First Ever Horse Bite! - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 17 Old 06-15-2017, 01:07 AM
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From the way you describe it I'm going to give your mare the benefit of the doubt and say she had a fly on her leg or side that she was going for and you happened to be between her mouth and the fly. No excuses for her though, she should be more aware of you than she seems to be and still should have been shown that it isn't acceptable behavior.

R.I.P. JC 5/19/85 - 12/9/14. You made my life better.
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post #12 of 17 Old 06-15-2017, 01:26 AM
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I'll throw my personal opinion about this in here, and say I don't follow the whole "she just doesn't know she's stepping on you" or "she accidentally kicked me or run me down/pushed into me". Horses in a herd are VERY aware of each others space. Just watch them. When one comes over and puts its head on the other, the other will only have to flick its ears and the intruder will quickly and completely get back out of the way.

I've seen horses kick in a very precise fashion. I've never seen a horse "accidentally" kick something. When they want to nail something, they absolutely will. Ask my dog.

Same goes for biting. They have almost 360 degree vision. Even with a fly on her leg, she would SEE you. I've been kicked with precision accuracy, when I was a child of four, out teasing the horses, I was put in my place and taught a valuable lesson by a mare who could have very well killed me. She was shod, I was chasing them and she gave me a tap in the face that knocked me out cold but didn't hurt me any further. I didn't understand until she had her own colt, whom she accurately and strictly disciplined the same way she disciplined me. To her I was nothing but a rowdy, disrespectful colt and she taught me the same way she taught her own. A swift kick with just enough power to get the point across but not seriously harm.

I've also watched her fatally kick a 400 pound steer in the head. She HATED that steer, and was out to seriously injure it. All it took was one good one in the right spot.

SO- after my rambling I will state I believe what happened was you missed some signals. You could have been scratching her, while she was eating, flies bugging her, etc and she subtly gave you some signals to back off. Being a general newb, you could have very easily misinterpreted or missed those signals, and she had enough and said "GET AWAY" with her teeth. It worked. She came back and grazed and you left her alone.

I trust my guy with my life, but I am ALWAYS aware. He's coming on four years old and has never hurt me in any way, but I watch all the time, at every moment, his body language and even those minute little signs that tell me what he's thinking. It can save your life, if you just spend a lot of time watching them interact with eachother and start picking up what different expressions, ear flicks and small movements mean.
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post #13 of 17 Old 06-15-2017, 02:30 AM
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I would probably not pet her when she's out grazing. try to sort of separate time when she's on HER time, and time when she's on YOUR time.

when you have her on a lead rope, it's YOUR time, and so that means not hand grazing. I know, many people do this , but most do it because it's the only way their horse will get any grazing , so I can understnad that. And, they will have a respectful horse to begin with, too, or at least they should.

I try to keep it so that when my horse is 'online', it's not his choice to do what he wants, and I test that by asking him to do things, a lot. like, step back, go over there and stand over there, no, don't come back. move your hind end over so I can get past you. step back one step so I can reach the cinch , stop calling to your herd mates . . . . etc.
all of this entails being aware of when your horse is thinking on something OTHER THAN YOU, and when that happens, as soon as it happens, you interrupt that outward thinking and do just enough to have him let go of that thought and come back to thinking on you.

when you are ready to release your horse after a ride or a groundwork session, you take them through the gate, ask them to turn around and face you, you remove the halter, and YOU turn away from them. YOU leave them, not the other way around. don't stand there while they turn their backs and minds on you and leave you. this is bad practice for them. It is you who releases them and walks away first. this is a small thing, but it's important.

when you have given them permission to eat, leave them alone. if you must interrupt, do it fully. make them mentally 'online' again, until you turn away from them and walk off, telling them that they are back on their own time again.
don't mix the two by grooming them if they are off work.

at least for a bit. once a horse is ok with your authority, you may find that field grooming/petting will be ok. however, you have to be just that much more careful because the hrose's mind is not WITH you, it's with his food, so he might be more likely to forget and barge into your space or step on you, etc.
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post #14 of 17 Old 06-15-2017, 03:12 AM
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If it was an unweaned foal, I'd say, yeah, probably just seeing how you taste. I've seen foals bite their own mothers that way. But a 4 year old? She knew what she was doing. Not that it was malice, just a test to see how far she can push you. As others have noted, horses rarely do anything of that nature accidentally, and they are astonishingly exact.

I have a special howl of furious outrage that is automatically activated at such events. I don't do it deliberately, it just shoots out of my mouth. It flattens shrubbery and may uproot small unwary trees. It can be accompanied by throwing whatever is available at the offender although I do watch that hind end. Even though it is an ape response, the other social species we live with seem to understand it very well.

Over the years I have learned the essential knack of shutting it off like a faucet once my point is made and pretending nothing happened at all. This is how social animals discipline each other -- instant retaliation, and then return to stasis. Works for me anyway.

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post #15 of 17 Old 06-15-2017, 03:32 AM
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^^^^^ Seems to be a fair 'consequence' to me. LOL

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post #16 of 17 Old 06-15-2017, 07:02 AM
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This is what I see happening. When you went into "her" pasture, just to hang out and scratch her, you became part of her herd and therefore, fair game to put you in your place in the pecking order. If you had introduced another horse into the pasture, you'd probably see your mares promptly establishing who has one, two and three status and then everything goes back to quiet grazing (well, most of the time anyway!) By hanging out and just scratching her, you became somewhat like part of the gang.

Since you haven't had them that long, they don't yet look on you as boss mare, separate from the "herd" and not to be messed with.

When I go into the pasture to catch my boys, I visit a little with any of the others who come up to see me but at the same time, I make it clear with body language, voice and a correction if necessary that I am the ultimate boss when I enter the area.

As you keep working with them and establishing your boss mare status, they will start to realize that such behavior must never be aimed towards you. Just remember that when something like this happens, it does no good to try to punish them after the fact. You have to be immediate in your reaction to have any effect on behavior and it helps to be very aware of a horse's expressions, movements and "moods" at all times.
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post #17 of 17 Old 06-15-2017, 07:22 AM
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I started working with a mare just recently - three weeks ago. Her pasture buddy is a somewhat pushy gelding who would, at the beginning, move into my space when I arrive at the pasture or, what's worse, put pressure on my mare once she approached me to interact with me. So I took a page from the herd playbook: When I'm coming through, it's in a ****y mood, with pinned year, and swishing tail: I'll twirl my lead rope in his general direction so he moves out of the way. My mare is very good at reading my body language because she's not disturbed by that display of dominance at all. After that show of "cranky lead horse", I do let the gelding come in, give him a pet, and share a cookie I don't need him to be afraid of me, just accept that I'm running the herd while I'm in the pasture with them.

So, be a cranky lead mare: When you go to the pasture, just move your horse from her spot by putting on a tiny bit of pressure. It doesn't matter what she does at that time: eating, dozing... Just say, "I'm coming through, and you'll yield your space for me." It only needs to take 5-10 seconds, and she only needs to yield by very little. It's mostly symbolic. Chances are she'll then ask for permission to come in, and that's when you give her some serious loving. It'll get her used to your role both as leader and comfort-giver.
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