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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I help my best friend feed and work her horses any time I'm out at her place (every other day or so). She's got a sweet 15yo TB gelding who is a gentleman on the ground. She also has a 10yo QH mare who is a bit of a pill. She, until recently, has been VERY pushy and is a biter.

We've been working with her on respecting space and she is a million times better, but we absolutely cannot get her to stop biting. We've tried everything. Listerine, smacking her nose, chasing her backward...everything we can think of. She got me good on the back of the arm one night as I was standing with her, waiting for my friend to take the gelding through the gate first. She was tired of waiting, so she hauled off and bit me. I blew up on her. Didn't even bother giving her a smack. I just started shanking her and chasing her backwards as fast as she could go. We got two-thirds of the way down the arena fence before I stopped and we stood there for a minute before I led her to the gate. She has been super polite and careful with me ever since.

The biggest problem we have, I think, is consistency. Even though I blew up on her and made her think her world was gonna end, she still will get mouthy with me. She'll lip my skin (hands, arms, whatever is exposed) and will take my clothing in her teeth. All I have to do is raise a finger and go "Ah!" and she immediately lets go and looks at me like "What? I didn't do anything. Can't prove it was me!" My friend, however, lets her get away with the mouthing and the lipping. Full-out bites earn her a smack on the nose, but that's about it. Because my friend lets her get away with it, I feel like she tries to test me, too. I don't let horses lip/mouth even my clothes because, IME, it leads to the horse thinking biting is okay (I don't think they see a real big difference in the two).

Any advice on how to get this mare to stop biting/mouthing/lipping once and for all? I'm at my wit's end with her. I love her to death, but it's driving me up the wall.
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Well it kind of sounds like you have it under control, the issue is more with your friend and the lack of consistency between you two. Is she open to listening to your advice on being more firm with her? Doesn't seem like much will change until she does :/
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
My friend doesn't see anything wrong with the mouthing and lipping. I've told her time and again that the mouthing and lipping are what lead to the biting, but I don't think she believes me.
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I think you've got the right idea for the most part. You can't do anything about your friend if she doesn't see it as a problem.
Horses do size up people pretty quick. I would just keep what your doing. I would avoid hand feeding and playing with her mouth. Also don't let her nibble on you at all.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Oh, the second she reaches toward me, she gets the finger raised and "Ah!" If she ignores that, I puff myself up and jerk my hand up and/or take a step toward her. That is enough to get her to think twice. I don't hand feed her treats (I don't even hand feed my own horse treats because he gets mouthy).

I guess I just wish I could convince my friend that the mouthiness/lipping is the root of the problem.
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my now 4 yr. old gelding who was born here would try to mouth/lip/suckle me when he was only a couple days old........I squealed at him like his Mom or another older horse would, only had to do it 3 times and he's never tried to put his mouth on me or anyone again......
You are right, lipping will lead to biting and it doesn't sound like your friend will believe it till the horse takes a chunk out of her arm.......keep it up for yourself though!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
You are right, lipping will lead to biting and it doesn't sound like your friend will believe it till the horse takes a chunk out of her arm.......keep it up for yourself though!
Unfortunately, the mare keeps biting my friend. My friend "reprimands" her (gives her a smack on the nose), but the mare has gotten to where she knows what's coming when she bites and pulls her head up out of the way.
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Instead of a smack on the nose go with a swift stomp on her foot. Not the hoof she won't care about that but on the hair line. Not enough to hurt her obviously but it will get her attention. For two reasons, first a hose that learns that it is going to get smacked in the nose learns to jerk its head back and if they jerk their head back before they let go with their teeth... OWCH! And in your case she has already learned how to avoid the correction.
 
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Tell your friend that horses are like kids, they need consistancy......if they find one they can get away with it with they will just progress to get worse.......you are doing the right thing!
 

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Your friend is 'pecking' at her horse and making biting into a game. A horse always wins this game of 'nip and dodge'. This will only escalate into bigger bites and a really head-shy horse and can escalate into a vicious horse that can seriously bite or even worse aggression. I've had to re-school horses that went from the 'nip and dodge' game to vicious attacks and seriously injuring or pawing a handler.

Tell your friend to hold a nail in her hand. Let the point of it stick out between her thumb and her fingers and keep that hand closest to the horse's head. Horses like this will run into the nail when they try to nip. Let the horse hit the nail. You do not want to 'poke' it at one.

They usually only have to bump into a nail once or twice, they do not get head-shy, it does not become a game; They just quit doing it, usually in one day.

You can do the same thing to a horse that wants to reach around when you girth it up.

Any time you let a horse 'punish' itself or determine its own consequences, It is a win/win situation. The horse stops the behavior and does not blame you for the consequences. Think of it like a horse running into a electric fence.

By the way, I have done very this successfully for about 50 years. About 40 years ago, I read in a Western Horseman article that Tom Dorrance recommended this method to stop biting. I've shown this to many people over the years and it has worked for all of them. Just like my personal distaste for whips; You will find me very seldom hitting a horse for any reason.

Your friend also needs to spend a great deal of time making this horse back up on the ground and should ALWAYS turn this horse to the right and should NEVER make 'left turns' with it where it comes around her to change directions. This may not seem like much, but it is HUGE to a horse. It means that you are always 'pushing' the horse around and it can never move its feet further than you do or past you. The horse is always 'yielding' to you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks, Cherie. I'll suggest the nail thing to her.

We were talking about it last night and she said that she lets the mare lip and mouth because "it's a 'nervous nelly' thing, not an aggressive thing." I tried to get her to understand that it is NOT a nervous this, but a dominant thing, but she didn't believe me. The gelding is the dominant over the mare (we can't turn them out together, apparently, because the gelding will attack the mare) to the point where you can't even pony the gelding off the mare (the gelding has an old injury that makes him unridable, but you can't leave him behind as he is EXTREMELY herd-bound). The gelding constantly nips and bites the mare through the fence. I think that the mare bites us because she wants to be alpha over *someone* and we're the only things that won't "bite back," so to speak (well, except me :lol: ).
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Just a little update on my friend's mare.

Yesterday I was helping her switch the mare and gelding. I made a comment that Tink seemed a lot less mouthy and more respectful. Apparently Tink went to bite her the day before and before Tink could bite her, she bit Tink on the nose. Tink squealed, backed off and stood there looking at her like "Well, that didn't go as planned." She hasn't tried to bite either of us since. :lol:
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