Archives MAIN PAGE

Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

Professional support for you and your horse!

Biting 5-year-old mare

Dear Franklin,

I read all of the other Q&As, but Arial's case did not seem to fit because we think her underlying problem is jealousy and the previous owner not feeding her enough. So, based on that, I didn't see an answer in your column to jealousy/starvation type issues. Again, she pretty much only does it when the other horse is around us, and in the feed area. We did stop feeding her by hand quite awhile ago but has not seemed to help.

Also, when I say punished, when she bit me, I immediately popped her at the bottom of her mouth - pretty much what it seems you said to do in your columns. I already knew you have to react right away or they forget. What else do you recommend?

Thanks, Karen

Hi Karen,

As availability of food is survival and the mare wasn't getting enough, she is probably still 'fearful' she won't get her share. While horses do get jealous for attention, I think your horse has 'survival' as the issue and that is big. That two second rule for a pop to the snout is because the horse won't 'understand' why it is being popped if it takes longer than 2 seconds. To me, what is going on is still a 'trust' vs. fear issue.

Developing trust is best done by taking the horse back to its beginning training. There is no quick fix and a pop will only handle the issue briefly as survival fear is stronger than a 'pop' as far as long term goes.

I would begin to re-train the horse by going back to all basics including initial ground work and re-starting the horse undersaddle, etc. While the biting is the issue you are trying to address, it cannot be isloated. It is a 'trust'/survival issue that involves the whole relationship you have with the horse. She is afraid she won't survive, thus she aggressively bites to make certain she has enough food. Any additional physical 'popping' or discipline will only become abuse and not help the big picture at all.

However, going back to the basics of the horse's training will help the mare to develop trust again. Trust is big and will permeate the entire relationship, not just this one area. It is a basic ingredient of a healthy attitude and overall good relationship. To rehabilitate any horse, that is the only way and it takes time. No magic bullet, potion or quickie. Good solid training techniques will bring her around the fastest and bring back the trust in her life that wll solve your issue of biting as well. Meanwhile, keep yourself safe. If you can try to avoid setting up a situation where you may get bitten and have to pop her that would be great.

Please keep me posted.......

Sincerely, Franklin

Look for: