Interesting Research on Foal Imprinting

According to researchers at the University of Rennes in northwestern France, foal imprinting may not be as beneficial as once believed.  Their studies showed that early human interactions with a foal can negatively impact its psychological development.  Séverine Henry, PhD, professor of animal behavior at the university and co-author of the study, stated in a article:

“Our most recent study has focused entirely on imprinting techniques, and what we found was that it really wasn’t very effective,” Henry said.

The article also reported the following:

The results, parts of which were published in Developmental Psychobiology and the Journal of Comparative Psychology, reveal that foals handled by humans during the first hours following birth remained closer to their dams and appeared to be more cautious about approaching humans at several weeks and months of age than foals in a control group that had not been handled.

These researchers, however, found a positive outcome when humans and the dam interacted:

By contrast, foals that had not been handled directly, but had witnessed gentle human handling of their dams, were more likely to trust humans, the studies showed.

To read the whole article go to “Hands Off: New Research on Impact of Human Intervention on Foal Behavior” on

2 Responses to Interesting Research on Foal Imprinting

  1. Big Agnes says:

    So what’s the bottom line of this research? When my foal is born this spring, I should gently handle his dam, rather than try to handle the colt?

  2. Black Eye Beth says:

    I don’t think there was any actual conclusion but it does give “food for thought”. It solidified what many people think; that it is better for the foal to follow nature’s course and let it bond with mom first. (actually it made me feel better since I never felt like I should get in there so early. I’d rather stand outside and watch). To see what other people think see the post, Follow Up To Imprinting Research.

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