Biting in stall?

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Biting in stall?

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    03-19-2012, 02:55 AM
Biting in stall?

I was riding this new horse for my lesson the other day, and he was known for being sweet, but as soon as I walked in with the halter he practically growled at me

I kept trying to reach for him, but he kept snapping at me and giving me an evil look. He would not let me go near him with the halter, and I didn't feel comfortable going into a stall with a horse that seemed to dislike my presence and I didn't know him. I went and got someone to help, but I would like to know what I should do if I ever am faced with this again.

What I'm trying to say is I'd like to know how to handle a horse that bites like this, so in case I ever own one, I would like to know how to fix it.

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    03-19-2012, 03:21 AM
Well, the first thing to figure out is why he's doing this. Pain/discomfort needs to be ruled out. If he's just being a little stubborn or grumpy, you may be able to work with him... but if his ears are completely flattened and he's really going for the gusto, I would ask someone else to work with him.

IF it is just sort of a, "I'm not really in the mood right now, go away" as opposed to a, "DIE worthless human!!" I would suggest making him move his feet. Go in with a dressage whip/long stick and ask him to yield his hindquarters to you. If he still acts nippy when you go to put on his halter, ask him to yield his shoulders and send him in a circle or two around the stall... then try again and repeat as necessary.

Just keep in mind that a stall is a pretty confined space and you need to be very aware of his position in relation to you at all times, as well as aware of just how angry/upset he is. If he just acts up worse, I'd definitely get out of his way and ask someone with more experience to work with him.
    03-19-2012, 12:04 PM
Originally Posted by Eolith    

Just keep in mind that a stall is a pretty confined space and you need to be very aware of his position in relation to you at all times, as well as aware of just how angry/upset he is. If he just acts up worse, I'd definitely get out of his way and ask someone with more experience to work with him.
Totally agree with everything Eolith said. If you are not comfortable working with this horse in the confined area of his stall, if there is a paddock connected to it, you may consider opening the door, and pushing him out into it. It would give you more space.

I have known several horses, that lived in stall all of the time, that when you come into their space act like this. They would not pursue the issue, and usually after I patted them, they would relax and let me do whatever it was that I was in there to do.

I've only ever known one horse that was a true pest, and the people that I worked for at the time did not want me correcting him, only they could. Well, that didn't help me when he was trying to pin me in the stall. When they started letting me work the horses for their daily exercises, I put an end to that horse's BS. I ran his little halter horse legs off. After that, he didn't bother me anymore. They never put two and two together on what happened either. They just noticed that he was better behaved. That horse also changed a lot after they had him broke to ride, and was ridden daily instead of only worked for 15 minutes a day and locked in that stall for the rest of the time. I felt so sorry for all of those halter horses, and I ran into more stable vices at that barn, then I have at any other one.
    03-19-2012, 12:38 PM
I also agree with Eolith's responses. One of the suggestions made was to have a dressage whip with you not for smacking/hitting the horse with, but to use it as an extension of your arm and ask the horse to move to the farthest wall of the stall as you approach him. If the horse comes at you with teeth bared then a well-deserved "bite" of the whip lash only to the muzzle is called for and one time only for each instance. It is never a good thing to let a horse get the upper hand in any situation. To a horse we humans are only two-legged counterparts of their existence. They do not see us as superior intellect, but as equals until we establish ourselves as higher in their pecking order.
    03-19-2012, 12:42 PM
I've also heard (from John Lyons' training, I think) that you should not barge in. You should open the stall door and give the horse a moment to 'welcome' you. Always make sure the horse is facing you, though, as safety trumps all other considerations, and this is where the dressage whip can be really useful. I would also keep my back to the stall door so I could exit quickly if needed.
    03-19-2012, 01:14 PM
Well, since it isn't your horse I would let someone else fix it. The other thing is, this horse is not a suitable lesson horse unless he was just having an extremely bad day. You did the intelligent thing by walking away from him. This is not a very common problem and you will probably not see it in your own horse that you have a good working relationship with. With this horse I would try to gain his respect from some good authoritative ground work. I wouldn't try to put a halter on him without a stick in my hand because the next behavior could be a biting charge.
    03-19-2012, 08:02 PM
Thank you so much everyone for your replies! I will definitely grab a dressage stick next time I'm around him.

I never had seen a horse do that before. I just slowly opened the stall and he was like, "WHO THE HECK ARE YOU? DIE!" Ha ha. I got the message, and I was to afraid of getting someone mad by correcting him. Some people are so funny about corrections, they will just let the horse be a monster until it finally breaks someone's arm or something.
    03-19-2012, 08:43 PM
I entered the stall of a mare that I had never trimmed before. She was standing at the back wall of the stall horizontal to me. I was against the front wall. Just by the way she was looking at me a little voice went off in my head and I thought, you are going to get kicked. I started to edge toward the stall door and she swung around and kicked me in the stomach with both hind feet before I had a chance to get out. I was at the end of her kick and was not injured but I wanted to kill her. I refused to work on her and about a month later she seriously kicked the owner's son and then the stall door after he shut it. You run across a truly vicious horse so seldom that when you do they are really dangerous because you are not expecting it. In an other experience with a vicious horse I was severely cow kicked while trimming the last back foot. A few minutes later I was standing in front of the horse's nose holding the lead rope still catching my breath when the horse swapped ends and kicked with both hind feet before I had a chance to react. It caught me in the pit of my stomach. If it hadn't tossed me about eight feet backwards I probably would have been seriously injured. Ever since, I have not had an affinity for white, glass eyed horses and that was 35 years ago. John's advice about a horse facing you is good but if a horse is intent on kicking you he will do it and they are so fast that you will feel it before you realize what happened.
    03-19-2012, 09:17 PM
Eolith, if you can't get the halter on the horse how are you going to diagnose whether the horse is suffering pain? My thinking is, I don't care if the GD horse is passing a kidney stone it better not take it's unfortunate circumstance out on me because there is no excuse whatsoever for it. The other thing is, if the horse is acting out in an aggressive manner and you attempt to free longe it in a 12 foot square stall you will be standing about five feet from the horse. You have just put yourself in a very dangerous position and have invited the horse to seriously injure you or worse. It bugs me to death when a horse acts out in a dangerous manner and the first thing somebody (Usually a bleeding heart) wants to do is rationalize that the horse is suffering pain and therefore its natural reaction is to go after you. It is not a natural reaction. If my words seem harsh it's because a forum can be a dangerous place if someone follows advice that is not safe. It is nothing personal on my part. Others on the forum then have a responsibility to point out that the advice is not safe. Generally speaking, the smaller the space the horse is confined in the more danger it presents to the handler. I will not enter a horse trailer with a horse. The horse can either walk in on his own or stay home.
Annnie31 likes this.
    03-22-2012, 10:33 AM
Eliduc, I agree with you that to kick a human is not the horse's instinct or natural reaction to pain.

And, I agree with you totally that small places with fixed walls and doors plus human and a horse can be dangerous even with a totally "safe" horse - I almost got crushed, literally, with my very safe horse in the horse trailer when he tried to squeeze past me and jammed me into a nook in the wall. Didn't know that human rib cages could "fold" so far that shoulders almost touched in the front. I thought my ribs were going to break and puncture my lungs and heart and bye bye Ladytrails. (I had just healed from a broken arm and was holding the lead rope in my weak hand, he tried to walk out of the trailer instead of back out, and I wasn't able to guide his head he just squeezed past me.)

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