I had a reader question recently that I thought was quite timely as I have been thinking a lot lately about R-E-S-P-E-C-T and horses.
I am a faithful reader of your blog. I wrote to you for the first time about l
ongeing my rescue horse and how to stop her from cheating on the circle and changing directions and found your advice perfect and immediately affective. So I had to write you again…
I have a second question, the Woman who helps me work with that rescue horse has a quarter horse arab up for sale, I have been riding him and happened to fall in love with him and have experienced that once in a life time fit. She gifted me the horse, I know I’m in shock too.
She had let 10 buyers go by and said when she saw how we clicked and bonded that it was more important that he be loved the way he deserved to be loved rather than selling him to the highest bidder. He is by far the most eager and loving horse I’ve ever owned.
He is obedient, will go where ever when ever and through what ever I want. He is the first horse I have honestly ever trusted with not one vice till now.
He always has to touch me by either licking my hand, smelling me, or just touching me with his muzzle, he is 15 and was born at the ranch and very affectionate and fond of people as are all of Jill’s horses.
He is like a guard horse and wont let any other horses near me if he can help it (only while I’m in the pasture with him).
I have spoiled him rotten with something always being in my hand for him…as I’m sure you have all ready figured out what my problem is..lol.
I have stopped giving him treats, it kills me but I have too because now when ever I enter the pasture he comes to me right away and is all over me looking for the goodies and does not believe me when I tell him I have none.
Today I almost lost my fingers, my ear, and my boobies hahaha.
So I’ve created this monster now how do I turn him back to the gentleman he used to be?
Just a note, Jill in the 15yrs that she owned him rarely if ever treated him, once in a while they would get carrots in their buckets and occasionally a piece of a carrot after a good ride.
I’m afraid I have spoiled him into alpha horse when I am on the ground with him. I have a good sense of timing when it comes to pressure and release or take and give but I don’t know what to do on the ground to stop this mouthing.
He’s like a puppy that wants to lick everybody all the time. I have stopped washing my hair with my apple shampoo (please don’t ask).
I’m so glad I could help you with your longe line problem!
How great is it that she gifted you the horse? That does not happen everyday so the two of you must really have something special.
I think this is a great example of how treats can bring out the dark side on even the most well behaved horse!
One of my students has a horse that loves to nibble on her, and she was telling me about a trainer who uses treats to train the horse to stop being mouthy. Right away a red flag was raised, and I said, “Treats often lead to aggression in horses”. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but even the most wonderful horse can turn on you when given treats by hand.
Horses are completely different than most other domesticated animals.
So with that established, we can get to the “fix” for the problem.
A few things that I use to rehab a biter:
1. Never allowing the horse near my hand or any other body part without my initiation
2. I “bite” the horse back with my hand
3. A good knee/thigh to the belly
A horse that bites and is not a pig will give you some signals before he bites you.
If a horse bites or threatens to bite at me I will make my hand into a claw, and intercept at the side of the horse’s mouth allowing him to “punish himself”.
rse’s face to make sure he is not afraid of my hand. I want him respectful of my space, not fearful.
With a more aggressive horse you will probably need to use method number 3.
And finally, be consistent it will help the horse to stop the behavior much quicker. Remember to keep his head away from you, and correct him every single time he tries to turn his head, with no negotiation. Have the attitude, “I said it, I mean it, and you’re going to do it!” toward the horse. I would hate for you lose a finger, an ear or especially a breast (OUCH)!
How to check your work:
If your horse is visibly frightened of you, then you are being much too aggressive. Back off and take it down a notch.
If your horse is not responding, or you have to keep doing it over and over again and he’s not improving then you are being too passive. Take it up a notch.
If you horse stops biting respects you and is calmer, congratulations you just rehabbed the biter!