Horrible biting epidemic, I think I need help! - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 29 Old 08-02-2011, 10:36 AM Thread Starter
Green Broke
Join Date: Apr 2010
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Nothing much has changed at our barn except for a few boarders actually moving out. Cinny gets the same amount of exercise and turn out, maybe even more turn out because since it's been hot we have all been turning each others horses out together so they can get out of the hot barn as much as possible... so they are all getting multiple turn outs. The only people that handle my horse are myself and the 2 friends that turn out with their horses and neither of them are abusive.

The barn is a self serve barn so besides the BO, there are no workers handling the horses. The most anybody does is feed them in the morning. I trained Cinny to stay in his back corner until the grain hits the bucket, then he can approach, so I doubt that person has a reason to do anything to him, and it's usually the BO anyway. I'm thinking it is an attention thing because it normally happens when I am talking to somebody and sometimes during grooming.

The ONLY change that I can think of is that my last batch of hay has a slightly higher clover content than usual as the person I buy it from said he had more creep up this year than usual. I really doubt that the only change this would cause would be biting, I'd think he'd be acting out in other ways too.

Thank you for all the good advice. Would it be bad to carry my dressage stick with me and just pop him with that when he does it?
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post #12 of 29 Old 08-02-2011, 10:37 AM
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I think Allison and Mls have good points. The fact that they are all picking this up and biting very aggressively stinks of something greater going on then hand feeding treats.

Unless you have a bunch of ultra dominant horses that have issues with respect I can't imagine they would become that aggressive just because someone gave them a couple of treats.
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post #13 of 29 Old 08-02-2011, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by trailhorserider View Post
I think people get confused about a horse that accidentially nips your skin when getting a treat and actually biting. Biting has aggressive intent (which it sounds like what is going on in this case) and nipping your palm or finger when taking a treat is an accident with a horse that doesn't know how to take food from your hand.
In my world it is never OK for my horse to lay teeth on me.
The mouth that can pick through grain and level the tiny supplement pellets in the feed bin knows very well where my hand ends and their treat begins.

Hand feeding being OK or not OK really depends on the horse. Some horses do fine with it. Some horses do not.
I am glad yours are OK with it, that does not mean every other horse is.

Originally Posted by MN Tigerstripes View Post
I think Allison and Mls have good points. The fact that they are all picking this up and biting very aggressively stinks of something greater going on then hand feeding treats.
I totally agree.
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post #14 of 29 Old 08-02-2011, 10:51 AM
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I completely agree with MLS. Aires was a biter when I got him because he'd never been taught that it wasn't acceptable (he'd basically been sitting in his stall for 18 months with occasional turnouts until six months ago when he decided that he doesn't like men). I did the smacking on the neck thing with a firm "Quit it!" and it worked okay until the day a fly bit him hard and he took it out on me. All of a sudden I had a two-year-old, 1100lbs stud attached to my forearm. He got a wallop on the nose and a VERY firm "Quit it!" and he hasn't done it since. Neither is he head shy...at all. I can scratch his face, nose, and ears, and he even reaches for the bit when we're tacking up.

I do agree that the bigger picture needs to be addressed, though, as in "What's causing the biting for several horses to pick it up all at once?"

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post #15 of 29 Old 08-02-2011, 11:12 AM
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I've never had a serious biting problem... but whenever Mocha pins her ears or tries to nibble at me, I smack her on the lips so her lips hit against her teeth, or she bites her own lip.. Not so hard that I almost knock her teeth out though of course. lol
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post #16 of 29 Old 08-02-2011, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Alwaysbehind View Post
In my world it is never OK for my horse to lay teeth on me.
I agree, it is never acceptable.

I'm just saying that's the worst I've ever gotten for hand feeding treats is a horse accidentally inhaling a finger (which was probably my fault) but never with aggressive intent. I don't think hand feeding treats causes aggressive intent in an otherwise respectful horse. In other words, if the horses were polite before, I don't think hand feeding will make them aggressive biting monsters.
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post #17 of 29 Old 08-02-2011, 11:20 AM
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Head shy is created from repetitive hitting in the face. Or being hit in the eye / ears. IMO a single smack on the nose isn't going to create a head shy horse. I have gone after a few youngsters that decided they didn't like being poked any more. Or horses that are cinchy. Each instant the horse got a HARD smack on the side of their face (cheek or nose/mouth area) and got a hard workout. Typically getting lunged in a small circle, changing directions frequently and fast, backing up, until the horse got the message, then I would drop everything like nothing happened and went back to what I was doing. I never had to repeat this step more than three times.

But none of these horses were bad aggressive either...they just had a biting problem. I have also worked with two different horses (Both never lost their stud habits after being gelded after 7 years of age) that I would never do this two because they would picked me up by the jugular and thrown me across the stables. Instead both of these were handled in a stud chain / bit and got many yanks until they were backing up, then I would continue.

Its a play by ear on how its to be treated.
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post #18 of 29 Old 08-02-2011, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Allison Finch View Post
I would worry if a number of horses are picking this up at the same time.
I was about to say the same. If there are several horses developing same issue something is wrong in barn.

BTW, I hand feed all horses I ride (whether mine or lesson) and never had an issue with horse trying to bite for the treat.

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass: it's about learning to dance in the rain..."

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post #19 of 29 Old 08-02-2011, 12:42 PM
Green Broke
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We have kids in and out of the barn where my horse is and I can tell if they've been hand feeding. My horse gets pushy, tried to poke in pockets and nips if you have nothing to eat. I smack him in the muzzle and he cuts it out. He's getting better but he's young and still trying to figure out what he can get away with.

Smacking him in the muzzle has not made him head-shy. He'll snatch his head away and look highly insulted for a few minutes and then he'll edge on back in hopes of a good ear rub.
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post #20 of 29 Old 08-02-2011, 12:51 PM
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It does make it interesting and pondersome that so many horses have picked up this bad habit at the barn at the same time..... Maybe talk to the other owners of the horses that have also started biting to see if you can come up with any one changing factor that all the horses have had -- if you don't think it is a worker, anyway.

As far as fixing the biting .... let's think about what horses do to each other in the wild. What does the stallion do to the mare that gets "out of line" in his herd? He either kicks her or bites her. Done. End of story. Discipline. So, that's virtually what I employ with any sort of dangerous behavior including biting, kicking, etc.

1) You need to really pay attention and watch your horse. You know he is biting now so really look for the signs he's about to, so that you can deliver quick discipline.

2) If he tries to bite you (I don't care if he even gets you or not. If he starts to and tries to, he needs to be shown that is not acceptable), you need to make him think his world is going to end for the next 3 seconds. And you must react within 3 seconds or he will not connect the discipline to the action of bitin. This is why its important to be watching him so you can act right away if he tries to bite.

3) I have no problem punching or smacking a horse in the mouth, or hitting them with whatever I have in my hand (no sharp objects of course ). If you bite me buddy, you can be sure "the world is going to end". A quick, swift discipline to the face only when it is warranted will not create a head shy horse. And hitting on the neck or shoulder doesn't mean a darn thing to the horse and they certainly won't correspond it to the bite. They are biting from the mouth, so you need to "bite back" at their mouth.

4) So you need to react within 3 seconds of the bite, and you need to carry it out for a full 3 seconds. No more; no less. Charge at their head, punch/slap/smack them in the mouth, yell, wave your arms --- just do whatever you need to do to make that horse think they are going to die in that 3 seconds.

5) After 3 seconds of discipline, go back to what you were doing as if nothing has happened.

Now, I certainly don't promote beating the horse with a metal bat for a full 3 seconds ..... but a couple hits in the mouth and voice/body language is plenty to make them think "uh-oh ... that was the wrong thing to do".

This method works for me.
None of my horses bite.
None of my horses are face or head shy.
I hand feed treats to my horses all the time.

They know their respect boundaries, and they know not to cross them.

Like I said, that's what works for me and my horses. You may find something different that works for you. The water bottle is interesting and if it works, fine. As long as the dangerous behavior stops!

We have a little mare quite a few years ago that was a bit grabber. So every time she'd try to get the shank of the bit in her mouth to play with it, the rider would reach up and grab her left ear (that's usually the side she grabbed the bit). She hated that. And promptly stopped playing with the bit because it always resulted in her ear getting grabbed.

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