You'd better get the foal used to having its head handled while you can still
reach it! This comes in handy for haltering, bridling, deworming, clipping,
veterinary examinations and dental care. If you handle a foal's head from
day one, you will probably never have trouble, but if you miss that step, you
will have to formally teach the horse to put his head down.
a foal, you can teach the lesson by using just your hands: right hand on the poll,
left hand on the bridge of the horse's nose. A combination of soothing
massage and pressure/release usually causes most horses to drop their heads.
If you are working with a larger foal, you might need to halter the foal and use
pressure on the noseband at the same time you press the poll.
Steady pressure will cause the foal to raise his head and push against the pressure.
Pressure and release tends to cause the horse to drop his head. Holding
the first lesson in a box stall will prevent the horse from backing up in an attempt
to avoid the point of the lesson. Exert the least amount of pressure necessary
to produce the desired reaction. Don't try to make the horse drop his head
all the way to your knees in the first session. Reward with release and
praise every time the horse lowers his head even a fraction of an inch.
I like to put a halter
on a foal when it is a few days old and let it wear the halter while I am giving
it body restraint and body handling lessons. In order for a halter to be
of use it must fit the foal properly. The noseband should fit the nose about
an inch below the prominent cheek bones and the crownpiece must stay up at the
poll. If the crownpiece slips down the middle of the foal's neck, it is
not going to exert pressure where you want it.
proper haltering procedures to develop good habits in your horse and to avoid
accidents. Approaching the horse from the near (left) side, hold the unbuckled
halter and rope in your left hand. With your right hand, scratch the horse
on the withers and move your right hand across the top of the neck to the right
side. Use your left hand to give the end of the lead rope to your right
hand and make a loop around the horse's throatlatch and hold the loop with your
right hand. If the horse tries to pull away at this stage, you can pull
the horse's head toward you while pressing your right elbow into the horse's neck.
Next, hand the halter strap with the holes in it under the horse's neck to your
right hand which is holding the lead rope loop. With your left hand, position
the noseband of the halter on the horse's face and then bring your hands together
to buckle the halter.
Turning a horse loose follows the same procedure in a somewhat reverse order.
The loop is applied around the horse's neck, the halter is removed and then the
loop is released. You should hold the horse momentarily with the loop and
then gently push the horse away from you with the elbow of your right arm.