Thanks guys! I got so many kind responses, it's hard to know how to respond to all of them. But I'll give it a go.
I do feel a lot better today. Today I didn't "do" anything with him other than feed him and pet on him a bit. What I like to do, which is something I did today, is carry a crop and then go out and groom him or give him treats (yes, my bad) and make him stand patiently a few feet away before I give him one. Or ask him to side pass on the ground (which he actually does quite well) and then give him a treat. Or back up and stand politely for a treat. He will do those things at liberty without even a halter on. Or I will groom on him a bit and have the crop handy just to use as a want to tell him to back up or if his face does get too close, to ask him to move away. Our problems seem to be mainly with ponying and leading. He gets "attitude" when on a lead rope and I almost wonder if it isn't a playful thing. It's either playful or dominance, I'm not sure which, where he kind of gets bouncy, pushy and nippy.
I call it nipping (and not biting) because he has bit me three times since he was born, where he used his teeth. What he normally does when he is being lead is sort of snake his head and threaten. Or try to grab a piece of tack and chew it. Really, it's the exact same thing he does with my older gelding (which is the horse I pony him from) when they are loose together, except it's a tamer version. Zane rears and bites and practically mauls the older gelding to get him to play. So I think when I pony I am fighting this instinct to play like he does when they are loose together.
I think one of the major things that went wrong yesterday is that I only had a couple hours to ride and I normally turn him loose to let him run out on the forest. Yesterday I didn't. First, because I was short on time, and secondly because I think I need to curtail the running wild and keep him on lead more, but I dunno, maybe he really needs that running loose time to burn off steam.
Originally Posted by Countrygal892000 View Post
I don't know when he was weaned, but weaning a foal too early will cause them to be mouthy. Also he could be teething. I would try giving him some play toys that are very soft and squishy.
Zane isn't actually weaned yet. I aim to do that in the next couple of weeks when the weather (hopefully) improves. The pen that I will put him in where he doesn't share the fence line with his mom doesn't have a shelter. That's why I have put off weaning him. He's a really independent sort of guy though!
He does have 5 toys to play with. Two jolly balls, a basketball and a couple of big plastic things from the dollar store. So he does have some acceptable chewing options, and he does love his toys. The jolly ball with a rope on it is his favorite.
A friend gave me a small, 4 1/2 inch I believe, snaffle bit for him to be his first bit, and he has worn it a couple of times. I might try letting him wear it when I pony him just as a pacifier to see if he still tries to nip and chew.
I agree! Don't give up! I had a really mouthy colt and I just gave him a good smack every time he bit, it took a while but he got to associate biting was bad! lol. Have you tried the hot potato trick yet?
I don't know about the potato thing. He mostly doesn't make actual contact with me. It's more like a game of "I'll nip at you and you see if you can get me back." I think the nipping is like a game of tag to him.
Have you tried ignoring it? You could be, in his mind, rewarding him for the behavior with attention (the correction).
Also, how are you correcting?
I'll bet he's the horse you need, instead of the one you want, you know? Like, he's the one that will open doors to things that you never thought you'd see open.
I haven't tried ignoring the behavior. Maybe I should. I guess I have been in the camp of "make him think he is dying for three seconds" school of thought. I guess what made me realize this could be serious is that I have John Lyons book "Lyons on Horses" and he says biting is one of the worst things a horse could ever do because it is a sign of disrespect. Worse even than kicking. But Zane really doesn't make contact (unless it's to chew on something) but I am afraid it will escalate if I don't try to fix it. He has bitten me on three occasions, but I go ballistic on him when he does it, so that is why I think it is more threats than actual bites now. Unless it is all a big game of tag to him.
I admit I have smacked him on the nose, chest, butt, just about everywhere with a crop and/or my hand. And used a stud chain and jerked it when he goes to bite. I've tried dousing my reins, his lead rope, my chaps, anything that he frequently goes for, with hot sauce, which he doesn't like, but when the hot sauce dries it doesn't stop him anymore.
I've done a lot of stuff that to me is borderline cruel, but I figured if it would stop the behavior then the ends justify the means. Because if I don't get him straightened out I can't keep him. But even what to me seems like drastic measures, hasn't fixed anything. Other than to make him a bit head shy.
I keep hoping that if I can get him and I through this, then I will be a better horsewoman for it, because I will have found my way through things I have never had to work my way through with horses before. But if I fail, then it will be an epic fail. Because I want to succeed. This is one thing I do not want to fail at. My foals life could be depending on it.