From the Beginning @(headerTag)>
The birth of any young animal is a very special time, full of anticipation and excitement.
Who will he or she look like? Their mother or father?
What kind of personality will they have?
Will we be friends?
What will we do together?
Whenever my mare Charro has had a foal, I have found myself thinking the same things. I want the new foal to accept me and not be afraid when I appear. I want to be their friend.
To become a young foal's friend, or any animal's friend, you first have to understand what it is they are looking for in a friend.
Someone they can trust
Someone that they can feel safe with
Someone who they can respect
Someone who understands their language
Someone who they enjoy being with
This is not an easy task when trying to bond and form a friendship with a foal who is born with instincts to survive. These instincts mean that a foal has to be ready to run away from danger as quickly as possible after they are born. The foal has to be standing and suckling within the first few hours of their life. Then quickly bond and respond to its mother – with their long legs they are built to cover ground at fast speeds. After just a few hours a foal can canter and gallop at quite a speed.
Quickly after the foal is born, the mare will lick and nuzzle her foal to stimulate them and bond with them. This rhythmical licking warms the foal and encourages them to stand and suckle milk. The feel of the mare's warm tongue licking them is something that a young foal will remember forever.
All young foals like to be touched and sharing mutual grooming sessions is fun. This rhythmical touch is something that you can use when you want to bond with a pony, young or old, rubbing, scratching and stroking them to show that you know the touch they like. This will help you to be accepted as a friend.
At a young age the foal does not know what danger is – so their instincts tell them to be wary of anything unfamiliar.
Foals, like all prey animals, are very sensitive to their surroundings. With ears and eyes positioned to collect the maximum information about their world, they are very aware of their environment.
Small movements and noises can startle a young foal even if they are not really in danger. When startled, a foal often responds by running away.
By exploring their world and being curious about their environment and the objects within it, a foal will quickly learn:
What is safe
What is fun to play with
What is good to chase
Foals often approach a new object cautiously, then retreat and wait to see what happens. If the object does not chase them, they will approach again, gaining confidence until they can touch or chase it.
If you allow a young foal to approach you first, they will often work out that you are no danger. If you try to approach a foal too quickly, they may see you as someone who is trying to eat them.
These small children are waiting for this foal to approach them. The mare is close by and comfortable with the introduction.
As a foal grows they will always remember the lessons and experiences they had in the first months and years of their life.
When you want to build a friendship with your pony try to imagine what they learned as a foal. Try to understand the importance of the relationship and bond they had with their mother.
To build a friendship with your pony you have to learn what it is like to be a mare. You have to know how to use a language that she used to teach her foal to follow her and bond with her.