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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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Aggressive and Dangerous Equine behaviour

Hi Franklin,

Firstly, I would just like to say thank you for your email response regarding my mare Corben.

In response to your questions Corben has never been bred from. Nor has she expressed aggressive behaviour as she is now. In fact I always remember she used to be bossed by other horses and did not show much interest in people/attention.

I just would like to point out that Corben does not attack people. It is horses that she attacks ie. lunging and striking out etc. She does however, nip and bite at me or other people if they touch her sensitive areas (girth area). She has now stopped biting me but is now biting rails, the air etc in frustration I gather.

I am not all that familiar with ground work as I have never been shown. I am from Australia and my riding is typically arena work, lunging and hacking out.

I would very much appreciate your help regarding some ground work, my mare is wonderful to ride and does not "play up" in saddle, although on the ground is a different story and this is where my problem lays.

I look forward to hearing back from you.


HI Amy,

To help with her biting, do not hit her. Hold something in your hand like a coiled lead rope, gloves or anything that waves and flaps a little. If she looks to be nippy wave the item right at her muzzle and say NO!. Do it again and again until she understands that attempting to nip gets her a wave under her chin. Another thing to do is to back the horse up vigorously (snake her lead rope under her chin vigorously and walk towards her and say BACK!) if she looks to nip. She'll stop as backing a lot vigorously is no fun. Another thing to do is to immediately ask for her to yield her hind end three or four times in both directions, then say WHOA and put a stop on her. This will immediately put her attention on you as well and stop the behavior. For being nippy while you are handling her girth area. Take a soft towel long enough to go from stirrup to stirrup under her belly. Roll it and have another person stand on her other side and each of you hold an end of the towel. Gently move the towel on her girth area in a sea-saw motion. If she is uncomfortable with that, walk her forward with your left hand while you do this for 15-20 feet or in a circle. She'll get used to the feeling the towel on her girth. Then gently use the girth and just hold it with your hands and do the same thing. Then go to the saddle. If she looks to nip or gets nervous, move her in a small circle with your left hand (you walk with her) all the time keeping a bit of pressure on the girth. You can begin to snug the girth while she is moving to the left around you in a small circle. Once she is used to it while moving she'll be ready to stand still and have you THOUGHTFULLY AND SENSITIVELY, snug the girth more.

Horses get this way from being girthed too tight, too quickly, roughly and unconsciously. It is an easy thing to move through. Let me know how it goes or if you have more questions. You would benefit from one of my DVD's or tapes. Please look for them to be offered through the website within a few weeks.

Good luck and keep me posted. What part of Australia are you from? I have been there and hope to go back.

Blessings to you,

Sincerely, Franklin

Hi Franklin,

I am still continuing with the training techniques you showed me. I have been waving the lead rope under her nose and yelling at her when she goes to bite. I have noticed the voice is usually enough to deter her. I think I may have become a little over enthusiastic with yelling at her so I have toned it down a little so that she does not s*** herself!! Of course I never went stupid but she certainly was very frightened and I understand that is not the reaction desired.

When I approach her in the paddock to slip the head collar on I carry a dressage whip with me just for a bit of protection. (I do not use it as she sees it and knows not to bite). Although the other day I went to adjust one of her rugs and I turned to her side and had my back to her and she swung her head around and grabbed me on the back of the arm and bit me. It was extremely painful.

She has been a lot better with her girth area as well. I tend to agree with you regarding peoples "imaginative" reasons to why horses lash out. I have had so many I was completely confused. But then to get one saying that my horse does not like me and that she is threatened by me is unfair, as I have never mistreated my horse and I do everything to make her happy. If anyone is somewhat fearful it's me of her teeth. I have had comments from my instructor which I have been completely oblivious to, she notices that when my horse sometimes moves suddenly I am jumpy and stand offish, I hadn't noticed. I suppose too that, that does not help.

In regards to you being interested in visiting Australia, I can imagine quite a few people being interested down here. As it can be extremely difficult to deal with problems which arise especially when you have had no training. I have completed a two year course in Horse Studies and I never learned any proper training and ground skills to deal with such problems, and as a result I have a bossy mare which is very dominant and knows I am afraid around her, just like she must be fearful of certain ways I am handling her. She must be extremely confused, because suddenly I am learning to be somewhat more assertive and she has always had the upper hand and I am challenging that. I am not sure if that is completely correct as I am confused.

We just don't seem to hear all that much about behaviour modification and developing a "connection" and understanding with the horse on the ground over here. Thank you very much again for staying with me through my problems, I very much appreciate it. I realise these did not arise overnight so with proper management I will eventually, be able to combat the aggression.

Regards, Amy

Hi Amy,

Thanks for your very thoughtful email. I think you are really getting 'on track' with this. Pay attention to the horse's attitude all the while you are doing anything with it. They always signal they are going to do something before they do it. It is up to us to notice. The horse knows everything about what is going on for you all the time. Its our job to begin to understand what is going on for the horse. If you are nervous, standing off or whatever, the horse will respond to that. If you are calm, confident and focused the thorse will respond to that as well. This is what is meant by the horse being a mirror and how they teach us sensitivity.

Keep me posted and let me know if I can help. You are moving in the right direction. Be well and thanks again for your love for horses.

Sincerely, Franklin

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