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Haltering Filly

I recently was given a 6 year old Mare with a 4 month old filly at her side. The filly had not been handled until the day she was delivered to my house, which was apparently traumatic for her. When she first came, a human could not get within 20 feet of her. I am able to walk up to her now in the pasture, brush her and just the other day she allowed me to lift her front feet and pick them briefly. My problem is, I cannot get near her with any kind of a rope or halter. I have tried confining her in a small chute type pen, but she just went crazy when she saw the halter and rope, stood on hind legs and started lounging at the pen. I was afraid she would hurt herself, so I let her calm down and released her. Can you give some advice on how to halter her without causing too much stress?

Thank You, Julie


Hi Julie,

Thanks for your question. Try this: Take some honey into the pasture with you and let the filly lick some honey off your hand. Do it enough so that she looks for it. Sit down or kneel down and let her lick the honey from your hand for several days. Then have the halter and rope with you and the honey. Let her lick until she really gets into it. Have the rope and halter within reach where she can see it, close by you. At some point you'll gently take the rope and halter and put some honey on it and the hand holding it. I think you can visualize the rest. With a little luck she'll start licking the rope and halter. You may let the mare do it all first so the baby sees it. After the baby gets used to licking a rope, take two ropes with you and a halter. Let her lick one rope as you gently begin to rub her with the other. Eventually she'll get so accustomed to the rope and halter it should be no problem. Try letting her lick the honey while you have your hand through the noseband of the halter. Then ask her to bring her nose into the halter by pulling your hand back. Be patient and always go slow. Trust is developed by being very consistent, respectful, thoughtful and supportive. Set up situations that bring the baby to you. Create opportunities for the filly to be rewarded for doing something easy and simple that you want (such as stopping forward movement on a Whoa! or coming to you when you invite her to do so and getting some sort of reward). You don't need to give her an edible treat. If you know a 'sweet spot' on the filly scratch it along with a "good girl". This sets up a winning cycle for your horse. BTW, did you try to separate the filly from the mare when you confined her? If so, I can understand the filly freaking out. Also, sometimes very confined places can really scare babies in general unless they have been in stalls a lot with their mares.

I hope I have been able to offer some helpful suggestions. Please let me know how it all goes. Good luck!

Aloha, from the Rockies, Franklin

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