've heard with kids (I am childless as far as humans go lol) that the first one can be so good that the parents wonder what everyone is complaining about, and then the 2nd one comes along...and wreaks havoc !

    I'm kinda going through that with my new filly. I am still a lesser experienced weanling owner, as this is my 2nd horse to own under the age of 2. My first girl is now 7 and is my event horse. My first is/was always super sweet and friendly, came to you in the field, perfect for feet, leading, handling, never had any real issues. As an adult, she has a great work ethic and no attitude whatsoever. My new filly, is personable, tho not as much, but she is quick to lift a leg and threaten if she doesn't want to be touched and is a bit more sassy and demanding. She will stomp and get agitated if she has to stand still without having something to eat in front of her. She is 6 months now, about the same age as filly 1 was when i got her, so I am not looking to get into deep training obviously but certain rules and guidelines need to be established.

    What do you all do with your 6 month olds (especially the ones with sass and personality) to keep sessions short and easy for the babies but enough to help them learn that you are the respectable herd leader?

  • #2
    First, no horse, foal or otherwise, is allowed to sass, raise their foot, threaten, and otherwise present bad manners. If it's not cute and allowed as an adult, then it's not cute and allowed as a foal. And the learning of that starts here and now.

    Progressive tie training is essential (i.e. learning to stand tied for progressively longer durations) and life's lessons must be learned. Standing still and learning some patience is one of those lessons. Sessions do need to be kept short as a 6 month old has the attention span of a flea, but don't encourage fretting by getting a worried look on your face. You have to just walk away with a blank-look on your face, and observe from the corner of your eye and ignore the fretting. When she stands still for 20 seconds, you come to her, reward her and let her down. Never let her down until she stands quiet. When she's quiet, you might put a piece of apple in a bucket as a food reward (DON'T feed by hand until you're sure she won't become a grabby pony) and then let her down and take her back out to the paddock. Until then, she stays put. She may escalate this to tantrum, or she may not, whatever, don't let her down until she stands quiet. Thus she learns that quiet, polite behavior gets rewarded and then she gets to do something else or go back to the paddock with her friends.

    It's no different for babies as it is for adult horses, just on a smaller scale, and you keep in mind she is a blank slate and doesn't know what she doesn't know. A naughty behavior moment is a training opportunity - and capitalize on those. You can only train those when the opportunities arise. Otherwise, you teach her to be nice when picking up her feet and be respectful and suffer through it when you touch those ticklish spots. If she kicks, she deserves to get a spank. A kick from a weanie isn't going to do much damage, but that clearly changes when she gets bigger, so the point must be made very clear now. Those feet stay on the ground unless she is asked to lift one specifically by you.

    The hardest thing most people have when raising their first few foals is they tend to be too forgiving, "ohhh, it's just a baaabbbbyyyy" and get all mushy, koochy-kooey. Nope. This is a little horse in training.
    Practice! Patience! Persistence!


    • #3
      Not a baby but definitely a brat and a PITA sometimes. She does know not to kick and bite at least. But she's so destructive!!! And this is #3, she's making the second child look better and better every day!
      Last edited by summerhorse; Oct. 28, 2011, 12:34 AM.
      Every mighty oak was once a nut that stood its ground.

      Proud Closet Canterer! Member Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.


      • #4
        Originally posted by rodawn View Post
        First, no horse, foal or otherwise, is allowed to sass, raise their foot, threaten, and otherwise present bad manners. If it's not cute and allowed as an adult, then it's not cute and allowed as a foal. And the learning of that starts here and now.
        Big fat ditto. I expect the EXACT same manners from my weanlings as I do from my adult horses. No exceptions. I ask the same things on the ground, and the only "concession" I make is for shorter attention spans (i.e. i expect my older horses to stand tied quietly for 20-30 minutes or more if need be, not so with the babies).

        ps - no "second child syndrome" here. My first foal was a sassy alpha filly who came out of her mother with guns a'blazin". My second one, a colt, is super easy and friendly and sensible. My third, another filly, is even quieter and sweeter than the colt (i wouldn't have thought it possible..!!).


        • #5
          I expect the EXACT same manners from my weanlings as I do from my adult horses. No exceptions. I ask the same things on the ground, and the only "concession" I make is for shorter attention spans (i.e. i expect my older horses to stand tied quietly for 20-30 minutes or more if need be, not so with the babies).
          Yep, same here. A threatening hind leg would be met with either a strong whack from me or (if not in a good position to do so) a firm voice and waving hands to chase them away. My space must be respected at all times- no rude behavior goes unpunished. I do love my babies and enjoy giving them lots of friendly attention and positive feedback. That said, however, I watch herd behavior and I know what the alpha horse would do. I expect (demand?) to be alpha when I enter the environment and thus have no problem using negative reinforcement when it's proper. I know I do a lot less damage with my "bites" (pinching fingers) and "kicks" (via hand or foot) than the other mares

          If you are not familiar with natural horsemanship techniques, I strongly encourage you to watch some videos, contact someone experienced for private lessons, or audit a clinic. Knowing how to move a horse's feet and learning the signs of submission are so important.

          Best wishes with your little "sass"!

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          • #6
            I forgot to mention that at this age she should know how to move away from pressure. Leading forward, backing up, and moving away from a gentle touch on the side are all things she should be taught if she doesn't know. Start by giving the command lightly and increase your insistence until she yields even slightly- then lots of scratches in her favorite places. Repeat several times on each side. Try to do a 5 minute session once or twice a day. If the only time you go out to her is for training, though, she might begin to avoid being caught.
            When she is getting agitated while tied, try to assess whether you should employ the "ignore technique"- which works best on the social babies or if you need to get after her a bit for inappropriate behavior.

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