Originally Posted by Brumby
I have two questions. The first is about horses rubbing on you. I know that some people allow it, but I have witnessed first hand how it developed bad habits. So what is the natural horsemanship way to correct it?
A horse that rubs on you, can do so because he's standing with his head very close to you. If he wasn't so close, he couldn't rub on you, right? So, if you prevent it from happening, it won't happen. Prevention is the best thing, then you have nothing to correct. So, in other words, simply don't allow your horse in your space. If he steps toward you, back him up that many steps. Not to punish, but to simply tell him, "if you step toward me, there is pressure to back up. If you stay put at a certain distance, there is no pressure to do anything." Your horse will then choose to stay put rather than to come in toward you.
If you want to give your horse's head a hug, or you want to be close enough to scratch his face, then invite him to step forward, but you can't just let him make that decision. That's the important part. If you do, you invite him to rub on you. If you are inviting him in, then you're in charge, so to speak. Your horse can tell the difference.
Anyhow, you can then rub his face all you want. But at any time, if he becomes pushy about it, then immediately back him up and try again. Invite him in and rub his face. He'll learn that if he initiates the rubbing and gets carried away, he will be moved. If he remains calm and doesn't get pushy, he gets the attention he wants.
If you're consistent, he'll understand the difference.
The second is what is the natural horsemanship way to correct a young horse with biting habits. The way I have heard to correct is to bop them on the mouth when they bite at you. What do you suggest. Thank-you.
Biting is just another way for the horse to move your feet. And the way horses interact: the dominant horse moves the submissive horse's feet. So, if your horse bites you, then he's trying to move your feet. And if you move your feet, take the time to look and rub your wound and then smack him in the mouth, you waited way too long for him to connect the smack with the bite and makes that approach pointless.
Also, some horses get smacked often and not in a way that gets rid of the biting that it can actually turn into a game (ever seen 2 horses play biting at each other?)
So, if your horse is nippy, then the same thing applies as did when you asked about a horse that rubs against you: If the horse can reach you he can bite you.
Don't give him the chance to bite you. Keep him out of your circle at all times, unless you invite him in. Don't let him step in toward you unless you ask him to. And when you do, hug his head a lot, rub his face in a good way. Because another reason why horses bite is because they are bored and want attention, so give the horse attention before he asks for it by rubbing his face in a good way and hugging his head.
If the horse is nippy, back him up or if he's nippy while you're working with him on the ground, he's telling you he's not being worked enough and has time to think of other things. So, I'd ask that horse, "can you think about being nippy and move your feet faster?" (not in punishment)
If the horse is nippy and you can't move him and you can't move out of the way, then grab his upper lip and massage it aggressively. Like you're kneading dough. You're not trying to hurt him, you are trying to be annoying. A lot of times though, when people use this way, they're too wimpy about it and so it never works. The point is, make it the horse's idea to pull his head away from you. And when he does, leave him alone.
This way, he learns if he brings his mouth near you he's going to get his upper lip grabbed and kneaded like dough, if he doesn't bring his mouth toward you (to bite or nip) then you will leave him alone.