Our two week old race horses in training have a lot to learn.
First, in the herd, the foal must respect mom’s space, or it might get a gentle reminder of who’s boss.
When moving alongside mom, the foal mimics her movements, changing direction when she does.
This way it fine tunes its reaction skills, which is vital when you live alongside a herd of hooves and muscle.
Finally, the young athlete learns how to build up her stride.
First there’s the walk, then moving up to the trot and the canter before shifting into the gallop.
Throughout this lesson, mom sets the pace, with her foal matching her rhythm and style.
With the basics covered, the foals learn to run in group formation.
During the first month, foals only have eyes for their moms, watching and matching her every move.
But by the time they got to three months old, their body, as well as their confidence, has grown.
They discover that leaving mom every now and then is a good thing, because that way you make friends and become more independent.
Think about it in comparison to say, humans.
When a baby’s first born, it needs its mother every minute of every day.
And they’re held, and they’re close, and you would never just pass your baby off to a stranger.
And then this is more the stage, they go off to school.
They’re out of your sight.
It’s not a problem.
You know they’re safe.
You’re still aware, but you also, if something were to go wrong, you’d fly immediately to that baby.
Because you’re still their mother, and you still really worry about them, but you’re giving them the space that you have to allow children to grow up.
And that’s kind of what the stage is like.
Like children, they play a lot.
Foals – they sleep, and they play, and they eat.
And they sleep, and they play, and they eat.
At this age, they’re still close to their mom and love a good nuzzle.
This is known to lower the heart rate.
Some foals return the favor.
We all like a little affection now and again.
But every student outgrows their teacher eventually.
At six months old, they’re ready to move on.
They will make their own way in life, and mom’s work will be done.