Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Baby Boomer Dreams of Arabian Horses - The Third Foal Crop Part 3

Part One of the Baby Boomer Series

The Third Foal Crop Part 1

It wasn't until it came time to put the Arabian horse and her new foal out for the first time, that I even realized that I had a problem. The mare wanted to run, glad to finally be outside. The colt, following his instinct wanted to run right at the mare's hip. Aana didn't know what to think of that thing running next to her and the mare began kicking at her colt.

Fortunately, the horse was easy to catch and we were able to put a stop to the behavior before the colt was hurt. But it was clear, the mare had perceived the colt as a predator and had tried to defend herself from her own baby. This was a big problem.

Talking to my vet, his idea was to sedate her. He wasn't going to be in the area anytime soon so I decided to ask the vet who was coming to my work for drugs. In the meantime the mare and foal would have to stay inside the stall where the foal was safe.

The old Indian vet (I can say that, it is how he refers to himself!!) didn't think that drugs were the answer. The problem was the sedation would not last long. Once it wore off the foal would again be vulnerable to attacks by the mare. This vet is quite a hand with natural horsemanship. He thought I should hobble the mare. It was his prediction that hobbling the mare would result in the mare bonding with the foal and ending the problem.

So the next step was getting hobbles. Eric Krichten (my boss) asked the OIV if hock hobbles would do the job. The response was any kind of hobbles would do. So Eric borrowed a set of hock hobbles for me to try on the mare.

If you never seen hock hobbles, they're a rather interesting device designed to help the horse get underneath itself better, or so they say. I think they cause a horse to move mechanically and I think they can be dangerous if not used correctly. They aren't in my training bag of tricks.

Hock hobbles consist of two leather devices with straps that enclose around the hock. The straps fasten above and below the hocks in the back. Each has a ring attached at the front of the hock. Then there is a cord with snaps at both ends that runs from the ring at one hock, up and through the bottom ring on a sircingle and back to the ring on the other hock. The length of that cord can be adjusted.

I put the surcingle on Aana and the hock hobbles at first by themselves and I walked her around at bit for her to get used to the feel. Then I attached the cord leaving it long so it didn't restrict her movement at all. Once she was used to that I shortened up the cord in increments so that the mare could gradually get used to being confined. The final degree of tightness allowed the mare to move, even run but she was unable to kick. If she tried to kick, the cord would put pressure on the other hock forcing her to move forward instead of kick.

Once it was all set up and I was sure that the mare could not kick at her foal, we turned the mare and foal loose. They ran off with the mare a bit stiff legged but there was no kicking.

Don't ask me why because I haven't a clue, but the mare thought the colt had something to do with her not being able to kick at him. By the time we brought them both in, she not only wasn't kicking him anymore, she had accepted him as part of her "herd."

I put the contraption on the mare again the next day just to be on the safe side. Even though the old Indian vet was convinced the mare would now be subservient to the foal, I wasn't taking any chances. But that was it for me, two days of turnout with the hock hobbles and Aana's first foal was now safe and Aana was figuring out what it was like to be a mother.

The only problem was that this colt had the first few days of his life without motherly reassurance. His first reaction to new scary things has always been that "Blahhhhhhhhhh!" climbing the wall reaction. Once he is reassured, he settles down immediately but I can't help but wonder had his mother bonded with him in the beginning if he wouldn't have turned out just as confident as the other Leg's babies.

To be continued.........

Sorry I didn't take any pictures of this. And sadly, I didn't take many pictures of these foals. With my loss of Image, my head really wasn't into babies. This is the one an only year I took few baby pictures.

The Third Foal Crop - Part 4

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  1. I thought I had left a comment here yesterday. Guess not. Nice story though and always nice horse pictures. Have you seen > < yet? I told Lori about her. They raise horses. Lots of horses in ice and cold temps.

    Have a nice holiday.

  2. Well, no, I've never even heard of Hock Hobbles. Very interesting and a lovely ending to an original story. I never considered that degree of neglect from a mare. I always thought it was either connect or reject. I'll be interested in further Aana babies and how she has responded.

  3. I am so glad that this solved the problem so easily. Taxes' momma, Girl Sonny, is a problem when in a stable. She fights with whoever is next to her if she can see them and kicks the walls. When she had Cookie a few years ago I put them in a stall in the big barn but within hours she had kicked Cookie in the hock and it had swelled up badly, I was quite worried but with stall rest it healed. I had to move her to a stall that has no horses next to it and have to do this will every foal she has because I dont want to run the risk. She is not meaning to kick the baby but just doesnt pay attention when she is in "fighting" mode LOL. My filly Lori (also a Girl Sonny baby), does exactly the same thing so if I ever breed her I am going to have the same problem.

    I will have to look into these hobbles, I have heard of kicking chains but these sound far better.

    Great post. Hope you are feeling better. (((Hugs)))


  4. Yes, Abraham, you did post a comment yesterday. It was on yesterday's post. I have seen Confessions of a Pioneer Woman, Ree is one of the regular blogs I read. She has some great pics and good stories.

    molly, I had never heard of a mare doing this either. I figured once the foal was nursing everything was fine. It was interesting to see the effect on the foal.

    lori, darn mares, you never know when they're going to present a new challenge. I've had issues with mares being upset about a neighbor and kicking their baby that way too.

    I was feeling better but did too much yesterday and then relapsed a bit. I'm going to have to be careful and take it easy until I am truly well. It is so frustrating, I have so much to do!

  5. I'm glad that you got the problem fixed.

    We had a Lipizzaner mare that drove her newborn colt away and wouldn't let him nurse. We hobbled her, and that quieted her down so that he could nurse. On the second day she was OK with him. He was her first foal, and we didn't breed her again.

  6. what a story!

    It seems the Old Indian Doc knows his business :)

    I hobble Scooter still yet to grze freely in the yard and when we used to go on overnight trail rides. He las always hobbled very well without worry. I would never recommend hock hobbles as a training device-never!

    However, I think you did use them correctly in your situation

  7. Thanks for stopping by my blog and posting comments. I was a professional groom for an Arabian breeder in Florida back in the
    80's. Wonderful, intelligent animals and so beautiful to behold.
    Stop in anytime.

  8. Transylvanian horseman, it really is amazing how hobbles can fix such a problem. My understanding is the mare believes the foal is controlling her movement so that causes her to submit to it. While I hope I never have the problem again, at least I now have this in my bag of tricks to fix it.

    barn goddess, yes, I thought you might appreciate the old Indian vet. He's really pretty amazing. He sure called this one right.

    I totally agree with you and the hock hobbles. I would never use them for a training device for a horse under saddle and I have said that I would never own a pair. But for this one use, it sure turned out to be a lifesaver!! Just goes to show I should never, say "never!"

    trail riding cowgirl, thanks for stopping by. Did you work for one of the big Arabian farms during the hay days??