I've had my horse for a little over a year now, and he has always tried to nip when tacking up, he did this with his previous owners as well. However in the last few weeks it has gotten much much worse not only does he bite when tacking up he will also bite when rugging. He has never been aggressive in the paddock and is generally a very sweet horse, however the other day I had some people over who came and gave him some pats, he proceeded to attempt to bite them as they patted him. He has never done this to me, and I don't know what is wrong with him, I have checked him all over for sore spots but I cannot find any. He is 17 years old. If anyone has anyone suggestions that can possibly help my horse and sort out his biting issue that would be really helpful. I am really worried that I am doing something to hurt him or upset him, I just can't figure out what! I realise that this may be a dominance thing, if that is the case how do I get him to stop? He also bites as I try to mount him
A horses behaviour does not get worse for no reason. Instead of punishing him for telling you something, first ask yourself why has he gotten worse in the last few weeks? What has happened to him? Has he put on weight recently, or lost weight - Does his tack fit him properly? Have his teeth been done?
Have you checked his pectoral muscles for soreness as quite often "girthy" horses are actually sore in the pectorals. Have you had someone out to check him over. Horses are very good at hiding things that hurt them, it protects them in the wild, they are prey animals after all. The signs of pain can be as subtle as a skin twitch or a tail swish.
If after you rule out all that, there is not an improvement in his behaviour, then proceed with correcting the behaviour. They can't talk to us with words to tell us what is wrong, all they can do is show us with body language. If we don't listen, they put up with it until they can't take it any more... Then they lash out and get labelled as nasty and viscious.
In all the time I have been an equine body worker, I have never once met a truely viscious horse, most of the time it's because the owner hasn't listened to what their horse is trying to tell them.