Head-scratching on people - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 06-10-2013, 11:36 AM Thread Starter
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Head-scratching on people

Ok. I've had Magnum for six years. And for six years, we go through an itchy spell every spring where he will absolutely knock you flat on your rear end by trying to scratch his big, itchy head on you. I have NEVER allowed this and I'm strict with the students who ride him in lessons that they never allow it, either. I know it was allowed before I got him, but that was SIX YEARS AGO! What can I do to break him of this? I've got lesson kids afraid to lead him to the arena, lest he whack them in the face with his gigantic skull! HUMANS ARE NOT SCRATCHING POSTS!
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post #2 of 19 Old 06-10-2013, 11:43 AM
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My trainer always has a nail in her pocket for occasions like these. She has one horse that turns to bite when cinching or cleaning her feet so as soon as the horse turns her head to bite she comes smack into the nail (dull nail). The message sent is if a horse is putting their head anywhere or too close into your space they hit the nail and eventually they straighten out and get the fact to not bite or push with their head.
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post #3 of 19 Old 06-10-2013, 12:42 PM
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I would never recommend using a nail or anything sharp near or on a horses face. I can only imagine if something went wrong....and the vet bill for it too.
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post #4 of 19 Old 06-10-2013, 12:43 PM
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One solid smack along with a verbal reprimand. If you can sense it coming, use the verbal. If that doesn't change his mind, follow up with the smack.
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post #5 of 19 Old 06-10-2013, 12:50 PM Thread Starter
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I wouldn't use a nail, he's accident-prone enough. I can see him putting an eye out. As for a verbal reprimand and smack, those I have tried, but he just tries TO SCRATCH HIS FACE ON YOUR SMACKING HAND. Is there something separate I can use to address the itchiness? I brush his itchy forehead all the time, and extra before lessons.
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post #6 of 19 Old 06-10-2013, 12:53 PM
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It could very well be dry skin, try an extra supplement to avoid this. Lots of supplements will help your horses skin and coat
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post #7 of 19 Old 06-10-2013, 12:59 PM
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strange tho ive never seen a horse scratch its face on a tree or wall..i always was told it was a sign of dominance...if look at how the wild horses interacts theres deffinatly no head scratching on the alpha horse
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post #8 of 19 Old 06-10-2013, 01:03 PM
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Maybe start out the day with a good head brushing with a somewhat stiff brush? Repeat if necessary.
I'm not opposed to a smack if needed. Just watch out for the eyes. I'd rather they didn't walk so close though.

If you ever find yourself in a fair fight, it's because your tactics suck. ~ Marine 1SGT J. Reifinger
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post #9 of 19 Old 06-10-2013, 01:26 PM
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Hm, you know, I'm not huge on smacking horses unless they REALLY need it, but I'm also not big on head scratching. i figure, I am not a tree!!

In my experience, I had a feral shetland mare that I was taming down. In that process, she decided that she HATED me touching her chest, especially with a brush! She'd try to *bite* me!!!! Actually did a time or two. Now, yelling or smacking don't work with her, since she already had a huge wariness/distrust/fear of humans.

That being said, one day I was grooming her chest with a Furminator. If you aren't familiar, it's essentially an electric shaver blade mounted on a brush. Anyway she dipped her head down to bite and caught the metal blade on her mouth/teeth. Her head went back REALLY FAST! She has not tried to bite me since!

Long story short, the lessons they teach themselves seem to stick pretty well with no "reminders". I wouldn't use a nail, but maybe if you find another way to make it REALLY REALLY uncomfortable to scratch on you, he won't dare do it again.

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post #10 of 19 Old 06-10-2013, 01:39 PM
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My horses will try to do this after taking bridles/halters off. What we do is when they try to rub on you take your hand and slap them across the nose (it won't really hurt them, just show them what what they're doing to you is uncomfortable by doing something that's uncomfortable for them) and sternly say "NO!".This will show the horse that they've done something wrong. It's by no means a miracle "cure" but in the long run it will help.
Good Luck! :)
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