We have received a few inquiries for Dr.
Miller's response to a recent French study; "Hands Off: New Research on
Impact of Human Intervention on Foal Behavior" that claims imprinting resulted
in harm to foals. Dr. Miller reviewed this study and offers the
This is not the first academic study to
discourage the handling of foals during their imprinting period. I have
the following comments:
- The handling was not done as I recommend
- Horse training procedures - at any age -
if not done correctly cannot be expected to yield good results.
- May of 2010 will mark the 51st year since
I began training newborn foals. My experience involves thousands of
foals. I have never personally had a failure
- Hundreds of thousands of foals worldwide
have been successfully trained as newborns. Many of them have excelled
in a wide variety of performance disciplines. If most people obtain excellent results and a few
get unsatisfactory results,
what conclusion does one come to about the methods of the few?
In one previous academic study claiming that
imprinting was ineffective, the handling of the foals was done by convicts in a
state prison. In another the handling was done by untrained students.
In contrast, another study performed at
University of California at Davis reported good results. This time the
foal handling was, not surprisingly, done by competent, experienced people.
I always advise that if the handling is not
going to be done by people who have studied my method and who understand it,
then it is better not to do it at all.
Learning is so fast and so lasting in the
equine neonatal period that it is essential to do the process correctly.
Undesirable behavior can be established as rapidly as desirable behavior.
Also read Dr. Miller's
article on Improper
Imprinting that explains common mistakes and how to avoid them.