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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a new 9 yo Arabian mare that’s been a pasture horse her entire life. She’s a really sweet mare, but when I went to pick her up, two weeks ago, to bring her home she has gotten into some barbed wire and had some pretty bad lesions on her left back leg. Now in addition to trying to establish trust between the two of us, I’m having to tend to an injury that’s very tender. She’s very protective of that back leg. I’ve been very patient an quiet around her letting her get used to me rubbing her all over her body and she loves it, but when it comes to that leg, she doesn’t want me touching it. The other day I was working with her to get medicine on it and she turned around and bit me. Now I’m cautious about her face being close to me and she senses that I have a fear that she’ll bite me again. What should be my next steps to establishing trust without her thinking she can bully me?
 

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Trust will come slowly. What is more important right now is establishing boundaries.

You don't say what you did after she bit you. Hopefully you made it very clear to her that was not acceptable. You two don't know each other. She has no idea what you think is acceptable yet.

It's very common for a horse new to a person to try to bite or kick once or twice, especially if they haven't been handled regularly or handled poorly.

My gelding came to me a habitual biter, but even my first, very sweet Arab mare who came to me unhandled tried biting me once to see what I thought about that. Never tried it again.

I have a new pony who was unhandled and she also tried biting me when I was handling her and she didn't like it. They need to learn what your boundaries are.
 

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I forgot to say that also when you don't know a horse and are treating injuries or introducing new things, you need to watch their body language very carefully.

It is very important to back off before they feel the need to get aggressive or get away. You need to insist but slowly, and reprimand threatening body language before it goes farther.

Sometimes you won't be able to do an ideal wound cleaning and will have to use something like a hose from a distance away instead. Medicine can be sprayed or applied to a gauze rubber banded around a stick that you can touch the wound with from a distance.
 

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I have a new 9 yo Arabian mare that’s been a pasture horse her entire life. She’s a really sweet mare, but when I went to pick her up, two weeks ago, to bring her home she has gotten into some barbed wire and had some pretty bad lesions on her left back leg. Now in addition to trying to establish trust between the two of us, I’m having to tend to an injury that’s very tender. She’s very protective of that back leg. I’ve been very patient an quiet around her letting her get used to me rubbing her all over her body and she loves it, but when it comes to that leg, she doesn’t want me touching it. The other day I was working with her to get medicine on it and she turned around and bit me. Now I’m cautious about her face being close to me and she senses that I have a fear that she’ll bite me again. What should be my next steps to establishing trust without her thinking she can bully me?
It's very difficult to get used to a new horse and suddenly have to deal with an injury.
However, you HAVE to deal with the injury and she needs to let you.

I would also like to know how you responded when she bit you. What did you do?

I am not one to hit a horse UNLESS they do something like that. Then they are going to think all H$LL broke loose. Biting is a very, very dangerous behavior and I will absolutely not risk my flesh going missing. I have a very hard line on that. Doesn't matter if its a horse I have never met before, or one I have owned their whole life. Biting is not tolerated, no matter the reason. So had I been in your situation, I would have smacked her in the face with whatever I had in the moment and meant it. And she better not do it again.

I understand that method is not for everyone, and it will NOT work well if you do NOT implement it correctly. The correction must be immediate. And you must be confident. I always think to myself and try to relate how horses interact in the wild. If a lower horse on the totem pole would do something the lead stallion doesn't like, guess what? That lead stallion is going to bite or kick to put the lower horse in their place. They aren't going to feel bad about it, and the lower horse is going to remember it and not step out of line again.

When my Red got hurt the first time (LOL, he's a little accident prone) I had to have my BO help me change the bandage on his hind leg. She would twist the skin on his neck if he tried to do anything to me back there. I supposed similar to what a twitch does to a horse. But it's what we had to do in order to get him to stand there so I could take care of his injury. And it worked. So you'll have to figure out how to do it. Might need a helper.

My mom's horse had some really bad scratches last winter and she didn't have any help. So she would use a spray bottle with betadine, and tie him between two free-standing cattle panels to "hold him". Then he couldn't kick her through the panels, and couldn't move too much, and she could be far enough away with the spray bottle to get it on the lesions. Not ideal, but it got the job done.

Do what you gotta do.
 

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I wouldn't call that 'bullying' you in the very least. From her point of view, there's no reason she should allow you to do this & she has made it clear she doesn't want you to touch, but you didn't 'listen' so she had to 'shout' & punish you for it.

On top of that, sounds like you are a relative stranger to her & it's unclear but talk of being 'at pasture her whole like' I'm guessing maybe she is also relatively unhandled. It's lucky sounds like it was only a light warning bite, not a serious one, or a kick. And yes, if this caused you to stop messing with her leg, even for a second, &/or there was nothing in it for her, no reason, in her eyes, to stand & put up with what you were doing, then you're right to fear she is very likely to do it again.

So... First & foremost, your safety first. If you can't find a way to administer to her safely, don't do it!. If her injury is bad enough that she seriously needs the 'medicine' on it or it will be infected/get worse, then I'd talk to your vet about alternatives, &/or find someone with a cattle crush, so you can put her in, to safely force the issue.

Yes, if her behaviour was successful in getting you to quit hassling, &/or it wasn't instantly punished strongly enough for her to seriously fear that punishment in future, she will do it again & in other situations, when she feels she has to 'shout' to be listened to.

It being a dangerous behaviour, I wouldn't just ignore it, but I'd seriously punish her the instant she threatens to bite or kick at you. But it needs to be INSTANT punishment(or don't bother, it's too late), & remember, punishing something like this is a bit of a 'bandaid' first aid measure - it is not likely to be effective long term without other measures & is not going to teach her what TO do.

I'd be using 'clicker training' principles to teach her it's ok/profitable for her to put up with stuff she doesn't want you doing.
 

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What? A cattle crush 'squeeze chute' used for cattle? IMO That is asking for a disaster.

In my cattle ranching and equine experience that is no way to do this., With an Arabian stallion that did not allow me to handle and doctor his hind foot. I put him in between two solidly placed corral panels and placed a loop of rope on the ground he would step into.With the rope run behind his pastern I had safe control of his hind foot and was able to control and doctor the hind foot. After a few treatments he gave up resisting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
It's very difficult to get used to a new horse and suddenly have to deal with an injury.
However, you HAVE to deal with the injury and she needs to let you.

I would also like to know how you responded when she bit you. What did you do?

I am not one to hit a horse UNLESS they do something like that. Then they are going to think all H$LL broke loose. Biting is a very, very dangerous behavior and I will absolutely not risk my flesh going missing. I have a very hard line on that. Doesn't matter if its a horse I have never met before, or one I have owned their whole life. Biting is not tolerated, no matter the reason. So had I been in your situation, I would have smacked her in the face with whatever I had in the moment and meant it. And she better not do it again.

I understand that method is not for everyone, and it will NOT work well if you do NOT implement it correctly. The correction must be immediate. And you must be confident. I always think to myself and try to relate how horses interact in the wild. If a lower horse on the totem pole would do something the lead stallion doesn't like, guess what? That lead stallion is going to bite or kick to put the lower horse in their place. They aren't going to feel bad about it, and the lower horse is going to remember it and not step out of line again.

When my Red got hurt the first time (LOL, he's a little accident prone) I had to have my BO help me change the bandage on his hind leg. She would twist the skin on his neck if he tried to do anything to me back there. I supposed similar to what a twitch does to a horse. But it's what we had to do in order to get him to stand there so I could take care of his injury. And it worked. So you'll have to figure out how to do it. Might need a helper.

My mom's horse had some really bad scratches last winter and she didn't have any help. So she would use a spray bottle with betadine, and tie him between two free-standing cattle panels to "hold him". Then he couldn't kick her through the panels, and couldn't move too much, and she could be far enough away with the spray bottle to get it on the lesions. Not ideal, but it got the job done.

Do what you gotta do.
OMG!! Thank you so much for the encouragement. Having grown up with horses and had intensive training, myself, by my trainer and coach, my immediate reaction was to hit her. Where I was when she turned to bite me my first reach was her neck. Yes I hit her and hard. She’s obviously reading my leeriness of allowing her to get in my space with her muzzle. I can see it in her demeanor that she doesn’t trust me and her experience with me is very sweetly mutual, then as I rub her and work my way toward her injured leg, she gets very tense. Locks up her mouth, ears back and prepared to step away. My mistake was being in her stall with the door closed. I never allowed her to get me into a corner or against the wall, but I never expect d her to bite me either. In all the years growing up until I was 17, I never had a horse bite me. That being said, I haven had a horse of my own in 33 years. I’m very confident around horses, but respect their size and strength. I remember my last horse was my best friend. I’m just not sure how to build the mutual respect snd bond with this horse having to make her anxious every day trying to help her leg heal. 😩
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Trust will come slowly. What is more important right now is establishing boundaries.

You don't say what you did after she bit you. Hopefully you made it very clear to her that was not acceptable. You two don't know each other. She has no idea what you think is acceptable yet.

It's very common for a horse new to a person to try to bite or kick once or twice, especially if they haven't been handled regularly or handled poorly.

My gelding came to me a habitual biter, but even my first, very sweet Arab mare who came to me unhandled tried biting me once to see what I thought about that. Never tried it again.

I have a new pony who was unhandled and she also tried biting me when I was handling her and she didn't like it. They need to learn what your boundaries are.
Thank you so much. My instinctual reaction was to slap her on her neck. She’s still challenging me but I’m no longer trying to be sweet and coddling. I’m trying very herd to be very confident around her and not let her sense my fear of her biting me again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I forgot to say that also when you don't know a horse and are treating injuries or introducing new things, you need to watch their body language very carefully.

It is very important to back off before they feel the need to get aggressive or get away. You need to insist but slowly, and reprimand threatening body language before it goes farther.

Sometimes you won't be able to do an ideal wound cleaning and will have to use something like a hose from a distance away instead. Medicine can be sprayed or applied to a gauze rubber banded around a stick that you can touch the wound with from a distance.
I think my mistake was not realizing, completely, her body language and trying too hard to be empathetic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I wouldn't call that 'bullying' you in the very least. From her point of view, there's no reason she should allow you to do this & she has made it clear she doesn't want you to touch, but you didn't 'listen' so she had to 'shout' & punish you for it.

On top of that, sounds like you are a relative stranger to her & it's unclear but talk of being 'at pasture her whole like' I'm guessing maybe she is also relatively unhandled. It's lucky sounds like it was only a light warning bite, not a serious one, or a kick. And yes, if this caused you to stop messing with her leg, even for a second, &/or there was nothing in it for her, no reason, in her eyes, to stand & put up with what you were doing, then you're right to fear she is very likely to do it again.

So... First & foremost, your safety first. If you can't find a way to administer to her safely, don't do it!. If her injury is bad enough that she seriously needs the 'medicine' on it or it will be infected/get worse, then I'd talk to your vet about alternatives, &/or find someone with a cattle crush, so you can put her in, to safely force the issue.

Yes, if her behaviour was successful in getting you to quit hassling, &/or it wasn't instantly punished strongly enough for her to seriously fear that punishment in future, she will do it again & in other situations, when she feels she has to 'shout' to be listened to.

It being a dangerous behaviour, I wouldn't just ignore it, but I'd seriously punish her the instant she threatens to bite or kick at you. But it needs to be INSTANT punishment(or don't bother, it's too late), & remember, punishing something like this is a bit of a 'bandaid' first aid measure - it is not likely to be effective long term without other measures & is not going to teach her what TO do.

I'd be using 'clicker training' principles to teach her it's ok/profitable for her to put up with stuff she doesn't want you doing.
She has been handled but not enough to establish respect for someone handling her the way I need to. I did smack her immediately when she bit me. I grew up around horses so I knew that needed to be immediately addressed.
 

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New horse, an Arabian a breed I worship, known to not suffer fools, don't screw this opportunity up. Call a vet, have her tranq'ed, let vet do the initial treatment of the wound. After that, treat her like any other horse, allowed to pull away but never, ever attack human flesh, don't care what the circumstance is. Don't be a fool and screw this up. Small investment into having an incredible horse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
New horse, an Arabian a breed I worship, known to not suffer fools, don't screw this opportunity up. Call a vet, have her tranq'ed, let vet do the initial treatment of the wound. After that, treat her like any other horse, allowed to pull away but never, ever attack human flesh, don't care what the circumstance is. Don't be a fool and screw this up. Small investment into having an incredible horse.
I’ve been working with her for two weeks. I’ve been very mindful of her fear given she has a new environment compounded stress of an injury. I’ve treated her like any other horse, I’ve observed her body language, I’ve rubbed her all over, including down her injured leg not touching her wound. We’ve been giving oral sensitives to be able to some amount of hydrotherapy. I’m not new to being around horses, but the philosophy of today’s training is completely different than it was 35 years ago. I don’t want to traumatize her and I certainly want to buil trust and establish myself as her leader, which she fully understands until I mess with her leg. I’m not sure what you mean by “Don’t be a fool and screw this up.” I’m not a complete idiot who knows nothing about horses. I just want to make sure her leg heals.
 

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She's telling you it hurts, it's been 2 two weeks and it still hurts, bad enough for her to bite you. Arabs tend not to suffer fools, make it feel better or stop messing around for 1/2 a month.
 

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What is clicker training?
Positive reinforcement training. The 'clicker' bit is about using a 'bridging signal' to accurately communicate with timing. Well worth learning about, whether you choose to go 'by the book' or otherwise. ;-)
 

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What? A cattle crush 'squeeze chute' used for cattle? IMO That is asking for a disaster.
I think you must be thinking of some different kind of contraption, but to me, sandwiching a horse between 2 corral panels doesn't sound effectively any different to using a crush, except it sounds... unstable & so WAY more likely to end in disaster. , A 'crush' over here is simply a (very secure) contraption of heavy, high steel gates in a 'race' - a narrow pathway, with a narrow(horse/cow width) gate at either end, and horse length gates on at least one side, so you can confine the animal to do... whatever, tie up a foot for farriery, vet work, mount a bronc.... Even equine vets use crushes over here(& I'd guess elsewhere) & while it's not 'foolproof' - seen a horse jump(half) out of one once - it's the safest way of 'doctoring' a horse if you have to force them into putting up with something horrible.

All that said, speaking to a vet about meds would be my first choice & if you had to force a horse into that situation, they'd probably be best sedated anyway. I wouldn't do it by choice, only if absolutely necessary for medical care & it will of course cause the horse to be untrusting, possibly frightened of you. Some 'red neck cowboys' like to put a horse in a crush to halter them & 'sack them out'... IMO so many kinds of wrong, that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
She's telling you it hurts, it's been 2 two weeks and it still hurts, bad enough for her to bite you. Arabs tend not to suffer fools, make it feel better or stop messing around for 1/2 a month.
It doesn’t hurt. I’ve rubbed and scratched her leg all around the wound including right up to it, so that’s not it. I’m not going to stop messing with it and let it get infected.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
So it's been two weeks so it's too late to be sutured. Barb wire cut on leg-- there is going to be some proud flesh problem here and a vet will need to be consulted. I hope you have gotten rid of the barb wire.
She didn’t get this injury in my care. I know better than to have barbed wire with horses. She was still at her previous owner’s property and this happened, literally about 2 hours before we arrived to pick her up. She was immediately seen by a vet. She said because the way the flesh was torn, it couldn’t be stitched and would need to be treated as an open wound, which is why it needed to be dressed every day. She was also seen by my vet the following week and he confirmed the same treatment and provided sedative gel to calm her before treatment.
 
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