Dealing with a biting horse! HELP!

Free Adverts from New Rider

Vina

New Member
Jun 28, 1999
99
0
0
Canada
Visit site
I've been having some problems lately with a horse I ride who is definitely getting an attitude! She swings her head around a lot and takes 'practice nips' at everyone in sight. A couple of times she's made contact, but fortunately no one has lost any skin....but I'm sure that will change if something isn't done.

What do you think is the best and most effective form of correcting a horse for being rude enough to show her teeth? The owner wants us to whack her with a riding crop if she tries to bite, but I'm not so sure that's the way to go.

HELP!
 

Laetitia

New Member
Jul 20, 2002
998
0
0
Wiltshire
Visit site
You don't say in which situation the mare nips. Tie her up a bit tighter so she can't swing her head round.
Interestingly my mare has suddenly become girthy and mare-ish. Today she was faffing about with her head, and put on a big show around her ears. Having inspected her ears for any foreign bodies etc.and finding zilch, told her to cut it out. O.K. she said. She then didn't make an issue about her girth. She has only started this when I'm aroud,so, Mother is a push over and the yard head groom isn't ! Love it, the expression on her face is hysterical - rats, she's cottoned on ! I have learnt that one negotiates with a mare, and reach a central common ground you can both agree on, even if this means you have to concede the odd point. L
 

Laetitia

New Member
Jul 20, 2002
998
0
0
Wiltshire
Visit site
ps no, don't whack her, whatever for. Watch her and try to identify the issues that are prompting her to show her teeth. Discmfort perhaps, teeth, back etc.... just being herself , so she needs telling you don't like this anti social behaviour.A reproving word should do it. L
 

Gracie

Pony Lover
Jan 27, 2001
3,045
0
0
36
Canada!
simply_sweet_gifts.tripod.com
Nipping can also be from being fed treats by hand... are you feeding her treats while tied? If there is no pain then she does need to be wacked for biting, and techinally even if shes in pain she should bite, maybe turn her ears back so that you know shes in pain!

Don't feed her treats by hand any more, only in her bucket. But if it is a pain issue try to figure out what it is. Groom her in different places and see if she bites when groomed in a certain spot!

Good luck!
 

Vina

New Member
Jun 28, 1999
99
0
0
Canada
Visit site
Welllll.......she pretty much does it all the time now! It's become more noticeable since she's been put in the stall at night for the fall/winter season. I was thinking it might be partially a territorial thing (you know, get away from MY stall!)

But just coming close to pat her makes her show teeth! God forbid you should actually be brave enough to enter the stall. Sometimes she starts to turn her back end on you (not kicking, just showing her bum). Which makes me think that this is going to turn into a dangerous situation.

She also gives it a shot when you tighten up the girth (yeah, I know, a lot of horses hate that).

I think that this mare's problem is all about being just plain rude and a spoiled brat. Gee, look at this, I bite and people leave me alone. It worked!

Personally I think that the owner should get this horse a good trainer instead of trying to do it all himself, but the odds are that this isn't going to happen. So in the meantime, what would be the best way of convincing this horse that biting is not acceptable?

Thanks again!
 

Vina

New Member
Jun 28, 1999
99
0
0
Canada
Visit site
Oh I forgot to mention, we've already did the 'harsh words' treatment with no change in behaviour (and accompanied by a hand smack). And yes, she is fed treats by hand on occasion but that would be hard to stop. Too many people around to be sure that no one would be doing it.

The main thing I wanted to know, though, was if a horse is biting, what should you do to convince them that it's not acceptable?
 

Gracie

Pony Lover
Jan 27, 2001
3,045
0
0
36
Canada!
simply_sweet_gifts.tripod.com
I know some people may disagree, but I think thier horse needs to be punished (*if its about her telling you to get out of her space) Remember you have three seconds to act after she bites. When she bites, smack her in the chest with your hand and say NO in a firm voice! I don't recemmond hitting her anywhere near the face, but I don't think hitting them on their chest will hurt them but will re-enforce the fact that your mad!
 

LindaAd

Well-Known Member
Feb 20, 2000
6,356
294
83
Dorset, UK
Visit site
Have her teeth been checked? I knew a biting horse who was suffering from sharp teeth and mouth ulcers - he hated dentists. But now he's had a new dentist and he's much better...
 

chapsi

Magical Unicorns forever
Jul 15, 2002
1,465
0
0
59
Mafra, Portugal
Visit site
Vina,

Coincidence that you started this thread. Just as well, as I have the same problem with my horse.
Just a word, harsh punishment would do a thing; you'll just be renewing a violence cycle of bite-smack-bite... This I have been finding in my horse.
I am doing all my efforts to overcome this vicious behaviour. So far I contacted Kelly Marks about this. Two points she suggested: 1. stop feeding any treats by hand; 2. hitting is not a solution, when he horse bites say a clear "no" and push him out of your space. She dedicates a few pages in her book "Perfect Manners" to the issue of biting.
This week I am phoning Leslie Desmond (she runs clinics, she worked with the late Bill Dorrance), to discuss this situation with her, hoping to get some help and devise strategies. Anyway, there is a thread which I stated a few months ago "deeply depressed" at the Mature Riders Forum, and the last 2 pages report to biting.
Anyway, disconfort and frustration may be stimuli that trigger this reaction on the horse, one must check, although in the case of your mare it sounds more like dominance behaviour.
 

Gracie

Pony Lover
Jan 27, 2001
3,045
0
0
36
Canada!
simply_sweet_gifts.tripod.com
Im sorry but hitting does work, not in the face but on the chest. It worked for my horse anyways, combined with voice & other methods... as no treats in the cross ties or by hand. I'am not saying beat your animal, I wouldn't want anyone to do that, but on some measures it works. And I don't see it as cruel. If I child did something bad you may give it a little spank on the bum, its not cruel just displine.

I usually agree with most of your kinder methods of doing things, but when it comes to a horse biting, over dominance and bad behaviour I would have to disagree. Horses who bite can become very dangerous especially to the inncocent guest who know nothing about them!
 

galadriel

New Member
Feb 27, 2002
11,228
0
0
Florida
www.lorienstable.com
Originally posted by Vina
What do you think is the best and most effective form of correcting a horse for being rude enough to show her teeth? The owner wants us to whack her with a riding crop if she tries to bite, but I'm not so sure that's the way to go.

Actually, I think you've answered your own question. This is not your horse; it's not your decision to make. If you can discuss it with the owner and get the owner's instructions to change, you may wish to. Otherwise, since it's not your horse, you should do what the horse's owner wants. I would be furious if someone were riding my horse, but refused to follow my directions, particularly without consulting me.

If you're riding this horse as a favor to help train her or some such, the owner will most likely be receptive to suggestions on her training on the ground.

That said, I have never encountered a situation in which I would recommend hitting a biting horse with a whip.
 

Wally

Well-Known Member
Apr 16, 2000
35,300
4,388
113
If she is a riding school horse she may well be doing it because she is fed up with people. SOme horses do get like that.

Yes she needs to be punished but not in a human way, she will not understand being hit, it may reinforce her dislike of people.

Next time she tries to bite, sharply snap your heels together, jump to attention and suddenly raise your arms above your head and invade her space sending her away from you, be careful incase the pants swing at you, it can be a scary thing to do in a confined space. At the same time say a loud firm NO! But I'm afraid everyone will have to be consistent and do the same, if she is handled by lots of folk she maay never learn, but she will learn who will let her get away with it.
 

horsy

New Member
Sep 17, 2000
1,154
0
0
34
Manchester
www.jbphotographyonline.co.uk
This has worked on a few nippy horses, but you have to be quick! Just pinch them on the neck, quite firm so they can feel it. It has to be done as soon as they go to bite or bite though. I stopped a VERY nippy horse doing this. He had been fed treats too much and was always expecting mints. When he learned he wouldnt get them from me he nipped more often, but he soon learned, and stopped completely!

Horsy
xx
 

Princess

New Member
Mar 24, 2002
208
0
0
32
West Sussex, South England
Visit site
I would seriously consider gettting your horse checked over bya vet, most horses only ever bite because they are in pain, or have been and still associate with it. Also check her teeth, tack and bit, if they are causing discomfort bitting will his way of showing.

Is your horse scared of something (or although I hate to say it, you? If he feels threatened by you he will act upon his feelings)?Take your time when handling your horse and only ever take things (even simple things) at a speed he can cope with, so that he realises you are not a threat to him.

If your horse in is pain or is frightened I would not reccomend smacking him as this will only make the situation worse, a firm 'no' should be sufficent.
 

Gracie

Pony Lover
Jan 27, 2001
3,045
0
0
36
Canada!
simply_sweet_gifts.tripod.com
I disagree, about horses ONLY bitting if their in pain. My horse bites because she wants treats. And the only time she really shows her teeth is when its feed time, or when treats are being given out around her. Also shes bitten to say get out of my space, I'm bored of you! I know shes not in pain because she'll just do it!

I know some bite because of pain... but not all or most in my expirence anyways!
 

Murphs

New Member
Oct 22, 2000
613
0
0
55
Pembrokeshire, West Wales
my mare was a started to bite when i bought her 6 mths ago - i had her checked by vet (and had the bruise on the top half of my arm for about a month!) and had bowen treatments to check no underlying issues - which there weren't. She is a very dominant mare and was trying to be dominant over me. I agree with Wally and Horsy - the making yourself big, turning her head away from your space helps to reestablish the hierarchy. Also, the pinch on the neck works - this is how a stallion puts a mare in her place. All treats were stopped until she learnt to behave herself - now she only gets treats as part of her positive reinforcement training ie. when she does something that i want her to do she's rewarded. She will occasionally now think about nipping, but she does only think it - she gets a stern reprimand (vocal) which stops her in her tracks. She is very frightened of whips (to the extent that she almost quivers if i just come out of the tack room with one - i cannot ride her with one) so i believe she's probably had a beating in her past life and this hasn't solved the problem just made her frightened.
Has anything changed in her routine? - i put some of my mare's behaviour down to a change of yard, companion and owner plus she is very hormonal. It's not something that you can change overnight and beware that she doesn't change tactics - when my mare realised that the biting wasn't going to wash she tried the kicking routine but we've overcome that now also (although i'm still weary of her back end!). It's taken 6 months to get to the point where i feel that we are both building trust and respect for each other and she no longer tries to dominate. Still got a long way to go yet though:)
 

Princess

New Member
Mar 24, 2002
208
0
0
32
West Sussex, South England
Visit site
If that is your experience then that's fine, however my experience of horses biting is that the large marjority of horses I have dealt with bite because they are in pain, have been in pain or are frightened and so therefore 'protecting' their space. I am aware though that some horses do bite purely for biting sake. In my experience though the horses I've handled and worked with have not bitten without a geniune reason.
 

galadriel

New Member
Feb 27, 2002
11,228
0
0
Florida
www.lorienstable.com
My own horses have each bitten/threatened to bite once: Duchess when she was terribly sore due to a flu, and Katherine upon seeing the vet coming to give her her nasal strangles booster just 2 weeks after the first one (she snapped, as if to say, "Not again!")

Mine don't, but I have known horses who bit out of aggression or playfulness. In my experience, the great majority of horses will not bite at all; when a non-biter starts biting, there's almost certainly something wrong. However, some will bite for the fun of it--good fun or bad.
 
newrider.com