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Need help with new foal!

Hi, i recently got my colt (almost a month ago) and he’s 5months old, all fresh, no problems and was so far the sweetest foal ive met. But today, as introducing lunging, i wanted to introduce the whip and he was TERRIFIED, I never saw a horse like that, he was shaking, bucking, swinwing his head, shivering and throwing himself around, I tried all the normal calm methods i do with horses who worked on my gelding (previously abused horse) and I have no idea what’s going on… I got him halter and tie broke, and i really need help on knowing why is he reacting like that. Could he had been hit with it? I have no idea how it couldve happenned except for trailering, since i was not present as i payed someone for the hauling… His past owner couldve hit him? why?..
thank you!

picture of the little guy

Very cute fellow! I’m not sure I’d lunge a 5 month old though. Too much stress on a growing developing body not to mention too much pressure on his mind.


I would definitely not lunge a foal or weanling, and barely lunge a yearling or two year old. If he is generally friendly I doubt he was mistreated. You probably just startled him and he panicked. You can start with something much shorter (jumping bat length) and work up to quietly and gently rubbing it all over him when he’s in his stall and calm, and then very slowly introduce a dressage whip and eventually a lunge whip. But definitely don’t lunge him, that’s way too much stress on his joints. You can handwalk him on very short “adventures” a couple of times a week if you HAVE to do something, but at 5 months just basic haltering/leading to the field and back and picking up his feet and occasionally grooming lightly is really enough. He’s pre-school age so you really just want to make sure he has good manners and trusts people while he’s growing up. You definitely don’t want to tie him or lunge him or apply too much pressure/repetitive stress at this point or you can cause long term damage.


Please, no longeing or hard tying. Very real risk of a broken neck. Wrap tie only if you must tie.

And the last thing to teach him at this age, imo, is to run around you when on a lead.


I know, I mostly only brushes him and lead him in and out of to his pasture, i dont plan on longing him and doing hard work, i just wanted to slowly introduce whips (started with a short sized one, like a jumping one?) and still didnt began to “lunge”, i wanted to desentisize him to as much things as possible and really did not expected such a big reaction from him to the whip, he’s scared of nothing and doesnt mind stuff on him, either its a blanket or a beanie over his ears as a joke. I just am really shocked over how scared he was of the whip, since i never use those a lot except to show them it does not cause any harm. I do not plan on doing hard work with him, all I am doing is playing around in my arena completely free and little guy runs beside me.

OP I think a common mistake is to want to do too much with really young horses. Right now his main goal is to grow. He needs to learn how to be handled but he doesn’t need work per se. you want to instill confidence patience and trust. You wouldn’t take a human toddler and make them run wind sprints or stress out their mind with adult questions. Let your baby settle and mature. There’s so much that can be done a little at a time with basic handling. Basic interaction. You’re developing this horses base for the rest of his life. Rome wasn’t built in a day or a month or a year.


and as i answered previously, all i was doing introducing the whip was infact just gently rubbing it on him, I just got so shocked at his reaction since he lets himself be touched everywhere and is really kind, doesnt mind any dumb shits i put on him like beanies, christmas things and litteraly a poncho once and the whip just made him completely TERRIFIED…

Also I think most of the best lessons at that age are learned from other horses.


I know, and it is what i am doing. I manipulate him, but not more than 10-15m a day, if he doesnt want to mess w me he shows it and i leave him alone, same w running in the arena, sometimes he doesnt want to and I just leave him alone

(running in the arena is for his enery overload, his pasture is really full of snow so its quite hard for him to run there)

You can really break it down and start with a tiny stick, like a pencil. Build up from there.
You might also just lean the lunge whip against the arena fence. Foals are curious.

Someone left their lunge whip thus when my mare and foal were turned out in the arena. Baby, about the same age as yours, picked it up and zoomed around the arena with it in his mouth, horizontally. Colt had a great time, mother just about lost her marbles.

Good luck with your little guy. I hope you enjoy him for many years.


He’s just a baby. Take babysteps with him. Nurture him. Be careful with him. Treat him as if you love him.

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Go buy a cheap back scratcher, slowly introduce and get his itchy spots.

Lean the whip against something in the pasture and leave it. Sometimes pick up and move to a new spot. He will get used to it.


Please do not run around “free” with a foal. You will invite being kicked at some point in time. You are not another horse for them to learn how to “run free” with.

You should be the kind, patient teacher when teaching to foal to lead, as well as to halt, to be groomed, and to pick up feet for the farrier.
Otherwise, let the foal be. Good luck. :slightly_smiling_face:

The babies are fun, but it’s easy to overload them with human expectations. They have very short attention spans. Longeing/round penning is too much information for them at that stage of development, not to mention physically detrimental to them.


Are you attempting to both introduce lunging and using a whip to do so?

Never would I lunge a baby. They lack both the mental and physical maturity to do it safely.

If you want to introduce a whip then just use it as you would a grooming tool. Let them sniff it, mouth it and be comfortable with it and then just rub it all over them where they are comfortable with you doing so.

If at any time they act scared then go back to where they are happy and just try over time to get them to accept it. Don’t crack it or snap it at any time or wave it around.


Not a foal starter expert, but a lunge whip is HUGE to a baby’s eyes compared to a beanie or poncho. Remember horses are prey by nature, you just showed him a stick with a snake on it as big as he is essentially, makes sense that he would freak over it. Tie baling twine to a long stick n hold it up, bet you get the same “WTFH IS THAT FLYING AROUND THAT LOOKS LIKE IT CAN EAT ME HOLY FREAKING SH!+!!!” reaction. :confused:

As others stated, start super small, jumping bat…jumping bat with like 6 inches of twine tied to it (mini lunge whip) and work your way up, leave the big whip laying around let him paw at it n realize its not a snake on a stick!!! And of course, let him grow and good luck!!


Spend $20/month and get an account with Warwick Schiller’s online community. He has hundreds (literally) of videos and a whole section on building trust and connection with a foal.

If you pushed his confidence to the point of a whole meltdown, the next handful of interactions with him have to be positive, gentle, and without force. These are some of the most important lessons he will ever learn. Repetition of “this person makes scary things happen” can create damage that you will spend months undoing.

Lunging a foal, “playing chase” with a foal, etc. are indications that you do not have a background in working with foals. That’s okay. Many of us find ourselves in positions where our horse has a need and we do not have the proper toolbox. Once we realize that, the responsibility is on the person to get education and grow to become the person that the horse needs and deserves. He is neither a dog nor is he a mentally developed horse in a small body. He is a foal and needs to be treated like one.