Originally Posted by Elizabeth Bowers
The more/harder I smack him the more he tries! He nips he doesn't actually bite, he wants to play, and i'm not a play mate!!!!
Yep, punishment can indeed work, but generally even if it is effective, it will not end the behaviour, only 'weaken' it. And then you get 'playful' types, or 'dominant' types like this, who just think you 'upping the ante' means the 'game' is more challenging... or they get angry & serious because of your lack of respect. That's one reason I think it's best to use punishment sparingly & judiciously & use other methods & avoid confrontational approaches where possible.
If you know when the horse is about to nip, whether punishment or otherwise, you should be able to avoid it & reinforce the not nipping. If you don't know when it's coming, so your reaction comes after the behaviour has happened, whether punishment or otherwise, your response is generally going to be ill timed & not well associated to the behaviour. I imagine having to respond with a little squirty thing in just the right place is going to impinge on good timing all the more.
If this horse only has a problem with a particular saddle, I would seriously & carefully look at saddle fit(I know you said...), back probs, girthing &/or rider balance issues with it, because it's likely he's trying to tell you it's hurting him, so IMO it's best not to just use a 'shut up & put up with it' approach anyway.