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Discussion Starter #1
I have a fairly new horse (bought at the end of last summer, so didn't have much nice weather to work with him) who is very mouthy. When your doing something with another horse or sometimes either him he nibbles at you. Over the past few months he has gotten worse and actually more of a bite but not like an aggressive bite. If that makes any sense at all. I know he is not in discomfort or anything. For example the other day I was out brushing him, getting all his winter coat out, and he was totally fine. He was actually falling asleep while I was doing it, but as soon as I quit and went under his neck to put the brush away he turned to bite at me. He is very pushy on the grounds due to the owner before me not doing anything with him and just letting him sit in a field for years. Please help before I lose a finger, lol just kidding. But any tips or advice from previous mouthy horses.
 

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Is this the horse you are trying to get involved in barrel racing? I would strongly advice against leapfrogging over levels in his training and put in a solid foundation first. If I fool around with a horse and I feel teeth, even if it's just on cloth, I don't jump out of my skin and go berserk, but I still grab his nose with both hand, give it a little shake, and say, "Hey, no biting!". Then I go back to petting him. I haven't had any biting incidents, or even corrections for the attempt, in quite some time, and I'm pretty loose with my standards for "manners": Do not move me (i.e. don't walk into me), and do
not attempt to move me (e.g. don't pin your ears at me or block my path).
 

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Discussion Starter #3
No this is my other horse, not the same one I use for barrels. He's very head strong and stubborn. Nothing seems to phase him.
 

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Seems @mmshiro and I are reading the same posts today!

I do think it would be good to instill some ground manners in this horse. Some liberty work, or ground work on a lead line might help him understand boundaries more. Does he bump into you, get in your space, etc? Even if he doesn't, it might be useful to teach him to stay out of your bubble (biting is a BIG invasion of the bubble). If you are walking him on a lead, he should be at your shoulder, never barge ahead, stop when you stop, back when you back (or tell him to back). Get him to yield to pressure by asking him to move his hindquarters and shoulders, carry a crop if you have to remind him to stay out of your bubble.

If he truly is biting you (I'm not really sure what you mean by your description), even playfully, you might hold a nail between your knuckles and poke him with it next time he comes in for a "love bite". Not hard enough to draw blood of course, just to give him a bit of a surprise. You should be able to see it coming when he's about to bite, so watch for it and give him a little poke on the nose. He'll think you suddenly grew quills and realize it's a bad idea to bite you. Our Arab gelding used to do this when we first got him and because he was my 10 year old's horse, I had to deal with it right away. The nail in the head for a few days was enough.

This is definitely a behavior that I treat very seriously.
 

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Anytime I am around him I have one hand up holding onto his halter basically keeping his head away if he were to try to bite. When he does get irritated or whatever he gets mad about i hold onto his halter and push away so i don’t get bit. When he starts to nibble or show any little bit of teeth i hit him under the chin or his chest. I don’t like hitting him in the snout even though i feel it’d work better because his previous owner had done that for a punishment for anything he did and he get very head shy and i finally got him out from under that.
 

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When he starts to nibble or show any little bit of teeth i hit him under the chin or his chest.
If that's you in the picture, I doubt that the force of the whack is enough to make an impact on the horse's psyche. Here's a suggestion. Next time you whack, add in your best scream. Make it high volume and mean. Save this only for biting and kicking. Oh yeah, start in private.
 

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Dont under estimate me because of whatever your saying by my picture. I don’t get walked over my a horse, i use a crop to hit him with in th chest and he gives the same reaction as my hand does.
 

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I would not underestimate you by your picture.

I know what you are saying about a horse becoming head shy if whacked on the muzzle or cheek . some of them do, especially if the first times the punishment is half hearted, and ends up escalating. the truly persistant , mouthy horse will just escalate his tries right along with you.

you can try the holding the nail idea, I think already describeed, to address his all out attempts to bite.


but, . . . about holding his halter. I understand that you are trying to 'keep' him from biting, but I think you may need to allow him to make that 'mistake', and then apply the consequences.

let me back up . . . in general, 'holding' horse so that he does not do what you don't want him to is not a good training approach. the only thing he will learn is to lean or push against your pressure. it's like holding the reins; the horse learns to push and lean on the bit. Holding your leg on him? he tunes it out , or bucks. Holding the lead line taut? hrose just startes to resist the pull on the halter.

the idea is to make things HIS responsibility. so, you address his actions, but you never hold him in anticipation of it. Of course, if you must in order to protect the farrier's back, for instance, then by all means . But if every interraction between you two requires you to "hold" him, then he is not learning what you need him to learn.
do you understand?

I would work on having him ALWAYS hold his head off of you. It means that you will have to stop cuddling his head as you are doin in the photo/avatar.
you stand by him and you do have your hand somewhat ready but you are not 'holding or non-stop pushing on his halter.When he moves his head past the centerline of his body, (to start with),you address that. correct it by putting your hand up and block him. you can tap on his cheek, enough for him to move his own face back into "HIS" space. put your hand down
you keep insisting that he keep his head there, ALL THE TIME.

whether you are grooming, cinching, scratching his wither, whatever . . you insist he keep his head over. And, you move him over long before he has reached around to sniff or bite you.
If he does actually get around fast and bite you, then I suppose a very large reaction of a swift hard smack with a lot of noise and commotion is one approach

this might be a place to start. I venture to guess he is not mean, but curious and playful. Still, it is a bad habit that cannot be tolerated. at some point, he has to grow up and stop with the baby mouthy behavior. you'll have to be excrutiatingly consistent to help with this.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
@tinyliny i wasn’t talking about you underestimating me. The other person who had commented I was talking to. I tried with letting him make the mistake and he started taking more advantage and he got real bad. I’ve got him to not be so aggressive and almost as if he was trying to hurt you to just nibbling now but can’t get past this part
 

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@ducky1234 Being “walked over” doesn’t mean just that literally i’m meaning any type of situation of a horse thinking they are in charge and the lead man. Whether it’s having no ground respect for your space, biting, kicking, etc. It don’t matter what of them things they are doing they are all bad and obviously need addressed. So please don’t judge off a picture by the way you seemed to propose. Thank you!!
 

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Honestly, I have a head-shy mare so would not recommend hitting or whacking on the nose or head. The nail in the hand is far more effective, and subtle.

Also agree with tiny about holding the halter, and teaching the horse that you want his head forward, not turned into you. I'd work with the horse at liberty, or on a loose lead, and wait for him to try, then poke with the nail. Again. And again. Do a few sessions a day of this - not when you're trying to get things done, but just as separate training sessions. Carry the nail at all times though, so you can also correct when you are working on other things.
 

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There are very few things that I will hit a horse for. Biting (or nibbling) is one of them. I have a zero tolerance policy. When done correctly, you will not create a head shy horse because they understand why they were reprimanded.

I like to compare it to a herd of horses. Think of if you have a lead stallion. He will not hesitate to bite or kick a mare if they get out of line. But again, you have to apply the smack correctly for it to work.

You know this horse does this so pay extra close attention at all times. You should know when he’s about to bite or nibble, because there are always tell tale signs. Timing is important. You want the horse to commit to making the mistake but you don’t want to wait until you actually get bit. So stay on your toes and always be ready.

Since his behavior has not stopped my assumption is that you aren’t being firm enough with him. I agree with the above poster to also scream or yell when you whack him. Or jump up and down. Wave your arms too. Etc. Basically, make him think his world is about to end. Remember, react IMMEDIATELY to the threat of his bite. Make your reaction last for 2 to 3 seconds. Go beserk. Then stop and go back to what you were doing as if nothing happened.

You want him to think “OMG, I’m never doing that again - she’s nuts!”

When done correctly, it should only take you correcting him a couple times for him to understand that biting is wrong.

Based on your description, this horse could use some manners in general. Of course, that’s contributing to him thinking biting is okay. Right now, he’s the lead stallion and your a low mare, in your little herd of two. You need to change that dynamic. You need to be the boss.

Remember that timing is everything. That is why it is so difficult to help someone with a problem like this over the Internet, because we can’t show you. It is so much better to work in person with a trainer. Even if you can haul somewhere ONE time to work with someone, it would be well worth your time.
 

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I also have the same zero tolerance with biting horses.

If I'm at the horses head and it goes to bite it will get backhanded across the snout immediately. If I'm working with a horse that shows signs of biting, I always keep my elbow up in his direction so if he does go to bite he won't hurt me and I can bonk his nose with my elbow.
 

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Hi @emick2016 you don't say how old the horse is, but it sounds like baby traits that are just getting out of hand. A young horse will mouth things as their way of exploring and sometimes I will let them for a short time, then let them know 'enough now' by taking the halter and moving the nose away, if they come back again move the nose and say NO. If they have got to nipping, then the mouthing has gone a bit further but remember that nipping between young horses is normal, they just need to learn it is not acceptable with people. So while I agree with some of the previous posts, only be as firm as you need to, but definitely be as firm as you need to!! Not knowing the horse you will have to judge that yourself. If a horse even flattens its ears at me I will growl it and say NO, that lets it know it is not higher in the pecking order than me.
 

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The most mouthy horse I ever came across was called Razz, he belonged to a friend. Anything within range went into his mouth and it was nothing for him to chew a pair of reins in seconds.

The first time I met him I had gone along to clip her other horse, she was clipping him. As she was being rather slow I took over the clippers. She was standing at his head. Next thing she was taking off her sweater and when I asked why she said she would rather he chewed the sweater without her in it. There was no comment when I said he shouldn't be allowed to chew the sweater at all.

Months later at a show she asked me to hold the horse whilst she walked the cross country course. I did so. The reins were over his head and I took them. In seconds he grabbed both reins and had them in his mouth chewing them with his molars. I yanked the reins and at the same time slapped him hard on the flat of his muzzle with my hand.
That horse looked at me in astonishment, he couldn't believe he had been stopped. He took the reins again moments later though not as hard, he got the same punishment, a yank and a hard slap. Third time he just took one rein in his lips, same correction.

He stood there looking at me in shock. The next thing he tried to shove his head down to eat grass. I asked him nicely to stop by pulling on one rein. He chose to ignore so he got a firm but not hard, kick on his nose. Again, three times he tried and then accepted I wasn't going to suffer his antics and just stood as he should have done on the first place.

His owner had returned and was sitting on her car drinking a coffee. I took Razzback to her and handed her the reins, as she went to take them so he grabbed both hard into his mouth. I slapped him and jerked the reins out of his mouth - I'd he had looked surprised with me earlier the look he gave his owner was one of pure shock! He thought she had corrected him.

That was it, he stopped being mouthy.

An open handed slap on the muzzle well timed soon stops the problem.
 

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I have also been told you need to correct him before he actually bites you. Correcting him after makes him just realized he needs to be quicker.

My 2¢ (which has worked with Estrella)
 

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My mare will lip me and has never bitten in the seven years that I have owned her. She is a mouthy horse that explores a lot with her lips. Now, her filly on the other hand is not like her in that way, but she has tried to take a swipe at me with her teeth just to try it and she got a smack in the chest.

I think it all depends on the why and what you are comfortable with. It really sounds to me like he was trying to reciprocate in the grooming session. If he gets out of hand then don't let him do it.
 

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My friend had a horse that used to bite. A quick smack on the neck or a backhand to the snout works. It is disrespectful & should not be tolerated. Period. Manners are important; this is something that can be fixed with patience. You have to be firm. I agree with being a bit loud when correcting him.

Praise him when he DOESN’T try to nibble/bite.


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