Mmm, that finger looks like a carrot .... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 08-13-2012, 01:57 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Mmm, that finger looks like a carrot ....

I'm not sure if this is even the correct place to categorize this, but here I go anyway ...

I was just finishing up a lesson with my leaser's daughter and she always brings a treat to give to the horse. She is very timid when feeding, and always pulls away long before the horse can take the treat. I'm meticulous about the "flat fingers and thumb" rule, and I often assist by holding her hand out, protecting her fingers.

Now my boy is normally very well mannered, patient and all lip. I'd never so much as felt even a corner of his teeth graze me when giving treats. However, while I was helping the girl out the other day, he purposefully took several snaps at my hands, and managed to bite one of my fingers fairly hard.

Thank god he missed the little girl, however my finger was not so lucky. I am missing the entire nail (he cracked it in half, and both halves have since fallen off), and it hurts like nothing I've ever felt. I can't put any pressure on the pad of my finger (it hurts like hell, and it gushes blood when I do so). Anybody have any advice on treating it? I've been cleaning it with warm water and have been applying antiseptic to it. I keep it wrapped most of the time, but have begun to allow it to breathe for small periods of time during the day.

After he bit me, he got a couple good wallops and seemed to return to his normal, chilled disposition. After wrapping up my finger, several people (including myself, as best I could) checked him over. He seemed to be fine.

I went out yesterday and he was perfect. I hopped on and rode around bareback with just a halter. I checked him over (still nothing), and decided to hand fed him to see if he'd try to pull the same crap, and he was the perfect gentleman.

I've put a sign up on his stall "Please do not hand feed" and have asked everyone not to give him anything either.

I'm not sure what to think of this incident, is it something to brush off and say "that's horses for you", or should I be really concerned?

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post #2 of 12 Old 08-13-2012, 02:04 AM
Join Date: Apr 2012
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It was rude.. Definitely needed to be corrected, as you said you did.
I wouldn't give treats very often anymore if I were you.

This reason why I very rarely give mine a treat. I don't want them expecting it and getting grabby
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post #3 of 12 Old 08-13-2012, 02:09 AM
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I would also stop giving treats so often. It's good that you got after him.

Also, maybe do some touching of his lips without a treat. So that way, everytime you hold your hand out he doesn't get a treat. I rub my palm over my three year olds lips (SUPER lippy boy) and since then he has pretty much stopped anticipating food everytime I put my hand out.
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Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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post #4 of 12 Old 08-13-2012, 02:10 AM
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If she usually snatches her hand away, he may be getting used to having to 'grab' for the treat. Have her put the treat in a bucket and give it to him out of that, if she wants to treat him.
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post #5 of 12 Old 08-13-2012, 10:13 AM
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As I tell my nephews "Keep your hand flat like a plate and they won't get your fingers." If she is not doing that, might want to tell her and show her why.

Also, it might be a good idea to suggest her getting a small bucket to feed treats from, if you can't get her to stop entirely.

Treats make people feel good, because it makes the horse feel good to get them. It is a hard habit to stop.
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post #6 of 12 Old 08-13-2012, 10:33 AM
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I tell people those are nostrils down there, not eyes. We offer treats in a blind spot. I have one that flaps his lips until he makes contact then takes it ever so delicately. The other, not so delicately.
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post #7 of 12 Old 08-13-2012, 08:11 PM
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All of my therapy students bring treats for the horses, so we have a special 'treat bucket' that they feed the horses from, so horses associate the bucket, not hands with food. Works wonders! No pushy nippy horses
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post #8 of 12 Old 08-14-2012, 01:04 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the comments guys!

My horse has never EVER taken any sort of aggressive action toward me with his teeth before. He's always taken treats gently, and has been very patient. I normally can walk around with a carrot sticking out of my back pocket and he won't do a darn thing - even when I'm picking out his front feet. So I'm not sure why at that moment he chose to bite.

Yes, the student does ALWAYS have her hand flat. I assist by covering her fingers and thumb with MY hand so that she feels a little more secure, and so that she does not pull away too soon.

I think the bucket is a good idea, maybe I'll get one and let her decorate it with paint and stickers. Thoughts?
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A horse is the projection of peoples' dreams about themselves - strong, powerful, beautiful - and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence.
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post #9 of 12 Old 08-14-2012, 01:15 AM
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I think letting her decorate the bucket is a great idea :) My 3yr old gelding Wolf was VERY lippy when I got him as a 2yr old. He was treated often and had thought he could mouth on people and even nipped myself and the BO a couple of times. Of course we reprimanded him immediately and within a short period of time got him to realize it wasn't a good idea to do that. He has been great ever since but I still watch him like a hawk especially since my 3 young children like to go to the barn with me and pet him. My 4 yr old daughter has a fascination with his Can't say that I blame her as its sooooooo soft. I use a small rubber pan that I put cut up apples in or some other goodies and have my kids treat him that way :)

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Grey Sky Aledo Elite, a.k.a Wolf- '09 grullo QH gelding
Apache-Paint/QH gelding ♥2003-2011♥ R.I.P ♥
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post #10 of 12 Old 08-14-2012, 02:46 AM
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Yeah, I have nothing against hand feeding *if done judiciously* but I don't allow or advise others do it unless they're confident of doing it right, understanding the horse's bodylanguage & consistently asking for & reinforcing only 'good' manners. For kids or people that can't prove this, I'd prefer them to keep their hands well away & feed in a bucket if they feel the need.
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