This is Now Getting Serious - Wally Help Please

diplomaticandtactful

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Apr 25, 2003
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I posted a while ago about Tintin and leading and planting and biting.

This is now getting serious. He nearly took my little finger off this morning, grabbed it in his enthusiasm and wouldn't let go, in the end i bit him on the nose and he released it. Now this may sound funny but i thought he was going to take it off, the pressure was intense and he has broken the skin. His mouth was on the joint and it is going to be very very sore for a while. He has now bitten me three times, on the same arm, each time a huge bruise and broken the skin.

So what to do?

His problem is that he is very enthusiastic and full of fun, he was extremely scared when i bit him and belted him one and shouted at him this morning, sorry I lost it but he really really hurt me. He stood utterly terrified and refused to come near me and walk on, I left him there and got the others in the field and then picked him up, led him in, praised him for walking and took off his collar.

He only does it when led out to the field. He is so so happy and eager and pleased that he snakes his neck, and he treats you like he is playing with another donkey, i.e. rough. He will try to grab your shoulder or upper arm and it is just like he plays with the others. He doesn't understand at all this is not on.

OK i can put a muzzle on him, which i will do now anyway as i can't be bitten like this all the time, but it doesnt really solve it. Giving him a treat for good behaviour has made him walk beautifully in that he doesn't plant and will follow you all the way, but it has the down side that he anticipates a treat, and it is making him more mouthy.

He is like a colt, the lips are going all the time and he is just frisky. He hasn't a clue that he is misbehaving, he thinks he is being good. And he has such a sweet nature and loving nature and adores people that i don't want to be hard on him and make him fearful of me, given god knows what happened to him in France where he was going for slaughter.

He is utterly perfect to handle in all other ways. Feet, rugs, eye drops, wormers, anything else, totally no trouble. If you pick up a broom he is terrified. When being led in FROM the field, he walks perfectly and doesn't snake and snap, he is just concentrating on getting in for dinner and walks perfectly nicely. He just doesn't know any better.

I may try to find someone locally who can do some NH stuff with me as I would like someone else to see him and maybe give me some ideas - should i carry a short cane? He tends to walk behind me rather than alongside i.e. nose at my shoulder or slightly behind, and if i take him by the noseband and try to bring him slightly forward of me to see where the mouth is, he tends to play with my hand more.

There is utterly no malice in him, he is a total softy, he just hasn't been trained - he is now 6 years old - and knows no better. I don't want to be hard on him but this needs to stop now before it gets out of hand and maybe next time it is my face.
 

Trewsers

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No words of advice - just wanted to say I hope somebody on here (or hope you can get some help with him). Sounds like you've taken on a project and a half. Do hope your finger is better soon. I honestly wouldn't like to offer any advice for biting, as Storm used to do it with me, but not like that, that which you describe sounds a lot more serious.
 

diplomaticandtactful

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Apr 25, 2003
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Trewsers he is an utter luvvie, he's not nasty, he just doesn't understand. so we just have to find the key to explaining it to him.

He's not a remotely aggressive person, soft as butter, his problem is he is just too loving and wants me to be part of his herd and play games!
 

bitsnpieces

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Aug 22, 2007
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Look up the Monty Roberts exercises for nipping etc as he has some effective methods of countering it. You could also try a short sharp pinch on the neck if he bites you? To sort of feel like you're biting him back?
 

diplomaticandtactful

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i have been using elbows as a weapon to keep him off.

he's also not well, vet been out and tubed him to see if he has a blockage - as the underside of his neck is swollen and he is prone to choking. he stood and had blood taken, injections, tube down his nose to his stomach, all without sedation. so he is such a good boy.
 

Elly Koopman

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Try a jif lemon - its a Richard Maxwell tip and it really works as we did it for my youngster. You carry it in your spare hand and when he starts mouthing or going in for a nibble you squirt it at his mouth. It took a total of about 6 squirts (over maybe 4 nibbles) and he stopped :)
 

bitsnpieces

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Aug 22, 2007
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Awww, bless his wee cottons!!!

When they've been ill sometimes these problems crop up when you spend so much time with them they start to think of you as an equine - my filly was overhandled due to illness as a baby and she has only just accepted that she can't just climb into my space or engage me in play at her every wish!

So lovely to hear that you recognise it as play though - there are so many people that punish for this behaviour in a way that isn't suitable
 

sjp1

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Sep 14, 2009
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No words of advice either - am so sorry for your finger - I too have a sore finger where Toby tonight was pratting around and the rope has hurt the end of it.

I do though think you might like to contact the Donkey Sanctuary at Ottery St. Mary in Devon - they have so many donkeys through their hands - am just not sure whether donkeys have the same mentality as horses. My father used to ranch in Venezuela and they used to ride mules as well as horses. Fa says the mules were very different to horses in loads of ways (perhaps my own Toby is a mule in disguise!) and from my own limited experience of them they do seem to be.

Anyway, hope finger is OK
 

diplomaticandtactful

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I have kept donkeys for 20 years including wild unhandled ones, so it is more a horse/training issue than specific to donkeys. Donkeys are very smart and cunning but perfectly trainable if motivated. Ours are good with rugs, farrier, worming, jabs, clipping, as they are all well handled. Mr T is very good with all this as well, it's just he is being a bit colty/enthusiastic rather than bad. I don't want to do stuff with him to make him headshy/worried as he has clearly been bashed in the past - if you pick up a broom he stands in a corner and shakes like a leaf, so he has to be handled sensitively. I just need him to appreciate me more as herd leader and not his best pal.
 

Skippys Mum

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I pulled Arnies whiskers when he did it to me when he was younger. It gave him a shock without me actually having to shout or raise a hand to him. A short sharp tug on his whiskers certainly surprised him. I dont even think he realised it was me that did it. He nipped me and it hurt him:eek:

I did it twice and the problem went away:D
 

carthorse

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Jim was a very mouthy (& that's being charitable) youngster. Then one day he bit, not nipped, me when my hand was covered in Cornucrescine - never again! The look on his face was one of absolute horror & he couldn't spit it out because it was stuck on his teeth - I nearly wet myself laughing! He's never bitten since & he still walks off if he smells Cornucrescine :giggle:. Maybe you could set him up to nip a part of you that's covered in something that tastes bad? An old coat sleeve perhaps?
 

Wally

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Hmm, he seems to be lacking any respect for your space.

I'd be gently affirming that my space is mine and he can only come into it when he's been invited, or if he asks nicely.

I'd start by not allowing him to touch you with his nose, no treats from the hand at all. If he comes into your space the "funky chicken" is a good way of sending them away, just flap your elbows out and suddenly come to a very sudden and determined upright halt. Even stamping your feet or clicking your heels together as a mare would giving a foal a warning. You don;t have to smack him, just make him realise his behaviour is not welcome.

Once he understands biting, nudging, bunting and barging is not allowed, then he can be allowed back into your space....on your terms.

He's bright enough to pick things up fast, it won't be long before he gets the plot. But no feeling sorry for him and allowing the odd small nudge. You space for now is a no go area.
 

fairlady

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Jul 14, 2007
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Have to totally agree with Wally. I had a Youngster that would invade
your space all the time and would nip and bite, but all 'playful' more so
than malice and I would find myself making excuses for him.

HOWEVER, lol, it hurt and at the end of the day I was fed up with bruises
so put plan 2 into action. NO MORE INVASION OF SPACE, and I stuck
by that firmly........it didn't take too long tbh before he realised that
my space was just that......MINE:biggrin:
 

eml

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I agree with Wally. One of the first things we do with new horses is to remove any idea of human brings treats, gently but firmly push heads away that demand attention and get then to walk up and ahead of our shoulder. I hate horses that are behind as you are not in a position to monitor what they are looking at!!

Once they understand walking at arms length (I tend to use elbows to push out/carry a dressage stick held behind me if they insist on lagging behind) then I work on inviting them to me..head is rubbed when I initiate it never when they push first. All of ours will now happily and safely groom their favourite human if invited but importantly wait for the invite and stop when asked.

I also believe if a horse bites you the best thing you can do is a big bit of play acting/reality drama of loud and serious 'ouch help..that hurt , ooooow eeeeh'...does far more to convince the horse it has down wrong than smacks or biting back!!
 

diplomaticandtactful

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Apr 25, 2003
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thanks everyone. i will withdraw all affection from him and any touching specially nose area and be a mean nasty flapping monster - at the time he had my finger gripped tightly between his teeth and not letting go, even though i was trying to prise his jaws apart with the other hand, the only thing that instinctively came to mind to get him to release was to bite him on a tender bit and yes he did drop the contact instantly.

he isn't actually disrespectful of space, if you open the stable door and ask him to back up he does it. without a murmur.

he just likes being hugged and made a fuss of. and i don't want to destroy his trust/affection as he is underneath it all easily scared, it's a hard balance to get right. today with all the vet stuff he was shaking like a leaf, but he allowed it all to be done without sedation, so there is a lot of good stuff about him.

he has only been given treats for about 1 week now, as an aid to keeping him walking nicely but they will go now. I was concerned about using them, as i thought it might make him worse. and i don't feed treats to any of the others, basically he got one treat to start him leading, and one when his collar came off when he was finished. he also likes being rewarded by having his forehead scratched but only when i initiate it. i never let them scratch on me or be forward like that it is on my terms.

his main issue is not understanding leading and while he was lagging behind a bit, and i didn't like it at all as you can't see what the blighter is up to, it was better than him planting and not moving at all and just standing there looking at you! he just doesn't know what is wanted of him and i'm clearly doing a crap job of explaining it to him.
 

pauline w

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Sep 22, 2009
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I would muzzle him so he can't get a grip with his teeth when you are leading him. If he tries to bite, say 'NO', and tap the back of his knee (not hard enough to knock him over though) Mommy donkeys reprimand their babies by nipping their legs and they play dominance games in a herd like this too. Check on the donkey breed society forum and donkey sanctuary websites, I'm sure they will have loads of advice.

On leading ... I use parelli/NH halters and leading ropes, don't just pull him forward, if he plants his feet put pressure to one side so it off balances him, he should take a few steps then lots of praise, he'll probably then plant again so tip him the other way. Tellington touch way of teaching donkeys to lead works well too. I haven't done that for a long time but can find out more for you if you want me to. I wouldn't go flapping elbows like we do for horses, that doesn't mean anything to donkeys except that you're a scarey thing to be avoided at all costs. I always give my lot treats and none of them bite (except the chickens, little thieves)
 
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