Leading biting horses - what to do? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 07-29-2013, 07:32 PM Thread Starter
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Leading biting horses - what to do?

Today was my first day volunteering at a therapy camp where lots of little children are. I was expecting it to be a piece of cake, just leading a horse around while a kid sits on their back. The horses must have to go through some sort of screening process I assume in order to be eligible to be in this facility. However, a lot of the horses there were nasty. Lots of kickers and biters that I was not expecting.
I was leading a horse and tried to make her walk faster, as she was quite lazy. I tugged on the lead rope a bit, and the child was instructed to squeeze her sides. And then this horse turns her head and before I know it her teeth are clamped down onto my arm. I shouted "OW!" as I was definitely NOT expecting this. I was so startled that I just kept walking. However, later on when my helper was brushing off her legs, she kept turning and trying to bite.
I have never been bitten, kicked, bucked etc before this day, and I do not want this to change my opinion of horses because I love them. When leading this horse or any horse that bites, what should I do when she bites? I do not want to hurt the horse in any way, but I also do not want this horse to take advantage of me. Please help! Thanks (:
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post #2 of 24 Old 07-29-2013, 07:39 PM
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Elbow the horse if he puts his head to close to you and he bites you, haul off and thump him one, a good one. Biting is never tolerated, you correct it hard once, that's it.
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post #3 of 24 Old 07-29-2013, 07:41 PM Thread Starter
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Being as this is a camp and I am volunteering we are not allowed to hit the horses in any way. The instructor just told me to hold the lead rope basically at the clip where its attached to the halter to have a better hold on her, which I feel made her angrier.
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post #4 of 24 Old 07-29-2013, 07:44 PM
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Then don't lead the horses until they train them not to bite. Horses that bite need to be cured or canned. Sorry.
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post #5 of 24 Old 07-29-2013, 07:47 PM
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Yeah, the shorter the hold on the lead the grumpier this horse will be - there's no relief from pressure even when she's not doing something wrong. I generally hold a loop of leadrope in my right hand and keep a close eye on the horse's expression. Any move to bite or even nibble and I casually flick the loop in view of the eye. Generally the horse realises its rumbled in its sneak attack and turns its head away, as if it's pretending it was never even thinking of biting. Best to test this reaction out without a student on the back though, in case the horse is highly reactive to movement around the face. But I've found it works for a lot of rude, snappy or mouthy horses. I used to get paid to walk other peoples' when they weren't available, it was something I used to survive

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post #6 of 24 Old 07-29-2013, 07:47 PM Thread Starter
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Yea :/ Thanks anyways (:
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post #7 of 24 Old 07-29-2013, 07:56 PM
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Personally if it were me (and I don't have a ton of experience, this is just my reaction) if I weren't allowed to hit the horse, I would give her a good yank on the lead rope at least. I agree with waresbear, biting needs to be fixed, not bypassed - and if they won't let you correct the horse, stop helping them. That's not the kind of organization I'd want my kids to go to, so I would most definitely not support them.
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post #8 of 24 Old 07-29-2013, 07:57 PM Thread Starter
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Yea, I don't want to start trying to fix problems in the middle of a lesson. The horse seems to be alright with people around her face. I think she might be a bit girthy though, as I think the kid's feet near her sides and then my other volunteer going near her sides freaked her out, not sure though. She seemed to be fine until like halfway through the second lesson so I think she might have just been grumpy being worked all morning.

So if I'm leading the horse on the left side, excess lead in my left hand, I just make a loop with my right hand near her face and then flick it towards her face?
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post #9 of 24 Old 07-29-2013, 08:02 PM Thread Starter
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Yea, I'm going to finish this week and then rethink this, because the instructor really bothers me. She can't make up her mind aha x) But yea, especially since they talked their horses up a lot on their website. The horse I was working with had way too nice things said about her, and another horse that anyone there will tell you to be careful of has "an amazing personality" according to them. It also bothers me because they have one training session where people who have never been around horses before just go and then all of a sudden they're in charge of a horse.
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post #10 of 24 Old 07-29-2013, 08:19 PM
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Before you try anything, is the horse in any discomfort? Does the saddle not fit? Is the rider bouncing around on her back? Is the horse burned out from working too much? The horse may be trying to take out the frustration on you.

Once these concerns are adressed, I would check to see if it's a respect issue. Therapy horses are usually handed to many different volunteers every day and will test each one and find out what they can/can't get away with. Many develop behavioral problems because of this inconsistent handling and the stress of the job.

What I would do is work with the horses with an experienced rider (someone who won't fall if the horse really reacts to the punishment). Some horses take advantage of the fact that the person leading can't really punish them when a kid is on, so they need to learn that you will. You almost have to trick them into thinking that you will always smack them when they try to bite regardless of if a rider is on so they won't even think of trying it when a kid is actually on.

If the horse moves with any intent of biting you, a hard smack across the nose will usually dissuade any more of the behavior. (I know you're worried about hurting the horse, but imagine what it does with other horses in the pasture. A slap is nothing). It may take a few times for the horse to get the idea, but trust me, it will.

I would also try to spend some time with the horse and earn its trust and affection. Some horses lash out just because they tire of the daily grind and just need a good scratch or short trail ride. Don't let a soured horse ruin your whole opinion of horses - she probably just needs a little guidance, a bit of love, and a little time away from work to change her tune.

A horse is a mirror to your soul. And sometimes you may not like what you see. - Buck Brannaman
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