My Horse "Lips" Me... Training Help Please! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 07-23-2010, 05:32 AM Thread Starter
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Exclamation My Horse "Lips" Me... Training Help Please!

I kind of feel stupid asking this because I'm pretty sure this might be a pretty common horse behavior that every horse person knows about and how to handle, but here I go:

My horse does this thing where he takes my clothes and skin in between his lips. It's kind of like he's biting me with his lips. Like, I can tell he's not trying to hurt me but it's extremely dangerous. He has pinched me with his teeth before and it hurts. I'm not quite sure what kind of behavior this is because he's not doing it in a threatening, "back off" way (with his ears pinned back and stuff). I've seen horses play with each other doing kind of what he's doing with me and I'm wondering if maybe he's trying to get me to play with him or something? I just moved him to a new stable about a week ago and he doesn't seem to like the other two mares there very good. Is he wanting a friend to play with or something? lol i don't know just throwing ideas out there. I do know that he was fed a lot of treats by hand before I got him and I continue to give him treats sometimes because even though I shouldn't sometimes, I'm a sucker & a spoiler of all my pets :P

Anyone know how I should approach this? I need to teach him it's not acceptable to do with humans but I'm not quite sure how I should do it. Please help.

Cowgirl Up.
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post #2 of 24 Old 07-23-2010, 05:37 AM
Green Broke
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I'm not the best at advice but I would stop the behaviour as it can get alot worse. He may start to actually bite you. If my horsewas doing that I would give him a tap on the nose... scold maybe but I'm not to sure....
Hopefully that helps
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post #3 of 24 Old 07-23-2010, 05:43 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah that's what I was thinking I need to do but I've never had to deal with a mouthy horse before so I'm at a complete loss for what to do.

Cowgirl Up.
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post #4 of 24 Old 07-23-2010, 05:47 AM
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^^ That isn't acceptable behavior. Whether he wants to play or not isn't the issue. Horses need to know their boundaries and rely on their owners - the alpha horse - to set them. What may seem like something cute at first, can quickly become a dangerous habit.

The way to stop it is to bob him on the nose as he reaches to lip you. Do it once, make it instantaneous, and yell at him at the same time. Do NOT bob him several times or wait to do it. After you've done it, just continue whatever you were doing as nothing has happened.

You need to teach your horse that he is not allowed in your space and that you are the herd leader - he needs to respect you as such.

I'm not arguing with you, I'm just explaining why I'm right.

Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

It's not always what you say but what they hear.
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post #5 of 24 Old 07-23-2010, 06:02 AM
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I agree with iride.The lipping can really easily escalate into nipping and full-out biting. However you go about dealing with it, consistency is key.

I've been helping an older couple with their 14 y/o QH, who's piggy in general on the ground, including lipping almost constantly and occasionally biting. I don't tolerate it, and employ iride's technique when I groundwork him. The trouble is, the owners let it slide when he only lips, and get mad when he uses his teeth, but don't react fast enough for him to associate any unpleasantness with the behavior. He gets confused, and is still very lippy.

A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient one in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you ~ Unknown
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post #6 of 24 Old 07-23-2010, 07:09 AM
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Lipping is dominance behavior, similiar to licking in dogs. When the horse lips you, what he's really saying is that he's the alpha. So it is very important to correct the behavior, and re-establish your self as alpha.

I would correct pretty much exacty as Iride has described.
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post #7 of 24 Old 07-23-2010, 08:59 AM
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At the time he 'starts' to nibble, take your fingers of one hand and dig them into the inside of the lower lip, and at the same time tell him no in a low pitch firm voice.
It will probably take several efforts before he gets the message.

E. Allan Buck
"Ask and allow, do not demand and force"
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post #8 of 24 Old 07-23-2010, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by spirithorse8 View Post
At the time he 'starts' to nibble, take your fingers of one hand and dig them into the inside of the lower lip, and at the same time tell him no in a low pitch firm voice.
It will probably take several efforts before he gets the message.
Okay........ I don't know if this is good advise for kids.......I envision fingers taking the brunt.

A bump under his chin or on his nose is the easiest and safest for you. If he's doing it while your grooming or tacking up let him run into Mr Elbow a few times, he'll get the message.

Stop the hand feeding, if you want to give treats put them in a bucket.
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post #9 of 24 Old 07-23-2010, 11:09 AM
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Yes, a lot of the time horses will become nippy or "lippy" like this because they are demanding treats or food from you. I would follow the suggestion not to hand feed him and give him a good bop on the nose when he's bothering you with those lips.
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post #10 of 24 Old 07-23-2010, 02:06 PM
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It's a play thing. And it's NOT acceptable unless you really want to start playing with him (which I doubt... since "horse play" is generally rather rough)

I avoid any contact with a "lippy" horse's nose. It's a "play" button for them and can actually escalate the issue. (so no grabbing/rubbing their muzzle, no 'bopping' them on the nose when they do something naughty etc.)

I used to just stick my elbow out, or even smack the nose. One day a particularly "obnoxious" colt decided to take it as open invitation to jump on me... and an old "cowboy" watching (and laughing at me) told me what I did wrong, and gave me another method to use. I've found it far more effective.

I will push their head away at the cheek (if you watch horses interact with each other the alpha will use this area as a "QUIT IT" zone), or in a horse who just won't quit, I'll actually rap them with my knuckles in that same spot. (If I draw a triangle from the each corner of the eye, where those two "lines" intersect is the "GET BACK" target zone)... I keep going until the horse moves back AND away from me (or starts to anyhow... I will follow up if they stop going back, but usually they keep going). As long as I don't miss my "target" or screw up on the timing it won't create a head shy horse.
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