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Hello!
I am beginning to notice when I groom my mare, she tries to nip me. It's not with her teeth, just with her lips. Her ears don't go back and she doesn't look angry. It really only happens when I start grooming right behind her ear. Once I get farther back on her body, she stops. Is she trying to groom me back or is that a pain response? I've been tapping her on the nose when she does it to discourage the behavior but my mare continues to try and "nip" me.

Also, sometimes she will try to back up when I walk to the side of her body. I usually cuddle with her for a few minutes before I groom and work with her. When I go to start grooming, she backs up with me. It is leading me to believe she doesn't want to be groomed but she stands still and falls asleep when I start. I always get a nagging feeling she is uncomfortable with something. Am I overthinking this (I tend to do that a lot) or do you think these behaviors are issues?
 

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She's trying to groom you back, being polite. She's not trying to nip you at all. They wiggle their noses on each other to scratch each other's itchy spots. If you don't like it, there's nothing wrong with discouraging it but she's not trying to hurt you. Mutual grooming is part of their relationships.
 

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Just to add...mutual grooming usually involves teeth, so I would definitely discourage it. She may not mean to hurt you, but she could if she thinks you'd enjoy a nice, firm, scratching with her chompers.

As for the other, some horses are peculiar about grooming. My gelding gave me mixed signals today. I was currying and he was all into it, head up, lip pursed, chomping his teeth together in ecstasy. I moved around behind him and kept currying (soft rubber curry), and for a split second his ears went back and he stepped back hard toward me almost like a warning that something hurt or bothered him, and then he was right back to "ooooo yeeeaaahh" just as quickly.

I guess they have itchy spots, ouchy spots, ticklish spots, etc. and they'll express that as we're grooming.
 

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Just to add...mutual grooming usually involves teeth, so I would definitely discourage it. She may not mean to hurt you, but she could if she thinks you'd enjoy a nice, firm, scratching with her chompers.

As for the other, some horses are peculiar about grooming. My gelding gave me mixed signals today. I was currying and he was all into it, head up, lip pursed, chomping his teeth together in ecstasy. I moved around behind him and kept currying (soft rubber curry), and for a split second his ears went back and he stepped back hard toward me almost like a warning that something hurt or bothered him, and then he was right back to "ooooo yeeeaaahh" just as quickly.

I guess they have itchy spots, ouchy spots, ticklish spots, etc. and they'll express that as we're grooming.
Same with me today. He objected to a brush by moving away and as soon as I changed it he was fine.
 
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