Biting?? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 09-26-2011, 09:12 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Biting??

So, my 3 year old gelding, Donovan, is a biter. And it’s super annoying, because I’d love to walk him around the farm and stuff (spookyness is NOT a problem with him), but it’s so difficult because when he gets bored or just feels bossy, he’ll reach over and bite you (and there’s nothing you can do to stop it unless you’re waiting for it). I really want to stop the habit. It’s like, he doesn’t even think about it. He just does it because it’s what he’s done all his life. He bites people, other horses, and all objects. So it’s going to be a really tough habit to break, only being able to work on one tiny aspect of the habit during a minuscule portion of his day.

Please give me your advice! Yes, I do groundwork with him. He does everything I ask of him perfectly. But he usually does it while trying to nip at me. I’ve tried backing him up extensively after he tries to bite, but he’ll just try to bite while I’m backing him up or after I stop. Which brings me to another point.. I can't explain to you how smart this horse is! He is incredibly, INCREDIBLY smart. And he knows it, too. He gets bored easily, and makes frequent attempts at outsmarting both people and horses.

Google’s not helping me so I’d like to hear your suggestions! :/ I REALLY need to correct this habit while he's still young!!


Last edited by KendallAR; 09-26-2011 at 09:15 PM.
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post #2 of 24 Old 09-26-2011, 10:02 PM
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I would suggest maybe carrying around a small spray or squirt bottle of sour apple and when he does it, or you see hes attempting to do it give him a big ol splash of it in his mouth! i know we use it on our horses when they are cribbing but im not sure how well it will work when just walking around and him getting bored :/ good luck though! :)

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post #3 of 24 Old 09-26-2011, 10:11 PM
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I have always been taught if a horse bites you, punch it right in the nose, HARD. don't do it after, make sure it is while they are reaching to bite or chomping down ;)
but in my experience they've learned it hurts THEM to bite us pretty darn quickly.

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post #4 of 24 Old 09-26-2011, 10:26 PM
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Originally Posted by ridergirl23 View Post
I have always been taught if a horse bites you, punch it right in the nose, HARD. don't do it after, make sure it is while they are reaching to bite or chomping down ;)
but in my experience they've learned it hurts THEM to bite us pretty darn quickly.
I've been taught a tap on the nose - though I've never had 'aggressive' bitters more such 'cheeky' bitters. I could see punching them, in the nose hard could cause more damage then good and could lead to future trust issues or head shyness. Although, if you do it too softly - some horses believe this is an invite to continue doing this, like it's a game. You want to find the correct 'strength' to discourage this behavior. Though - at the same time, if he bit another horse out in the pasture I grantee they are going to get him back, a lot harder than you could.

Of course, I am not saying that biting should be a habit that is taken lightly nor am I saying that you are wrong or your idea is, I'm just offering something I have learned which is different. I do however agree with correcting the behavior while they are in the act instead of after. You want to make sure the horse fully understands what they are being punished for. Also, don't stop what you are doing - punish than quickly continue what you are doing and go on like it didn't happen.

Also, if you think he's going to bite, chances are that he is more likely too. Horses can sense what we are feeling - be aware of it, but don't prance around him watching his mouth every two seconds. It suggests 'Hey, I'm scared of you biting me' - Therefore it's almost like 'giving the horse a point'.

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Last edited by ChingazMyBoy; 09-26-2011 at 10:33 PM.
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post #5 of 24 Old 09-26-2011, 10:31 PM
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When you are doing groundwork you have to make his feet hustle, forward, back side to side. Make him move away from you and come back but only as far as your arm will reach. Look and act like you will kill him if he takes one step closer. Wave your arms and lead at him to back him up, and his back feet have to move, not just his fronts. The more you move him the more dominant you become in his eyes. If you have to deliver a hard smack to his chest or neck, then do so but make it count and only one. Another horse would bite or kick him for being disrespectful. By hard smack I'm talking a riding crop, stout stick, etc. not your hand.
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post #6 of 24 Old 09-26-2011, 10:43 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys, these are all SO helpful!

In response to a few things Chingazmyboy said:

-Yeah it's rather cheeky when he does it. He's not really worried about hurting me, it's more of a bored "let's do this now" type of thing.

-"Like a game"-- YES, this is something that's been holding me back from hitting him when he bites! If he were to bite another horse in the pasture and the other horse bit him back, Donny would either rear or bite back again to start a play-fight. That's just his nature. If I bite you and you bite back, you must want to play! Although I think I should just look past this and just hit him when he bites. If I'm consistent enough, I'm sure he'll get the message sooner or later.

-Yes, he definitely does sense that I'm anticipating it. He hardly ever tries to bite my mom (who is more confident). Although, when he does, he really bites her! He's never actually gotten a bite on me because I always anticipate it, so it's a tough call.
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post #7 of 24 Old 09-26-2011, 10:53 PM
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This sounds a lot like my yearling. He is extremely mouthy and has been since he was about a month old. He doesn't flat out bite, but if I go to put a halter on him he will try to put it in his mouth. If I pony him he will either try to nip me, the horse I am riding, or chew on my tack. He loves to chew on everything.

I can't cure my guy either. :(

Last edited by trailhorserider; 09-26-2011 at 10:56 PM.
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post #8 of 24 Old 09-26-2011, 11:14 PM
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If he is an an aggressive biter or gets to rough then i agree with ridergirl23 that a big pop in the nose is the best thing. I have done it with my horse and there are no trust issues no head issues and no more biting. In fact I'm one of the few people he actually respects and listens to while being ridden. But if he is just being an immature little child then comes in the gentle reprimand i agree also with the bitter apple stuff. we used that on my dog and now she only gently nibbles when we get playing. But also holding up a finger or a fist and saying "NO" or "EH" or some loud short noise like that will probably stop him in his tracks.

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post #9 of 24 Old 09-27-2011, 12:54 AM
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I work with a horse that was very spoiled. He didn't respect your space and would try to bite. I tried several things that worked and he doesn't bite any longer. 1/ when working on the ground I carried a crop if he stepped into my space - I tapped (not hard) him with the crop to back off. 2/if he tried to walk faster than I did I swung the crop in front of him (not hitting him just swinging) 3/if he tried to bite me I hit him hard with the crop. When I first started working with him I put a lead rope with a chain under his chin (not over the nose). If he tried to bite me I jerked the chain and said "stop". That worked right away. He went from trying to bite me to head butting my arm. To stop this I took my open hand - with the fingers ridged and quickly stuck them between his cheek and his neck. There is a pressure point there and his reaction was to instantly move his head away and back off. In fact, if he is ever too close it is a simple thing to do that works. Good luck
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post #10 of 24 Old 09-27-2011, 05:14 AM
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I used woodsticks between my fingers while leading. When he bit I let him to my hand, to woodsticks, so it kinda bit him back.
But this was just a punishment. My guy had respect issuses, so he gained respect through lunging, backing up, etc...
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biting nipping problem

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