Training a foal for grooming

ArticleHow to - horse trainingWednesday 20 January 2010
Grooming Foals

Foals are always eager to please, they have a childlike enthusiasm. Training a foal is a large responsibility if you get it wrong the foal will develop bad habits that are hard to break once the horse is grown. Even some fully grown horses find it hard to stand still when being groomed so teaching a foal to be groomed can be quite a challenge. 

Training your foal as early as possible is the most effective way of making sure your foal accepts being groomed. If  possible you should start foal training in the birth week so they learn as early as they can what is expected of them. 
Here are a few tips that may help you train up your foal so it is ready for grooming...
  • To get your foal accustomed to being touched make sure you use your bare hands and touch the foal all over every day. It is vital that you do not miss a day out when doing this as your foal needs consistency. 
  • Start with the legs and lift up the hooves one at a time off the ground. This type of physical interaction is very important when raising a foal as he knows he can trust you will be more obedient in the future. 
The Groom
  • The foal’s tail will need grooming regularly. 
  • To start use a hoof pick on the hooves.
  • Halter-break your foal – this means placing the halter on your foal daily.
  • After one week use a soft grooming brush to groom your foal concentrating on your foal’s underside and inside legs.
  • Turn electric hair clippers on near to your foal’s face so he becomes familiar with their sound.
Lead and Bath
  • Start to lead your foal around with a rope and treat him with hay after about 10 successful days to reward his good behaviour. Leading from both left and right will make sure that your foal will not prefer one side to the other. 
  • Get your foal accustomed to your horse trailer by loading him in, and placing a horse blanket over him.
  • Also do not forget to bath the foal and dry him off with a towel.
It is important to remember that your foal’s future behaviour is greatly dependant on the time and effort you spend on early grooming. Let him know what is expected of him and he will understand.
Other tips and advice
  • You should not tie your horse for the first few grooming sessions. After your foal has experienced a few grooming sessions then you can tie him. Until your foal knows there is nothing to fear you should leave him untied. 
  • The key for how to groom your horse successfully is keeping the sessions short and ending all grooming sessions on a positive note. 
  • Let the foal move about if he wants to as this is all new to him. When your horse stands still make sure that your praise him in abundance so he knows what is the correct and incorrect way to behave during horse grooming. 
Have your say
Do you have any of your own methods that differ from the advice that we have given? If you want to share some of your own methods of training foals for grooming then feel free to leave a comment in the section below this article. You never know, you might just make someone else’s life much easier!
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