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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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Horse Biting

I do not have much history on my horse, I have only owned him for about a month. I realize he is obviously very defensive of his food, but I know that biting is not acceptable no matter what. Can a horse that bites out of aggression ever be retrained not to bite, or will I always have to keep a watchfull eye?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me!


Hi Judy,

What a drag to have happened. As this horse is sort of an unknown to you as yet, obviously, I would exercise much caution and not assume anything about your horse at this point. Whenever food is involved, special diligence needs to be in place as many horses become very protective of their feed during supper time. This behavior is natural and to be expected actually until you have formed a good relationship based on trust and respect developed over time through mutually successful experiences/interaction together with your horse. I would cut the horse some slack here as you have only owned him a month and you both are getting to know each other. You assumed things about this horse you shouldn't have. It is easy enough to set boundires around food so the horse will only eat when you say it's OK and not be so protective of it's food. But you will need to do this and set those boundries consistently for a while before you could expect they will be adhered to. All your horse needs is for you to 'lead the dance' of interaction. You direct the movement, one step at a time and ocnsciously. Don't assume because he takes one correct step that the next one will be. I suggest you go very slowly and precisely request each step and each stop. If you do this a bit over a little time, the horse will quickly accept you as it good and trusted leader. You absolutly have to direect movement to get anything going with this horse. It is beyond grooming, saddling and riding. it has nothing to do with the human activity of riding the horse. This is about the horse itself and your real relationship with it, which is beyond your agenda to ride the horse. You will need to introduce your son to the world of horses appropriately. You need to teach him to be vigilent when around horses, to be able to fend a horse off if need be, to be able to lead and direct the movement of the horse. I teach children down to 4 years old how to appropriately be with horses. You need to do this with your son. I have a dvd expecially suited for families getting into horses with their children. It is called Training Thru Trust. You would find it most helpful and it is easily available through my website shopping corral. Please consider spending just a little bit of money for some badly needed education and knowledge about horses for your self and your family. It always surprises me how folks will spend a lot of money on a horse, tack, clothes, etc. and be very reluctant to spend a little gain some basic knowledge and education about horses. It would make it all so much better for the horses and the humans if they did.

Anyway, gain some knowledge and ways of introducing horses to your family appropriately. That will help you a lot. I noticed you understand that there is only 2-3 second opportunity to reprimand a horse for unwanted behavior. No matter, never be too complacent with any horse, always stay aware and vigilent (especially when food is out) even once you know a horse well. They will still surprise you. Don't blame the horse for anything. It is our responsibility to be as vigilent as need be to keep ourselves safe. I have already written a lot about stopping a horse from biting. Quite a bit of information is found within the archives of my help center. Please use the handy search feature to look up all that has been written on a specific topic. Good Luck and Stay Safe......

Sincerely, Franklin


Thank you so much for your (fast) reply. Yes, I should definitely have been more cautious especially while feeding. I did find out that Jesse (the horse) has bitten in the past, once involving a child and 2 adults. I don't know the circumstances in which they happened.

I have a stack of books on ground manners, training etc...only a couple of books on riding. I am aware that training starts on the ground. I just wonder if I am too inexperienced to handle this situation alone, I have not had to deal with a horse that bites. I forgot to mention in my previous email that he also did not like being groomed or touched anywhere near the girth area, but I have successfully gained his trust in that respect as that now he only turns his head at me, pins his ears but as soon as I say AAAPPP!!! he immediately drops his head and stands quietly. I know timing is everything, and I will work on controlling his behavior and direction as you suggested and assert myself as his leader and gain his trust. I know in the pasture he is NOT agressive and usually the one that gets pushed away from his food, I guess it's only natural (like you said) to do the same if he can with a small child or adult.

My son is very forgiving and told me to "give Jesse time to learn"...pretty smart for a 9yo I thought! I will need to be patient and take my time and be vigilant about safety around horse.

I thank you again for your reply, I LOVE your website..there is a wealth of information there and I will definitely look into purchasing your DVD.

Judy Wilson

Hey Jude,

Please do keep me posted. The best of good luck to you. It is really up to the human to rise to the occasion.

Sincerely, Franklin


Well I'm giving you a quick update sooner than I though I would! I rode today but before we did we had a nice groundwork session that went very well.

When I went to get him out of the field he actually did not run up to see me because he was eating his hay, so I stood back for awhile just observing him and talking to him quietly before I felt it was okay to approach him. There was no pinning of the ears at me, I put the lead rope on and he walked nicely with me and hopped right on the trailer. Once we got to our destination I did a little leading him around, keeping him out of my space, and lunged him for just a few minutes.

There was no pinning of the ears while being groomed, and not even when tightening girth. I felt safe around him and I think he felt the same.

We had a great trail ride and he behaved wonderfully, even when the other horses with us took of cantering towards home and their riders where busy slowing them down, my horse was listening to me and just continued to walk! What a nice day we had!

I will work with him as much as I can and then introduce him (safely) to my son again.

Your website has been a great help like I said before and I have passed it along to a few of my friends!


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