Imprint training has in recent years gained support as a natural horsemanship alternative for rearing foals that are safer to handle and easier to manage and train. However, there has been little scientific research to assess the effectiveness of imprint training.
A recent study attempted to determine the effects of a neonatal imprint training procedure on 6 month old foals and to determine if any one session produced less reactive behaviour. (J.L. Williams, T.H. Friend, M.N. Collins, M.J. Toscano, A. Sisto-Burt and C.H. Neville, Effects of Imprint Training Procedure at Birth on the Reactions of Foals at Age Six Months, Equine Veterinary Journal 2003, 35 (2) p. 127-132) were used in the study. The foals were divided into 7 groups of treatments ranging from no treatment through to treatments at birth and up to 72 hours after birth.
The testing sessions were conducted randomly using a set testing procedure, similar to those promoted by R. Miller, Imprint Training of the Newborn Foal, 1991.
The researchers had assumed that foals who had been subjected to imprint training would be less reactive and more accepting of the stimuli used in the testing procedures. However they found that there was no significant differences between the foals who had received multiple imprint training sessions and those who had received no imprint training.