The Importance of Imprinting
The first step toward training a good saddle or working horse is to bond with your new foal either immediately or several days after birth. This bonding, or “imprinting”, allows you to have a hand in shaping his personality. He will start thinking of you as a “part of the herd” which is where young animals in the wild learn their behavioral traits. He sees you as the dominant lead “horse.”
Contrary to the belief of some, imprint training does not produce a spoiled pet, but in fact actually enhances the relationship between humans and equines. A young horse that trusts humans is more apt to be easier to handle, will adapt to training techniques, and be less likely to cause injury to himself or you by trying to resist human efforts to train him.
Submission is a must if you and your horse are going to work together. But to have a good working relationship, it is best if you earn the animal’s respect and submission by teaching him he can depend on you as a leader. Submission based on fear does not make for a good working relationship.
While “imprinting” is a relatively new term, the concept of “sacking” young foals to desensitize them to the sights, sounds, smell and touch of an unfamiliar object; has been around for hundreds of years.
Using a blanket or towel, the animal is rubbed all over its body. The flapping cloth is frightening at first, but as the foal realizes that it is not being harmed, it gradually comes to calmly tolerate this as the first of many new experiences.
Over time, the animal that has had imprint training comes to tolerate all kinds of strange outside stimuli and learns how to behave in a mannerly way in a variety of situations.
For more information on imprint training go to http://www.robertmmiller.com/imprint-training.html