Handling Foals at Birth

Handling foals prior to training


Handling young horses as an early life experience seems to influence the horse’s behaviour later during adulthood. Early handling also has beneficial effects in the horse’s relationship with man. The authors of this paper attempted to determine whether there were specific time windows within which the handling of a foal had the greatest impact on later behaviour. Forty Lusitanian foals were assigned to four groups – some were handled at birth, some at weaning, some during the first month, and some were not handled at all. The foals were all trained at the age of one month after weaning, and their behaviour was tested. The foals handled at birth and at weaning reacted less, tolerated human approaches, and moved less in the handler’s presence than foals from the other groups. The foals handled at weaning were easier to lead during all training sessions, and they were the only group that passed all aims at the final test.


Inês, F. et al. (2010) The effects of handling foals at ‘‘optimal periods’’ for behaviour and training, Journal of Veterinary Behavior:

Clinical Applications and Research, 5(1): 24.