Imprinting Foals

Madira and Sierra with Frosty and Magic - February 2000

Madira and Sierra with Frosty and Magic – February 2000

I have, in the past, actually foaled out some of our mares – even drying the foal’s body and clearing “his” nose while hind legs still w/i the mare and she was resting.  I’ve utilized the full Robert Miller Imprint Training (I do have both the book and the video – plus when I was growing up in CO I had the opportunity to visit farms/ranches that used the techniques exclusively for ranch and race horses) and I’ve also not been there when the foals were born (all of our Shetlands since 2010 :(  ) and just modified the techniques to fit what I can do.

Things are a little different now -its harder to do some of the techniques (if I do get down to the ground, can’t get up easily and definitely not quickly, LOL).  BUT we just change things around.  Our foals get handled a little bit every day – they are caught and tied up to eat.  sometimes they only wear a halter a few times – but they are still introduced to tying via their collars and a belly rope, moving away from pressure, leading with a “figure 8” around the body and picking up/holding their legs/hooves.  They also get introduced to water/hose/clipping (ha – last several years I haven’t had clippers operational – so the first clipping will be interesting on some of our coming 4 yr old ponies BUT they are used to having their ears handled, wiped out and trimmed w/ scissors, so after getting used to the sound and vibration – should be fine).

Here’s a “figure 8” done with a large/long lead rope and a friends’ step grandsons leading the colt.  I’ve actually made a figure 8 with knots and/or clamps – the held at the center.

Cupid being led by Vicki's granddaughters at LP Painted Ponies

Cupid, 1 day old, led by Vicki's step-grandson

and here’s a psuedo “figure 8” used to tie this filly (Classy) for a quick bath no halter, no real pulling back (she backs up to the hose now when I fill water tanks!). Classy is about 5-6 weeks old here.


Here’s a shot of the body ropes used to tie with.  If the rope doesn’t slide easily on the halter, we use a snap and ring (pic later) and use a ring under the body for the loop to loosen when they step forward.  If his dam shifts to the right, he turns so his head is facing her – he CAN nurse.  He also has a small feed bucket all  his own in front of him – if he doesn’t finish his feed, his dam will be turned loose to do so before the other ponies in the barn pasture are.



I have lots of foal pics – some were with imprinting techniques but after foaling/dry…  The girls were instrumental in handling our babies from day one when they were little and at home.  I’m hoping here soon that our granddaughters will become interested…

Here are some more shots of foals getting handled –

2012 – Larry w/ “Classy” – hours old.  We knew that Bell would be fine w/ this handling, plus I’d already done quite a bit of handling with the foal.


2011 – Sierra giving “Wyndy” a scritching (have lots of pics of other handling – including mouth and hooves/legs).


2013 –  Baby pets for baby – “Rio” – just hours old with our granddaughter Gracie.  “Stuffy” sticks close by, but is GREAT with the kids (our 3 daughters and I raised “Stuffy” in our kitchen for 20 days when she was born in 1997.)


2013 –

“OOOOOO – that tickles!!”  Rio is 3 weeks old here and was held till he stopped struggling then turned loose.  He actually stayed while loose for a “bum scratch”… That’s what you aim for – being able to restrain them w/o struggle and turn them loose w/o them running off.  :)


2015 – Baby’s first ride??  Farrier, Cat, has just given “Kava” her 2nd hoof trim and before turning her loose (lead/body rope already removed), she is playing with her.  GOTTA LOVE a GOOD, FUN, PATIENT farrier!!!


and one more –

2015 – the “all important” discovery of how small/light a new born foal is.  This hold can also be used to move the foal to a better spot and a hard to catch mare will usually follow (need to make sure she won’t attack you when you turn your back, though).  This is Julie picking up “Blitzen” just a couple of hours after birth.  Santa and crew delivered “Blitzen” when done w/ her run w/ them – on Dec 26th!!


When introducing tying for the first time, I’ve done the intertube “thing” (tie to it – it stretches the pony steps forward), the body rope (as demo’d in pics above) and a rump rope.  I don’t, myself, care for the blocker rings that they can pull out of.

A friend of ours had her barn set up so that she had a “tie wall” in almost all of her stalls.  The lead rope was run thru a protected hole (lined w/ inter tubing or metal flashing) in the wall and tied to a tire or a cinder block outside on the ground.  If the horse moved away from the wall or sat back, he lifted the weight.  Didn’t take long and they’d step forward and very quickly learned to stand quietly.  She worked with her own foals (outside training horses were a minimum of 6 months old) in hand first – teaching them to step forward from pressure on the pole (leading) – and they did that well before she tied them for the first time.  Like me, she tied her own foals next to it’s dam…




About lppaintedponys

Husband and wife team raising shetland ponies, rescuing dogs/cats & becoming self sufficient.
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2 Responses to Imprinting Foals

  1. Wryder says:

    those foals are too young to be messed with like that.


    • I’m glad you shared your opinion! Each of us has our own. I grew up with various trainers that handled horses at different ages – right from birth on up to untouched until they are fully mature. Personally the foals handled gently, respectably and consistently always ended up the friendliest and easiest to handle. These ponies have been even more so – after my children left home and I was working different job that took time away from handling foals – they are wild as mustangs (2015 & 2017 foals) and down right dangerous for older folks (me now 🙂 ) to handle. I have a few foals due this year, 2 due next year and then we are done. The grand children aren’t interested and the girls’ aren’t in positions to help at this time – even though none live that far away… I stand by my own research of handling foals and doing a modified imprint technique on foals – if I could we’d be doing a lot more with the last couple years’ crops of foals. To each his or her own.


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