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Lori's Library > Raising and Training the Young Horse > Imprint Training of the Newborn Foal

Imprint Training of the Newborn Foal

Imprint Training of the Newborn Foal     
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Robert M. Miller, DVM
Western Horseman, Inc., 2003
ISBN 1585746665

The subtitle of this book is A Swift, Effective Method for Permanently Shaping a Horse's Lifetime Behaviour. Dr. Miller developed the Imprint Training method, which is basically early training during specific critical learning times, given as soon as possible after the foal is born.

The theory behind this method is based on the premise that, at birth the foal will be both extremely receptive to learning about his environment, and will bond with whatever is moving and above him during the first postpartum hour. The trainer repeatedly exposes the foal to a number of stimula to get him used to things and not fight them. From then on in his life, the foal will be relaxed and accepting of that action.

For example, foals are habituated to having their ears, nostrils, feet and legs handled, clippers are introduced, the concept of restraint is introduced, and various cloth rags and plastic bags are rubbed over the body. This is just the first stage of the method which later teaches the foal to be sensitized and move away from pressure, and progresses into halter training.

The author says that it is amazing how much a young foal can learn when using this training method, and how easy and painless it is for all parties concerned. Be warned, however, if you are going to use this method you must read the book and follow it to the letter. If the instructions say to do 100 repetitions, don't do 30 - your foal may be tensed up and not actually habituated and then what you are teaching him is to fear and resist stimulation. The author has the experience of many years and foals trained, so he knows how much is needed to do the job right.