Thursday, March 4, 2010

Why Do Horses Bite (People)?

We all know horses bite other horses - or at least most horses do: the most submissive ones don't get to bite anybody! Biting another horse is usually about establishing or reinforcing herd order, where the more dominant horse bites a less dominant horse, usually for failing to move away in response to a lesser gesture such as ear-pinning, head-snaking or just a glare. Horses bite each other when they're playing as well, often on the face or front legs, but the body language is very different, and the action is usually mutual. They also use their teeth when they groom one another.

Horses bite, or try to bite, people, too, and sometimes it's about the same things that go on in the horse world, but sometimes it's about other things. Although I have a zero tolerance policy for biting, when a horse bites or tries to bite I try to listen to what the horse may be saying with its bite. Although biting must always be stopped cold, sometimes there's important information in that bite. I've come up with a number of reasons why horses may bite people, not necessarily in order of how often each type of biting occurs:

1. Dominance. I don't have any interest in being treated like another horse. A dominant horse may bite in an attempt to dominate you and make you move away. This may be more subtle, such as nipping, or even careful clothes-nipping. This is a boundary-crossing issue for me - in fact all biting is a boundary issue - it's intruding into my space, so I work on it in terms of that by moving the horse out of my space and making it clear that I set the rules for our interactions. This doesn't mean for me that I'm my horse's "alpha" - I think horses are pretty good at distinguishing between horses and people - I think of it as being my horse's "people" and the rules are different - I don't need to "dominate" my horse to make this work.

2. Play. This is often an issue for young horses, who try to engage you in play as they would another horse. Again, it's all about ground manners and boundaries, and making sure that the horse understands that the "people" rules are different from "horse" rules.

3. Protecting food. A horse that is worried that its food may be taken away, or that has been having trouble getting enough to eat, that has been starved, or that is on a limited diet for some reason, may protect its food. Often, this can be solved by making sure the horse has a protected place to eat and that the horse is getting enough to eat.

4. Horse on horse aggression (where you get in the middle). In my experience, this is one of the most dangerous situations. I am absolutely strict with all the horses - no expressing aggression to another horse when I have you on the lead (when I'm leading a dominant horse), and no aggression towards another (more submissive) horse when I have that horse on the lead. This is also an issue when you're among loose horses - I'm very strict that my space is to be respected and that no one is to show aggression to another horse when I'm around - but I still pay close attention to what's going on around me. And it's not always the more dominant horses that cause issues - a less dominant horse will still sometimes go after an even more submissive horse, particularly if the herd alpha isn't around.

5. Grooming. When you are grooming a horse's neck, withers and back, you may find the horse bending its head around and trying to groom you as it would another horse. Some horses use quite a lot of teeth when they groom. Gently moving the horse's face away is usually sufficient to interrupt this behavior, although if your horse is a gentle groomer, you may decide to permit it.

6. Poor treat-taking manners. A lot of people who feed treats find that their horses become pushy, mug them, and even nip or bite when looking for treats or taking a treat from the hand. I do feed my horses treats, but paradoxically I use treats as a way to teach the horse to respect my space and that I decide how and when they get the treat. I teach my horses to take a step back from me before I step forward to give them the treat, and I also have a hand gesture I use to have the horse move away from me.

7. Pain. This type of biting will occur when you are interacting with the horse in a way that causes the horse pain, and the bite expresses the pain and is telling you to stop. A horse with ulcers will often attempt to bite when being fed, or when being girthed/cinched. Or it just may be that the horse is objecting to abrupt girthing, or that folds of skin are caught in the girth or cinch. Other types of pain, such as muscle, joint or myofascial, or a poorly fitting saddle, can cause pain and biting when saddling or even grooming, and if there is biting associated with bridling the horse may be saying that it has a dental problem, the bit hurts, or that the work you will be doing under saddle is painful. We have one mare at our barn who wants to bite when I blanket her - her blankets don't fit all that well and she may have some chiropractic issues as well - and she and I have a compromise - she can bite the wall or the air, but not me. This works for both of us - she gets to express her opinion and I don't get bitten.

8. Fear. If a horse has been abused by people, it may bite and show other signs of aggression out of fear - it's taking preemptive action to defend itself against anticipated abuse. This behavior may be worse in environments where the horse has experienced abuse - in a confined place like a stall, say, or while tied. Abused horses can be very dangerous, and require careful handling, and sometimes just punishing a horse in this situation can reinforce the fear and the aggressive behavior - it's better if you can interrupt the behavior by changing the conditions and working with the horse to convince it over time that it is now safe.

9. Frustration, impatience or irritation. People put horses into situations - such as standing tied, or having to wait for something to happen - to eat, to go back to the barn or back to the pasture - that lead to frustration or impatience, and some horses will bite at those times (or do other equivalent behaviors such as head-butting) to express their frustration or impatience. People rules apply: no biting, no matter how frustrated you are. But I also try to teach my horses emotional self-control so they can tolerate situations that might make another horse frustrated or impatient - there are a number of exercises for this, such as ground-tying and variations on the "just standing around" exercise.

10. Hormonal or other physiological cause. Some mares get benign ovarian tumors that can cause serious aggression problems, both towards horses and people. There are also other conditions that can cause aggression, including biting. A blood test for hormone levels is a good idea as a starting point for a horse that is persistently aggressive. Stallions can be prone to biting due to their hormones - proper early training is the best medicine for this. And there are other, rarer, physiological or neurological conditions that can cause biting, usually in association with other types of serious aggression.

To deal with biting, it's important to me to establish my personal space, into which the horse isn't to intrude with their body (or teeth). This takes care of a lot of the issues. For others, when you're close to the horse, as when grooming or tacking, the "accidental" pointed finger to the muzzle often does the trick, and in cases of frustration or impatience, some horses actually respond well to praise and rubs for exercising self-control. In most cases, if I'm consistent, biting shouldn't be an issue - but if it is I pay attention and try to figure out what is causing the behavior so I can eliminate the cause if possible and not just control or punish the behavior.

48 comments:

  1. Biting is unacceptable and our horses are trained to mind their manners too. I've only been bit once and not by any of our horses.

    At a boarding barn many years ago I was asked to hold a new horse (Off the track TB) while he was being tacked. When the girth was pulled up he gave me a good bite on the underside of my forearm. I was black and blue for a month, but lesson learned it was my own fault for not paying attention to the horse and talking with the person tacking up.

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  2. We had a good horse (dead broke, but alpha in the herd) at the barn turn into a biter - but he'd only bite kids. They wouldn't watch or respond forcefully enough to make him stay out of their space.

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  3. Very insightful. I appreciate the analysis. I agree that this is one type of behavior never to be accepted.

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  4. Hi Kate,

    I have just come across your blog. That is a great piece on biting. I can really relate to what you say about aggression whilst leading, or whilst you are in their midst.

    I read your post about Miranda. My sympathies with your daughter. I know how devastating it is when you lose a horse.

    Máire

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  5. I love it when you do posts like this! I find it so helpful and insightful. I recently realized that the occasional nippy things that Mosco does (tugging on my coat, lipping my hands) is because he is seriously lacking in self-control & patience! Thank goodness for your posts on the work you've done with Dawn. Despite his pretty lazy nature, he HATES being required to stand still in one place. So we're sloooooowly working on it. :)

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  6. Very well put together.
    Last night I was saddling up our 4yr old gelding and went to move to the other side and found out that he had so stealthly grabbed my coat sleeve. As I was moving so was he to where I hadn't noticed. Of course he was reprimanded and he let out a sigh and dropped his head. In a way cute but not acceptable.

    Thanks for the post
    Skip

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  7. Kate , this was great. Sometimes my Lilly will try to bite at me and then I realize I've got a carrot hanging out of my pocket and that is her way of trying to get me to give it to her. I need to pay more attention to my own signals!

    I tried to leave a message on you Miranda post but the page kept expiring. I am so sorry about having to put her down. She is at peace though, and that is hugely important. Who knows, maybe you will see a little bit of the lovely Miranda in another horse one day down the road. Maybe there is something to be said for a collective spirit and she is in fact living on. Wouldn't that be beautifuL?

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  8. Very good thought provoking post

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  9. I think you forgot one cause: just plain mouthy. The horse that chews on the lead or plays with the chains on gates will try to nip. I've found that it is far more common in boy horses (gelded and not) and they only grow out of it slowly, if at all.

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  10. I totally agree with you, Kate. Very well written and thorough. Most of the horses that I've seen who bite also are routinely given treats by hand. Neither of my horses ever bite. I've got these small, low buckets that I always give to guests in my barn so they can put the carrots in the bucket to give the girls a treat. And I usually make Siete take a step or two back before she's allowed to eat any of her meals. Good manners make good horses - I guess that's true for people as well.

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  11. I found this paragraph in your post of particular interest to me:
    "Horse on horse aggression (where you get in the middle). In my experience, this is one of the most dangerous situations...... This is also an issue when you're among loose horses....." I had a terrifying incident last week. It happened so fast. I was too focused on my horse and as I walked towards him in the field, two others (one submissive, one dominate) approached me from opposite sides and before I knew it, I was caught in between the two of them. The dominate one started to nip at the other horse in front of my face. I managed to get out from in between, but then the dominate one started to follow me back to the gate, nipping at my coat collar. He has a reputation for biting and I couldn't get out of the there fast enough. I will certainly be more aware of my surroundings next time!

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  12. A great reminder that although we shouldn't permit biting, we also need to ask ourselves why it's happening! Panama has only ever bitten me a couple of times -- I nipped that in the bud early on (for the most part) by never allowing him to mouth. One time was either out of impatience, or just plain trying to get attention, which might be another reason to add to your list -- I was chatting with someone and he wanted my attention. He can be kind of jealous! Has anyone else been bitten before for that reason?

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  13. Holly - thanks! I think of those "mouthy" behaviors as either leftover stud behavior plus playfulness plus frustration/impatience.

    Katharine - the nipping to get your attention is one form of impatience/frustration biting, although perhaps it's more focussed, as you say, to get your attention and not just to express the frustration.

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  14. My two are far from perfect, but I'm so grateful that neither bites or kicks. I was bitten accidentally carelessly giving Jaz a piece of apple and it hurt like heck for a week. I've been bitten by babies at the farm, too. Not fun.

    Great post, as usual :-)

    WV = immer
    Lytha can tell you, that means "always" auf Deutsch

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  15. I agree with you in that if you are consistent you can end biting with a horse pretty quickly. I've had more than one horse come here for retirement and been warned about their biting, but consistent, firm handling of it seemed to end it for good pretty quickly. That said I boarded at a barn once with a horse that was in his late teens and was a terrible biter. His handlers did everything right in regards to groundwork, looking for a pain issue, etc., but in the end it was such a confirmed habit with him (kind of like cribbing I guess) that they never really got him completely past the behavior.

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  16. Great post, Kate--very thought-provoking!

    When I got Fiddle, she was a confirmed alpha-wannabee: she bit, she kicked, and she pinned her ears at EVERYTHING. Hmmm. The biting and kicking we "cured" really fast, although there were several people at the barn where she was (then) boarded who were asked not to interact with her at all, because I knew they wouldn't reprimand her correctly/at all.

    The pinned ears took longer...it's still a work in progress, but she has learned that she gets NOTHING from us by pinning her ears. We do not back up, we do not give in, and she will be kept away from the food until she can stand relaxed, with her head turned away and ears relaxed until the release word is given.

    It's a lot of work, but essential.

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  17. I was bit twice yesterday by two horses at work. One is a known biter, and the other actually shocked me that she tried to bite me. I think she just tried biting me out of frustration. Most of the horses at work don't bite. All the studs do.
    My horses at home don't bite, and I very rarely feed treats by hand. They usually go in the grain bucket. Although my filly went through a biting stage, which is normal.
    Great post!

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  18. my silly horse will bite when I brush him. of course he doesn't mind when I scratch him, or use my fingers to rub him, but get a brush anywhere on his hide and he tries to bite. I can't imagine it hurts him (I can scratch pretty dang hard). Maybe he just prefers being a dirtbag!
    - The Equestrian Vagabond

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  19. The worst bite I got was when I was haltering two mares out in the field. The dominant was getting fussy, so I maneuvered between her and the submissive to protect her. Turns out the dominant was just as happy to take a chunk out of me. I was so surprised that no one got reprimanded, but I did swear rather loudly, and I was afraid the barn was going to get a complaint from one of the neighboring houses. ha ha Can't take your eyes off them for a second!

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  20. Bar was a terrible biter out of habit when we got him--OTTB, trainer allowed it, etc.--but with a lot of work early on, he has rethought his position on biting.

    Now, the only time I'm at risk is when I'm massaging him. He reacts to pain/discomfort it seems, but keeping one arm up seems to discourage him, and he doesn't really try like he used to.

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  21. Horses and dogs are proof that God loves us!
    I rode an old gelding named Chappy when I worked on a ranch in the 1960's. Chappy tried to bite me the first few times we were together, but my hat across his nose plus a few apples fixed him right up! He really got to like my dog LP too!

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  22. I wanted to share something with you I have a colt he's 3 now and has been trying to bite since before he had teeth! He's not mean about it for him it is definitely a game. If he manages to get his mouth on you he doesn't clamp down. But it's not ok and he's really aggressive about trying! I have never in all my considerable years and horse experience (I was a horse trainer most of my life) not been able to stop a biter but even though he never got away with it and I tried everything I knew to do I could not get him to stop! I resorted to asking all my horsey friends and searching the internet for idea's and one of my friends suggested squirting him in the mouth with lemon juice I bought a little pocket sized squirt gun and every time he opens his mouth toward me I squirt him and IT'S WORKING. I had seriously considered gelding this colt because he was such a pain in the butt with the biting issue but didn't want to because he is a 16 hand stunningly beautiful palomino pinto sired by an national Champion. He's already a halter champion and he moves like music! Yet this one issue was making him so difficult to work with that I was ready to cut him. Now problem solved! I had to share!

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    1. Thanks so much for the idea! My 3 year old gelding is incredibly mouthy. He always has his lead, reins, or cross ties in his mouth. Unfortunately it has progressed to him becoming nippy and if I try to slap him it just becomes a game. Ground work hasn't improved the situation either. I am running out of options where he is already gelded so hopefully the lemon spray will work. I already tried the bitter apple dog spray but he seemed to like the taste and it just became another game.

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    2. Ive been reading through everyone's stories. This is by far the best idea! I have a gelding that I just purchased and he always pins his ears back and tries to nip at me. He doesn't want anything to do with me and im not sure why. He hasn't got a hold of me yet, but that doesn't mean he wont. I think i'm going to try this method...

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  23. Thank you for your insight into biting! I am in the UK currently dealing with a 4yo TB who had always been mouthy, but now he is literally following me round taking chunks out of me when I am in the field :-( I try to move him back and chase him away but I don't want to smack him every time as I would be doing it constantly! I will give him a bop if he does bite me but it is making me not enjoy spending time with him! any advice welcome! he is on loan with view to buy and is on his own until his owner gets new horse so I realise he is probably treating me like a fellow horse!xx

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  24. Unknown - this sounds like young horse on horse aggressive play behavior. When he tries to bite, I would instantly - if you wait more than a second the meaning will be lost - move him out of your space, doing whatever it takes to do that. I would tend to use a long lead or a lunge line that you can swing at him to keep your distance. Be careful - if a horse is truly aggressive, this could provoke counteraggression. Also, slapping a nipping horse tends to cause more nipping - this is how geldings play with each other. You want to really startle him and make the point that biting is not OK, ever. And I certainly would never hand feed - are you by any chance carrying food into the field? - if so, don't. And you have to be sure to react the same way every single time. Be careful . . . the fact that he's feeling like it's OK to bite you means you haven't set boundaries - leading work would be in order too. Good luck!

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  25. I've been bit twice by my 31 year old mare. Both times(about a year apart) was as she was waiting to be let out of her stall after eating. First time on my shoulder, leaving a very nasty mark for a week. This time she reached down and tried to take a chunk of my backside. Both times it was a very hard bite. I'd love to try the squirt bottle, but she NEVER gives me a problem otherwise. It is so sudden and without any warning whatsoever, that I couldn't possible be prepared for it. She is a very well-mannered horse, but can't stay in a stall much longer than 2 - 3 hours without going crazy. I'm sorry to say I smacked her a couple of times then let her out. She obviously had way too much energy, so I chased her around the corral a bit by cracking the whip so she would run. I'm sure she knew I was pretty ticked. But, I think I may have handled it wrong. When you say reprimand, what do you mean?

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  26. hi
    I have a question.....if horse tryes to bite constantly during the grooming,does it mean that he doesnt love/like you? i would really like to make a bond with a horse,you know to connect make him like me but,..i just dont know how.... :(

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    1. Rita - it's most likely to be some sort of pain issue, but it's impossible for me to pin down as I haven't seen the horse. Some horses are just sensitive and have to be groomed very gently. But it could also be something like ulcers that would make grooming painful.

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  27. thank you but i dont think thats the problem because even when im approaching to the horse he pins his ears down and turns away from me.I dont know if it is agreession or something else....and i dont think he actually likes people.But when hes distracted by something else during the grooming he doesent seem to pay any attention to me so yeah i doubt it is all about the pain,....

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    1. It does sound like he's decided people aren't much good to be around - probably how he's been handled in the past. You may have to win him over gradually by calm, consistent, quiet handling, so he learns he can trust you. The biting may be "stay away from me". Good luck!

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  28. I just spent the last 4 hours in the ER because my Mustang bit me. He is always nipping at me, this time he got me good! I've got nerve damage to my right arm now. Is it because he
    Is a Mustang that makes him wild and crazy?

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    1. Hope you're OK. No, it has nothing to do with him being a mustang. It has to do with him not having learned the proper way to behave around humans - no horse comes knowing this, mustang or domestic. They do exactly what we've trained them to do, either positive or negative. The fact that he's been nipping for a while is a sign - he's been doing it, for whatever reason, and for him there's little difference between a nip and a bigger bite. Good luck - my Red was very mouthy and a nipper when I got him but we've since established ground rules - he never comes into my space - I go into his space - and he never, ever puts his mouth on me. You don't have to be mean or rough to do this, just consistent, 100% of the time.

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  29. I was bit today for the first time by my draft/quarter horse who is 16. Didn't do anything unusual and did not see any signs of aggression towards me. Happened in am as my husband and I were about to feed. We always greet our three horses and usually no problem. My draft does show ear pinning to the girls and blocks them from coming into barn to feed. Usually we back him up and the girls come in.
    When my horse bit my hand (I do not hand treat!) I was able to get a slap to his cheek and yelled at him but I had to be careful as my husband was right behind him and the two girls. Didn't want my husband to get hurt. We are both relatively new to horse care but I am not sure how to proceed with my relationship with my draft. Any suggestions are welcome. Thanks, Molly

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  30. It's hard to be sure but it sounds like food aggression, combined with loose horses and also a horse who doesn't clearly understand your personal space - he was probably annoyed by the other horses and took it out on you and having food nearby made things worse.

    I'd be inclined to do some work with him on leading to make sure he understands where you want him to be - always outside your defined personal space - you can approach him but he can't approach you. Also I'd be inclined to halter him at feeding time, have him lead properly into a stall separate from the others. When you feed, teach him a hand signal to back up, out of your space, and wait until you've put his feed out before coming forward.

    If he's not in your space when you're feeding, he can't bite you even if he's excited/frustrated. If he shows any signs of pain at feeding time, you may want to rule out ulcers - anticipation of food can make some horses hurt which can make them snappish.

    Good luck!

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  31. Thank you Kate for the response. Right now our horses are fed in a full open barn with no stalls. My husband and I place three piles of hay down and my draft horse eats on his pile and the girls share and move on to another one. We got all three horses last year in May. I have had horses but always boarded before. My husband has MS and I have Scleroderma with rheumatoid arthritis so I am deeply wanting a respectful and loving relationship with my draft horse Doc as well as my two mares. My hands are a huge factor so my plans are for this spring to build a round pen and start doing a lot of ground work with him. We live in northern Michigan so I have not done much with the horses other than hands on when feeding and farrier time. I love your site and plan on reading on many of your topics. Thanks again, Molly

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  32. Hello,

    I just came across your site while looking for answers to the biting issue I find myself in. The situation I am in is a bit different than a normal horse owner. I work at a horse santuary where the horses there are brought in for life. They are saved from slaughter, abuse, neglect and abandonment. They are rescue horses from many different backgrounds and situations.

    Since these horses are there for reasons beyond the normal reasons we own horses they are not riden nor do they have any form of exercise.

    So, I am finding that most of them are biters. I think I have been nipped at by every one of these horse, but a few! There are over 75 currently! It is SO strange that most ALL of them have this nasty habit. Yes, some of them are a little of everything you discribed in the above post, yet, there are retired TB track horses there that have been retired for life that act this way.

    I suppose I will contiune to establish my space and drop the grooming on the worst behaved ones. Since these are not my personal horses I am not sure other than what you suggest above, for my own safety, is worth the effort. If you have any advice I would appreciate it. I have been a horse owner for a number of years but never ran up against this kind of situation before. None of my horses have been biters!

    Great post and SO very helpful for me. Thanks!

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    1. Glad the post was of help. Horses that have been abused or mis/not handled properly may bite, just due to confusion/defensiveness/lack of understanding of boundaries, as well as inconsistent handling. In your situation, just keeping yourself safe as well as being consistent with them about your boundaries should help - they should appreciate the consistent handling. People like you are a blessing to the horses you take care of.

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  33. Thank You Kate for your response. This is so beyond my experience and I just want to do what is right for them at this point in their lives and to stay safe in the process. Love and compassion is foreign to many of them. I am so grateful for your advise. Thank You.

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  34. Thank you for this post! I found it while googling around after my horse snapped at me a couple times today. While she can be pretty moody to downright bitchy, I was kind of surprised. I was working with her on some ground tying/standing and personal space stuff today (she's a nudger too, for treats or just because she's frustrated) and when I asked her to back up she pinned her ears and nipped at me. Your post showed me it was probably just frustration or boredom and the groundtying stuff is probably a good thing to continue so she gets used to it. Thanks for the reassurance that I don't have a total demon on my hands!

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  35. I noticed a bump on the hock of my 8 year old gelding. He was eating his hay as i ran my hand down his leg and touched the bump. To my utter surprise he backed up, spun around and bit the entire bicep of the arm I had touched him with. He also knocked me to the ground. I got up as quickly as I could, ran at him screaming and waving my arms. He seemed totally confused by my behavior. My other horse ran off and the gelding followed. What happened?! Was he protecting his food? Did my touch hurt that much? I've only had him for a few months. He is very mouthy. Plays with everything. What is the best way to handle this? I will have the vet check his hock.

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    1. Anonymous - it's very hard to say, as I don't know your horse or you. It could well have been pain, but it also sounds (this might be in addition to a pain issue) as if he doesn't understand what your personal boundaries are and may be treating you just like another peer horse - the nipping and mouthiness are examples and if he doesn't lead well that would be another sign - it doesn't mean that he's "pushy" or "disrespectful", it just means that you haven't consistently set clear boundaries for what he can do with his body - you need to have clear personal space boundaries into which he may not intrude. Take a look at the sidebars for some leading exercises - if your horse stays outside your personal boundaries and leads well, well then he can't nip you either, and you may find that the nipping goes away on it's own. Good luck!

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    2. Thank you! I did take a look at the leading exercises and can't wait to try them. I am also going to set clear boundaries as to my personal space. Hopefully this is all that it will take. Thank you again.

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  36. I just came accross this blog. I have been riding most of my life, been around horses a long time. I had never been bit by a horse .......until yesterday. I have been riding this horse at a stable for about 1 year now. He is a 17 year old gelding. He is an "all around horse" has been shown in dressage, he is a lesson horse somtimes, but generally no bad habits....until yesterday! He is not a particually a nuturing horse like I have owned in the past. He has always been a little aloof, but I have not heard any bad problems with anyone. Except Me. I went out to he pasture to look at his hoovers, not touching him, just standing next to him. Out of the blew (guess I missed the signals) he snaked his head around and bit me HARD (and I mean hard - so hard in fact I expected to see blood) on the upper thigh! I cried so hard and leaned agains the metal hay rack that is in the middle of the pasture. He ran away after. I did not get to do anything, did not see it coming, and I was in TOTAL SHOCK. Guess I was not paying attention! Anyway, I have a huge softball sized black, blue, green, (with Teeth marks included) on my upper thigh. I was so much in pain that I litteraly shuffled back to my car and drove back to my house and put ice on my leg the entire afternoon. This was a strike/bite. He almost knocked me over when he bit me. I must have missed the ear pinning! IT is the second day since the "incident" and I am totally upset. I like this horse, but not enough to go back and try to ride him. I guess he does not like me, and frankly I am not that keen on him right now so I am doing nothing. Has anyone ever experienced somethign like this?

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    1. It's very hard to say - that's pretty unusual behavior - unless another horse was nearby - I've known horses to bite people who were between them and another horse. Otherwise, he's not a happy camper and as he's not your horse you're probably well advised to stay away from him when he's loose in the pasture. There are things that can cause horses to bite when they usually don't - like ulcers or Lyme disease, both of which cause the horse pain.

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  37. Hello I just seen this post looking up reasons why my friends quarter horse is biting I am letting her board it in my yard we put up a nice fenced in area for her hay barn ext. Well it started back in June. She had purchased the horse from a farmer who rode her and my friends daughter rode her saddled and bare back she is broke well whenever we moved her in my yard We rode her bare back for a few months because she did not have a saddle. She was fine she would let you get up on her and brush her everything. Well then My friend bought a saddle and We started to work with her as far as the saddle well every time that you tighten up the saddle she tries sometime nipp you Not hard but every once in a while so I figured it was to tight. Well from there She then brought her boyfriend over which had grew up with horses and was a bull rider/Roper the works Robin Is a quarter horse. She is eleven. Well since he rode her kinda hard in my opinion having her do circles and the works kinda like roping exercises. Well Since then robin now tries to Actually bit hard in your face should anything she can get to I just wanted your opinion on what I can do to fix this I grew up with horses but have not been around them for like seven eight years But we never had issues like this. My friend does try to discipline her but it not working. I did try the finger in the mouth Muscle and it didn't work now she wont let me how can I fix this I did tell her to order a better saddle and we can try that might help but I was wondering what else can I do I live right next to my nephews who love robin and want to help with her and I don't want her to bite them or her daughter

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    1. If it's related to saddling, the most likely explanation is pain - either the saddle doesn't fit and hurts her, or she has ulcers, or both. Mares can sometimes be touchier when in heat, but if the behavior continues I'd suspect pain.

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  38. ok I will have her try the new saddle tomorrow and see how that goes! That's what I thought it was but I was not sure. I wanted to ask someone that would more likely know due to my not being around them for years! I will also advice her to call the vet if it doesn't work thank you so much for the help robin is a very sweet horse at least she was before this biting issue and I don't want her to be in any pain.

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