Archives MAIN PAGE

Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

Professional support for you and your horse!

Biting horse from Crete

Hello Mister Franklin,

I have read many things about you and your work which I admire alot. My name is Emmanouela and I am 20 years old and I live in Crete. Me and my family bought three horses, 1 male and two female. The male is 12 years old and he was jumping over hurdles. He is very sweet, smart and very sociable. But he has a very bad habit. He bites. When I go to the other horses to rub them or clean them he starts kicking the stable, biting. And also when I go to him he tries to bite me and I hit him softly on his nose and tell him to stop. But after a few minutes he does it again. Furthermore, when I try to brush him he tries to bite me. Only when I prepair him for walk then he is totally quiet. He is very good at riding, and very guarded. I totally trust him. But when he does those things I told you, I feel so sad because he is a great horse. Sometimes he wants me to rub him but most of the times he behaves like something bothers him. I cannot understand ths behaviour and mosty what has caused this reaction. Can you please advise me?

Yours sincerely, Emmanouela

Hello Emmanouela,

Thank you for your kind words and email. There is a lot of information already on my website that I have written about 'horses that bite.' Please try using the 'search engine' feature in the help center of the website. You will find a lot there on this topic. But, I will give you a few thing to think about.

Horses bite usually as a defence. He is defending himself from feeling pain or being hurt. He was probably abused or hurt by his previous owners. He bites when being brushed probably because he was groomed too hard, too fast and with too stiff a brush. He makes noise, "kicking the stable" because he is insecure and wants your attention. He is habituated (in the habit) to these behaviors.

It is OK to pop him on the snout when he bites you. You only have two seconds to do this otherwise he does not know why he was hit on the nose.

For this to be effective, you must do it every time he bites (or at least as much as you can). You must be consistant and not allow it at any time. Eventually he will get the message and stop. He was made to feel uncomfortable when he was brushed because whoever was doing it was too had, fast and with too stiff/hard a brush or curry. He is expecting it to hurt so he bites to stop you. To change this habit takes time and patience. Use only soft brushes. Use your hand gently on his body first for a few minutes until you feel him relax into your touch. Then use the very soft brush only for quite a while until you notice he is not biting. He may not get that clean, but he will begin to understand you will not be too rough when grooming him. This will take some tme. It is an old habit and old habits are hard to change for horses and humans alike.

To help him not kick in the stall when you visit the other horses, it will take two people. One person needs to be with the male (gelding). This person needs to be able to ask the horse to make very small circles (bending around tightly) when he begins to act up as you go to another horse. Putting a horse to 'work' (asking for movement) as a consequence for unwanted behavior is a non-abusive way to modify behavior you do not want. It will take a bit of time. If you are consistent over a few weeks or a month or so, it should help the situation out. Let me know how it goes. Also, spending more time playing with your horse on the ground doing ground based games is great to build the horse's confidence and feelings of trust towards you. I have a DVD of a seminar on Syros (it is in Greek and English) that would prove invaluable to you. Please consider this excellent training aid for your education. It is available through the shopping corral of my website. Good Luck.

Sincerely, Franklin

Look for: