A Salute to Imprint Training

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I looked at the calendar yesterday and realized that our 2007 filly, Tiffany, would be 3 months old. "Better get halter-training back on to her schedule," I said to Ed (horse-husband extraordinaire). "It'll be time to wean her before we know it, and we'll want her to have more 'handle' on her when it's time." Shortly after birth, as part of the imprint-training process, I'd haltered her and taught her to yield to pressure on her face. I repeated all when she was a day old. But since then, she'd been out in the pasture with her mom and other horses, just hangin' out and being a horse-kid. I wondered how much rodeo we'd be in for when I got filly and dam into the barn last night.

Rodeo? No way. The whole episode was basically a non-event. I crooked an arm around the filly's neck, slipped on the halter, and applied lead-rope pressure to say "come left." And that's exactly what she did. Same thing going to the right. No fuss, no fight--she remembered her imprint lessons. Encouraged, I reached down and picked up and held a front foot, as I'd done when she was just minutes old. She didn't care--not about that foot, nor about the other three when I reached for them. Next, I sacked her out with a towel. Ditto on response. There really wasn't one, because she already knew not to be afraid.

Tiffany is the third foal I've imprint-trained at birth, and they've all been pretty much like her about these necessary matters.
My salute to Dr. Robert Miller, DVM, who pioneered the whole imprint-training concept for horses. He helped revolutionize the way young horses get their starts in domesticated life.

Pretty great.