Weaning

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  • We always wean by six months and keep the foals grouped together. If you notice foals and mares in the field you will see a marked difference from just weanlings in a field. I have found that while foals will play together in the field momma generally keeps them close at hand and I even have mares that will segregate themselves and their baby from the others. While they do play I dont believe that this is when the real competitive drive is developed. Yes personalities are forming but watch those same babies when they are weaned. That is when you really begin to see the competition start. They develop their own order and must learn to compete at this point. A horse left in the field till a yearling with mom just isnt the same. They don't have to compete nearly the same with mom. It is different. Racehorses have to want to compete. They have to be tough enough to lead the herd and pass the herd. That whole weaning process is so much more than taking the foal away and drying the mare off for the next foal. I know it isn't this way for wild horses but you have to remember that we created this monster we love called the Thoroughbred.
  • LyndaKLyndaK Member
    For your additional information, my colt and his dam and the filly and her dam were not in a field by themselves. I keep my horses in a group enviroment much as they would be in the wild.

    2nd...you do not know my colt or my filly...if you did you would quickly learn that both are intelligent, play well with others, know their place in the community and are very easy going and very trusting and very easy to work with.

    Both have great bone and great muscle and great hooves, bright and shiny coats. They were not fed grain and supplements to substitute for the nutrition they lost when weaned way too early. They have spirit and are always alert to what is going on around them without being fearful. They know what a cow is...what a plane or helicopter flying low over them is...they are not frightened by fireworks or barking dogs or even the turkey we rescued fluttering his tail feathers or the tractor zipping by them in the next field. Once a hot air ballon landed in the field next to us and they were unfazed..just curious.

    My horses are bred for sport horse competition...dressage. hunter/jumper/endurance and oh yes...they come out of an Arabian Polish racing line.

    And if you think for one minute that my colt or my filly or any of my horses are not competitive or challenge each other as to who can run the fastest...then you really should come watch them all at play.

    They are not "hot house" flowers...rather they are allowed to develope and grow and learn and use their instincts and to be able to think.

    And one more FYI...I have a good friend who has been breeding sport horse Arabians for over 50 years and her breeding program and how she breeds, foals out and raises her foals has resulted in horses that are in Saudi Arabia and have won the desert endurance and she has a couple of endurance horses that have won almost every endurance race all over the world at all distances.



  • RachelRachel Member
    why the harshness?
  • Lynda since that comment was at me I will check I will go and check my Kindle library and tell you the book I got this from.

    I personally am not in favor of this. I feel it's way too young.

    I was always taught 6 months same as most.

    Margaret

    Once again, with weaning, as most everything else with horses, humans have imposed their processes and procedures on what they think is best for horses.

    In the wild, a foal will stay on its dam until the dam weans the baby before the next foal is due and that is certainly not at three months or six months.

    I totally disagree with weaning any foal at three months unless the mare is sick or the foal is pulling the mare down...such as is sometimes the case in older mares.

    I also totally disagree with a foal not getting nutrition theory from the mare's milk after three months. The milk in all mammals, including humans, is rich in vitamins and minerals such as calcium which is critical in bone development, not to mention protein and fat...all building blocks for strong bones and muscles.

    There is also the bond between the dam and the foal to consider. Horses are by nature herd animals and they have a hierarchy that keeps the herd organized. Taking a foal away from its dam at such a tender age is a shock to the foal and the mare that can result in problems down the road.

    Mares also teach their foals many things such as which weeds to avoid or how to break the ice on a frozen creek and how to survive the elements of snow, wind and rain and predators and their mothers teach them manners and how to behave. I have been around horses that lived all their lives in a barn and were weaned as very young foals and they were flighty, nervous and developed bad habits such as cribbing and weaving.

    Some of you might be shocked, but my colt was not weaned until he was almost a yearling. His dam was not bred back. He nursed less and less of course as the months went by. His dam shared her grain and hay with him and they grazed together and ran and played together. Same thing with my filly. Her dam left for about a year and came back and while you might not believe this, the filly remembered her dam!

    I know that this is not feasible for the big farms...but there are ways for the process to be kinder on the mare and the foal. If you watch the PBS "Nature" program on the Lipizzans, you will see what I think was a much better weaning process than what we seem to do in this country. The foals and the mares all run together in a herd setting from the spring when they are born until the late fall. Once weaned the colts and fillies run together in a herd throughout the winter.

    So my take on all this weaning process is to, when you can, try to create a natural environment and let nature take its course.




  • sarinnesarinne Member
    I'm sorry if this is an off topic question, but not knowing all the ins and outs of horse breeding, I thought I would ask. Apologizes ahead of time if this is a stupid question.

    When Zenyatta goes to be bred (which I assume is soon, or has possibly already happened), does Z13 go with her? I would think they would keep him safe from disease, etc. at LE, but I wondered if he would need to nurse while she is gone (also not knowing how long she would be gone). And also if it would be upsetting for her to leave without him. Sorry if this is confusing. Appreciate if anyone can explain this to me.
  • RachelRachel Member
    13z will be kept at the farm or something when zenyatta is bred, she isnt gone for too long
  • LyndaKLyndaK Member
    No Margaret, it was not directed at you.

    I just get terribly frustrated sometimes with the high headed "I know more than anyone else people on this site" who think because they raise Tbreds etc or live in Kentucky or whereever that they are always right and the rest of us are stupid ignorant young silly girls.



  • Lynda why so defensive. We all have such diverse backgrounds and will all have different views on processes. What I prefer to do may be different from all others but if the method you use works stick with it. There are so many schools of thought go with what is best for you because you have to be happy with the results.
  • sarinnesarinne Member
    13z will be kept at the farm or something when zenyatta is bred, she isnt gone for too long
    Thank you for your answer, rachel. I just wasn't sure if separating them would be too upsetting, even for a short while.
  • I actually couldn't find the book in my library. I know I bought it two years ago when Z lost that first pregnancies. I wanted to know why. I never found a "real" answer, but I found a wealth of info along the way. I suspect that I may have been so disturbed by this vets writing I deleted the book.

    I do believe 6 months is just fine. But everyone has to be healthy. No sniffles, no vaccinations, no worming. Think a stress free environment.

    The Boniface's (who some may remember from Animal Planet's Thoroughbred in the early 2000's)like to wean a few at a time. That way after the initial upset the foals/weaningly's are free to romp and play. They also make sure to get the mare out of hearing distance.

    What I think is this. It depends on how stressed the mare. Is she be forever bothered by the foal? Is she losing weight? How is the foal doing? Is he independent enough to handle life on his own? (eating, drinking water) does he have horse relationships with others. At 6 months he might well be ready.

    Others go by the mare. This also works I suppose if you haven't bred the mare back. Let the mare choose the timing. I think I subscribe to the tb way only because I'm thinking the mre was automatically bred back. It is stressful for the mare to nurse and be carrying a new one at the same time.
  • RachelRachel Member
    also, going along with what Sarinne asked, if zenyatta goes to a different farm other than Lane's End, would 13z come along with her and be held at the farm when she goes to the breeding shed?
  • Most stud farms have a VERY strict policy about no foals. In case the stallion gets free--he could kill the foal. Also, the mare's attention will be diverted on her foal. The farm personnel want the mare's attention all on the stud and the teaser.

    The baby will be in the stall he/she shares with mom. So in that sense they'll be in familiar surroundings. Mom is usually gone less than 45 mins maybe an hour since most farms are located pretty near each other in Lexington.

    Even though I've been told most mares calm down pretty quick once out hearing distance of their baby I've seen a mare or two REPEATEDLY calling for baby. It could be because they left behind a first time baby or they may be a maiden mare and have zero idea of what's happening.

    I'm sorry if this is an off topic question, but not knowing all the ins and outs of horse breeding, I thought I would ask. Apologizes ahead of time if this is a stupid question.

    When Zenyatta goes to be bred (which I assume is soon, or has possibly already happened), does Z13 go with her? I would think they would keep him safe from disease, etc. at LE, but I wondered if he would need to nurse while she is gone (also not knowing how long she would be gone). And also if it would be upsetting for her to leave without him. Sorry if this is confusing. Appreciate if anyone can explain this to me.
  • RachelRachel Member
    im sure 13z will be in good hands while he waits for momma to come back, its interesting to know how they do things
  • LyndaKLyndaK Member
    I am not being defensive, but everyone can take my comments as being so if you want, I really do not care.

    I did not appreciate your implications that my horses are inferior to yours because I choose to allow them to be bred, born and raised in a natural way as much as I can.

    I can take you right now and show you a Tbred mare who came off the track that was raised the human way and then spent the next three years of her life in a barn 7 days a week. She was then given away because the owners had financial problems...at least she did not end up at slaughter.

    The horse was a nervous wreck. She was even afraid of the dark, she is a cribber and she has had an episode of road founder because she has never walked on any surface but the race track and a sand filled arena.

    I am not saying that my way is perfect, but neither are the ways of others.

    Everyday is a learning experience with me and my horses. I am not afraid to learn new ideas or try new things nor am I set in my ways that it is my way or the highway.

    I treat my horses the way I raised my child...she, like them, is an individual and the one size cookie cutter approach does not work with children and it does not work with horses. I raised my child to be all that she could be and that she wanted to be and to make use of the talents that God blessed her with.

    In this way I am about horses the same as Shug McGaughey is...I let my horses tell me where they want to go and how they need to get there.

    I have had been very fortunate and blessed in my lifetime of loving, owning, riding, training horses (and now raising my very own foals for the first time) to have know and counted as my friends a number of wonderful people who have bred, raised and trained different breeds of horses for about 50 years (each one, not collectively). I have a wonderful friend who has been a coach for USET and lived in Austria and worked at the Lippizan National Stud after college.

    For some reason, new bloggers and newer ones such as myself are just not wanted on this site.

    You seem to have your own little collected clique and seem to resent any new comers invading your little world.

    There are dozens of things posted on here everyday that I do not agree with and that I know is the wrong information,,but I do not jump in and attack the comment and the person every time.

    A lot of time is spent on here...what can be done to improve racing or stopping the breakdowns which is great...but such brain storming sessions go nowhere if there is not a realization that the problems are sourced in more than one area. The breeders, the trainers and the owners and the farms are not the only causes....methods, fallacies, procedures and processes are also part to blame.

    Well, I am done with this for now...guess I will duck off this site and chill away from it for a few weeks..






  • sarinnesarinne Member
    im sure 13z will be in good hands while he waits for momma to come back, its interesting to know how they do things
    I agree, Rachel. Thanks, Margaret for explaining how things are done. In no way did I think that Z13 would hang around while Queen Z is bred, I just didn't know if he rode along with her and stayed in the trailer, or whatever, so neither of them would be stressed. But I also figured they wouldn't want to stress his developing immune system, etc., either. Appreciate both of you chiming in.

    As far as the thread about different ways of weaning, etc, goes -- I totally respect what each owner/breeder chooses to do. I don't have horses, but I would be very offended if someone told me I shouldn't be nursing my baby at a certain age just because they didn't. I breed and show dogs, and with my girls, sometimes they will let me know when they are ready to wean, sometimes they will want their babies forever, even just to suck when they have no milk. I go on a case to case basis with them. My last litter was just two puppies (very small litter for my breed), and I had to force wean pretty early them because they were getting too "fat" too quick. Mom was only allowed ten minutes with them every four hours around the clock. That was exhausting for sure, and mom was none to happy with that. I can't even imagine the work involved with multiple horses, so hats off to all of you and if it works, keep doing it the way you are!
  • RachelRachel Member
    I didn't see anyone saying your horse was inferior or your methods weren't right, I don't know where this is coming from. I'm confused
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