Foal Training: Desensitizing Through Touch and Rub

Desensitize Foals to Different Types of Touch

Clinton Anderson from Downunder Horsemanship has a tried-and-true method for getting aggressive or disrespectful horses to behave. His training is unlike others because it starts with training the owner. The Clinton Anderson method is a fundamental method that many horse owners need to better communicate with their horses. Clinton teaches people how to gain their horse’s trust and respect, while ultimately learning how to keep them under control. This week, we watch as Clinton teaches us how to desensitize foals to different types of touch all over their bodies and how to teach the foals to respond correctly and move their feet to pressure.

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Training a foal early on is one of the best ways to make sure that a horse is raised to be a safe, willing partner. Clinton wants to teach us how to make sure horses are ready for de-worming, having their legs handled, and even getting their ears clipped—all of which are new sensations for a foal.

Clinton advises us to really take advantage of the first 48 hours of a foal’s life. This will set the foal up for success and make him more receptive to new training situations. Initially, always train your foal in a small, enclosed area so that you’re able to control the situation.

The first body part you want to gain control of when working with a horse on the ground is their hindquarters because that’s where all their power comes from. When working with foals, Clinton advises to use steady pressure to teach the foal how to yield his hindquarters initially rather than driving pressure like we do with adult horses. With the Touch and Rub: Yield the Hindquarters exercise, the goal is to get the foal to yield from a feather-light touch of your fingers. Clinton explains how to teach the exercise and the four levels of pressure – touching, pressing, pushing, and digging – you’ll use to get the correct response. Your foal might not initially understand what you’re asking him to do, but that’s okay. Just maintain the pressure until you get the response you’re looking for. Repeating this helps teach the foal to use the thinking side of his brain from an early age rather than the reactive side, which will help avoid future problems.

Getting your foal to back up is the foundation of collection. Teaching them at an early age is the best way to make sure you’ll have a healthy partnership later on. Start slow, be consistent, and use baby steps for your foal so it’s easy for them to understand. To get more information on Clinton’s special foal training kit, head over to our Downunder Shop today.


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