You definitely need to get this habit under control before it becomes seriously engrained and possibly more dangerous. Some may not like my method, but I don't take kindly to any horse trying to bite no matter the gender or age and much like Samantha said "pop 'em" and make it count. Especially when being shown in-hand, this can and should be counted against him as aggression toward the handler if seen by the judge or inspector. I've seen some nice stallions blow their breeding approval inspections due to such actions.
It depends on the horse but popping my stud in the mouth didn't work. Someone told me to take breath spray and squirt it into his nostrils when he trys to bite and he'll associate the burn with the action. It worked
He is an Arabian. 5 years old. We have had him for about a year. When we picked him up he came out of his stall on his hind legs striking and biting with two chains over his face, two handlers shanking on him.
We have since gotten him to the point where he walks nicely on a regular lead. No more striking and no serious biting. He just does some "nipping" when he thinks that he can get away with it.
As Phyllis noted, even nipping at the handler during a show can knock him out of the ribbons.
We have tried popping him when he does it, but it hasn't curtailed it completely.
Oh Good Lord! This is dangerous as all "git out" as we say down here in the South. I'm sorry, when they led him out of his stall on two hind legs with two grooms bouncing around on the end of the chains, I would have asked for my deposit back.
Be that as it may, you have purchased the fellow and it is now your responsibility to make him a "good citizen".
I've long been a contender that "bad" horses are made, not born. And typically stallions are "targets" for bad behavior because a large portion of people are basically afraid of a stallion. I truly think that many people that "handle" stallions need to stay away from them because they are just not cut out for it.
We have Quarter Horses but I have had everything from hunter/jumpers, to Arabians to Appaloosas, and just your basic grade horses throughout my life. One thing I have seen is consistent no matter what discipline/breed you are active in --- A lot of people "PICK" on a stallion. And they do this out of their own fear and uncertainty. Most of the time it is totally unrelated to the behavior the stallion is demonstrating at the time.
Horses bite to play or assert their dominance. I bet when this horse was young and was nipping at previous owners, they probably thought it was "cute" but didn't realize when the horse gets big and the habit turns to biting that it is dangerous and hard to break. Particularly in a stallion, it ceases to be "funny" when they are about yearlings. Then the "fear factor" tends to set in with people and I think that's when the "picking" begins.
Keep in mind that if you slap/punch your horse on the muzzle when he bites, you have to do it hard enough so he knows you are not playing. Mild slapping makes things worse becuase some horses look at it as an "invitation" to play or retaliate because they are stronger/better at it than you. I would imagine your guy has already learned this as old as he is.
Also, keep in mind to that you need to reprimand him within a split second of when he bites (or tries to bite) you so he associates it with the biting. Be careful because you could hurt your hand on the hard portions of his head or even worse, if he is fast, he could learn to bite your hand when you reprimand him. And some of us are just not that fast, i.e., don't react quick enough.
The upshot of all this is that you have to figure out the intensity to respond with when the fellow nips at you and what his reaction to authority is.
If you are showing him in at-hand classes, you can use your lead chain to re-direct his attention. But that can be viewed as negative depending on the judge(s).
One of the best ways to handle a biter for me has been to make the horse "punish itself". I learned this from Cherry Hill and she really did have it down pat. And I learned this with a MARE, not a stallion. This mare was an obnoxious biter but she had a pretty regular pattern about it and you could pretty much predict when she would do it. Rather than trying to place a well-timed, appropriate slap/punch to her face or get to jerking her with the lead shank, I taped a couple of hard wire brushes one onto the back of my hand and one on the lower portion of my arm (she was always reaching down by the lead shank and would try and grab your wrist/lower arm). The first time she hit that wire brush with her tender little muzzle, she drew blood on herself (little pin pricks on her nose) and it definitely got her attention. This made her really start thinking about whether she wanted to do that again or not. Of course she tried it again a couple of more times and then truly did just "give up".
The cool thing about that was that I didn't have to redirect my energy into hitting her or get my lead shank all out of kilter, etc. I simply proceeded on as if nothing had happened and she got real concerned with how bad her nose hurt and why did she do that to herself? It definitely was NOT fun for her and she ended up not wanting to "play" anymore.
I don't know your stallion, but you might try something like this.
Good luck with him and kudos to you for trying to work him out of this behavior. It says a lot about what a good person you are for trying to get him through this and everyone stay SANE. It doesn't sound like he has had a lot of that in his history.
Actually, the breeder made this horse behave and he was a very nice horse. He said the stallion was one of the nicest and easiest horses he ever taught to get collected. It was a succession of bad trainers that brought him to the point he was when we picked him up. After he realized that we weren't going to shank "the dickens" out of him for any minor mistake, he began to trust us. The personality the breeder said he had began to show through and all of the defensive posturing (striking and aggressive biting) stopped.
Despite the way it sounds, he is now a very sweet horse. However, we still have the game of playful nipping that needs to be dealt with.
WGS, I also bought a 2 years from a well known breeder in the SAN Diego Area when the Arabian horse market was HUGE!! The groomes walked out this absolute gorggeous colt that was shanked lip chained with 2 handlers walking him on his hinds with him striking out! I still bought him because his pedigree was awesome old bloodlines. Arabian are very smart MOST people will not understand that, they will CONFUSE a unruly arabian with wild untrainable ect... Yes there are some horses not worth your time but that's in any breed! I saw potential as well as my Trainer within 1 year he was walking side by side with just a halter I had him 17 years he passed away in 2006 as my BELOVED HORSE ( tears are starting to fall ) I saved him from the wrong hands, just like you have! I think Hitting him or popping him is what he is use to of! Bonding like you have and patience is what is needed if you connect he will try his darnest to do what id asked of him yes there needs to be obedience and he will have to pay the piper for not listening or trying to bite nip, I have a 2 years that trys it alot, every time he did it I ran him back wards then I lunged the crap out of him then continued on my way it got less and less finally he hardley does it anymore, I also have a 10 years that walks on his hinds in a controlled fashion FOR ME thats ok let him have some freedom to be a stallion as long as he know his boundaries... Sorry to be so long winded as you can tell I'v been around ARABIANS for over 30 years they are my Passion!!!! I do appreciate any as long as it's a HORSE!
I had a stallion that was very well mannered bite me. The owners were horrified and confused as he'd been a good boy all along. They had hired me to train him to free jump so I had him in an arena loose.
From my perspective there were a few things going on in his head - mostly I think the horse had gone to a show trainer where a lot of people did many different things to him so a lack of consistency in his regimine. The way he struck me was also of note - he struck, then ran. He actually struck me when I had just finished petting his neck for a good job. Luckily for me I heard his teeth snap together right before he hit my eyebrow. He fractured my orbital ridge. If he'd bit and made purchase I'd be in bad, really bad shape if not dead. So as quickly as he departed from the scene of the crime - I would make the judgement that he'd been nipping at people and they were swatting him in the face. He learned to bite, duck and run. It was a game and he was well practiced. I learned a great lesson that day for sure and now my colts don't necessarily get swatted in the nose, but will get a really good direct whack or 3 anywhere I won't cause permanant damage (ie. legs/eyes/bony areas) with something other than my hand such as a brush or I usually carry a training stick with me when handling young stallions. It is the only time I will strike a horse. Even a little nip will generate a lot of response from me. I'm with Catherine - I don't like picking at them - it's fun and games. A little lip then pop, pop hard to the chest or neck or if they are running away to the buns if you can safely get a whack in without getting kicked - I usually yell at them too for good measure. Again - I use this only at a bite time so they know I mean business - all other times are we are quiet and friendly. So far so good for my youngster. He gets lots and lots of positive attention and rarely makes a mistake.
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