I'm putting this in the NH forum because that's the kind of training that's in use at my barn and that I've learned (to the extent that I've learned any training). I don't think that we're using any particular variant of NH, but when I read about NH I recognize the kind of work that I've been taught to do with the horses. Round pens, making the desired behavior the "easy" one and all other behaviors "hard", etc.
So my boy Huey can get pretty pushy. The people who had him before us used a chain shank over his nose because they had a hard time dealing with him. This, to me, is kind of mystery because it took my trainer 15 minutes to teach him (and another 10 to teach me) about Behaving On The Lead Rope. Every couple of weeks we spend 5 or 10 minutes just on ground work, just to make sure it's all staying front-and-center for both of us, and I have pretty much zero problems with how he behaves on the ground. It really wasn't very hard at all to get him to understand this, and why someone would rather go the chain-shank route instead of spending 15 minutes...well, I don't really get it. I'm sure there are explanations, but sheesh.
Here's the thing. I let him put his lips and tongue on me. I know this is a pretty hotly debated issue about whether you should do that at all, so I'm aware of the challenges, but he likes it, and I like it, and the Rule is that lips and licking are OK, teeth are NOT.
And he totally knows that teeth are not OK, which brings me to the issue at hand. Several times, he's been mouthing around on me and wound up delivering a little affectionate nip. He pinches me with his teeth...BUT before I can scold him for it, he's already acting like he's been scolded. So we'll be playing around while I'm grooming him and he gets a little carried away and goes 'nip' and then *immediately* he'll back quickly out of my space, pull his head back and roll his eyes and look exactly as he would if I flashed my hands up to get him to back off. Anything I could do to reprimand him for this, he's acting like I've already done this.
So my question is 1) what the heck? Does anyone else's horse get in the pre-emptive "gosh I'm sorry I won't do that again" strike before the scolding even gets delivered? And 2) is there something I ought to be doing even while he's acting like I've already done something? Right now, it's all I can do not to bust out laughing.
It seems to me that I don't need to teach him that this is not OK, since he's already acting like he knows quite well it's not OK. He doesn't seem to be doing it with increasing frequency, so it's not like he's done it once or twice and then decided 'oh, I can get away with this, I should do it a lot more'. It's kind of like having a kid that cuts up and then before I can say anything, the kid goes "oops! I'll go to time out now!" and heads off. Like, what do you do with *that*?