Weaning Joy

  October 2020  


In 2020 we took lots of photos of our foals. Deciding it would be nice to have a record of how our filly foal Joy experienced the weaning process, here are our photos and videos.  They show the week when Joy was separated from her mum Cara, and the lessons she learned each day, before leaving leaving the stud and  moving to her new home. 

The week starts with Joy and her mum leaving the herd and being moved to a smaller paddock, so they clould be brought in each day without exciting the whole herd. 

Fell breeders have their own way of weaning their foals.

The photos below show how one foal has been weaned over one week.

DAY ONE: 19th October 2020

The weaning process starts for Joy


Within a few days Joy will be completely separated from her mum Cara and will go off to her new home. Fells have a mind of their own so it doesn't always go as planned ... 

When weaning,  first catch the foal 

Joy has different ideas!

Here she is at the water trough, at the right end of the field. Just where I need her to be.

But that quickly changes. See below..... as Joy goes gallopping off. 



Joy is still playing games.

She isn't looking to be caught

Joy has run back up the field.

I think she must have run back to her mum.  

There is only one Fell nearby, but is it Cara,

her mum? It is difficult to see from a distance.


Yes it is Cara.

I walk into the field towards the Fell pony. I can recognise her when I get closer, but Joy isn't bothered about being close to her. and moves away.



Joy is having fun

But has she returned to her mum?

I'm not sure.




Joy doesn't hang around.

She goes galloping off again. She thinks this is a game. No good telling her I don't have time for her games; you can't rush a foal and certainly not a Fell foal.



Another try before I caught Cara and put a headcollar on her.

I walked Cara back up the field with Joy following, but then Joy had other ideas and ran back across the field.... and Cara pulled free and followed her. Here is Cara grazing, and Joy just looking pretty.



Not taking any chances this time.

 I added a Be Nice halter to her headgear to give me a little more control so she doesn't get loose again.




Look at Joy's expression 

Joy reluctantly follows Cara. You can tell this is not what she wants to do.




Now we have to get them into the next field ...





At Last, Joy is out of the big field.

Now to move her and Cara into the stables




 Cara and her foal are safely in their box 


Joy is happy to have her halter on  

Day 1 ends with us putting Joy and Cara out in a small paddock away from the rest of the herd. 

DAY TWO: 20th October 2020

In the morning I decide to have a go at bringing in Cara and Joy single handed. I am pleased to see they both still have their halters on.

They behave themselves and lead without trying to run off. 

They lead in easily, though I think from their expressions they would have been happy staying outside.

But it's time for Joy to have some training.





I move Joy into the next door box.

 You can see that she doesn't mind that she is not sharing a stable with her mum. 

See above as Joy is introduced to some pony food.


She is happy to be left in the box by herself and is relaxed enough to eat hay and be out of sight of Cara. 


The last photo shows a relaxed Joy.


Also, I separated Joy from her mum, taking her for a walk, as she will need to get used to being away from her mum. But we will do it gradually over a few days.

DAY THREE: 21st October 2020

Joy is making good progress in the journery to being independent from her mum Cara

 Mare and foal were good to catch and bring in

Today I separated them out a bit more, taking Joy up to the other end of the boxes. Joy didn't mind leaving her mum, so that is a good sign. 

It will help Joy settle in her new home if she will eat short feed when she no longer has her mother's milk.

So it is good that Joy is happy to eat from a feed bowl.

After staying in for the morning, I let Joy back in with her mum for a while, and then she was happy to leave her mum.

This time I led her away from the stables so she could have some grass.

Today Joy has been very good and getting to be more independant

DAY FOUR: 22nd October 2020

Another day of learning to be more independent from her mum Cara.

Joy has some new experiences and manages them well.



 Cara and her foal have come in from the field. This makes it easy to separate Joy from her mum. Here is Joy happily leaving her mum. 

Today I decide to take Joy for a little walk before taking her into her box. As she is leading quietly, I try another lesson: to get her to go into a strange stable out of sight of her mum. 

I have to be patient and encourage Joy to go through a narrow doorway into a small stable (well narrower and smaller than she is used to), and she doesn't have the comfort of knowing her mum is beside her.

This is a lesson of learning to trust humans. And it is one lesson that I needed to win, if she is going to go on being confident about leaving her mum.

The photos below show how she walks forwards, but then steps back. So it takes a few minutes to get her in. 




Joy eventually walks into the stable. It was very frightening for a foal, but she has shown that she can be brave and take on new experiences.

Todays lesson over.

Joy is led back to her box, which is now quite familiar to her as her home during the day. 


Joy is pleased to be back in her box. See how relaxed she is 

At lunchtime I put her back in with her mum for about half an hour, and then separate them again for the afternoon.

At teatime I lead Joy and Cara into their field.

I am pleased at how Joy is progressing.  

DAY FIVE: 23rd October 2020

Today Joy was introduced to one of the most important lessons a horse must learn: to stand quietly when tied up.

Joy has to learn that when she is tied up, she is not to pull backwards. She has to stand quietly, no matter what distractions there are around her.

As she is being fairly calm when separated from Cara during the day, I tied her to the metal ring, but stood close by, ready to pull the rope free, if Joy panicked.

You can see in the second photo she suddenly looks a bit wary, but then she relaxes and even tries to eat her hay.  

After being apart from her mum for nearly five hours I took Joy for a walk and let her graze.

the video below shows how eager she is for the grass.


Because Joy has been so good today and been away from her mum for a long time,  I put her back in with Cara for the rest of the afternoon. It wouldn't have been fair to Joy to separate them again today. 

The videos show Joy having her first lesson at being tied up. She is good because she trusts me, but it is a new experience  for Joy. 

Joy is taken to get some grass before putting her back with Cara. The way she grabs at the grass means I change my plan for her for the afternoon, and when I put her back in with mum I leave them together. This will help take away any anxiety she may have.

While Joy isn't anxious at being apart from her mum, when she is in her own box, she isn't eating a lot of the hay. She misses not being able to graze.

DAY SIX: 24th October 2020

The weather interfered with plans today with heavy rain and only a bit of dry time. So it is a mixed day with building on lessons learnt in the stables and a new experience of letting Joy loose on the grass when there was a break in the rain.

This is strange, says Joy. 'I'm tied up but you're over there.'

 But she quickly accepts the new way of being tied up. 

 Joy  is eating short feed much better today.


 Joy's attention is elsewhere. She looks so alert!

Joy is let loose to graze, while I am nearby ready to take hold of her if she decides she wants to return to her mum, but she is good, and so, no drama's thankfully.

DAY SEVEN: 25th October 2020

Almost there.

The weaning process is almost complete as Joy goes to her new home tomorrow.

The new lesson today is to walk into stange stables to prepare her for going into a horsebox.







Joy is tied up and gets a groom.





Joy leads well but Cara is the one who cares. Hear her calling for her foal





Joy leads straight into another stable, but she has been here before.







Isn't she good: Joy walks straight into this stable, She has never been near it before, and the stable is quite dark inside, but she doesn't hesitate to follow me.


This is good practice before she is transported in a horsebox.

DAY EIGHT: 26th October 2020

Joy is leaving home today

It is the end of the weaning process for Joy.



Joy with her mum Cara on her last morning


I took this lovely photo of  mare and foal just an  hour before she left the farm 


I won't bore you with every moment, but here is Joy sniffing the ramp of the horsebox she is to travel in.

Within 3 minutes she was safely loaded, and the ramp up and she was driven away to her new home.