On creating social foals

Published on 1 August 2023 at 16:45
At breeder Hof den Blijkeer in Belgium, foals grow up in mix herds with different genders and ages ranging from 0 to 35 years.

How these new horses start their first months and years have a profound either positive or negative effect on the the rest of his or her life.

Foals need to grow up in a functional herd and apart from that be left alone by humans, learning to be a horse. Interaction with humans should be on their initiative as much as possible and should be fun and comfortable for them. However, that does not mean the foal should be deprived of certain care. For instance, a anatomic correct trimmer can fix a horse’s grass foot and problems with the position of the legs, for instance can also now be fixed. Playful acting as if examining the foal or giving him or her ‘an injection’, can prevent stress and trauma when vet care is actually needed. Playfully letting the foal get used to halter and maybe rug are also good ideas. Always work a few minutes when the foal choses to be with you and work from positive reinforcement only, letting the foal leave when he wants to. Avoid any pressure as much as you can, to prevent ‘learned helplessness’ at any cost, at this stage.

Weaning can be done gradually, as it would in nature. When the foal starts to discover the world further away from mummy, place a fence between the foal and mum, so he cannot nurse. The ideal age would be between 6 to 9 months to start this. Later is no problem, as long as the mare is comfortable with having the foal.
Make sure the foal is not alone, but with age appropriate friends and herd members that can take care of the foal. Start with 15 minutes and build from there, monitoring any signs of stress with mother and child. But if they already can be at a distance of each other, the fence between them probably will not make much difference.
It might very well be the mare starts the weaning process herself after a few times.
You can then choose to either separate them, or let them be in the herd together, depending in the goal you have for your foal. It is key though that you start training now on seperating them completely, where they do not see each other, but both have comforting herd members, where possible.

❌ Foals need to grow up in a functional herd to learn respect for others, like any social animal does, including humans.
If this does not happen before a certain age, the young individual will never learn about respecting others and respecting their personal space.
πŸ‘‰ Unfortunately this happens a lot with foals nowadays, weaned to early, weaned wrongly and then left with other foals without any parental supervision.
πŸ‘‰ The most rambunctious youngster will grow up a complete bully.
πŸ‘‰ Also left solemnly with the mother is not a good thing, as the mother does except much more from her child than an other family member or a stranger would.
☝️The problem with that is that either, he will have to live behind the fence all his life, protecting others from his relentless bullying, or he is just put in a herd where he is able to bully others all day. The others cannot leave, for there is a fence. In nature, the horses would leave an individual who would put them at risk to become injured, which can mean certain death in nature.
πŸ‘‰ But in the human world, horses get fenced in with such bullies.

πŸ†˜ The worst part is, humans then justify punishment and violence towards horses because that ‘is how they treat each other in nature’.
CAPTIVITY is NOT nature.

☝️Relationships between human inmates do not reflect human family life, do they?


dives deep into the equine soul and mind and debunks many human theories that are in fact against horse welfare.
In my book you’ll find:
πŸ¦„ equine body language explained
πŸ¦„ how to talk back with subtle body movements
πŸ¦„ how to breed and raise a foal
πŸ¦„ how to bring up a perfect youngster
πŸ¦„ how to have a healthy happy horse up to at least 35!

But also:
🐴 How to help horses overcome trauma and injuries such as kissing spines and arthritis.
🐴 How to work with senior horses
πŸ“šπŸ“˜πŸ“– And much, much more!!

πŸ¦„πŸ¦„ If you want to read my BOOK, you can ORDER here

For the love of Horses,



Photo: At breeder Hof den Blijkeer in Belgium, foals grow up in mix herds with different genders and ages ranging from 0 to 35 years.

© All rights reserved Josepha Guillaume - Dressage in Hand

Add comment


There are no comments yet.