Leading Foals

Leading foals

Teaching foals to lead is a favorite pastime of mine. Before returning to college, I taught dozens of newborn horses every spring. I quickly learned two things:

1) Always lead the foal in front of the mare. Otherwise, you are only teaching them to follow.

2) Place a halter on the foal and attach a long rope lead. Stand on the left side of the foal and bring the lead toward you as you would for leading any horse. However, instead of holding this lead in your right hand, hold it with your left hand having your left arm crossing in front of you. Continue the rope over the foal’s back to its right side and bring it around the rump (and NOT under the tail). Grasp the end of the lead with your right hand.

Now you can prevent the foal from running off with your left hand by pulling back on the halter, AND you can “push” the foal forward by pulling on the lead around the rump. It is important not to push or pull if the foal is leading correctly. Use only light pressure through the lead as needed to encourage the foal to move correctly, but containment is also important. Balancing your efforts between gentle guidance and overreactive thrusts requires patience and confidence.

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