Worse Before It’s Better

I came into baby horse ownership pretty green. I consider myself a pretty experienced horse person but I have never before had a true baby. I have helped start young horses and have handled my fair share of pills (baby Hue I am looking at you!) but almost all of the horses that I have worked with have known the basic basics. A horse that is easy to catch, lead, and groom is like an angel in my eyes at this point. When Luna first came home she was eager to be caught and pretty even keeled. She hadn’t been handled a ton but she was very willing to try. As she is growing into herself and more confident in her skin she has gotten pretty sassy – definitely not going to be quite the sweet heart that Annie is on the ground I don’t think. She particularly likes to pretend like she doesn’t “get whatever it is you are asking” – usually after she has already done it multiple times!

She is pretty much a tiny bulldozer at feed time, likes to play the most irritating game of tag when you try to catch her, and has even taken to being a tool about grooming at times – just love getting kicked over a tantrum about picking up a foot. She is still pretty unphased by most things she has just developed a loud opinion when she isn’t interested in cooperating. I guess it is both a blessing and a curse to have such a smart little creature – hopefully this will eventually pay off undersaddle. Amanda tells me that it will get worse before it gets better though so wish me luck!

I can’t wait to see how she grows (already 14.2hh+) and develops this year as she sheds some of the fuglies. Maybe she will shed some of her ‘tude when she loses her winter Chewbacca coat! Do any of you have experience with super young horses? Tips or tricks?


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  1. Honestly, tips and tricks are hard in this situation as all babies are different. I’ve never had a baby kick/bite or be terribly rude (I hate making this statement with my mare 2 months out from foaling…gonna jinx myself haha). As a rule with my babies, they don’t get treats. Their reward for a job well done (picking up the feet, etc) is verbal praise/pets or finishing with training for the day if we’re at that point. I feel like short, but frequent sessions give you the opportunity to ask them for something a couple of times, then when they give it to you, back to turnout and being a horse they go. I think it helps them differentiate between out with friends=anything goes and in with human=I’m at work, let’s behave. Babies have to have that balance. 🙂

    1. Makes sense. She only gets food as a reward when she lets me catch her because that has been a really big struggle. She will get a feed bag on and then refuse to be caught so you can’t take it off when she is finished. She lives outside and I rarely work with her for more than 10-15 minutes. I am good with her being a horse but she needs to be respectful of humans when its time to be caught or fed. Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂

      1. Completely agree. The feed bag thing is annoying. haha. I’ve always been lucky in that mine have always been easy to catch as babies and now as adults (minus the occasional stubborn walk off.) I’m hoping new baby is the same way haha.

  2. My fave book is “Right From The Start”. I worked with the author with Pong when he was a yearling. You can get it on amazon I think! She’s a doll!

  3. Ha I can’t believe she’s almost as big as Isabel! Idk about baby horses but my experience with building new relationships with new horses always follows a similar path. Starts off sweet and simple as we get to know each other, then the boundary testing begins. Obvi the volume of this testing is probably real different with a baby lol, but I imagine that as you stay your course and help Luna figure out what is and isn’t gonna fly, she’ll sort it out. Hopefully lol

  4. Ha! Sounds like a mare??! Every baby/horse is different. My colt is like a Labrador and has been ever since he popped out. If I imagine his mother as a baby…….I feel she might have been this way? I met her at 4.5 yo. She soon came into the ‘terrible 4’s’ after that. I would spend at around 30 min trying to catch her in the beginning. She lived in a large several acre turnout with others. One day we had a breakthrough and it all kinda went away. As far as catching, I always gave her treats when I caught her. Then I spent a lot of time making sure she knew that it was a good thing to be with me. Grooming. Things she liked. Set her up for success in our work with baby steps. Long relaxing ‘cool down.’
    Don’t lose heart. Stick with it. Take every day as it comes. She will not be like this forever.

  5. Jetta was THE WORST baby horse. Ever. I hope I don’t have to deal with one again like her. No ground manners even being led with a chain, no personal space concept, would either kick and/or lay down when you picked up feet, would regularly drag me around, etc. She now has perfect ground manners, so my only advice is stick with it, never give an inch over manners or they’ll take a mile, but it will get better eventually!

  6. In my experience, toddlers of any variety tend to be a little rude and obnoxious. My advice is about the same as everyone else’s! Be consistent, and persistent, and don’t be afraid to set boundaries. Eventually, she’ll start to grow out of it. In the mean time, it’s a good thing you’ve got a mannerly grown up horse to balance her out! Even if she’s going through a bratty stage, Luna is still super stinking cute with her little nose freckles.

  7. I had handled young stock as a stablehand but had never had my own… and then I bought two six month olds (yes… I am a ridiculous moron). They both went through phases where they tested me big time. At one point Mystic decided she wouldn’t lead and Henry laid down instead of lifting up a hoof when asked on multiple occasions. Sometimes they are little turds! But it does get better.

    I honestly feel like they were both easier to start and trusted people (me in particular) more under saddle as we had established a relationship on the ground and had already worked through some tough/scary things together.

    Hang in there!

  8. I feel like with babies it’s 5 steps forward and 8 back at times … and their brains are all so different.

    She sounds like one who will be making sure you are still boss often lol 😂

    Can’t wait to see her blossom!

  9. When I got my appendix, he was sweet as can be, and then developed an attitude very quickly once he felt confident in his new home. It required constant adjusting by me, as well as a TON of patience, but he knows his boundaries now even though he’ll push them every once in awhile