I've shared on my blog and with others that baby Luxxx has broken a couple of my leather halters since I've had him. I am a bit surprised by a few reactions I have received. "I hope he gets better" to "that doesn't sound like a horse you want to keep." This has made me realize people don't understand young horse behavior thus my post for today.
Most baby horses do not hit the ground with perfect manners. Some are better than others but most have to be taught. They learn some from their dam. Then when weaned it is best to give them pasture time with others so they can learn to socialize and learn more manners. Then it is up to us to teach them.
Horses are flight animals. When scared they run from what scares them. As youngsters coming into a training program they have not yet learned to trust us so when introduced to new things sometimes they run. Hence death of leather halter #1. Luxxx has never seen clippers. These noise making vibrating jaws of death are scary to a baby who has never seen them and has not yet learned to trust me. I turned them on and back he went, safely away from the jaws of death. I grabbed another halter, stuffed treats in my pocket, caught baby, and took him to his stall. I backed him in the corner and we started desensitizing to the clippers. I gave him a few small pieces of carrot to reward him for
allowing me to do this. After maybe 10 minutes or so he let me clip his muzzle, then his bridle path, then his ears. He learned I was not going to hurt him with the jaws of death and if he allowed it he got rewarded. That is a good baby.
Death of halter #2 came with trying to give him a bath. He flew out of my wash stall with me in tow. Again, imagine how scary the hose is if you aren't used to it. It took awhile and a lot of convincing to get him back in there but he eventually went and he let me bath him. Good baby.
It will take time as I introduce him to many many things but this is the process with youngsters. He will build a trust with me and it will get easier but there will be many firsts for him. If you do not have an enormous amount of patience or experience babies are not for you. Their "bad behavior" is merely a lack of understanding and following their instinct. It is our job to teach. Keep this in mind as your finished horse stands quietly in the cross ties for you to tack them up, pull their mane, or clip their ears. Someone taught them that.
Luxxx in his new rope halter. If he pulls back it puts pressure on the poll to discourage that. I also have safety release cross ties. I leave the lead rope dangling so I have something to grab should the cross ties release. He will continue to get tying lessons at M's. He has a pole that is concreted into the ground. He will be unable to get free and with the rope halter applying pressure to the pole as he pulls he will learn to break the pulling back behavior. Let me also say that when doing this you need to supervise and also have the halter correctly knotted for a quick release should you need it.
All of my horses stand quietly tied. Even my mini. And Luxxx will be no different in due time.