Adventures in Weanling Wonderland

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It's been 10 days since I finally got to meet up with Smitty, '09 Appaloosa colt, and bring him home. Here's how things are going so far:

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* He settled right in to our barn with a minimum of fuss. He didn't go off his feed at all from the trip or change of place. In fact, he devours everything we put in front of him. He eats Purina's Omolene 3oo (formulated for foals and weanlings), and a mix of grass and alfalfa hay.

* Instead of giving him an equine babysitter, which would just give him the opportunity to marry up with another horse instead of his new humans, he's in the barn by himself. We visit him and do things with him many times throughout the day, and he's reached the point where he nickers to us more than he does the horses out in the pasture--which he can see and talk to when they come up around the barn.

* He lives in a secure, roomy box stall at night, and goes out into a roomy corral-type enclosure during the day, so he can be in some sunshine and soak up vitamin D--an important thing for good bone/cartilage development. He wears a baby fly mask. We had to desensitize him to the sound of the Velcro tabs being pulled apart, but after that, he got used to wearing it.

* The hidden blessing behind having him change locations from day to night, and vice versa, is that he automatically has to practice being caught, haltered, and led from place to place. This also gives us lots of chances to practice "whoa" and "go" with vocal commands and body cues. When he stops at a gate or stall door, I always say "whoa" as reinforcement for "stop moving."

His whole set of leading/obedience skills has made a lot of progress in 10 days because of this.


* I take him on training walks around the ranch two or three times a day. This lets him see new sights, encounter changes in footing, etc. He readily goes in and out of the washrack and the trailer, walks under arbors and through garden spots, and is learning to negotiate in-hand obstacles without really knowing he's being trained. He's fearless about walking over new surfaces, which is unusual for a baby. Come to think of it, he hasn't spooked or balked at anything so far. An aptitude for trail obstacles, maybe?

* He got his first spanking this morning, when he sneaked in a nip on my right arm as I was leading him. Unacceptable! No matter how cute you are!

Upcoming lessons: learning to wear his baby splint boots, and being ponied from another horse.

So far, so good....and fun!