Bitten today- the big question WHY? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 11-16-2013, 02:48 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Australia
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Arrow Bitten today- the big question WHY?

A set back and fright today- making me second guess if what I'm doing is good or not. I started clicker training 6 days ago(you can see my journal entries here on the forum in the member journals section)is going well.
Up in the paddock today just hanging out with Beau, no clicker training.
Gave him some lucerne to eat from bucket, he ate that calmly, I stood nearby watching, not interfering at all.
Afterwards when he had enough he walked to me, gave him a pat and he seemed enjoying it and relaxed.
I was standing next to him, in the paddock, leaning on the fence with my head turned the other way and he bit my arm out of the blue. I was shocked really. He gave no hint that he would do that. I gave him a quick smack on the mouth and a quick verbal.
I just stood there though because I was shocked I guess. It didn't hurt or anything but i did feel his whole mouth on my arm. When I was looking at him I noticed his sheath was fully out, like he was very relaxed. What the?....
Was he trying to get my attention, treating me like another horse what the hell went through his mind? I'm now thinking was it because he used to getting clicker treats now and expects it?..
I know a lot of people are for it and a lot are not. I'm new to horses so I really just want to find out the psychology behind his horsey mind. I have a teenage daughter to look out for who loves horses and when fully ready wants her own, but I know if she's the one that gets bitten, it will put her right off.
Any ideas behind his frame of mind would be great. Also any book or DVD on horse psychology that anyone recommends?
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post #2 of 18 Old 11-16-2013, 04:51 AM
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It could be the treats, but I wouldn't jump to that conclusion after it happening just once and you not actually seeing what led up to it. Getting your attention is possible, also. Were you wearing something new or different that could have a familiar (e.g. treat) or unfamiliar smell/look/etc? Horses are very curious and taking things in their mouth is a way to examine them.
All that said, don't over think it. You may never know the why, but you never want the behavior, so correct it like you did, move on, and don't let it affect your training plans.

On the sixth day, God created the Quarter Horse.
On the seventh day, he Painted the good ones.
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post #3 of 18 Old 11-16-2013, 05:51 AM
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Central Western NSW, Australia
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By what you said, it's possible that he was treating you like a herd member. Sounds like he could have even been trying to give you a scratch - you know how horses will scratch each other with their teeth? No matter what, if it was done violently, you'd know about it. As it is it's 'just' a nuisance, and you corrected it well.
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post #4 of 18 Old 11-16-2013, 06:46 AM
Join Date: Dec 2010
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It is 100% a lack of respect!! Spend more time being the adult leader in the relationship and less time trying to be his buddy and friend. You need to be in charge and he needs to respect your place in your 'pecking order' of two.
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post #5 of 18 Old 11-16-2013, 06:46 AM
Join Date: Jan 2013
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My horse has done the same thing when I decided to spend time with him in the pasture, just petting him for like 30 minutes. He got relaxed and then rested his teeth on my leg. Fortunately, he only touches his teeth and let's go, he doesn't chomp on stuff.
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post #6 of 18 Old 11-16-2013, 08:57 AM
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And this is why I don't like clicker or treat training.

I can stand by mine all day long and none of them would ever consider biting me.

I agree with Cherie.
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post #7 of 18 Old 11-16-2013, 09:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
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My previous mare was not a biter at all, and I didn't ever give her treats. There was one time, just one, when I was Scritching her and she was loving it, and she got so carried away in the moment that she started to mutual groom me - as in she brought her teeth onto my jacket to start 'scritching' me. I stopped her instantly, and she looked very embarrassed and never did it again.

Was it a 'bite' caused perhaps by annoyance at the lack of treats?

Or was it a 'grab in mouth' to mutual groom?

Neither should of course be tolerated, but they do have diverse causes.

Don't dwell on it, just learn to be watching your horse when you are with him, rather than looking the other way

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post #8 of 18 Old 11-16-2013, 09:53 AM
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I had a gelding that became like a stallion only one day, 3 days before a woman's menses cycle began. As for the clicker training, it is imperative you extend your arm so the horse has to turn his head away from your body to receive the treat. When he begins to understand what you are teaching, it is time to wean him off as he has learned it.
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post #9 of 18 Old 11-16-2013, 09:41 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Australia
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I have to say at this point of time it has totally put me off of clicker training. I think to truly learn it, I would need a trainers support which I don't have.
I agree that I think he was just trying to give me a horse scratch.
However I agree it's just not on, if he ever does it again he'll get a boof in the nose again next time much harder!
I understand about being the leader and boss of the two of us, but there is nothing wrong with spending time with your horse in the paddock! I am not of the attitude of some horse owners who think horses are for riding and telling what to do and that's the end of it. Horses are not dogs, I get it. But every animal can have a little love and hangout time with a human. Nothing wrong with being a horses leader and ' friend'!
Anyways thank you all for your insights. I feel better with the situation now.
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post #10 of 18 Old 11-16-2013, 09:51 PM
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Southeastern PA
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Tombo, I believe that you can be a leader to your horse and just hang out in the pasture with them, I do it all the time. However, the moment the horse crosses the line, they get a swift reminder. The problem is that they take back the lead gradually, and unless you are experienced, you might not notice.

For me, my horse's rewards are scratches to the neck, good boys, and some love. He's not treated, and so enjoys that just as much. To me that's still positive behavior reinforcement, without creating a mouthy biting horse.
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