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What to feed the growing foal-Part 1

Posted in Raising Foals
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New research shows that young horses do not need to be fed high calories or cereal-based supplement in order to grow well. For years we have supplemented our foals diet starting at about 3 months of age all the way to weaning and beyond with a combination of beet pulp, soaked alfalfa cubes, minerals, and some commercial diet formulated for foals (we use Hoffman developer-as it has no added grain or starches- more on that later). The idea was that beet pulp and alfalfa, being high in fibers, we were working with what nature intended for horses to eat but the added minerals and commercial diet supplements contributed...

How tall will my horse be?

Posted in Raising Foals
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Perhaps the most common question we get as breeders is: "How tall will he be?" Can you actually predict the future height of a foal? The answer is yes you can predict its future height if you are willing to accept a range.  There is however NO methods that can give you a definite precise height (16.1 1/2!)  and we will see why. You will find a few rules of thumbs here and there (the string method and the cannon bone method are the most commonly used and mentioned- I will touch on that later) and a whole lot of anecdotal evidence of this and that. Some will...

From foal to maturity.

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As foal mature they change of course, but how much? How can you tell what the foal you are looking at might look like at maturity? How do you train your eye to see into the future? One way is to look at a lot of foals as they mature and train your eye to see what changes and what stays the same. Here is some examples to practice on. Those are some of the foals we raised and we were able to get conformation pictures of later in life. The old adage 3 days, 3 months and 3yrs might be a fun one to remember but frankly,...

How do we breed for the amateur market?

Posted in Formosus Sporthorses News
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With so many breeders focusing on breeding for the amateur market, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to define what WE mean by the term: “breeding for the dedicated amateur.” After all, we breed for them, we do not breed for ourselves, other breeders, breed associations, or for the judges. I think it is important to articulate this core value of our breeding program as it makes it clear to us and to others. So first of all: what are “amateurs riders”? If we look at what they have in common we can then find where we need to focus our breeding efforts. It’s about knowing...

Why are we making this so hard? (and so expensive!)

Posted in Warmblood breeder corner
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I read a discussion thread online the other day that made me sad on three levels. Someone (a somewhat experienced breeder and trainer) was asking how to best price her young warmblood gelding. By all indications, this was a good-minded young horse that was easily learning his A-B-Cs. Uncomplicated, willing, same horse at home than away: you know the type we would all like in our barn? I will add that he was also well-bred with proven, known bloodlines. Definitely not a shot in the dark here. The advice started pouring in and yes; I know that this is the internet and that the advice one can get...

Halter training for the new foal-Part1

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  Foals start out well: feral. They are leggy bundles of instinct that know nothing of the cushy captivity they are born into. The instincts that have served them well for millions of years of evolution will be constantly clashing with the world they will live in and the demand that will be put on them for most of their lives. For that reason, it is important that we ease them into our world as sensibly and as compassionately as we can. Just like young children and dogs, the first period of their lives is the most formatives. Brain plasticity allows for some learning that will be much...

Halter training for the new foal- part 2

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Part 2- the catch and release phase Once mom and foal are settled, are healthy and comfortable in their environment there is no reason to wait any longer. Every time we feed the mare her supplement (2 -3 times a day) we take the opportunity to catch the foal. We work in a fenced-off area or in a shelter so that there is some limit to how far the foal can go. With her nose in the bucket, the mare is generally a nice passive helper. The young little horse is usually afraid of us tall bi-pedal creatures and being afraid of new weird things is the default...

Halter training for the new foal-part 3

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Part 3-Introduction to the halter You might have noticed that until now no halter has been involved. Why is that? The main reason is you are only human: the moment you have a handle on something you will want to use it. Why is that a bad thing? Our tendency when handling any horses is to grab the halter and tell the horse where to go. It might sound redundant or pedantic but babies are not born halter broke. They are not even born with an understanding of giving to pressure. Fun fact: it’s actually the opposite: you cannot push (or pull) a foal’s first reaction,  because its...

Halter training for the new foal- part 4

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Part 4- Leading in hand. For a few weeks now, the foals have been haltered regularly. They can be caught anywhere (in the paddock, by their dam, away from their dam, or even in the middle of the field) and have zero issues with the halter, the leadshank, or being touched anywhere including the ears the nose, and the legs. At this stage, I prefer to continue to loop a soft leadshank around their butt, and over the back, when I lead them around,  but now I often just let it draped there or across their back and rely more and more on the halter to control the...

Expected 2021 foals

Posted in Formosus Sporthorses News
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The breeding season for 2020 is now over.   Some years, all goes well. This year was one of them: the timing was perfect and both mares caught on their first cycle. Somehow, just like last year, they ended up being bred just 3 days apart. This year they foaled about 2 weeks apart, we shall see what happens next summer! We have some interesting foals coming up next year if all goes well. It’s a long 11 months between now and then but it won’t change what we have coming up so we might as well let you know!   Kreation had a very nice foal by...