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Nippy young gelding

Hey Franklin

I have been working at a riding stables for a while and one of the geldings, Knight, has real character. He is only 3 years old and I like to spend most of the time with him and would love to ride him. He lets me lead him and will follow me in the field.

The other day when I was in the field, I went to walk out and he followed me like he usually does but he constantly had his ears back and as I got towards the gate he tried to nip the back of my leg. I stopped and turned around and he just looked at me with his head held high. I wasn't quite sure how to react so I just spoke to him and then exited the field. He hasn't done this before and I was wondering if anything I had done brought on the behavior. He is quite a nippy horse and doesn't really have any manners but he hasn't nipped me before and I was wondering if it was something I did to change his behavior towards me.


Hi Vikki,

He could be acting that way because he wants food. If people have been hand feeding him, that is definately NOT a good thing. The leader of the herd controls the food resources of the herd. In other words, she eats first and where she wants. Following you closely with his ears back is him trying to upstage you and be the leader himself, instead of him recognizing you as the good and appropriate leader. Some time being worked at liberty or on a line, in a paddock or round pen would be very helpful in correcting this. You will become his good leader by directing movement, action and motion in an appropriate way. Making requests for movement he undertsands and can easily acquiese to set you up as the leader of the dance. Keep it simple and consistent and do a lot of it. When he complies give him a little break (a few moments to lick and chew) and a Good Boy. This process done repeatedly over time, will gain you the respect you are needing without alienating him. He will begin to follow you w/o posturing a dominent position in the 'herd.' I have written a lot about "nippy horses." Use the handy search feature within my site's help center to look up a lot of information on biting horses, gaining respect, setting boundries, developing trust and more.

Educating yourself somewhat more about horse handling beyond the written word, would prove invaluable. There is no substitute for acquired knowledge. A great and efficient way to get that knowledge with horses is to watch a trainer solve the problems you may be having with any horse. There are lots of training DVD's on the market and watching one is 1000 times more effective than reading about these processes. Otherwise its like trying to learn ballroom dancing from a book. You need to be able to set boundries quickly with any horse and if you do not, a horse like this horse will quickly become dangerous. Horses do what they can to survive. Expect that without the presence of a leader he respects, he will fend for himself which is normal horse behavior. He is not being bad, willful, or any such thing at all. He is trying to survive the best way he can because no one is around who can lead him to trust and feelings of safety. A training DVD would bring up your knowledge and level of horsemanship immensely and quickly. Please take this suggestion to heart and quickly get the education you need. There are many DVD's out there and easily found in the backs of all horse magazines. I have several in my shopping corral that would prove very helpful to you as well. Not matter whose you get.....please invest in yourself and your life with horses beyond maintaining the horses and then quessing what to do next. Invest in will repay you beyond your immagination.

Good Luck, Franklin

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