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The old glove on the stick trick. :)

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  • The old glove on the stick trick. :)

    A few weeks ago someone started a thread about how to deal with foals that don't want to be touched. I have used some of the strategies that others suggested and was successful with getting my more shy babies used to being touched. When I was reading the thread I realized that one of the strategies might work for my ticklish maiden mare who won't let me touch her udder. She kicks and stamps when you even get close so I was worried about how she would accept her foal nursing. The foal is due mid June.

    About 2 weeks ago I took a glove and stuffed it with cotton batting and used an elastic to fasten it to the end of a broom handle. The mare is partly clicker trained so understood that when she heard the click that there was a reward. I put her in cross ties and proceeded to touch her udder from a safe distance. Boy did those feet fly! When she stopped kicking, she heard the signal and got the treat. Fast forward 2 weeks and she is mostly keeping her feet on the ground when I touch her udder. I can approach from either side and she is tolerating it, just swishing her tail. I am hoping that by the time the foal arrives that she will have a positive association with having her udder touched.

    Thanks to the person who mentioned the old glove on the stick trick!

  • #2
    That was smart of you! Might mean the difference between a healthy foal & one that's kicked by it's Mama.
    Producing horses with gentle minds & brilliant movement!
    www.whitfieldfarm.shutterfly.com

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    • #3
      Hehee you are very much welcome! Glad it has worked for someone else! =D
      Visit MW Equine!
      Raven Beauty - '08 JC Thoroughbred mare
      Zeecandoit - '07 JC Thoroughbred gelding
      DBT My Dark Blue - '07 AHA Arabian Mare

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      • #4
        Pretty clever! I must say, however, that a couple of my mares hate to have their udders touched pre-foaling, so keeping that area clean, as the big day approaches, is touch-and-go. Yet, during the 1st couple hours after foaling, I can do anything - getting right in there with the soapy water, for a good scrub, then rinse. And the foals have no problem - if they can find their way, getting their moms to accept their mouths. During that time frame, the mares' systems are quite flooded with oxytocin, and I find that makes them amenable to any handling that may be required. Maybe I'm just lucky with my girls, but that is my experience.
        Sunny Days Hanoverians
        http://www.sunnydayshanoverians.com

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Sunnydays View Post
          Pretty clever! I must say, however, that a couple of my mares hate to have their udders touched pre-foaling, so keeping that area clean, as the big day approaches, is touch-and-go. Yet, during the 1st couple hours after foaling, I can do anything - getting right in there with the soapy water, for a good scrub, then rinse. And the foals have no problem - if they can find their way, getting their moms to accept their mouths. During that time frame, the mares' systems are quite flooded with oxytocin, and I find that makes them amenable to any handling that may be required. Maybe I'm just lucky with my girls, but that is my experience.
          That has always been my experience too. We had a new mare come in last year who would absolutely kick your head off if you got anywhere near here udder. It made it really interesting to try and test her milk for pH levels. She was so bad, my husband would have to hold up one front leg so I could get in there. It made me super worried about the foal. Fast forward to foaling and the mare was 110% fine with that foal being under their...thankfully! Like Sunnydays said, maybe we've just been lucky, but I've always witnessed instinct kick in after foaling in the few difficult mares we've had over the years.
          www.DaventryEquestrian.com
          Home of Oldenburg, Westphalian & RPSI approved pony stallion Goldhills Brandysnap
          Also home to Daventry Equine Appraisals & Equine Expert Witness www.EquineAppraisers.com

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            I was hoping that the natural release of oxytocin would change the mare's behaviour and I have every reason to believe that she will have good mothering instincts as her mother was an excellent mom. I didn't want to take any chances, however, as you do hear about mares that won't let babies nurse and I didn't want to have to deal with that. Consequently, I felt that if I could do something to help her to accept her udder being touched that it would be a good thing. As well, I have always checked the milk prior to foaling and I wasn't sure how I was going to do that with this girl. Given that she's getting better and better at allowing me to touch her, I am feeling more confident that when the baby arrives that all will go well.

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            • #7
              I wish all handlers of young horses would teach horses to be touched EVERYWHERE. I start touching my foals at day one in those areas to desensitize them. They are very very ticklish there at that young age but learn quickly that they don't have a choice. It is so easy to control a foal in comparison to a full grown horse.

              So glad that the glove trick was a good training technique! Good not to wait to find out if you have a problem after foaling!
              Chris
              Ladybug Hill--Hunters and Ponies
              WWSD? (what would Suerte do?)

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              • #8
                Yep, it's an "oldie but a goodie" for sure. The glove I used for my two chestnut mares was one of those fleece mitts used for washing cars. I stuffed it with abit of cloth and tied it on the end of a 3 ft. stick. Worked GREAT!!

                This was back when both were maidens and I wanted to test their milk...which they did NOT want. That glove took a beating for afew weeks...

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Sunnydays View Post
                  Pretty clever! I must say, however, that a couple of my mares hate to have their udders touched pre-foaling, so keeping that area clean, as the big day approaches, is touch-and-go. Yet, during the 1st couple hours after foaling, I can do anything - getting right in there with the soapy water, for a good scrub, then rinse. And the foals have no problem - if they can find their way, getting their moms to accept their mouths. During that time frame, the mares' systems are quite flooded with oxytocin, and I find that makes them amenable to any handling that may be required. Maybe I'm just lucky with my girls, but that is my experience.
                  This has been my experience as well. I "draw" my milk for testing the colostrum while baby is nosing around on the other side. But I need to get to those udders long before baby is born, so they need to accept it.

                  Still, each year with those two mares, I need to proceed with caution...

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