Anything else I can do? (two probs...feeding and biting)
   

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Anything else I can do? (two probs...feeding and biting)

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  • Horse licks and chews at feeding time

 
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    03-26-2010, 12:23 AM
  #1
Weanling
Anything else I can do? (two probs...feeding and biting)

I've had Pickles a month now, and recently a certain vice of his has come to light, no doubt helped along by my BO's habit of hand-feeding treats to him every day (despite me saying no, but she still does...one of the many reasons we're moving barns in a week).

He's very mouthy. I do not tolerate him grabbing my clothing. When first he did this, I made the angry "Aaaa" sound...I hope you know the one...and made a quick motion with my hands. He'd let go and it would be fine and dandy.

Recently, he's been aiming for skin. I'm not sure where this came from but I have a feeling it has something to do with me not having treats for him when he expects it. Last time he managed to nip me, my fist flew toward his nose but his head was up in a second and I missed. I reprimanded him in a deep angry voice and got him to trot away from me.

Next time he tried it, I actually managed to land one on his nose, but this just p*ssed him off even further. The ears went back, the tail swished and he invaded my space. I didn't have a rope or whip or anything with me so I started waving my arms and yelling at him and lunging at him to move back, but he was having nothing of it and getting more aggresive by the second. Then the next moment something falls in the neighbor's workshop and he spooks and bolts off.

He's normally very sweet on the ground but when you tell him off aggressively for nipping at your clothing in play behaviour, he just gets worse...and it's not a play behaviour any more but a push for dominance and a dangerous situation. I really popped him that one time, his nose was closer than I expected.

I might add that the mere presence of a whip sets him off tearing around the paddock, and thwacking it on the ground only makes him lunge at you. Landing it on his chest to get him to back off makes him strike out. Otherwise I'd take the whip in with me to tell him off...not hit him, but get him out of my space...whenever the biting resurfaces, but it just seems to make matters worse.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Second...he has food issues. Which makes sense as he was about a 2.5 on the body condition scale when we got him. He's become super aggressive at feeding time...rearing close by, bucking, ears pinned, tearing around. As I come into the paddock with the hay, he invades my space again and I growl/yell at him, but like I explained earlier this makes him even more aggressive. The last few times I have made him stand by his feeding tire a few seconds before dumping it in there.

I accept he might always have some slight issues, but will this extreme behaviour dissipate through time as he becomes more trustful of us?

This new barn has a trainer who will be helping us with him but I wanted to know any possible suggestions you may have. He is 13, a gelding and a purebred arab. He has been shuffled from home to home and from my knowledge has mostly been sitting for over a year. His previous owner let him get away with a lot of stuff.

I'm aware it's a dominance issue, but if a hard pop in the nose only makes him more defensive, what can be done?
     
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    03-26-2010, 12:33 AM
  #2
Banned
Consult a trainer. If he doesn't fear OR respect the whip, you have a big problem.
     
    03-26-2010, 12:39 AM
  #3
Weanling
See, I think he does fear the whip, but reacts offensively to it rather than running...like the "fight" response overriding the flight, which sounds unreasonable but it's all I can come up with. It's almost like he's been beat with a whip before and has it in his mind that he is going to attack the whip-holder before the whip attacks him.

This trainer knows her stuff so I'm hoping she can help. I got ahold of his breeder recently and apparently he is a responsive ride and has done longe line classes with a young child on his back before, but this issue about not being able handle a reprimand when he is naughty needs to be fixed.
     
    03-26-2010, 01:28 AM
  #4
Weanling
As far as the feeding issue, perhaps what he is talking about would work...


Only problem, is he is boarded and I can not be there all the time to halter him when I feed. Current BO is scared to enter his paddock at this point so she swings the food over the fence. New place has them in smaller runs with the tubs right next to the fence, so the feeder does the same. :/

Man I can't wait until they are in our backyard...
     
    03-26-2010, 08:11 AM
  #5
Green Broke
You are doing it right. When it comes to him invading your space. Just don't back down. I think he is testing you. Nip it in the butt now. I would prohibit anyone from feeding him treats by hand until you get his nipping, biting and aggression under control. I also think with the feeding issue, he will settle down when he learns to trust you. I know how you feel about wanting him in your own backyard. I would be worried someone could only be making his aggression worse. My horses arent in my backyard but they are at my relatives and its nice to be able to know they arent being abused physically or mentally. Just do your best with him. If it seems to get worse even tho you are doing your ****est I would try and find another barn. I know,,, easier said then done. I would work with him on the ground. Make him move his feet backward, sideways and forward. If he protests, and he will.. keep at it. He needs to realize you are his leader. Yes use the whip. I would try to desensitize him to it. Rub him alot with it. Scratch him with it. Just an extension of your hand. If it becomes a very dangerous situation then I suggest a trainer. You know your limits. He doesnt respect you yet nor does he trust you. But until you figure out what you want to do, try not to let him get away with any of it. Good luck. I would also watch alot of Clinton Anderson. Teaching for respect, I think that's what its called. I think he is a great trainer. Just my opinion.
     
    03-26-2010, 12:11 PM
  #6
Banned
Okay, I just thought of something, so forgive me if you said this in the OP. These charging problems, are they in his stall, or out in the field?
     
    03-26-2010, 02:10 PM
  #7
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbender    
You are doing it right. When it comes to him invading your space. Just don't back down. I think he is testing you. Nip it in the butt now. I would prohibit anyone from feeding him treats by hand until you get his nipping, biting and aggression under control. I also think with the feeding issue, he will settle down when he learns to trust you. I know how you feel about wanting him in your own backyard. I would be worried someone could only be making his aggression worse. My horses arent in my backyard but they are at my relatives and its nice to be able to know they arent being abused physically or mentally. Just do your best with him. If it seems to get worse even tho you are doing your ****est I would try and find another barn. I know,,, easier said then done. I would work with him on the ground. Make him move his feet backward, sideways and forward. If he protests, and he will.. keep at it. He needs to realize you are his leader. Yes use the whip. I would try to desensitize him to it. Rub him alot with it. Scratch him with it. Just an extension of your hand. If it becomes a very dangerous situation then I suggest a trainer. You know your limits. He doesnt respect you yet nor does he trust you. But until you figure out what you want to do, try not to let him get away with any of it. Good luck. I would also watch alot of Clinton Anderson. Teaching for respect, I think that's what its called. I think he is a great trainer. Just my opinion.
Thank you for the advice. Yeah, he is being moved at the end of this week (fingers crossed) to this new place where I don't have to worry about people feeding him treats and doing odd things around him behind my back.

I've been doing a lot of groundwork with him, on the lead rope and the longe line. He leads fine and stops with his head at my shoulder the instant I stop. He was violent longeing in his least favourite direction, but I can now get him to halt, walk, trot through voice both directions...he licks and chews, puts his head down. I can control him and I seem to have obtained the alpha position.

But what I've been noticing is that when the halter is off, he immedietly looses respect. If I go into his paddock to just say hi or clean or feed, with him sans halter, he starts trying to grab my clothing...I growl or reprimand him sharply with my voice, the ears immedietly go back and he starts grabbing with more earnest. I throw my hands at him, he does little rears and jigging and tail swishing...and it escalates from there. He's not mean, but once that halter is off it's like we're back at square one. If the halter is on, and he's tied or being led, he's absolutely fine.

I never back down...but I've had some near misses. I've been watching training videos and I know you're not supposed to give ground, as that's a signal to him that he's won, but it's kinda hard to not dodge to the side and take a few steps back when he whirls around and kicks out.

Like I said, I've been working on the respect thing when he's on a line or lead rope, and he's picture perfect and seems to have given in, but once the halter is off...

So...I'm not disheartened at all, I'm willing to work him through this (hey, he was free afterall...those types of horses usually come with some baggage ).


Justsambam - He's in a large paddock right now. In the new place he will be in a much smaller area with a horse on either side...it's the equivelent in size to a stall with a run, although the "stall" part is a three-sided shelter on the end.
     
    03-26-2010, 02:36 PM
  #8
Yearling
I would use his "fear" of the whip to your advantage. I would walk in with the whip, if he invades your space wave it around and let him tear around the pasture. Then when he comes back and if he's respectful keep the whip down, if he tries to dominate you then bring it and your energy back up and send him away. If he learns that dominating you = work and being nice and calm = peace then he should get the picture. Instead of getting into a wrestling match with a horse, you want to keep them moving. Just shoving him away will result in him dominating you, but if you send him far away and only allow him to come back when he behaves he will probably pick it up fast.
Also, don't stand your ground and get run over. If bailing is the difference between being hurt or standing your ground then by all means MOVE! If your horse is striking and coming after you, you standing your ground is not going to solve the problem and moving is not really going to make it any worse. As long as you moving away isn't the last thing that horse remembers for the day. Let him calm himself down, then go back in and ask him to move away from you again. Push, retreat, push retreat. Until you no longer have to retreat is what I would do with this guy. Also, use a real lunge whip so you can be 5-10 feet away from him. If you're using a short whip then you are going to be too close. He can rear and strike and kick and buck 10 feet away from you and it isn't a problem but you don't want to have him doing this 3 feet from you. If he does get aggressive when you are close then slowly back off but don't take the pressure off of him just get out of his way.
     
    03-26-2010, 03:06 PM
  #9
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by NittanyEquestrian    
I would use his "fear" of the whip to your advantage. I would walk in with the whip, if he invades your space wave it around and let him tear around the pasture. Then when he comes back and if he's respectful keep the whip down, if he tries to dominate you then bring it and your energy back up and send him away. If he learns that dominating you = work and being nice and calm = peace then he should get the picture. Instead of getting into a wrestling match with a horse, you want to keep them moving. Just shoving him away will result in him dominating you, but if you send him far away and only allow him to come back when he behaves he will probably pick it up fast.
Also, don't stand your ground and get run over. If bailing is the difference between being hurt or standing your ground then by all means MOVE! If your horse is striking and coming after you, you standing your ground is not going to solve the problem and moving is not really going to make it any worse. As long as you moving away isn't the last thing that horse remembers for the day. Let him calm himself down, then go back in and ask him to move away from you again. Push, retreat, push retreat. Until you no longer have to retreat is what I would do with this guy. Also, use a real lunge whip so you can be 5-10 feet away from him. If you're using a short whip then you are going to be too close. He can rear and strike and kick and buck 10 feet away from you and it isn't a problem but you don't want to have him doing this 3 feet from you. If he does get aggressive when you are close then slowly back off but don't take the pressure off of him just get out of his way.
Thanks, this makes a lot of sense! I've never had to deal with a horse like this before so I worry that I am just making things worse...hearing stuff like this is reassuring. Although I will say, working with him is teaching me a lot of confidence, lol.

I will do the push/repeat with the longe whip tomorrow when I'm over there, with him in the largest paddock so I'll have some room to maneuver. He has purposefully run my direction a few times in similar situations where I was using the longe whip to get him off, so I'll have to take care not to get pinned by a fence.
     
    03-26-2010, 03:42 PM
  #10
Banned
You can teach a horse (and I have on more than one occasion) to not be nippy by rewarding WITH food. It's not the food that is the issue, or the hand-feeding, but rather the timing of the reward.

Anyway, before I tell you how that's done, you have to fix the bigger issue, which in turn will turn down the volume on the nipping issue you have as well.

When he ups the pressure on you, you MUST reciprocate with an equal rise in pressure of your own. This means for awhile you need to arm yourself with the advantage (and for protection...keep yourself safe!) until he's learned that you can not be fooled with. As long as he keeps upping the pressure, you MUST continue to match it, until he concedes. That's the only way. And you'd better do it right quickly.
     

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