Bitting - very frustrated! What to do next.

pengapenga

The Friesian
Sep 12, 2004
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Hi

Frits is biting more and more often. I have tried various methods to nip it in the bud (so to speak) but it is not sinking in. I know that it is a very coltish thing to do and that bigger horses mature late but he was doing so well and I thought I had it sorted, however I moved him to my property and he is now biting and even worse than before:(

to sum it up, we lost out on first place at the weekend because he tried to bite the handler:eek: :mad:

Any suggestions would be great Was wondering if a Hanovarian noseband would help?

He has been punished for this and now as soon as he nips he immediately steps back and bobs his head down as if to admit that he is wrong. Lately if a flick him with the end of the lead rope he will have another go.

Is it just a phase or a more serious vice beginning to show:(
 

cvb

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Oct 23, 2001
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you might want to see if you can get a copy of John Lyons Communicating with Cues 1 ? There is a section on biting in there. Whilst I don't 100% agree with his "3 second" approach, he does have some other ideas on biting

- for example he rubs their noses with his hands
- or distracts them with other activity (i.e. redirect the energy).

the problem with the "punishment" approach, as you've found, is that it can turn into a game of beating the punishment - and they start bobbing their head or bite and rush away etc :(

I did also see Monty Roberts deal with a biter - he "kicked" their leg low down everytime. Not a hard kick, more of a tap but assertive and firm. After a few times every time this youngster went to think about biting, it looked at its foot - LOL.

But I think to do that you have to have amazing timing and feel - and we're not all Monty Roberts are we !
 

pengapenga

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cvb said:
the problem with the "punishment" approach, as you've found, is that it can turn into a game of beating the punishment - and they start bobbing their head or bite and rush away etc :(
That is exactly what he does. Thankfully he usually stores up this mischief for me and K his handler!

Thanks for the suggestions, will go to the library and try and get a copy:) I wish I was like Monty:D

I was once told by an old farmer to bite the horses ears if he bites, problem is I would either need to handle Frits when on stilts (even though I am six foot) or carry a ladder! His ears are tooooooo high up:D
 

casey

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cvb said:
- for example he rubs their noses with his hands
- or distracts them with other activity (i.e. redirect the energy).



I did also see Monty Roberts deal with a biter - he "kicked" their leg low down everytime. Not a hard kick, more of a tap but assertive and firm. After a few times every time this youngster went to think about biting, it looked at its foot - LOL.

But I think to do that you have to have amazing timing and feel - and we're not all Monty Roberts are we !
I tried the rubbing mouth approach.....Just made him mad:D But didn't stop him biting.

The Monty method, is good. I was taught that on my prelimary certificate. But like cvb said. It has to be timed to perfection.:rolleyes: :)
 

Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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Bo was entire till he was 4, bred at 2 (not by me) but was is also very likely to bite, I found kicking his leg didn't work, he just learned he had to get out of the way quicker (he's no fool :rolleyes: ) and a poke would just invite another nibble, he thought it was a game, I found having a bit of a screaming tantrum (yep, screaming, arms throwing and feet stamping all rated highly on my list of shock tactics:p ) made him think twice or just backing him up really quickly straight away.

Bo has mostly grown out of all the biting but not before he really hurt a few people (including my mum) in his younger days, he now nibbles a little if he wants to play but even if he does get your finger in his mouth he just kind of holds them in his teeth, almost as if to say 'I could, if I wanted too' but never really bites, that was until saturday when he took a hansom chunk out of me and within 5 mins OH too, but thats because he is on box rest and doesn't see why :rolleyes: :(

I hope you can get it sorted out soon, is he teething at the moment? providing him with something that he is allowed to chew on might be a welcome release if he is.

J x
 

pengapenga

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Jessey said:
providing him with something that he is allowed to chew on might be a welcome release if he is.

J x
He is allowed to chew some rope. Good point about the teething, he is due a vet check (for insurance) this week so I shall ask the vet to check his teeth as well:)
 

Jessey

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That sounds like a plan, the vet may just be able to say he is though, not be able to help you deal with it :rolleyes:
I had a broom head screwed to the wall (bristles out) and Bo would chomp on that, also rawhide dog chews (obviously very big ones) hung up also seemed to help.

Re biting him back, OH did that to Bo and it really did help alot. I couldn't reach but I often just grabed and twisted a chunk of skin on his neck, to imitate a bite, along with some dominant body language this also helped a bit.

J x
 

cvb

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Jessey said:
I found having a bit of a screaming tantrum (yep, screaming, arms throwing and feet stamping all rated highly on my list of shock tactics:p ) made him think twice or just backing him up really quickly straight away.
this is something similar to what John L talks about in his 3 second rule. You have three seconds to do anything - if he's got something in his hand he doesn't touch neck or head. The bit I have problems with is that he talks about behaving as if you are going to kill the horse - and I believe thats OTT.

Also wondering - Mark Rashid did some work on boundaries at at least one clinic I saw... if they are at arm's length its much harder for them to get the opportunity to bite. Does he need some work on boundaries as well ?

I appreciate its not that simple if you are showing - but then going crazy at the horse isn't going to go down too well in a show ring either ;) you need to fix it outside the ring....
 

pengapenga

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We are working on his space and my space. He is doing very well, he is learning to keep to his space when being lead. He does cross the boundary and gets asked to move out which he does, I have been doing some reading up on showing friesians at a keuring and nearly all literature and pics have the runner with his left hand in the air keeping the horse from comming in. When standing and waiting he likes to come up close for a cuddle - he does not bite when he standing up close although he does rub his lip on you,I think in that situation I am watching for any indication he is going to bite.

We have been working with a show whip to hold in front of him when trotting out and teaching him to stand square and he is not averse to lunging at whip. He reminds me of a puppy wanting a stick.

When we are concentrating on training him we sometimes give him his bit of rope to hold in his mouth and he is then happy. I hasten to add I don't like to encourage this, however at times like waiting for the farrier to complete his job it does keep bugalugs's mind away from farrrier bottom:rolleyes:
 

Rips

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Is it aggressive biting? If it is this won't work but we had a TB who liked to reach out slowly and nibble you, then nip you... he was only playing games but he took a chunk one day and YO decided it had to stop.
When he put his mouth into YO's space to bite he would grab his lip and not let go. Only took a week of this for him to get the message. Its good because it doesn't hurt them, just causes them annoyance... its sort of like "Fine, if you want to come unasked into my space you can stay like that until I decide you can have your lip back!"
 

Saphira

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My friend Brittany told me one when she first got one of her horses, (forgotten which one, I think it was Shamrock), that he gave her a bite, so without thinking she bit him back!!
Not too hard mind you, but he got the message quick and clear:

'Bite me and I'll bite harder.'

One of my other horsey friends Hannah had a mare bite her as well, she did the same thing and just bit his shoulder!! :eek: That worked as well. One other thing to do, and this may sound a little cruel, is if he bites you, grab his ear and twist. In your hand, not your mouth!
And don't twist too much, but you'll know when to stop because they'll most likely tilt their head to one side as you twist.
-nods-
 

CMR

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My miniature stallion is almost three, and he used to have a nibbling problem(I'm not 100% it's truely gone, but he hasn't shown any signs of it in the past couple of weeks.) He would wiggle his lips about, and then nip you. What I did was "nip" back. If he was getting ready to nip my leg, my leg would bump into his face. If he was going for my hand, my hand would nip his nose quickly and then disappear. It makes him think that he "bumped" into whatever he was trying to bite, and hopefully makes him not do it anymore. I'm not sure if this worked completely for me, I personally think it was just a baby stage he was going through, and grew out of it.

I think what John Lyons talks about(I have the books, just haven't read them in awhile :rolleyes: ) is just rubbing his nose all the time, until he gets sick of all the attention. He goes into a little more detail, but that is the gist of what he does.
 

Skyhuntress

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You know what really works? I had a chiropractor tell me, thought she was absolutely CRAZY for suggesting it. Tried it on a whim on my horse, worked like a charm. Ever since then, it's been tried with the foals. Cures them SO quickly, and we never have any other problems with it

What you do is take a piece of chicken/turkey breast (cook it) (haha, are you all weirded out already?) and carry it with you in a piece of plastic wrap or something when you groom him. If he starts niping you, give him a sharp warning (and take out the piece of meat and unwrap it) If he bites you again, shove the piece of meat in his mouth. They are SO disgusted by it and associate it with doing something 'bad'. We did this with two of our stallions and never had any problems with them ever again.

Crazy, huh? But it actually works.
 

lindaf89

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Jan 3, 2006
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I was reading Steve Brady's book on the weekend, you may have heard of him as he is an Aussie who does natural horsemanship. I think this suggestion may need the picture otherwise it may sound strange... he said in the book to hold a sharpened piece of dowel with the hand on the lead rope that is the closest to the bit/ headstall.

I think that rather than the horse biting your hand he will be met with the dowel, which won't hurt but will be spikier and more unpleasent than your hand. I think the picture kind of explains it better than the words, but unfortunately I cannot get hold of the book to scan the picture - I probably shouldn't anyway due to copyright.
 

cvb

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pengapenga said:
When we are concentrating on training him we sometimes give him his bit of rope to hold in his mouth and he is then happy. I hasten to add I don't like to encourage this, however at times like waiting for the farrier to complete his job it does keep bugalugs's mind away from farrrier bottom:rolleyes:
Thats one of the bits I like about what JL seems to say (or my interpretation). He seems to work on the basis that they need something in their mouths - you just replace "you" with something you are ok about them mouthing ;( displacement rather than prevention as part of the approach...

I think there's something about saying "how interesting" or "how normal" which stops them getting a buzz from the game they are playing, and stops in escalating :)
 

Jessey

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Penga, the bit you show him in, does it have 'keys'? can you use a key bit? if you can that might just give him enough to fiddle with in his mouth during the show to prevent the nibbling, obviously this won't be a long term resolution but might just help things until he either grows out of it or realises it is not acceptable :)

J x
 

pengapenga

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StormArion very interesting concept. When I first read it I thought yuck, and horses are herbivores but then that is probably why the idea may just work:).

cvb I think I should read up more on JL:) The bit of rope really does work well:)

Jessey Frits is shown in a Sprenger KK Ultra and has a link, he does mouth his bit a fair amount:)

Indaf89 I have heard of SB and an interesting idea.

Thanks everyone for your input, I shall try the suggestions and see what happens. I am sure it is just a phase, he seems to be going through another growing spurt.
 

GGs

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I have heard suggested on another horsie website that if you wear gloves for showing to rub a chilli on the outside prior to the show. However don't rub your face with them on and make sure you take them off before you use the loo!!:D
 
Y

Yann

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When standing and waiting he likes to come up close for a cuddle - he does not bite when he standing up close although he does rub his lip on you,I think in that situation I am watching for any indication he is going to bite.
Is it possible that you are being inconsistent and he's getting the wrong message here? It might be better to keep him at a respectful distance 100% of the time until he gets over this particular phase, what you see as a cuddle he may see as pressing his advantage:D