A few questions about NH... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 04-05-2009, 06:31 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Canada
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A few questions about NH...

Hey there, I feel kind of stupid for asking these questions, they are kind of basic knowledge, but anyway...

My first question is about biting and nipping. At the barn we have a very friendly horse named Cisco. He loves attention and everytime you walk into his paddock or field (in the summer) he will drop everything he is doing to greet you. The problem is, people have starting giving him little treats and now he bites at you constantly. The BO said that when he does that, just pinch and twist his lip. I have done that so many times now, as hard as I could, but this horse doesn't seem to care! He will jerk his head away when I do that, but a second later he does it again! Any better suggestions?

My second question is about the whole "inviting them into your space" idea. First of all, to teach a horse to stay out of your space, is it true that you twirl a rope around when they try to enter? Secondy, how exactly do you invite them to your space? Through body language?

I had some more but I forgot them.
Anyways, thanks to anyone who took the time to read my silly questions!
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post #2 of 5 Old 04-05-2009, 10:48 PM
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Well, I follow Parelli natural horsemanship, so that's where my opinions are coming from.

Cisco sounds like a very extroverted personality. This is a wonderful thing! Unfortunately when people give horses like this treats for no reason they get this "Hand over the treats and no one gets hurt" persona lol! So I'd leave a note on his stall to let people know not to give him treats, but if they do to put them in a bucket. Next, stop pinching him. That and smacking, etc. does not work. A couple things will happen if you do that....one, the horse will become fearful, two, the horse will make it into a game, three, the horse will get aggressive, or four the horse will just shut down and appear to be obedient, but he's really just shut down and has taken on a "I see, feel, and hear nothing" mentality. One of those four things WILL happen. So in Cisco's case he has just made it into a game, which is typical of his personality. The first thing is to nip the treat giving thing in the bud. Next, whenever you are around him have a lead rope with you and if he starts getting mouthy just casually swing the rope around you to protect your space. If he gets whacked by it, it's HIS fault because he invaded your space ;)

For your second question, twirling a rope around yourself is one way to keep a horse out of your space. But really it all starts with ground work. "Driving" the horse away from you, front end and hind end, etc. The Parelli 7 Games are a great way to get that across to a horse. As for inviting the horse in, that all depends on what you're doing at the time....like for me, if my horse is circling me and I want him to come in, I simply look at his hindquarters (which is asking him to turn and face me) and he comes in. If I back my horse away from me and want him to come in, I "suck" my energy back and maybe take a step or two back to invite him in. You can also turn and walk away...this creates draw.
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post #3 of 5 Old 04-07-2009, 06:50 PM
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I don't follow Parelli per say....but that said...doesn't matter, it's all the same basic stuff....and SpiritHorse is right on.

Twisting the lip to make em stop nipping is a way to discourage a horse but it won't work with a horse like Cisco.

If the owner wants to continue to give treats, they can be dropped into a bucket for him in his stall. He can still continue to be hand fed treats as long as he is not allowed to mug people anymore. That is, he is to wait to be invited in for a treat. He's given the treat, then told to back up a few steps immediately and stay there and not creep in toward the person. This is totally possible. I've worked with horses who were treat driven thanks to overly doting owners. And it did work out just fine. The hand treats continued but the horse understood that there were rules and was fine with it.

But if the people are going to be inconsistent in handling him, then it's best he be fed treats out of a bucket or such.

Prevention is the key here. Stop the biting/nipping before it even happens.
One way is to give the horse attention before he asks for it. Nippy/biting horses like Cisco crave attention and get bored and find ways to entertain themselves by being nippy/biting toward people. So, if you invite him in and hug his head and rub his face a lot, that will help.

Also, for the horse to be nippy/biting he's got to be close enough to people. So, he should not be allowed to lead too close or to stand too close to anyone unless invited in. If he steps in too close when you are leading or when you stop and are standing near him, simply twirl the line assertively (not wimpy) at his shoulder or chest and soon as it backs away (it'll take the rest of the horse with it) stop the twirling.

You don't want to twirl constantly...that is, twirl only when needed, to put pressure on the horse to move. You don't want to walk and twirl the line or stand there and twirl constantly even when the horse isn't in your space....because this will desensitize the horse to it and render twirling useless....then you'll find yourself twirling constantly and with more energy.

So, only twirl when needed.

Secondy, how exactly do you invite them to your space? Through body language?
you kiss or cluck and back step to invite them in. Some people will even use a "come here" motion with their hand. Think like....you are inviting a friend into your house, you have a different body stance than if you are blocking that person's way into your house and wanting them to leave. The horse can tell the difference if you are looking inviting or not.

Also what SpiritHorse said about drawing the horse in is on target.

Anyways, thanks to anyone who took the time to read my silly questions!
There's no such thing as a silly question. How else are you supposed to learn if you don't ask?
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post #4 of 5 Old 04-09-2009, 05:39 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you both of you, both your tips were really helpful! I really appreciate you answering my questions. : D
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post #5 of 5 Old 04-09-2009, 06:26 PM
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Wanted to comment on the lip twisting:

I've seen this work VERY well with babies and stud colts, and used to use it when my gelding used to be very playful and nippy. The key is to not let the horse 'jerk his head away' because then they just learn to bite and dart away. ;) The way I've heard it/and practiced it, you don't 'pinch'. You grab the lip somewhat like a 'weak twitch', hold it for at least five seconds so the horse goes, 'This really sucks!', and then you let go and massage/rub the nose area so they don't get head shy. You don't get snatchy/mean with it, you just do it as if you were going about your business. It makes them uncomfortable, but it's not sudden or abrupt or painful like a slap/hit.

I've never seen it not work, and the babies just learn to respect you. ;) It's a lot nicer then them getting kicked by the alpha horse!

With your horse, I've always found that these horses can get dominant over people because they're simply not afraid and view people as 'treat buckets! yaaay'. My one gelding, you can give him a stern look, step into his space, and he will look all apologetic. The other one that used to be a playful nipper--this did not work at ALL because people were just feed buckets, not things he needed to respect and listen to.

My gelding for a week or two was NOT allowed into my space unless I asked, and like spirit horse said, you need to have some driving fundamentals on the ground to make this work. The more you push some horses away... the more they want to come to you!

When you finally do invite your horse in, sometimes I take a step backwards and turn my 'headlight' away and off to a 45 degree angle (And I usually turn towards whichever hindquarter is closer if that makes sense). All horses respond to this because you instantly look less threatening, and it is often how they approach other horses in the field--at the shoulder, not straight up into their face!

The main key to remember with these horses is not to do TOO much and get TOO crazy when you try to make them move and get out of your space. If they're smart (and the curious ones usually are!) then they start trying to figure out how they can make you look even more ridiculous and do more work! Like they say in Parelli, those who move their feet less are the leaders!

Good luck ;)

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