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Nippy mare

Hi Franklin,

I have recently purchased a 5 year old mare, who i eventually want to be my daughters "best friend." She has been professionaly broken and then turned out. Although very green, she is willing and is excellent to catch and is coming along well on the lunge and is very responsive and well behaved when riden. The only problem i am having is when leading her. She constantly tries to nip, not aggressively, although if she does get hold of you it hurts. When i say constantly, i mean every step of the way when i am leading her. I do not want to hit her as we have just started to form a relationship of trust and i dont want to jepardise this. I am firm with her and tell her no, but am unsure of where to go from here. She also tries to push me when leading. As we are walking she will turn her head into me and try to push me out of the way. Again this is not done in an aggressive way, just more of a bossy way. I have had to resort to holding the lead rope just under her chin as if i give her any slack she just pushes her self into me, this of course does not help with the nipping as she now spends here time trying to twist her head to nip my hand. Walking even the shortest of distances is a constant battle. As I am hoping to be able to use her as a lead rein pony for my daughter this is becoming a big problem. She also still does this when being led with a rider on her back.

When tied up for grooming she will try to nip as well, although again not in an aggressive way, but all the same, i have to keep a watchfull eye on her because as soon as i let my gurad down she will try again.

Please could you give me some advice on how to curb this problem without being aggressive.

Kind Regards, Joanne

Hi Joanne,

Well, here are several things to try: Set up the situation where you know the horse will try to nip and the instant she even thinks about nipping, back the horse ten feet firmly. This is a consequence for the nip. You must be very consistent and do this each and every time the horse thinks about nipping. This provides a consequence of work for the unwanted behavior. A second thing is a pop right on the end of the snout. It must be well placed and well timed. Again, set up the situation where you know the horse will try to nip. Have your elbow exactly in the right position to instantaniously pop the horse right on the end of her snout. Be precise, timely and quick and do this without aggression (meaning not too hard to really hurt yourself or the horse). Again it is a consequence and not a punishment. Both will work. The 'pop' will be more efficient. The backing up takes some time to do. Good Luck and please keep me posted.

Sincerely, Franklin

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