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Stallion behavior (Bites at wood when agitated)

Hi there,

I just found your website and was wondering if you could help.

I have an 18 year old arab stallion the I purchased about 8 weeks ago. He came from a fair sized farm and was always surrounded by a variety of horses with no real problems. He has been turned out with weanlings yearlings and geldings. He is extremely mellow and disciplined for a stallion, even when breeding it's easy to keep his attention on a handler. I can ride him bareback in a halter with the mare right there, never had a problem.

I have him boarded at a private barn while my place is getting ready, and up until 2 days ago it was just him and an arab mare in the barn (that he has been bred to). Then the barn owner brought a gelding in, and the fun began.

I'd been told by his previous owner that the only two issues she'd ever had with him were that he gets just too attached to mares he's bred, fussy and anxious over them, and that if she handled another male horse in front of him he would bite wood. He doesn't care when his human handles a mare in front of him.

That's just what he's doing, biting wood...not chewing it but out and out biting it and threatening the gelding. To the point that he had his upper teeth bleeding yesterday. When I go in he's fine with me loose, not pushy or threatening in any way towards me, and the minute I get the halter or a bridle on him he turns back into Mr. Mellow. It's only at liberty that he displays this behavior. I thought by now he would start calming down about it, but he's still just HATING the poor gelding (who is terrified of him). He doesn't threaten the gelding at all while being handled, barely even flicks an ear at him.

Is there anything I can do about this behavior? He's scaring the heck out of the other two horse owners, who have never handled stallions before. I rode him yesterday and plan to today, hoping that a little exerise will give him something else to think about.

I appreciate it any thoughts you have,

HI Tammi,

Sounds like you have a really nice stallion there. Regular turn out and exercise are always helpful for a horse. You could treat the wood biting like actual biting and give him a well timed, well placed 'pop' right on the snout when he bites the wood. You would need to set the situation up so you know he will bite the wood so you can 'correct' him when he does. Remember you only have 2-3 seconds to do this. Otherwise the horse does not associate the 'pop' with the biting the wood and it becomes abuse. If you are not comfortable with this, you could also put him to work immediately when he bites the wood by having him do vigorous hind end yields (3-4 rotations in both directions) or backing him vigorously 25 yards or so. I like making what I don't want hard and what I do want easy for the horse.

Good luck and let me know how it goes. Thank you for your question.

Sincerely, Franklin

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