FOAL IMPRINTING is centered on the concept that when a foal is born, it very quickly formulates opinions about the world. In the first few hours and days after birth, it is believed that foals learn about 80% of what they need to survive as a horse in this world. What we do by imprinting the foal is to convince them early on that all the things we will be subjecting them to for the rest of their lives are just "a regular part of life," and that they have nothing to fear from us.
Through imprint training, a young and impressionable foal is taught very early, some of the many lessons it will need to know throughout its life. Most importantly, the foal learns to trust and respect people, and that does much to eliminate the fear element.
FOAL IMPRINTING AT SUNDANCE STABLES
Our foals are born naturally, at pasture, and among the rest of the mares and foals, where the foaling mare is most comfortable.
Once we are sure that all is well with mom and baby, and we have scheduled a postnatal exam of both with our vet, mom and her newborn are gently brought into their clean and sanitized foaling stall. While mom is hungrily enjoying a fresh bran mash, the little one has typically finished nursing and is napping close by. Since we have established a comfortable relationship with all our mares, it is natural for us to take advantage of this quiet time to begin our imprinting process. Now is a perfect opportunity to introduce ourselves to the newest member of the Sundance Stables family. We gently rub our foal repeatedly in its ears, mouth, and nostrils. The entire body is touched, handled and rubbed down. Attention is given to the legs and feet, raising them, holding them and gently tapping the bottom of each foot. This last exercise is greatly appreciated by our farrier in the not-so-distant future!
Within a couple of hours of birth, our foals have been handled extensively and are awaiting, already wearing their first halter, the arrival of the vet. The imprinting has already prepared them for the feel of hands on their little bodies and new voices praising them for their temperament and beauty.
Although intensive, we have found that commitment to thorough imprinting at birth has given us foals that are braver, calmer, more trusting, inquisitive and willing, and who see us, and their future owners, as friends and partners.
Dr. Robert M. Miller, world-renowned speaker, author and father of the foal training technique known as "imprint training", believes that horses and people share a common bond and he works to strengthen the connection by promoting humane, effective training between horses and humans. At Sundance Stables, we support and employ this belief.