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Abused horse who bites

My name is kelly asselin.

I recently purchased a two year old paint gelding who has a history of abuse. We had a great first two weeks he would follow me anywhere and loves attention. He even let me saddle and bridle him with protest. Then he suddenly started biting at me when I would reach to pet his head or neck. This all began when I took him to an area where he had had some bad experiences. With his history of abuse popping him on the chin is more damaging then helpful. I tried this the first day of biting and the problem got worse, he became very tense and nervous of any move I made. With his love of attention I decide that if he bit at me I would put him back in his pen and not give him attention as punishment although I don't know if this will be any help at all. I did read about the spray bottle and thought that may be a good idea. Please let me know if you have any suggestions. He is wonderful horse who just needs some manners.

Thank you for your time and help!


If you put a horse away if he does any behavior you do not want, you are rewarding the behavior. He thinks, if I bite I get a rest. So you are actually training him to bite. The spray bottle may help. I have found over many years that a sharp pop right to the snout (upper lip right in front of the upper teeth), done within two seconds of the offense, very precisely and skillfully and with the appropriate attitude and energy, does not promote additionall biting. But rather handles the situation. Another thing to do is to immediatly put the horse to work doing very small and tight circles around you, in both directions, five or six rotations, then put a HO! (stop) on the horse. The behavior will istop mmediately by doing this. This way he will come to associate biting with going to work. The move is like asking for a 'yielding the hind quarters' on the ground. You would need to practice this an get comfortable with it to be able to do it when and where you need it. It is non-abusive and works.

Again do not put the horse away and think that not giving affection is a reward. He cares much more about resting and not working than your affection. It is not like a boyfriend or child. Withholding affection or attention does not do much but breed resentment anyway. Even humans doing something you do not want need guidence and support to modify behavior, not withholding love or affection. If at were a very young child (which is want a horse is like) would wouldn't want to withold love from it as a punishment. Horses do not want to move if they don't have to. That is the big thing. The more you rest him when he does something you do not want the more you are reinforcing his wrong behavior and the harder it will be to modify the behavior. You are rewarding what you do not want. It should be the exact opposite.

Good luck and please keep me posted.

Sincerely, Franklin

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