Body Haltering A Foal
Now that foaling season has arrived for some, I wanted to share a simple tip for safely moving a very young foal along with it’s mother without risk of it running off or getting separated from her. New foals haven’t usually been haltered and so leading them from the mare housing, for example, to the veterinary exam room at the breeding facility, is not an option, yet they need to be moved safely.
Everyone has a regular large size nylon web halter in their tack room I’m sure, so you’re set. Unbuckle the crown or poll piece as you would to put it on a horse’s head. With the noseband pointed down, slip the nose opening over the foal’s head and down to the base of it’s neck. The ring you would normally snap the halter onto is just ahead of the foal’s withers, with the connecting piece from that ring to the throat latch running down the center of the back and the jaw piece or throat latch hanging down on both sides.
The crown or poll strap buckle with be on the foal’s right rib area, so you pull the poll strap under it’s belly, just behind where a cinch would be, and buckle it up so that it’s snug but comfortable.
Handle the foal with this in the stall until the foal will walk by the mare quietly, while you guide it by grasping the connecting strap along the back. You can turn the foal, stop it, and really control it’s movement. Once the foal is quietly handling, it’s ready for a walk with it’s mama to wherever you need to take her.
You can utilize this one step further by teaching the foal to give to pressure while handling it with the “body halter”. I recommend pressure and release so as not to teach the foal to lean into the pressure, which it likely will, and though you can still handle the foal in spite of that, it’s not a good habit to start.
Safe and correct handling is always of utmost importance with foals. Whatever they learn as babies they’ll carry with them throughout their lives. Make certain that learning experience is a good one.