Weaning foals is one of the most barbaric practices of the horse world. Worse still, it is not necessary. It can cause a multitude of problems that remain with the foal for life. The better, less stressful way for everyone, is to leave this important task to the mare. This is the preferred way by any natural horses health care system.
The sudden parting of mare and foal sets up enormous emotional stress in both. This can be seen as behavioural stress with symptoms such as crib biting, weaving, wind sucking and head throwing all through the foals adult lives.
The mare is perfectly capable of weaning the foal herself. Even if she is carrying another foal, as long as she is being well fed, she is perfectly capable of doing both tasks well. Nature doesn’t get things wrong. It’s man’s interpretation of nature that is so often at fault.
More importantly, a foal’s dam will discipline the foal naturally. Separating them in the middle of the foal’s emotional growing period can set up very bad social habits.
In the early months, a mare will allow her foal to do anything – including biting and kicking her. She knows that the foal must discover himself before any discipline is metered out.
Then, when she determines the right time has arrived, she will change. Suddenly, she will no longer tolerate insubordinate behaviour from her offspring. But now, the foal con process this information correctly. Now, this disciplining does not undermine his confidence.
To remove a foal before this process is complete can create dangerous horses who do not know their boundaries. No amount of human discipline comes even close to nature’s way. Balanced horses, with good social skills, eager to learn comes from foals who were not traumatised at a young age, who remained with the dam for at least a full year.
Weaning foals is an unnecessary and highly traumatic practice that has no business being used in the 21st century.
Horses are herd animals. Their family is incredibly important to them. They learn from role models, from the more advanced and mature members of the herd. The herd may be restricted to a single horse, their dam. This means the importance of remaining with her, undisturbed for a full year is even more important.
Mares naturally reduce their milk production as the foal eats more grass. But the little milk foals do still consume after 6 months, or the typical weaning age, is vital for their nutritional needs.
Milk changes its qualities as the baby matures. The first milk, which contains colostrum, is vital in protecting the foal from health problems. As the foal matures, he develops his own immunity, but even at six months, he still does not have a fully developed immune system.
If you are in the fortunate position of having a foal, leave the weaning to the dam. You do not need to interfere.
If you have no choice but to separate the mare and foal before a year old, then do so gently, over a period of weeks. Separate them in adjoining paddocks, so they can still touch each other. Start with a hour a day, then build up gradually, all the time assessing any stress levels of either.
If either become stressed, bring them back together. This takes more time, but you will have a more balanced foal as a result. Stress is a strong factor in horses, a prey animal. At all times, you need to eliminate this, by returning the horse, or foal, to the situation prior to the stress, if you created it.
If there are other horses present in the paddocks, this will be even easier.
Weaning foals is not necessary and can be the cause of dangerous or behaviourally challenged adult horses. Don’t add to this serious problem. These horses typically end up being slaughtered as no one can handle them. Instead, follow a natural horses health care system that works alongside nature.
If you have a horse with any of these unsocial behavioural patterns, one of the best ways to resolve them is with homeopathic treatment.
Please contact me if you think I can help you.