Biting the halter when being caught
I volunteer at CARD. It's a riding program for disabled people. Anyhow, there is a horse, his name is Fred, and he bites the halter when you try to catch him. I did get him in, but he nips when you lead him in. He just does not want to come in. I had to give him a treat to distract his mouth.
I am used to training dogs, and the philosiphy is so different. They are carnivores and horses are prey after all. So giving a treat to "distract" a dog would be reinforcement. Is it the same with horses?
Also, what am I to do next time I bring him in?
Does he pin his ears? Or is he just mouthy? If his ears are back that is one thing, but it sounds like he is just an extroverted personality who is very busy in his mind. So when you go to put the halter on, if he wants to grab it instead of fighting him say "Let me help you!" Pull the halter into his mouth, high enough to be a little tight (so it's a tad uncomfortable) and wait until he wants to spit it out.
As for leading, my warmblood is a very extroverted personality and some days he will take his lips and pull my jacket. He doesn't use teeth, but it's a dominance thing. So what I do is I take my lead rope and swing it behind the drive line so that I am then by his shoulder....thus I am driving HIM instead of vice-versa. He's just playing and he's busy. Don't punish him for it, he's just showing you a play drive. Just make it so that he can't take cheap shots at you! lol.
Treating a biting horse is definitely not the way you want to go. With a mouthy horse I never give treats. When he goes to grab the halter, I would slide it on and give him a firm pop on the nose and sharply reprimand him. Once you get the halter on continue to lead him. Pay attention to him and watch for signs that he is going to nip you before he actually does it. If you can catch him before the hand just give a sharp pull with the lead to distract him and keep walk. If he does bite you, react immediately and give him a good smack and a sharp reprimand. At this point I usually agressively back them and then continue leading. I do not tolerate biting and after I give it to the horse once or twice they never try to bite me again.
The horse isn't being bad, he's just busy and curious...he just happens to be curious with his mouth. What would be great is if the people could find a way to channel that curiousity and use it to their advantage....like teach him to pick up things, like handing them a brush or something. Instead of telling him off for being who he is.
Whipple, you just need to be on your toes. Is he actually making contact or mouthing? If he's actually making contact a well placed elbow will work wonders.
I have one that grabs his halter and throws it on the ground..... his way of saying "come on lets do something"
I have only had one encounter with fred so far. I am only going to be going twice a week, so I might only lead him 4 times a week, and thats absolute maximum. Would he behave for me if I'm consistant but others are not?
I only gave him the treat that once to distract him, wont happen again. He is making contact, I felt teeth, but he didnt get me hard.
I am far from experienced with horses, the only ones I worked with were extremely well behaved. So I might as well have never seen a horse before. ;-)
He tried to come after my arm, my shoulder and my back when I led him. So maybe he's playful, maybe hes trying to dominate, not sure. He did want to stay behind me though. I couldnt keep at his shoulder or he would stop.
If your feeling teeth then this is more than just a "busy" horse, and if he went at you three times he's way out of line. Having a horse like this behind you as you are leading him is not a good idea, your leaving you whole body open for a bite.
Have you talked to the BO or director of the riding facility about him?
I find no problem with a horse learning something new, such as you pointed out picking up things. However, when in comes down to an issue such as this, it needs to be addressed in a way the horse will understand. Horses are herd animals, together they establish dominance. If a horse is going to bite me, they are going to get a quick smack to let them know that their behavior is unacceptable. My horse has bitten me once the entire time I have owned her, she got a quick smack on her nose and has never done in again.
The point that I am trying to get across is that this horse needs to learn that this is not okay before a child gets bitten. Letting him know that the behavior is not tolerated is better for everyone. I am not saying beat the horse, I am simply talking a quick smack to let him know that his behavior is not allowed. Let him be curious in other ways, sniffing, nudging, playing, whatever, just not biting.
Whipple- I do not like mouthy horses as I have often found that it tends to be a starting point for nipping. I'm all for allowing my horses to be curious but that curiousity will not manifest itself in mouthiness. If ANY horse would try nibbing at me like that I would be very firm with discipline. I really wouldn't care at the motivation behind the behavior. When it comes to a horse hurting me or others because of a preventable vice I try to correct the vice before the horse hurts anyone. In my mind it is people first and horses second. This rule would apply even more in a situation where the horse is in program with disabled people.
While having inconsistent handling won't help the matter if you are firm with him he will probably be less likely to try that with you if you establish consistent handling.
Thank you everyone. I am not experienced at all, but I will do what I have to when I handle Fred.
As far as I know he is not around the children at all. I think he's one of the new horses, so they're still getting to know him. But not 100%, as I am also quite new.
Anyhow, they have us all lead with a whip in the arena, so I was curious if it might be a good idea to bring it while bringing him in. I'm still trying to get the hang of not letting all the horses out by accident, and getting the horses to move certain ways, ect. Carrying a whip, halter, and lead might almost be too much. lol I'm sure many of you can do all that, I'll get there soon enough.
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