View Full Version : STOP TRYING TO BITE!

Princess Paris
30-05-07, 03:14 AM
Hi Guys,

Now I have an issue with my 4yo WB/TB mare. She likes to bite (or try to). She mainly does it when I am doing the chest straps up on her rugs, girthing up (that is getting better with sheepskin cover on her girth)and drying her with a towel mainly around her chest area, neck and girth area. Now I know these are sensitive areas and obviously the reason she does it when I am touching those areas. Some days she is worse than others. The way I deal with it is by pinching her on the neck everytime she tries it. This seems to be the best method to get her attention! She stops trying after I have pinched her a couple of times. (someone told me to bite her everytime she tried it and I found pinching a quicker method so it was more instantaneous and gave the same feeling as being bitten). I can understand she doesn't like those areas being touched and would have no issue if all she did was put her ears back but biting is not on! the other night I was rugging her while she was eating her dinner and she was very grumpy while I was doing her leg straps up and kept turning around with her ears back at me ( she has never lifted a leg or tried to kick me - it is all about the teeth!)when all of a sudden she spun around and went for me with her teeth beared. I stood my ground and yelled at her and wacked her on the rump with my hand as she was spinning and she went and cowered in the corner of her stable for a minute and then went back and ate and didn't try anything again. So she isn't unmanageable.She learns but I just have to keep reminding her.

What I am finding is that she is worse after one of the girls that rugs and feeds her sometimes has rugged or unrugged her. This girl has since told me that she rubs my horse behind the ears when ever she tries to nip her and she stops. Now IMO this girl is rewarding my horse for trying to bite by rubbing her behind the ears. Am I wrong in thinking this? So my poor mare is getting confused by one day being reprimanded for biting and the next day being rewarded. I am thinking this is making the problem worse because she is confused. This girl had rugged my horse the two times before she went for me in the stable the otehr night(she has never been this aggressive). I have since asked this girl to pinch her when ever she tries to bite so there is some consistency in the response to her trying to bite. I am hoping the problem will get better now.

She has never been mistreated, I bred her so she should have no reason to have issues. Her mother is the gentlest mare you could find, I am thinking that is why my young mare is so "cocky" as she got away with murder with her mum!

But has anyone else got any ideas as to try and put a stop to this???

Sorry for the essay!

Thanks in advance!

30-05-07, 03:51 AM
This pdf file should have a good biting article. (Its legit, I promise!!)


Princess Paris
30-05-07, 04:41 AM
Thanks Fire_Ball! That is very interesting! I think I will try that and see how I go! She is defintiely trying to show dominance rather than being nervous and lacking confidence! I have to try something different and what I am currently doing ain't workin'!

30-05-07, 07:04 AM
Princess Paris,

My boy is very much the dominant-playful type. He doesn't move too fast, but all things are fair game for chewing, inc. people. If one was to hit him for it, he would get pretty strung out. So far, he no longer bites me at all unless I initiate a "lipping" game - and then its jsut a lippy, lippy not BITE!

I tell other people though he bites, because thye wouldn't understand the game of dominance, and would smack him. Better to warn them off then have the horse victimised for simply his horsenality type.

PS. You might find this kind of horse dead easy to train to bring its feed bucket back, or to pick up a ball. They love to poke things and I've had a feed bucket thrown at the shed before when Mags was feeling too full of himself, and demanded edible renumeration. LOL. "Constructive biting"

Princess Paris
30-05-07, 07:24 AM
I am definitely going to change the way I deal with it Fire_Ball. She does like to play with her lead rope when she is tied up or if a towel or something is hanging over the fence where she is tied up she will play with it. She is definitley one of the smart ones and would pick up tricks pretty easily.I taught her to look away from me when I had carrots pretty easily. If she looks away she gets a carrot instead of being in my face trying to get at them. She doesn't get one if she is in my face. So I just need to find teh right method to get her out of trying to bite me! sshe also likes to play with one of the dogs with his deflated soccer ball. I just need to tunnel her biting energy into good energy! To ride she is a dream, and will do anything asked of her without question, so she must trust me under saddle. I gave up smacking her a long time again (only did it a few times) becasue she just tried to bite me back (as the article states). She doesn't do that with the pinching but I will start tonight with a more subtle approach. I think she gets bored easily. She thrives going out to competitions.

Thanks Again Fire_Ball. I can't wait to try these things and hopefully see the difference!

30-05-07, 08:05 AM
I can never understand why anyone would want to bite their horse...... lol..

Whenever I have a horse that tries to nip they get a slap on the nose....mmm, more across the lips to the side than directly on the nose...I have heard the argument about it creating a headshy horse and have to say it is a load of crap ;) You do not need to slap them hard (gets harder if they persist) just a gentle slap and maybe a growl is usually enough. As long as the horse understands why it is getting the slap, and as long as it is reasonable, the horse will usually accept this as reasonable punishment for biting...

As for pinching it on the neck or slapping it on the rump - will work :) but I always think......I wouldn't slap it on the nose for kicking - wrong end and all, why slap it on the rump for biting....

Good luck with her....have never had a problem with biting horses, so cannot really understand how frustrating it is for you...but I am sure it is!! :)

30-05-07, 08:06 AM
Oh...just read that you tried slapping her......should have read that before posting...

Oh well.. :)

Princess Paris
30-05-07, 08:16 AM
Hi ASHlover,

I have never had a horse that bites before either, that's why I am having trouble dealing with it to stop it! My mare does persist. One slap doesn't do a thing. It doesn't matter how hard I smack her she just tries to bite me back even more aggressively. I smacked her on teh rump the other night because I was at her back end doing her leg straps up in her stable and it was the only part of her I could reach as she spun around to bite me. I agree no point in smacking her on the rump when she is trying to bite but it was a spur of the moment thing. I can keep going the way I am but each day I have to start again (well every 5 minutes)to stop her biting. I was hoping for a different solution that might eventually get her out of the habit all together as punishment doesn't work with her as she is a very dominant mare . But thanks for the tips! I will keep them in mind!

30-05-07, 08:30 AM
Hehehe...sorry, I understood why you slapped her on the rump, my comment was meant as a generalisation - not that you had done the wrong thing....realise I worded it wrong! :)

Just thought though, my mother's young colt used to nip all the time.....she put a nail in between her knuckles (one of the ones with the flat head, so it can't pull through), so everytime the horse swings around to nip at your hand it hits the nail and punishes itself......gives it something to think about. Might be worth a go?? I know he was really persistent and this is the only thing that stopped him :)

Princess Paris
30-05-07, 08:41 AM
Thanks ASHlover, that might be worth trying too! She has gotten me three times in the last few months, had never got me before that, either I am getting too complacent or she is getting more cunning! So I am will to try almost anything that may work!

Thanks again!

30-05-07, 12:28 PM
What I do is I remove the opportunity, -my boy sometimes decides that last hole on the girth is not going to happen with out complaint and he has caught my arm - I now ensure that his lead rope is secure so he can not turn and catch me, I try to watch him all the time and verbally reward when he is calm and pat and scratch him to reinforce the verbal.
When the ears go back I growl at him, when he relaxes I reward him - I used to smack with a cupped hand on the neck and found this often aggrevated the situation.
Once I have saddled I lengthen the lead rope and will often give him a bit of hay, if he remains relaxed.

Good luck

30-05-07, 02:09 PM
My mare does exactly the same thing and I also bred her, she does it very rarely now but I always have to be aware. For the girth, she has to turn her head to you - flap your elbows and if you get her so be it. She just thinks twice next time, like all species if you make them uncomfortable they think about it before the do it again, so eventually it does become less regular.

I just believe if you are quick enough, can read their body language and you get them at the perfect moment - they do think twice about it. And not just a tap, a firm elbow will aways do the trick - good luck.

30-05-07, 03:57 PM
EEEEEK!!!! Sorry, as soon as I read the part about you pinching her, I had a horrible flash back to a dressage stable in Germany (where I grew up) and how demented the horses there were from even more demented people pinching them, and kinda skipped over the rest of the thread... :(

I'm a human massage therapist, naturopath and am doing honours/PhD in Equine Pharmacology (just for something different...). Anyway, basically, I'm a science nerd who spends a lot of time feeling muscles... In horses the chest muscles (or pectorials) actually run from the base of the neck/top of the chest, in between the front legs, under the girth and attach about halfway down the tummy. May I suggest that your mare has very, VERY sore pecs??? May I also suggest that by pinching her you're punishing her for being sore? Not that it's your fault, because you didn't know :( My advice would be to get a GOOD massage therapist or physio to have a look at her. Depending on what part of the country you're in, I might be able to 'name drop'. PM me if you like :)

31-05-07, 12:32 AM
To the original poster, although I cant offer help I can offer a similar story.

My mare does the same thing. She bites when i do the front of her rug up, when I do the girth up and even when I scratch her neck, though the difference with my horse is she bites herself OR she bites the air!! very strange!

Ive had her 8 years and she has always done it. She NEVER tries to kick or even put her ears back when i do the back leg straps up or anything its just when I do the front of the rug up.

So while im doing up her rug or the girth she stands there chomping away at the air or tries to bite herself! BUT she has never once tried to bite me, so some of you may disapprove but I dont smack her etc when she does this.

If she was trying to bite me then It would be a completely different story but I dont care if she wants to bite the air..... its actually very amusing!

Princess Paris
31-05-07, 12:44 AM
Thanks everyone for all your suggestions! All food for thought.

Thanks for your scientific advice too Fernloch_girl! You are right I had no idea about the muscle connections. I usually don't get her muscle just pinch her skin. Anyway, that obviously doesn't do the job long term so last night everytime she tried it I just pushed her head away from me calmly and she stopped trying after a few tries. She was a much happier horse! I can't believe how quickly it worked! So I will keep going with that and hopefully she will get out of the habit. A lot of the time I think she thinks it is a game but she got no reaction last night and got bored of it I think.She is a very moody mare on the ground (not moody at all to ride) I just want to try and get her to stop trying ato bite all together. She has had regular "massages" and I am always told she is in good shape. So I don't think she has sore muscles. I think she just thinks I am rude for touching her where she doesn't want to be touched.

thanks again for all your suggestions!

31-05-07, 12:55 AM
Hi Princess Paris,

i've got a cronic one, i've been thru everything and he's still a right nipper! not nasty at all just a very smart active minded playfull sole.
but he is really quite 'naughty' with the biting.

i really think you should take on what they say about the backing issue, it is the only thing i've done that has worked, & we have to keep at it, soon as i let things slide a bit, he knows darned well and he thinks its play time again.

its such a user friendly approach, the horse is happy as he understands you are alpha and accordingly he is in a better mind set too, like kids they like to know where they stand! IMHO

i've tried everything else as above and more and nothing has had any impact on his biting, he just gets quicker with his reactions after to avoid the come back, but backing him immediately gets him submissive, he mouths says okee dokee, i stepped over the line and he thinks about it.

but as i say you have to keep this lesson up to him, or Mr Bitey is back.!!

good luck

Princess Paris
31-05-07, 01:16 AM
Thanks spot!

I tried the backing up and pushing her sideways away from me last night and she did the chewing thing instantly. It really did work! She barely put her ears back at all where as normally they are back 80% of the time.There was no aggressiveness at all last night once I had done it a few times.I am so pleased. She sounds very similar to your boy! Smacking , elbows and anything of the like just makes her more agressive. And you are right I think I will have to keep at it as she is very smart and will keep trying me out as much I would hope that it will stop eventually.