Foal that’s scared of people

Hey looking for advice or tips

My neighbor has horses that I’ve helped with since 2016. Recently two had little fillies. One is extremely friendly and loves people, both mares are friendly.
But Mattie is 2 weeks old and scared of people. There is another horse there who is now 7 named Blondie that was scared of people in 2016-2017 and over time I got her to trust me and now she’s great.
Foals are different then grown horses though and he wants my help which I’m happy too. Just don’t want to do anything wrong.
I’ve been spending time just grooming mom and feeding her ect with the foal watching and sitting outside the fence with my back turned and the filly has come up twice, she let me touch her yesterday after an hour of walking up to mom and walking away and repeat.
Any other tips?

Little Mattie and Star

Do exactly as you’re doing. Lots of approach and retreat, and use the dam as an example. Some are more naturally fearful. Remember they are prey animals! That instinct of danger is what keeps them alive. Bring some brushes with you, practice walking the dam around by a halter and lead. Sit with them, read to them!

I did a lot of these things with my Rez Mustang that was feral upon my purchase. She is now 4 and is a wonderful horse! Super brave and confident, but loves to be loved on. I spent every minute I could with her!


Usually the sooner you get your hands on them the better. Can you get mom and baby in a stall for a bit each day and taking your time work on just getting the foal used to being touched, scratched etc?

When fairly comfortable with that get a halter on that baby as slow and easy as you can and really work on gentling her, leading etc… Teach her that human contact is a good thing. ( don’t leave the halter on)

Kind of wonder why your neighbor is breeding them if he isn’t willing or knowledgable enough to handle the foals at birth?


He wasn’t breeding on purpose. Storms broke the fence and the stallion across the property got loose. No more babies now.


Foals are itchy. When you manage to touch her scritch her. Bum, withers, around the base of her neck. Once she figures out you give good scritches she won’t leave you alone. :wink:


I agree with @candyappy - get the horse and filly in a stall and trap it between mom and wall and start touching it. All horses are different but “forced petting” is generally the best bet for babies. My current filly grew to not like humans pretty quickly as she was a bit weak as a newborn and developed essentially bedsores from not getting up enough/having trouble getting up. Treating these caused discomfort and she grew to not like people. Her mom tried to help by trapping her…but my filly was small enough to run under mom’s belly without issue so it was a comical challenge.

Another horse that came to me as a skittish yearling was pretty good once we got the halter on. We left the halter on her and the gelding she came with, along with baling twine. It was odd, if you grabbed the halter via the baling twine, she would lead just fine but if you tried to grab the halter itself, once your hand touched her face she got worried and would fly back. She got used to people quickly. She had a little appy tail and once she figured out fly spray, she would run to you in the summer and swing her butt towards you so you could spray it.

The gelding she came with was much harder to work with and even with a halter on, still very difficult to catch. He was still half feral when the farrier bought him.

All the above came into the barn at least to eat and that always helps with training, in my opinion.


Been having much more luck with the little girl. Today she came up to me three times in pasture, and while I still can’t touch her all over she’s becoming more and more curious. Today’s trick was pretending to “eat” the grass by picking at it and looking away. She came over to see what I was doing and then grazed “along” with me!


We had one at a farm I worked at that we could hardly ever get our hands, BUT the mare was just as sketch. As soon as she was weaned, she came around and turned into a snuggle monkey. I know that is not the case with all of them. Happy she seems to already be coming around for you.

We also had a filly that has NEVER been a people horse. We handled her from birth and 20 years later, she would still rather be anywhere other than beside you.

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