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Mouthy/nippy gelding

Discussion in 'Training of the Horse and Rider' started by Stephanne94, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. Stephanne94

    Stephanne94 New Member

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    Hi!
    I'm getting to the point where I will so be at loss with how to approach my mouthy horse. He has also been mildly mouthy, i.e. wanting to investigate everything via his mouth. But it now seems it has turned into a game for him. Gentle nudging, and feeling with his lips leads to little tiny nips which then turns into bites! And as soon as to try to push him away with my hand/elbow he comes back for more, until I raise my hand to slap his neck if he actually bites, by this point he has already beaten me to it and moved his neck and head swiftly away from me.
    I do feel mostly to blame for this escalation in his behaviour, as his part loaner came to me under the impression she knew how to handle horses until I found out she really didn't have much handling skills. So I intervened, but she had actually been letting him nip and bite her!!!! she was too scared to tell him off and no doubt he knew he could take advantage of this!
    I have seen what he's in like when he's in pain in terms of biting, but this is purely a game to him now because as soon as he's distracted by food, or a horse walking past or a noise he instantly stops.
    He is mainly like this when I enter his stable (goes straight to my hands to investigate) or when I go to do the front clips up on his rug.
    Shouting and slapping his neck is not working anymore and I would appreciate any tips on other ways to stop this behaviour! I have read about rubbing their lips when they get mouthy and to stop when the move there head away?
     
  2. KP nut

    KP nut I'd rather be riding.

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    I don't allow pushy horses into my personal space at all. And if they aren't in it then they can't nip! Or nudge, use me as a scratching post or anything else annoying. My 'bubble' is about as far as I can reach with an outstretched hand. If they come any closer they get a clonk on the offending body part and are moved back out of my space. Horses are very conscious of personal space so as long as you are consistent he will understand quickly. You are allowed into his to groom, stroke etc so you can still be as tactile with him as you like but on your terms.
     
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  3. KP nut

    KP nut I'd rather be riding.

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    Also no hand feeding. Ever!
     
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  5. Stephanne94

    Stephanne94 New Member

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    thank you! I do feed from the hand occasionally so that mustn't be helping! I think a lot of group work will be needed with him to break this habit
     
  6. carthorse

    carthorse Well-Known Member

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    Why are you waiting until he bites to tell him off? If it's behaviour you don't want correct it at the very first sign, & that's the look or shift of his weight towards you. If he somehow gets as far as a bite clobber him! And if he moves away move after him, he needs to realise it was a very bad idea & a slap on the neck isn't going to do that.
     
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  7. carthorse

    carthorse Well-Known Member

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    I don't think hand feeding is an issue as long as it's when you offer not when he demands.
     
  8. Stephanne94

    Stephanne94 New Member

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    Thanks for replying. I think you're right, I'm not catching the early signs quick enough and before I know it they escalate very quickly. I do notice when I have given him a treat thats when he really really pesters me for more afterwards. I'll take you're advice and only give treats on my terms.
     
  9. OwnedbyChanter

    OwnedbyChanter With out my boys life would be bland

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    My tb can when given a inch try and nip only when doing the front of a rug up or brushing his girth.

    I hold then lead rope and when I feel him move towards me I literally pull him to me to move his feet. He hates it and stops for a week or so then tries it again. I move his feet he stops.
     
  10. Bodshi

    Bodshi Well-Known Member

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    This sounds an interesting approach. I know a pony who has been made headshy by the 'giving him a clout' method. He still nips but immediately jerks his head away to avoid a smack. He also jerks his head away as soon as anyone raises an arm - to put on his headcollar etc. He is like a child with ADHD though.
     
  11. chunky monkey

    chunky monkey Well-Known Member

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    Yes whilst you do need to be strict, dont repeatedly hit him in the face. When i brought my lad it became apparent he is head shy and ear shy. He was only young but was also mouthy. I think he has possibly be clobbered a few times in the head probably he was tip bitted by his original owners. I am wondering if when he went to his second home he was hit for his exploring. We are currently going through a bad faze that putting the bridle on is a big issue.

    My way of dealing with his mouthing was no hand feeding at all for several months. He use to come a chew my jacket when i first had him, then it quickly went into bite. Sometimes the nibbling can be a form of mutual grooming and affection, sometimes it's also the horse testing leadership. I made a rule he was allowed to sniff my jacket, use his lips to nusal me. But as soon as he went to nibble i pull my body away. You don't have to pull back far just a few inches. He just has to learn. Sniff/nusal acceptable. Mouth/teeth are not.
    If he does bite rather than hitting on the neck. Try getting his feet moving by backing him up. Dont send him away, back him up. If he turns away he might try kicking out. Telling him back up, back up. Horses generally dont like backing up so his punishment for nipping is to make him uncomfortable. It also indicates to him that your personal space is being invaded.
     
  12. domane

    domane Chatterbox

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    No hand feeding ever. One treat puts then right back at square one and treat their level of nipping with the same amount of energy in return. For example a lazy gentle nip gets an immediate "No!" and their head pushed away but a proper attempt at a nip gets a short sharp slap on the muzzle. You need to get rid of this hehaviour quickly so that he doesn't damage you other people. Other horses would retaliate.

    I've had nippers and they have never become headshy from being punished with a hard immediate slap on the muzzle for biting. The only time they tend to pull back quickly is after a bite or attempted bite so they know that they shouldn't be doing it. Albi is nearly 8 and still a "wuffler" fir treats but these days he just gums your hands and would never bite.

    Also practise rubbing your hands gently around their muzzles and praising him when he doesn't bite. He needs to learn correct behaviour too.
     
  13. Skib

    Skib Well-Known Member

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    My old share was a vicious biter.
    Like KPnut I am Rashid trained, I dont give treats and the horse doesnt come into my space. But there are times when one has to. Or wants to.For years as a newish rider I was not allowed to groom the mare.
    I did two things.
    The first was to do with the personal space thing - I led the mare a lot - halting, backing up and eventually putting her back in her stable and taking priority there, even when her feed was waiting. No one else on the yard did that. If the horse respects you on the ground, and learns to behave with you, then the biting question is part of the general situation -

    I then looked up John Lyons to see what he said about horses that bite. He said that stallions known to bite may get like that because people handling them have avoided touching their mouth and nose area. She wasnt a stallion but people did indeed avoid putting their hands near her mouth (for good reason) so very gradually I started to stroke her on the face and over a period of time, I extended where I was stroking her so that I was fondling her nearer and nearer her nose and mouth.

    And after about 3 months when she was safe for me to groom, and I no longer needed even to tie her up, I didnt ever stop fondling her in the mouth and nose area when we met or parted.

    She was the devil to bridle and it was years before I was allowed even to try. But by the end of our time together I would stand there with the bridle raised and she would eventually drop her head and put her nose into it. She never tried to bite me and unlike the staff I was no longer afraid of her feeling near me with her nose. It has made me think that the nose and ears and how a horse feels about them maybe connected. We push the ears down when we bridle a horse and then they may snap with their teeth to protect their ears. I like grooming horses and I do insist on being able to feel all round the ears, using my fingers first if necessary and then a face brush.

    I am really quite strict about that - It is part of this contradictory thing of imagining how the horse is feeling (like John Lyons suggesting that they have missed out on being fondled round the nose area) and being (as the human) an absolute dictator having rules and regarding those rules as important. And insisting on them.

    I am not a Parelli person, but it is worth noting that right from the start he asks riders to touch their horses all over their bodies - if necessary first using a cloth on a stick (so you dont get bitten).
     
  14. KP nut

    KP nut I'd rather be riding.

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    I don't have a 'stay out of my personal space' rule for all horses. Just those who are too pushy or nippy. Max and Amber are both very gentle and I don't mind them snuffling/sniffing me. Dylan used to rest his great big head on my back or shoulders! Which was sweet if unhelpful at times. But Oscar is far more pushy and he needs firm boundaries or he will overstep them in many different way. He is either perfectly well behaved if we have been consistent with him, or he nips/barges/pulls/nudges and uses us as scratching posts! So he never gets hand fed and always has to wait politely out of our space, while the others are cut a lot more slack. My daughter find this hard so she sometimes cheats and I can always tell by his behaviour when she has!

    Incidentally re clouting/clunking them, the way I see it -and the way I try to do it - is that I protect my space so I block them trying to swing their head towards me. In effect they swing into my closed hand which I raise and hold still but firm. I am not punching them, they are running into a barrier. How hard they hit it depends on how fast they are moving. There is no energy behind the hand at all and no emotion from me. My hand acts as a passive blocker. I saw Mark Rashid do this with a horse at a demo and it horrified some audience members who viewed it as him punching the horse, but in my head hitting and blocking are very different. Same with contact. I don't pull to ask to horse to soften but if a horse braces against my hand then I will not give. In the end the pressure can be pretty high but the horse is choosing how much pressure to exert on a fixed hand. I am not pulling back and the horse can get a release anytime it wants.
     
  15. SeeingSpots

    SeeingSpots Pugs, Ponies and Prosecco!

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    Lol Toffee does this! He knows that mouthing me is a no no so he's very clever. He will try and grab with his lips and snatch his head away as quickly as possible! I've never smacked him though. He does it because he knows it's naughty and he doesn't want telling off. Almost as if to say, wasn't me that nipped you I promise lol
     
  16. Lollykay

    Lollykay Member

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    If the offense is coming from the mouth, that is what needs slapped not the neck.

    It doesn't take much - one doesn't have to hit hard enough to break the jaw but an open hand slap alonside the mouth will work wonders. One can simultaneously holler "NO!" Then let it go.

    I follow the Three Second Rule, knowing the habits of which horse I am dealing with, and letting the punishment fit the crime. I never slap a horse in the neck because necks never do anything wrong. Mouths and legs cause all the trouble:)
     
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  17. eml

    eml Moderator

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    We never ever handfeed or even carry treats about our person, however we do treat horses differently according to temperament.Some we will indulge in with mutual grooming, others we do not approach while eating while others will be kept out of our personal space at all times. Avoiding confrontation by knowing your horse is our prefered option.
     
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  18. Stephanne94

    Stephanne94 New Member

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    Thanks for replying everyone! I tried the technique of rubbing his lips as soon as he even turned to look at me/shifted his weight to me then stopping when he turned his head. It seems to be working as he obviously find the rubbing annoying! He too would quickly jerk his head away every time he did nip as he knew a slap was coming! But for now this gentler but more annoying approach (for him!) seems to be working.
     
  19. newforest

    newforest Opinion, a view not always based on knowledge.

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    A plastic curry in your hand will get rid of him.
     
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