In November of 2009, my wife, Debby, and I traveled to Hungary and Poland to do five, full-day seminars on the “Revolution in Horsemanship.” This was our first visit to Eastern Europe, and the warmth and enthusiasm of our hosts and the people we met were incredible.   We had anticipated small audiences and a lot of skepticism, because both of these countries historically have excellent horses, based on their ancient, traditional methods of training. In the late 20th century, those of us advocating more humane, gentle, and scientifically-based training method were

used to skepticism.  So, we were surprised and pleased to see such large and knowledgeable audiences; we underestimated the power of modern communication. Thanks to the internet, DVD’s, and commercial airliners which can rapidly ferry clinicians all over the world, our audiences were very familiar with Natural Horsemanship.
 Natural Horsemanship class in Hungary instructed by Gyula Meszaraos

Natural Horsemanship class in Hungary instructed by Gyula Meszaraos


PREPARING FOR FOALING SEASON

Foaling season officially began in January, and will peak in May.  Below are some tips on preparing your mare and facility for foaling.

* Plan where the mare will foal. A roomy stall bedded with clean bedding is ideal. A clean pasture is okay, too.

* Know the signs of impending foaling, and what to do when it occurs. If you are a novice, get a book or video I recommend Foaling Fundamentals by Video Velocity trikpony@aol.com.

* Let your veterinarian know of the impending foaling, and the expected due date. Will he or she be available if problems develop? Does the vet recommend vaccinations for the mare or any other procedures? Discuss the mare’s diet, as well.

* Most mares give birth without difficulty, but if a problem does develop, it is an emergency. Allowing a mare to foal without supervision is gambling; you are likely to lose the foal, and possibly the mare. Plan on some ways of observing the foaling. A closed circuit TV camera in the foaling stall works well. There are also several kinds of foaling alarms used on the mare so that when she starts to foal, you will be notified. Again, ask your veterinarian about such devices. Many people will board a mare at a stable that specializes in foaling mares, so somebody is always in the barn keeping watch.


WHY IMPRINT TRAINING ON NEWBORN FOALS WORKS

It was in May of 1959 that I discovered what I call “imprint training.” Beginning with just a few hours at birth, and a few extra sessions in the following days, I can teach a foal nearly everything it needs to know for the rest of its life. This includes grooming, saddling, bridling, shoeing and foot trimming, veterinary procedures, and tolerating all kinds of frightening stimuli. There was a lot of resistance to this non-traditional method for much of the half-century I have practiced imprinting training, but today, it is in use all over the world, in a variety of species. Imprint trained horses have run the Kentucky Derby, and are excelling in every equine sport and discipline.  Still, confusion exists. Many people use the term “imprinting” as a synonym for “training.” It is not. Imprinting is a visual bonding that occurs when the newborn foal sees anything moving around it. Training is learning by reinforcement.  I called it “imprint training” because it is training during the imprinting period, soon after birth.  Why do it? Because the horse is a precocial species, born with all of its senses full functional and neurologically mature.  Most important, its learning capacity at that age, unlike that of a human baby, puppy, or kitten, is at its peak.  In the hours and days after birth, the foal can absorb information faster and more permanently than later in life. That’s how the newborn prey animal manages to stay alive in the wild. 

A lot of foals are imprinted by humans because they are seen and handled by them. But they are not trained. We’re talking about two different things here. I urge that imprint training NOT be done unless you are willing to study it, and do it correctly. Like any training method, it must be done correctly to ensure good results. By two weeks of age, because they were trained at birth and during the imprinting period, and subsequently during the horse’s Critical Learning Times (CLT’s), my foals have learned to stand tied, lead, back up, move laterally, turn, and move forward. They are bonded to me just as they are to their mother. Most important, they respect me.  There is no swifter, more effective, or more permanent method of shaping a horse’s behavior.  Imprinting is easy to do (see FAQ, above), but it must be done correctly.  The learning is permanent, so you mustn’t make any mistakes. Don’t attempt it if you haven’t studied the method. Over the years, I have done two books on the subject.  The one I recommend is Imprint Training of the Newborn Foal (Western Horseman Publishing), and two DVD’s- the one I recommend is “Early Learning,” (Video Velocity).

Click to Watch a clip about imprint training from Dr. Miller’s Understanding Horses DVD

Click here USE COUPON CODE "FOAL"- receive a 10% discount on all Imprint Training books and DVDs


Light Hands Horsemanship clinic 2010

Light Hands Horsemanship is almost here!  Join us for three full days of clinics at scenic Intrepid Farms in Santa Ynez, California, May 20-23.  Dr. Miller and clinicians Eitan Beth-Halachmy, Jack Brainard, Lester Buckley, Jon Ensign, and special guest Richard Winters will conduct clinics and seminars on this year’s theme, “Equine Learning: From Birth to Maturity.”  Sign up now or by March 15th from this site and receive a $50.00 discount on tickets. Reservations are limited, so don’t miss out!

For details, go to www.lighthandshorsemanship.com, or call 1-530-346-2715.


Two of my books, Natural Horsemanship Explained, and Understanding the Ancient Secrets of Horse Behavior, have been translated into Polish, and I autographed hundreds of copies.  Our attendees knew Pat Parelli, Monty Roberts, and Buck Brannaman. They belonged to groups who were using Natural Horsemanship methods. Most important, there were eager for more information. I also noticed that most were women. This emphasized what I have long been aware of; that the Revolution in Horsemanship is most appealing to people who not only love horses, but prefer to handle them with kindness over coercion. We were especially heartened by the attendance of some masters of classical horsemanship in both countries. I will never forget when one of them, an older and highly respected horseman, said to me, in English, “I came because of curiosity and I was, frankly, skeptical.  But what you showed us on DVD and your explanations have convinced me that we still have much to learn. There is obviously a better way.”

Wild horses of Poland

Debby and I saw half a dozen breeds of horse we had never heard of before, as well as Polish Arabians.  We were taken to the Hungarian Plains, where much of the country’s horsemanship evolved. Seeing Europeans from these two ancient cultures practicing Natural Horsemanship, dressed in cowboy attire, roping cattle and doing Western reining was fascinating. It’s amazing that this cultural revolution involving an art and science six thousand years old originated not in the sophisticated riding halls of Europe, nor in cultures where horses have been used for millennia, but in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, an area only one century past its frontier origins. And, even more surprising, that it was created by a few working cowboys such as Tom Dorrance- veterans of the rough and tumble sport of rodeo. In just 35 years, the methods taught by Ray Hunt via Tom have spread all over America and are now in use on nearly every continent. It’s only a matter of time before they completely replace traditional and excessively coercive methods everywhere.  We are touched by the positive feedback we’ve had since we launched our newsletter in October of 2009.  We always welcome your comments and suggestions at newsletter@robertmmiller.com.  And don’t forget our new cartoon site, www.rmmcartoons.com; if you have an idea for a cartoon, send it to cartoons@robertmmiller.com


 

Have a question for Dr. Miller?
Send it to
questions@robertmmiller.com.

We apologize that due to volume, we can’t guarantee Dr. Miller can respond to all emails, but we are building a more comprehensive FAQ page on our website to address your needs. All questions may be edited for clarity and space.

Q.  My foal, the first I have had, snaps its jaws when I approach. Is this aggressive behavior, and should I correct it?

A. No! It is submissive behavior. Ignore it, and be gentle. It will soon disappear.


Mark Your Calendars!
Interested in catching one of Dr. Miller’s lectures?
Spring and Summer Schedule:

  • May 20-23:  Dr. Miller’s Light Hands Horsemanship clinic will be held in Santa Ynez, CA.   For details, go to www.lighthandshorsemanship.com.
     
  • July 31-August 4:  AVMA Convention, Symposium on the Art & Science of Handling Horses. Click Here for details.
     
  • August 20-22:  This annual event on the Big Island features workshops, presentations and exhibitions from the nation’s leading clinicians and equine industry experts. For info., go to www.hawaiihorseexpo.com, or call organizer Nancy Jones at (808) 887-2301.

For information on appearances and other dates and locations in 2010, Click Here


Coming in our April newsletter: Clinician Richard Winters and Dr. Miller talk about their roles in this year’s Light Hands Horsemanship clinic.


Interested in booking Dr. Miller for a lecture, demonstration, or book signing?
Contact
info@robertmmiller.com.


Copyright 2003-2010 Robert M Miller Communications, all rights reserved, www.robertmmiller.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
   


We would like to introduce
two time Grammy Nominated Songwriter Mary Ann Kennedy who makes music from the heart about horses and the animals we love.

A dedicated Natural Horsemanship student herself, Mary Ann seems to express what we all feel in our hearts for our beloved horses and the life we all live with them. Through melody, rhythm and humor in song, this is music for horse lovers.  Ride to it... Listen to it... Sing along!

A portion of proceeds goes to Animal Rescue and Welfare Groups.
Click to visit her website www.maryannkennedy.com