Help training my 5 month old colt!


New Member
Oct 16, 2008
Hi all.

I have just got a 5 month old colt and need some tips on how to get him headcollar broken etc. Im working with my yard owner of 20+ years experience but i dont want to be taking all her time! This is my first horse and all this is new to me, Have only ever riden and worked with foals and horses that have already been trained. Im looking forward to this challenge but want to make sure i go about things the right way.

He is a black and white cob, very placid and is coming round to me and life on the yard well. Integrate with the other foals and is happy to take treats from my hand. He is such a sweety! Just still nervouse and a little jumpy.

Any help and tips much appreciated!

Sarah :)
Had he got a friend who is already halter trained, or is there another horse wo is trustworthy who you can use to give him confidence.

Generally we start ouroff when mum is still around to give the foal a direction, then we just add the foal and get hiom used to the head collar.
It helps 2 have d foals mum so u can get d foal used t having the headcollar on while walking with the mother.
But try using a lunge rope + attach it 2 d head collar n stand at d rear of d foal....coax d foal onn frm behind and follow
...when u can walk with d foal frm behind like this u are ready t try walking beside it....goodluck
Hi Sarah,

I take it his mum isn't around? How come you bought such a young colt? I take it you are now surrogate mum... he sounds very sweet.

Just wondered what it's like on the yard, sounds like there are lots of weaned foals put out in the field together. Your motherhood skills starts in the field, spend as much time as possible with him getting him used to ropes, halters, sticks, you, your clothes, boots etc. Let him sniff around - wear thick clothes because he'll nibble everything. Use firm No's and push him away when he does something you don't want him to. It's all play to him so put your coat on him, take a towel and play with it in the field and use the rope to put it over his ears, then his nose etc. Everyday.

When he's confident, start with the halter. Put it on, take it off. Put it on, take it off - repeat and repeat and build up time it's on. Then leave it on for the day when you're ready. Take it off at night. Then start with lead rope, encourage him to walk forward. He'll definitely resist but try to do it when others are going in to stables so he wants to follow. If you can get someone else get them to lead another horse/foal in front or around the yard/field. Have a long schooling whip under his belly to encourage forward movement. Tickle/tap and make sure he doesn't associate that stick with pain.

It takes months and months and by the time he's in his terrible two's you'll want to sell him! Castrate him early if you don't want to breed. Whatever you do, however frustrated you get just don't raise voices or use that stick.

My colts are with mum for 18mths - or until mum's had enough but we spend loads of time with them in the fields messing about from the moment they are born. I'm pretty sure your colt has been exposed to this already but I know what you mean, you want him to start behaving like a proper young horse.

Persevere, he's a baby and if he leads well, you'll have done a fine job and do nothing but that and lots of love till he's ready for breaking at 4yrs. Keep us posted won't you?
When i halterbroke Jackson we did lots of circles. I would take him into a relatively small area where we were contained. If he doesn't want to let you put the halter on try rubbing/scratching him all over with the halter in the hand you're petting with. You said he takes treats, you could give him a treat by sticking your hand through the halter and he'll have to get close to the halter to take the treat.

Once haltered, i would use my hand(standing beside him) to put just a touch of pressure on his rear and tip his nose in w/the hand holding the lead. In the beginning, if he even shifts his weight in the direction you want you release and praise. Gradually work up to going full circles in both directions, and eventually all you need do is use gentle pressure with the lead and he'll follow your direction.

Just remember that it's SOOOO important to establish boundaries with him NOW! Yes he's cute and cuddly, but what is cute now could turn into a big problem when he weighs 1200lbs.
Leave the halter in the stable with him for a while - let him stomp on it and let him pick it up and swing it round!

When he is comfortable with picking it up himself (wont take long, foals are naturally inquisitive, and they test most things with their teeth), gently take it back rub it all over him so he gets used to it and doeswnt see it as a threat. Next, undo it (so the nose band and the band that goes behind the ears are open), then do the bit of the halter that goes over the head (behind the ears) up on the foal. Once this is in place, you can proceed with the noseband once the foal has settled. Leave it on him for 10 mins and get on with something else (like cleaning the stable), this way the foal is distracted by you cleaning, or he can just take 10 mins to himself to get used to the new sensation. Make sure you are in a fairly contained space so he cant fly off out of reach, but not in such a small space that you can get injured/cause him to get claustrophobic.

After 10 mins or so, go back and take the head collar back off (from the top - leave the nose strap done up.) Stroke the foal and reward him with kind words for being so calm, and then put it back on him (undo nose band if you have to). leave for 10 mins, then take off and go home!

The next day, let the foal sniff the collar again, chew it if he must, and rub it on him if necessary... and then put it back on him again (in 2 stages, over the head piece 1st, then over the nose). leave him for a while. If hes in a safe space where he cannot get caught, then leave him for an hour or so. When you remove the headcollar, do so leaving the nose piece done up. reward him and let him sniff it again.

Try putting it back on with the nose band done up again. Then take it off with the nose band done up, and leave him to it. It shouldnt take too long to teach him to accept it, but you dont want to bore him with it either - dont do too much at once. (They say it takes 60x for a horse to commit something to memory though, but if you get it on him gently 2x a day, then he'll soon remember...and he'll not have forgotten the process the next day either - its just when you teach a horse something 2x and then leave it for months before repeating that you will have a problem, lol).

Once the foal is happy to have the halter put on and off, then you can start "fiddling" with it. Pull it in various directions (gently), so he gets used to it. Put him in a penned off area and do some "join-up"...(let him follow you). When he is comfy doing that, attatch a lead rope and wiggle it gently. When he is calm, just walk off. Dont pull him, that will teach him to resist. if he does not follow, leave a little pressure applied, and wait until he steps forward (even just one foot). when he does so, release the pressure and carry on walking.

DO NOT FACE THE FOAL WHEN YOU ARE LEADING HIM. ALWAYS FACE IN THE DIRECTION YOU WANT TO GO. If the foal stops, dont look at him, just keep the pressure applied where he stopped (dont tug more) and yuo should stand your ground. when he steps forward, the release of tension in the rope is his reward.

once he has taken a few steps in the direction you want him to go in, then he can be petted and rewarded.

Its best not to reward foals with treats from the hand - that teaches them to nip and be pushy....(just to let you know)...although it is up to you whether or not you are going to feed him treats from the hand. Ive found it much easier in the long run to feed treats from the feed bucket, or to throw treats on the floor to them to forage. However, I do understand you trying to gain the foals confidence through feeding treats as he will associate you with the long run, however, you may find as he gains confidence that he starts pushing you, and nipping you if you do not give him a treat when he expects it.

Ive had all of my horses since they were foals...the oldest I bought was just under 12 months old....none of them were halter broken when they arrived. Its worked for me, but each horse is different....the above is my first choice though! It is, however (as someone already pointed out) important to establish boundries, and also to make sure the foal does not see you as inferior to him - he must see you as the team leader or you will end up with all sorts of problems as he grows up!

Also, if he isnt going to be used as a stallion, then I would suggest gelding him as soon as hes old enough - it will keep his testosterone levels to a minimum and will also aid in keeping him easier to handle.

I've always loved youngsters - they can be such a pleasure to own and watch as they mature. Im sure you will soon establish a bond and a friendship that will last for many years. Good luck!
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