biting - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 08-15-2010, 04:10 PM Thread Starter
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Hi everyone. I'm new to this forum and glad to have found it. We have recently adopted a 10 year old mare and her 4 month old colt. I'm sure that I will have a billion questions but right now I am concerned with the colt's biting! Honestly what I've been doing is popping him for it. He's not afraid or timid or anything and I've even seen him biting his mom on the behind until she kicked at him. Why is he doing that? My thought is that it is sort of a way of establishing dominance or just obnoxious but he likes to bite other stuff too. Maybe it's his age? My mom has a colt and a filly the same age and they don't bite. Any thoughts?
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post #2 of 11 Old 08-15-2010, 04:24 PM
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When I saw the topic of this post, my first thought was 'smack it'. However, with a young horse, you don't want them to become hand shy, so it's a bit hard to discipline them in this way. It is an age thing, and while your mom's aren't doing the same, every horse is different. You need to find a way to make sure he is well and truly aware that it is not on and not acceptable. Maybe forcing him to back off in a similar way to his dam - throwing some weight and pushing him back?
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post #3 of 11 Old 08-15-2010, 04:25 PM
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Push him away...hard. Use your body the way a horse would and drive him away from you. Teach him to respect your space.
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post #4 of 11 Old 08-17-2010, 08:11 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you. I have been using my weight now. Maybe after he is gelded he will stop doing so much of this. I'm so excited to have found this forum. Hopefully I'll have some time this weekend to just read through a bunch of stuff. I always had horses while growing up but this is the first time in my 'adult life' that I have had them so there is a lot to learn and refresh.
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post #5 of 11 Old 08-17-2010, 08:26 AM
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Some babies are really "mouthy". Elbows work really well, the end of a lead.....I would not be too worried about the "hand shy" issue. After all, I am pretty sure he won't become afraid of his mom just because she kicks him to discipline him......

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post #6 of 11 Old 08-17-2010, 09:17 AM
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Stud colts are NOTORIOUS for being biters, much worse than fillys IME. You definitely want to nip it in the bud asap though. Push him away, pop his nose with the lead, maneuver your elbow so he hits himself on it. Watch him, normally they give a tiny warning before they try to nip. My boy would act like he was sniffing the ground, get very still and look at me out of the corner of his eye, and then quick as a snake try and grab my leg. When you see it stop the thought before it's completely formed. Working with him in other ways will only help instill your dominance over him. Is he leading yet? Picking up feet? I tend to keep it very simple as far as training a foal until they're weaned, but there are a few things I start very early. Picking up feet, leading, and loading, and not crowding me. Good luck with your little turd!
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post #7 of 11 Old 08-17-2010, 09:06 PM Thread Starter
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He had never had a halter on when he got here. We have established a routine when I get home in the evening, they come in from the pasture, we put halter on Emmy (mare) and lead for about 10-15 min. then she gets sweet feed, then we put halter on Bourbon (colt) and lead for around 10 min. He is getting a little better every day. The first time we had the halter on it took me around an hour to get it on him. I've lifted his feet a little but not much. The mare has been rode in the past but in recent years has been a brooding mare so I want to re-break her. I don't think it will be horrible. I've put some weight on her and she's not freaked about it. It's been a while for me and if it becomes obvious that I'm in over my head, I have no problem getting help (although I am a bit

Thanks again for all of the great advice and support! I work in mental health and it is awesome to come home and work with them and sort of let go of my day. I can see how equine therapy comes into play!
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post #8 of 11 Old 08-17-2010, 10:37 PM
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Welcome to foalhood.

I don't think a foal has been born that didn't end up getting several dozen elbows to the nose before s/he learned that humans and clothing and anything attached to humans IS NOT TO BE IN YOUR MOUTH. It's completely typical, all foals go through the "MUST CHEW EVERYTHING" stage.

A headshy horse is almost exclusively created from a flailing hand, not from a smart pop on the nose. Winding up to make a big arc with your hand to slap him is what makes them headshy because they learn to associate arms in the air with pain. A smart slap under the chin or a sharp elbow to the nose is great because they don't associate a specific movement with getting popped.

I also don't believe "fiddle farting" around does any good. Three dozen little taps are going to be meaningless compared to one solid pop on the nose and a loud QUIT. They figure it out fast from Momma, they can figure it out just as fast from you!

Best of luck, foals are the BEST therapy, I swear!

I hope God tells her to smash her computer with a sledgehammer.

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post #9 of 11 Old 08-18-2010, 03:08 AM
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You move your feet, you lose your seat!

I had the same problem with my 2 year old. Horse's minds work in weird ways. In a herd, if a horse can get another horse to move his feet, the horse is considered dominant. (Ever seen a horse put his ears back and the other horse scurries away? The horse with the ears back established his dominance previously, and now is able to get the other horse to move his feet easily). So in the horse's head, if YOU make HIM move his legs, he thinks he's supposed to respect you.

So if your horse tries to nip at you, back him up. Obviously he's not going to all of a sudden bow down to you, so make sure that you STICK WITH IT! Do not get lazy, because you'll have to start all over! You can vary between backing him up and yeilding him to the side for variation (but don't make him walk forward, as they do this anyway so the other two are more effective). Once you establish dominance, the horse will NOT nip at you because you are now his "herd leader"!

I also recommend this for people's horses who DON'T bite too!! It strengthens your relationship!

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post #10 of 11 Old 08-18-2010, 07:50 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks to both of you. Kendall, that is great information to know. That will come in handy with both him and the mare. She is a sweet heart but when she has her mind on something, she can be very stubborn (like her new momma). So, I have been going about it a bit 'wrong' with the colt. Usually I do know when he's thinking about biting (although he's caught me off guard a few times). I usually stand still and tell him no. As soon as I see that he's thinking about it, I will push him... not just to push his head away but to make his feet move. I can't wait to start trying it out.
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