Watch any mare as she interacts with her foal, and you’ll see her nip and push and generally physically dominate the foal to put it in line.

There’s a short window of opportunity when people have a physical advantage over young foals, and can teach lessons the same way their dams do. After the first few weeks, “who’s in charge” becomes a matter of outsmarting and outlasting the horse–and, often, cheating. I believe that these lessons need to start right from the beginning.


Jo comes running when she sees one of "her people."

I believe in handling foals every day. Let me be clear–handling is not some long, challenging chore that will upset or bore the foal. For the first couple of months, it usually means just getting the foal used to having a hand run everywhere on his body, all while eating a few handfuls of grain. A handling session might last five minutes, and include a once-over of touching the ears and the back and all four legs. It might be only two minutes, during which all four feet are picked up and lightly rapped.

Jo started out a bit differently, with multiple daily visitors bringing buckets of milk, and frequent veterinary appointments, and generally being handled constantly. She has had more of a normal routine for the past week–I handle her while Hermione is having her morning and evening feed–and she has adjusted pretty well to the sche