What age should I begin to train my foal?

Hi Stacy, can you tell me at what age should I begin to play/work with my foal?Jackie and Lucy, mare and foal

As soon as you want to, just avoid physically hard work. They are fun to do little mind games with, like teaching them to give to pressure and other gentle stuff. People get in trouble when they are tempted to over power foals which isn’t training…it is bullying.

Teaching them to halter, lead, pick up their feet, rub them all over etc. are great places to start. It is also very helpful if foals know theses things incase an emergency happens requiring either mother or foal to be handled. After that you can get creative with the training.

Someone asked me once how young a horse could be taught to bow. I asked a vet and his opinion was, ‘as long as you weren’t being forceful there was no too early.’ He said they are even more flexible when young.

On the other hand, I have trained many horses who were left anywhere from wild to nearly wild until they were yearlings or later. Many large ranches barely handle foals so don’t worry if you don’t have ‘wonder-horse’ as a yearling. From a training standpoint, I prefer untouched over spoiled.Lucy

The best is a well balance foal who can be handled but who also spends plenty of time with other horses just being a horse.

Remember if you are worried about something being too physically demanding ask your vet. I have also seen foals that were stressed mentally by the training, or even being hauled back to the stallion for their mothers to be rebred, who developed ulcers.

For me, I have fun with them, teach them enough to be safe and then let them run with the other horses as much as possible. I do little refresher every 4-6 weeks and LOVE to just watch them. I have plenty of time and opportunity to train them as they grow.


  1. Tonya on March 19, 2015 at 2:29 am

    I say if you are fortunate enough to have your horses as a herd let the mamas raise them until 6 months. It has been my experience it is easier to handle them after that point if they have been allowed to learn to be a horse.

  2. […] There are several things to consider when answering this question. The question of what age to start training is a bit tricky because it depends on what you consider ‘training’ to be.  With my own personal foals I raise I start the ‘training’ young but I don’t do physically hard training.  I wrote a blog that discussed this topic and you can click her to read it. […]

  3. Joesephine on February 6, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    I am so glad to read this post! My filly is just 2 now and she is my first experience raising a young one. I her completely untouched until she was 7 months. She lived on 200 acres with 8 other older horses and during the winter brought her mother into a pen daily and gained her confidence by carrying an extra halter and rubbing all her itchy spots with it and hanging a lead rope over her. I didn’t officially halter train her until she was 15 months. I got so much grief from other people who had bred/breed horses for not haltering/ leading/ lunging her right from the get go that I felt like I was doing the wrong thing by not stalling her and her mother and handling her daily 🙁 I now know I did the right thing! she has such amazing manners taught to her by the herd, she is so quick and light when she learns new things and is always excited to see me at the gate! We used your method for trailer loading and it took her 25 minutes to catch on and she decide that she loves trailer rides. Another border was catching 2 of his 4 horses for a trail ride so he brought his truck and trailer into the field for quick loading but had to shoe my filly out of the trailer first!! she walked in all by her self when he opened the door, no halter or lead! haha If I ever decide to raise another young horse I will do it the same way

  4. carol haylett on February 6, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    our daughter and son both raised and trained their foals early on with handling, brushing, picking up feet, etc. as they got older, but still too young to consider riding, our daughter started putting harness (light) on her 1 1/2 year old, and by 2 yrs. was ground driving him, and working on responding to voice and rein commands. then she came up with the idea of going a step farther, and driving him with a little red wagon attached. he got so used to the noise and banging, that she started putting light weights in. form there, she worked up to sitting in the wagon, and driving him around. in the winter, it was a plastic toboggan. always in the outdoor arena. and long enough that there was lots of space between them. he got so used to seeing her back there working with him, that he actually pouted in his stall corner, when she rode her other horse for trail-riding. we also ponied him on trail-rides with older horses , so he was used to all obstacles, areas, etc. by the time she was ready to drive him in a training cart, etc., it was already old hat for him. the same when he was started riding. it was all done in slow stages over time, no pressure. and he was totally devoted to her.

  5. Sam on February 6, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    I have been working with my colt for a few months now. He is terrified of everything. You can lead him great. Catching him without a halter is a feat in itself but he is coming around slowly to that. He sees a lead rope and runs. So I just use the halter and he is sort of better. One time my farrier came and he was getting ready to do one of my horses and a chicken flew up on his stall and he freaked out. I couldn’t believe it. Took me a few minutes to calm him down. I am wondering how much of a good riding horse her will turn out to be. Guess it’s how much time and effort I put into him. Just don’t want him to be one of those flighty guys.

    • Sarah on July 4, 2016 at 8:54 pm

      Hi ; I’m glad to hear that your not giving up!! I bought a 10 yr old gelding that never seen the world or left his mom ; yet very flighty !!! Super!!! Lol yet I have been taking him all over trail rides buying dollar store things ( like flashy signs you put in ground ; balloons; streemers ext bells are good great or even old talking toys!! The more ecsposure he gets the less will frighten him ,good luck I think that will help it has me!

    • Constance on January 19, 2017 at 3:59 pm

      Hi I’ve got a filly just under 18 months and we at now starting to teach her different things , like bowing moving back etc she is very interested when your teaching her something and she lets you touch her every where she’s the laid back horse I know, and to say she’s the age she is. I just want to ask when should I start lunging and putting rollers on and long reining??

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