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KERRY'S CORNER, QUESTION

Hi Thomas Herding Technique,

My question is about the way in which our farm handles our younger horses. Is it a good or bad thing to separate them into youth groups too early, and does the basic instincts of the herd just take over?

- Joanne, horse breeder/brood mare farm in South Eastern United States

ANSWER

Hey Joanne, good question.

I strongly feel that the taking away too early of a youthful horse from his or her mother, or small band, is highly problematic. Being greatly dependent upon the social dynamic for natural learning, the horse requires guidance and supervision from his band or parentage. The basic instinct is indeed always there, but it is equipped for the purpose of survival, where the acquired instinct is what makes the horse personality and allows the horse blend into the environment he is born into.

Severe behavior issues can stem down the line from the abandoned horse, causing an abandonment syndrome, making handling and training very cumbersome. You can read more about this in the, A View from the Hoof essay series.

Always remember, working to find ways to keep as much of the family unit together for as long as is possible will help your horse years down the line.

Thanks for checking in,
Kerry

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