Oaks Volta has been very busy in April. He is behaving wonderfully out in the paddock and does not look for any trouble. Company of another horse beside him seems to play a major part in his daily activity because he loves to stand in the same part of his paddock, not to close but not to far away. He stands where he can easily see and be close to another. Volta is a clever smart thinking yearling. He has a very easy going nature and friendly temperament which are all good qualities of a young colt. In the middle of April the weather seemed to become alot colder in the evenings and on some days it rained alot here in South Gippsland. These are all factors that play an important part in growth for a youngster. Volta has grown a thick woolly coat and does look up behind. Do you know what the term Up Behind means? Well simply your yearling is going through a growth spurt! They look higher in the rump compared to the withers almost standing down hill , the front legs look shorter but over time they even up again and the rump and withers look level the same height…this all means your youngster is changing shape.
From their earliest days horses must learn to accept but respect the human. It makes it a lot simpler and avoids many fights and misunderstandings along the way if you start from the beginning. It always starts with getting your foal or youngster used to the touch of your hands. He or she would love it if you stroked and talked to them without disturbing mum of course. The more times you can do this the stronger the connection will be between you and your new friend for life! But do keep in mind the fondling should not become spoiling! You must still reprimand them if they are trying to be a little naughty, eg: like nipping because nipping turns into biting. A firm voice and a gentle slap on the neck is usually all that is required, they are very smart animals and know exactly what you mean so by nipping it in the bud early is best. Then he or she will keep respecting you for the next steps you introduce them to.Gain their trust and give them confidence and they will be willing to learn.
Halter and Lead Training:
Teach your youngster to wear a head collar , best to have another person help you the first time to help you. Your friend goes up to them from the off side and holds them by putting their left arm around the chest and the right arm cupped under there tail end. You can then ever so gently while talking and stroking them go up to them, start at the shoulder , work your way up to the withers and from the near side and slip the head collar on. If needed a third person may need to hold the mother. Always approach slowly and never head on.If they tense and seem as though they might flee stand still for a moment until they relax.
To teach them to lead you should never pull from the halter, always from behind. The best method is to do this while following there mum, they are very happy to walk beside them so have some one lead the mum while you lead the youngster. You will feel a sense of joy when you see they are responding to your teaching!. Remember slow and steady reward and calmness is always best. At this stage you can touch his feet, groom him all over rub his head and muzzle and even the tail. Hold the end of the lead while grooming and if they try and walk make them stand still, keep control by giving a small tug on the lead and say “Stand”.They will at first be quite wary wondering what you are doing, but in no time at all will realise you are caring for them and will they will love having you give them attention and want you around. They will look for you because they will soon understand you are good to them and they will enjoy the pampering. Once he is weaned keep training and leading them alone by your side. This will make the breaking in process of tying up, washing, shoeing and tacking up and riding alot easier to manage.Use feed or treats to catch them with so they are happy to come to you and even now and then to praise them but not to often, do not spoil them they should not EXPECT a treat, its an extra special method of reward now and then. Routine is the best training method of all, horses love routine so doing the same thing at the same time is a good habit!
Until catching has been easily established , it can be very helpful to leave the head collar on the youngster. It is important the halter fits correctly and does not rub. The noseband must be loose so as not to rub the jaws during feeding or grazing, and high enough not to rub the projecting cheek bones. A leather head collar is ideal as it is less likely to rub than a nylon one and will break in an emergency, if they became caught on something. Leather is more expensive and will need regular cleaning at least once a month.If you only have a nylon collar make sure it has a buckle and pin so it will break under excessive strain.
When the youngster is relaxed with leading it is time to tie them up. The first time should be done in a well confined safe area until they become reliable.Use this moment to groom them just as you had already been doing a number of times while holding the lead while halter and lead training, only a short terms to start with and lengthen the time frame slowly over a few days . Always stay with them to comfort them and help to feel safe and secure.Do not tie them up on concrete for the first time, a soft surface is best in case they do slip or try to pull back.
We also use a neck tie on our youngsters, this helps reduce the chance that if they do pull back they cannot get away and get into a habit of breaking away.It helps to gain a respect for being tied up the first time and every time after that. This should only be used if your youngster has the basic understanding ,training and respect already established and knows if they feel the pressure behind the neck will come forward and happily and realise they cannot get away.
All the above lessons will set standards for manners and compliance for the rest of your horses life. It will accept the things you ask because you are the boss, you are firm and you are fair. Above all you are pleased and praise good behavior.
Feeding advice direct from Ker Nutritionist Luisa Wood :
Hay/grass: Because of the way the horse’s digestive tract is designed, forage in the form of pasture, hay and chaff should be the basis of all horse’s diets. Forage will have a significant contribution to the diet of young growing horses. As with all horses, it is recommended that young horses are offered at least 1% of their body weight in forage per day, but young horses are able to eat 1.5-2% of their body weight in forage per day, which will supply a considerable amount of their required energy and nutrients for growth. The grass hay that Volta eats offers moderate levels of energy and protein but will not supply adequate nutrients to meet requirements for a growing horse of his age, which is why his diet also consists of Barastoc Breed N Grow. More on Breed N Grow in Volta May news…
Next month why we feed Volta Breed & Grow
Kentucky Equine Research (Australasia) Pty Ltd