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Sunday, 17 March 2013

A Mare Without Skills

It is becoming more and more common for mares who have not had adequate natural social interaction to lack 'triggers' that kick their instincts into play when they have their first foal or two.

A few years ago I was asked to visit such a mare, Tarot.

She'd had a normal foaling some nine days prior but had no real interest in her foal other than to allow it to nurse when necessary.

This simply meant that she had not been allowed sufficient time with her own dam or more likely was the product of a 'rapid' breeding program. These are very common in some areas of Europe and especially on the larger breeding farms.

Mares are bred year after year. Foals are weaned at the earliest possible date and the mares are re-bred often on their foal heats.

From time to time the hard wired instinctual behavior which involves stimulation of 'focal' points isn't working at optimum.

This is such a case. This filly is nine days old....this is her first leading... 

I let her reach the end of the lead..and wait for her to choose to return to me.

She comes straight into my hands for solace.
Ordinarily she would have tried to go to her mother, but their connection was weak.

I have demonstrated to the owner of the mare and foal where to 'touch' and how.
At the same time I am balancing the foal, softening root in this photograph.

In this photo the mare's instincts have been stimulated and are kicking in.
She is working on a heart connection between her and her foal. 

It isn't always as quick and easy as the example posted here. It sometimes takes a try or two but success has been inevitable in my experience. I've had total success with mares who have rejected their foals entirely, not allowing them near to nurse.