Rescuing foals…responsibly: How do you take just one? How do you create a good citizen?

“How do you take just one? Such emotions tied to this. And how do you explain to people the importance of setting aside the emotions to do the job that is required to make this horse a good citizen? I have noticed when animals are rescued, people tend to allow bad behavior because they feel sorry for the animal.”

Presto, Stacy, Justice…and boundaries.

When watching the videos or looking at photos of Last Chance Corral it is easy to imagine taking home a whole trailer load. However…
I knew that I had a limited amount of time, energy, and money to dedicate to raising foals. My goal with adopting was twofold, I wanted the experience of raising an orphan and I wanted to see how far I could take that horses training.

I wanted to rescue…responsibly.
For me, I defined responsibility as what I could do well.
So although I could have loaded up five or six more foals…I would not have been able to achieve my definition of responsibility.

I also approach foal behavior in the same way. I have trained many horses over my career and without a doubt, my least favorite problems to deal with are spoiled horses. I would choose wild and untouched over spoiled every time.

Why?

I enjoy being the horse’s happy place. I enjoy interacting with them and teaching them things and I believe they enjoy interacting and learning. We can both have an enjoyable ‘conversation’ when we interact: As long as there are boundaries.

My boundaries include: I’ll respect your space, you respect my space.
No biting, kicking, rearing, striking. No running me over.

Foals are very curious by nature and explore with their mouths. Being around a foal is very much like leading a young toddler down the candy aisle at a store. They want to reach out, to touch, to pick up…to take, whatever is within reach.

If you don’t want them taking candy you have some choices:
Don’t walk down the candy aisle.
Walk down the candy aisle quickly.
Focus their attention on something at the end of the candy aisle.
Give them the one piece you want to give and walk past the rest.

With foals, I do something similar:
I stand back beside their shoulders or barrel instead of straight in front of their mouths.
I go in with a purpose.
I focus their attention on a lesson, leading, brushing, etc.
I show them what I DO want instead of correcting them for what I DON’T want.

It turns out that if they learn to respect the candy isle early, they enjoy the candy more.
If you give them the whole candy isle for several years and then take it away…they are NOT impressed.

I know that a little bit of guidance now will pay off for the next twenty years of this foals life.
I give them the gift of consistency in the way I handle them now…so that they don’t have to experience someone changing the rules on them later.
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I’ve owned Presto now for four years. He has grown so much and I’m finally ready to start sharing his adventures
What questions do you have for me?
#PressonRegardless #Presto #Equithrive

2 Comments

  1. Dori Hale on May 13, 2020 at 9:19 pm

    I never realized until checking on website to see what was posted for Presto’s journey and seeing this that he was a nurse foal. I don’t know much about my guy’s start in life other than it was pretty harsh and also that his mother rejected him. I don’t think he landed in as good of a place as these foals, and especially Presto. That’s awesome.

  2. Lynette Schmidt on April 30, 2020 at 4:09 pm

    Thank you for answering the (my)question. I have thought about this a multitude of times and not just over horses, same goes for dogs etc. I could not imagine a better answer than what you gave and that being how you defined responsibility to yourself and then acted on that. Using that idea to frame your approach to adoption.

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