I have been working day and night for months.... literally. I have been unable to be at home with my horses and have a colt that is 11 months old...my mare has weaned him but he has never been seperated from the herd, what is the safest way to do this and not have him freak out or worse, colic...
Any of my suggestions would require some actual time, so I don't know how helpful they would be. I would not suddenly separate him from his mother and the herd all at the same time, especially don't change location as well. You need to start by setting up a small separate paddock near the herd, two is better because mom or a pal can room next to him. Leave it open at first so he and his mom can go in and out. Have him room in there sometimes with her, then sometimes with any other pal from the herd. Then he might be ready to spend some time in there on his own, but with the herd or mom nearby, preferrably in that enclosure right next to his.. You can only push it to the point that he is not stressed too much.THis also involves getting him used to leading on a halter in a nice relaxed way etc. He may not be getting much essential nutrition from her but he is learning important social lessons, like how to survive in a separate enclosure without freaking, and how to accept human handling. You can use her to get him used to all the new things in the world, like taking them for walks together. Otherwise the first time he sees a mailbox, or a large rock, or whatever he's going to react badly. Then you should be able to take him for those walks without her, since he will hopefully be bonded to you by then. He needs to learn to transfer his horse bond to people as well so you or someone can continue his education, otherwise you will have a buddy sour horse.
Thank you so much for replying!! Nonios does lead nicely on halter, he is meandering into other pastures not so close to his mare and he does do well in the round pen. He is a very sweet colt. I feel better that you have given such good advice and I feel more confident that I can do his full weaning successfully. The only thing that makes me nervous is his size for his age (14hh at 11 months), and that he is very strong willed. I have been reviewing Clinton Andersons Colt training videos also.
Size has nothing to do with it (aside from in your own mind). I have three sons ranging from a 250 pound football player to a 6 foot tall bean pole, they have been stronger than me since they were 12. You have to have the attitude that you are the Boss Mare, training is just a matter of reminding them every time that you are in charge. Think of a benevolent dictator. You don't have to be mean, but you do have to stick to your guns. It doesn't matter where you draw the line in the sand, but you must draw it, and then make them toe it. You want to have your leadership clearly established before his hormones kick in, whether he is eventually gelded or not.
Does he have to be separated from the herd?
If so, would it make sense for him to start by being with a few other horses in a paddock next to another with other horses?
Then move his little group to a different paddock, then try him with two other horses, and mix it up a bit? I have never weaned a horse form a herd, but that seemes like it might be a logical thing to do.
He's probably most bonded to his mom, but he may have one or two "favorites" among the herd, so if you are "mixing it up", it's good to choose someone compatible with him. You don't want him being forced to room in with someone who is going to be nasty with him. It's just to break the mindset that he always has to be with the whole group or can only survive with mom. It's natural for him to want some kind of pal. Most horses form a friendship with someone else in the group and can become quite attached and that's part of normal socialization in horses. My horse became instantly enamored with an elderly mare that I board here for someone. They weren't all lovey dovey and I think she'd be just as happy on her own, but he became very concerned with her every move. He also manages just fine on his own without her, once she moved up the road for winter, but he still likes my companionship and especially my dogs. So other substitute pals can work too, but most need some kind of company. be it donkey, horse, dog .
He loves his mom, but has bonded with my rescue TWH Jade. Since day 2, she has been been his surrogate, she was left in a stall with a dead foal by a previous owner, I think that is why she is so bonded with him. Jade is the boss mare of the herd (because of her abuse, she is just a pasture ornament that gets lots of love), and I hope to put the two of them together on thier own paddock very soon. He will be getting gelded this spring, so hopefully that will help as well. Nonios is a love... he just doesnt realize yet he isnt a lap dog.
I am building a seperate paddock for him and his surrogate mare to share. It is next to the main paddock, so he would still be able see mom and the others.
Sounds good kimberley. If there is another laid back mare, especially one that is friends with your guys mom, that might be a good partner.
Sounds like a good plan, Kimberley. By the way, I was sick when I read about the mare and the dead foal. I mean how do some people sleep at night?! :(
I dont know how people do the things they do to any animal.... not only was her foal dead for 3 days with out any one even checking, but they broke her nose, beat he so bad on the back legs that it took me 3 months of just earning trust (she wouldnt even come near me for 2 months), to pick up her hooves to clean them. she is much better now and even lets me put a saddle on her, a bit and that is as far as I have gone... we just do things over and over and over until she doesnt flinch. I just rescued a dog last night that is nothing but bones, I even had to pay for him just so he would not go back to where he came from. He is a good boy and makes a great addition to the family. God will get those people back for hurting even the least of his flock. I truly believe that.