Friday, August 1, 2008


My darling little Shooter has been rechristened....Shitter! Yup! He has officially become a Shithead and is being dealt with accordingly.
So cute?
Become such a butthead?

Well, because that is what foals do!! His lovely new trick is to back up to you...take aim...and then double barrel you with both hind feet! NICE!!

Wanna know what he gets when he starts backing up now? A swift whack on those muscular little buttocks, with the leadrope that we have started carrying with us. Yup!! That behaviour will not be tolerated. One swift whack the second he turns that butt to me and takes a step backward. The results...a sudden leap forward, some head shaking and then a rather pissed off look because I spoiled his fun. But, he is learning that "face" time is much more effective for human interaction.

Oh, I can so see the similarities between this colt and Moon. Moon was a complete butthead as a colt too. His trick was biting. Turn your back for a second and that sucker would nail you. You have no idea how many times that turd got whacked in the chops with the flat of my hand. He grew out of it AND...NO he is not headshy from getting slapped in the nose. It was discipline, much like his mother would do when she got tired of him biting at her.

Now I am not claiming to have a lot of experience with imprinting foals, but Andrea's post over at SwampSuburbia got me thinking about how all of this works. We went generations, never handling our foals until they were weaned. It worked. Heck, it still works for thousands of breeders across the country. Hey, if I had a hundred foals a year, I don't think that imprinting would work for me either. But I don't. I have one, maybe two foals at a time. Imprinting has worked very well on the last four foals, I have raised. The three adult horses that I have, that I have imprinted accepted new things much quicker than the ones not imprinted. But...

Imprinting can cause its own set of problems. Foals are after all foals and they go through stages, just like kids do. The one thing I have really noticed is that gentle foals actually require more disciplining than untouched foals. An untouched foal's natural instinct is to go away. An imprinted foal's instinct to leave has already been overcome and they often get pushy and try to overstep their boundaries. As is the case with Shitter, at the moment. Being an only foal, he is bored. I watch him torture his poor momma. She takes it until she has had enough and then she bites him. That says...Enough already. I have observed him backing up to Woofer and kicking at her too. It's really just a game to him, but it is my responsibility to teach him that humans do not play these kind of games. I am not another horse. He will learn soon enough that other horses do not tolerate this behaviour either. This fall, he will be turned out with some older horses, that will be good to him but still teach him the ways of herd dynamics. Until then, I have to be vigilant and make sure that he keeps on respecting humans and their space.

He has begun his halter training, in the stall and is giving to pressure really well. This is where I really like what imprinting does. Foals don't seem to resist the pressure as much and while there is still some backing up the first few times you apply pressure to the leadrope, there isn't the massive pull away and fall over backwards. Small spaces help too. They can't get much momentum going before their butts hit a wall.

Now if he just survives to adulthood...
The other night Megan and I were working horses in the round pen and we stopped to watch the little speed demon practice his racetrack techniques. I just can't seem to get it caught on video tape for all to see. He goes from a dead standstill to a flat out run, around the tree at the end of the "racetrack" and back towards Momma. Over and over, he does this. Then he decided to practice his "reining horse circles". Small slow ones around momma and then he opens up the throttle to do big fast ones. Well, on one of his big and fast circles he got off kilter and overrun where he thought he was at....WHAM!!! Straight into the fence. At the last second, I could see him realize where he was and lift his head to try to turn. TOO LATE!! He fell overbackwards and laid there. My very first thought was "I'm gonna have to shoot my colt because he just broke his neck." Not wanting to startle him, Megan and I crept towards him, talking softly. He staggered to his feet and stumbled around with his head cocked off to the side. I'm thinking "oh crap...he just wrecked his neck." He finally staggered back over to momma, looking very confused. We looked him all over and finally caught Woofer and led her into the barn, so we could get our hands on him. Nothing on him except a tiny bit of blood on the end of his nose. Thank god, he is all right, but it just goes to show, that no matter how safe you think you make things, those darn horses can always find someway to hurt themselves.


Callie said...

LOL, What a little butthead!

KD said...

I raised one colt - that was enough! I believe that if they can hurt themselves on something - they will. And you're right about them playing a game and seeing what they can get away with. When mine starting nipping, I whacked him on the nose - and he is not headshy now either. I think mine must have done something similar to the fence incident you had. He went over a chain link fence somehow, scraped his belly and the inside of his back legs and looked like...." did I get on the other side?" My husband didn't actually see it happen, just heard the commotion and when he looked up, Ringer was in the neighbor's pasture.

kdwhorses said...

ROTFL!! Girl I am cracking up, your killing me! Poor little thing, Shooter aka Shitter! Love it! THey can be buttheads at times! Hubby bought a 3 year old and he started trying the nipping thing, 1 punch in the nose fixed that one! I agree that is one thing that is not tolerated here and kicking is the other! 2 very bad habits! And our 3 year old is not head shy at all! They need to learn the respect thing.
I have not had the opportunity to rasie a foal yet. Would love to bred my mare in the future, even have some studs lined out, but not ready yet.
Lord, I think they could hurt themselves in a padded cell! Glad he is alright, little dingle berry!
Hope he gets through this stage fast!
He is a cutie though!

PaintedPromise said...

a trainer taught me years ago, their mamas weigh 1200 pounds or so, and we weigh what? do not cross the line into abuse but yes, you have to be tough to get their attention! no judging here!!!

as for his "accident" OMG how scary to watch that. i wasn't home but the girls found my 5-month-old pup Sherman in our fish pond today (which is a BIG stock tank) - thank God they were home or he might have drowned! we'll be working on prevention first think tomorrow... {sigh} it's not just the horses!!!!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Excellent presentation of humor! (I just get tired of writing LOL.) I have actually kicked my horses in the butt when I had nothing in my hands to discipline them with. That's what they do to each other, and I'm sure my boots don't hurt nearly as much as hooves on the hiney.

Bombay likes to back into the wheelbarrow and kick it. He doesn't kick hard. He just taps his hoof against it repeatedly as if playing a musical instrument. He's such a weirdo.

Pony Girl said...

Yep, what I have read about imprinting is that it can cause foals to be more pushy and friendly, and not know boundaries.

I can just imagine Shooter running on his racetrack! Young horses are so cute when they are putting those long legs to work. Poor guy, running into that fence! That is scary (you know me, how easily I am scared!) I am SO glad he is okay. I am sure he was caught off guard. Like infants, maybe young horses are more flexible and resiliant than we think.

I do love his new nickname, though!

sue said...

I have never raised a colt... that being said, I am all about boundries and respect (I am a dog trainer!!!) and I totally agree that you need to address him when he's out of line... the aniamls world has very strict guidelines, and depending on the species, depends on what is important... since we are "a part" of that world in a way... we need to impress our boundies as well... but I do have to say... he is so "darn cute"!!!!

cdncowgirl said...

I think imprinting has its place, as long as the foal is also shown firm boundaries such as you are doing.
Some people I know have an orphan colt this year. They are bottle feeding him but making sure he isn't treated like a big dog. They turned him out with another 2 mares and their fillies so he could get some "horse education". The one mare took after him and he ran away. SMACK right into a fence (he hit the 2x6 board). He's fine now but it was scary at the time.

Mrs Mom said...

Imprint training has always raised red flags in me, as if done wrong..holy crap are those horses royal pains in the arse. Seriously.
But I can see where it would have merits too, as long as you enforce the rules, boundaries and limitations like the other commenter said too! (Sue)

I watched a TB filly a bit older than Shitter hit a wood fence once. All I'll say is I hope to God I never see something like that again. She hit just right, and .... well, she felt no pain.

Smack them hams there once from Auntie Mrs Mom too!!

Jamie said...

My brother's fiancee's parents had that problem with their colt from last year and he got sent off to "school" and now they say he's a completely different animal.

Andrea said...

My mother in law imprinted her little filly that now is a yearling and talk about annoying little horse. That filly has no boundries and is such a pest. I am actually a bit nervous around her because you can't shoo her away from you. She will stand there and look at you like you are crazy.
When we have a foal here, I or my husband play with them for the first two to three days. We rub them and pick up their feet. Then we will catch them every now and then to rub them and pick up their feet. So, I guess I should call it random petting instead of imprinting, LOL!!!

Our foals act like "Shitter". They do that racetrack run and then the "reiner" cirlces. It's so neat to see them play like that. And I have watched a few horses run like that and slam into the fence. It's scary! I am glad he is alright. Now that I have written a novel!! :)

Paige said...

We do the same thing Andrea does--we raise 8 or 9 foals a year and they get all the handling they could want the first three days---then they get NOTHING other than dewormed, until they are weaned. If one hurts itself--and at least one will--they get doctored- but otherwise they are out to pasture where God put em.

We made a monster out of imprinting once and that aint happening again at my house.

We spontaneously fixed a kicker last year when she backed up to nail me and instead ran into the end of the shit fork--it was like immediate brain surgery and I laughed until I fell over. Best baby I have ever had since that happened.