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Stallion bites a lot

I have read through some of your advice about biting, but none of it covers it all together. I recently (Oct 12 2004) purchased a yearling (July 2003) straight Egyptian stud colt. I plan on keeping him a stud. I raised another stallion before who ended up being super easy for anyone to handle. This new little colt is a nipper and when he doesn't want to do what I ask he bites. When I got him my plan was to start training so that hopefully I could show him in some halter classes in 2005. My schedule was 4 days a week to exercise him on a long line for 10 to 20 mins, then try and get him yeilding forequarters, hindquarters, backing and basic leading. On his days off I would just turn him loose for 30 mins or so. I have to ask him to back the second I go into his stall as he meets me right at the door with no room to enter. The first thing he tries is nipping at me when I go to put his halter on, a habit I learned he has had since birth. At first I blocked him with my left arm while putting the halter on but that made no difference, so now I send him away, usually 3 to 4 times before he will stand for the halter. Then as soon as I turn to open the stall door, he tries nipping again. Again, takes 2 or 3 sends before I can get out the door. Arena gate, same story. Then we get to work. I make him run for a bit just to bring his brain back up to between his ears. Then when he is tired I try the ground work. He hates backing up. When I first asked him he reared. Finally he knows how to back but he won't do it very fast and he locks up his back legs and when I ask him to go back faster he rears. I tried snaking the rope, hard even. That has no affect (did I mention he fears nothing?) So I took a long crop and waved that in front of him, nothing... Smacked him a bit with it on his chest and now he kneels and reaches to bite. He yeilds his hindquarters well, I can get him to follow the leadrope. He lounges well, even on a short line which I use when he nips. There is no round pen on the grounds but when I send him off freestyle in the arena he doesn't fear me much and won't run away well, just tries to get in my back pocket. He wants to be around me, wants to make me happy, but likes to nip. I even borrowed someones rope halter but didn't feel any difference so I went back to a normal halter so it takes less time to hook it up, less time for him to bite me. I really want to keep him a stud, and sending him off for someone else to deal with is out of the question. If I am going to own him, I should be able to handle him. And this is something I don't believe gelding would help. He is also orally fixated and has to lick, bite and chew anything and everything like he is testing with his mouth. A few days ago I decided to give him some time off with just turn out and free lounging. I thought maybe I was pushing him too hard too fast. Is there anything else I should be doing or adding into his routine, or should I just keep holding my breath with what I'm doing and hope he gets it sometime soon? I can't take him out into a halter class when all he wants to do is nip. Any advice is appreciated, a lot!

Hi Jennifer,

This is all common behavior. There are two main ways of dealing with this. One is abusive and one is not. There needs to be a consequence to the unwanted behavior.

The best consequence is 'work' or action. This is what can make a round pen very useful. As soon as the horse uses his mouth as you don't want, he needs to be put to work. This is a basic proceedure most 'gentle' horse trainers use with all kinds of horses including stallions. If a horse bites me, I will pop him right on the snout. There is only a two second window for this action and it has to be precise. Otherwise the horse does not know why he is being popped. It is not true that gelding the horse will not modify his behavior. It will definately make it much easier to train this out of him. Of the stallions I have met and worked with in my life, the majority have not been as you described the first stallion you worked with. Easy going, mellow stallions are not that common actually. I am constantly suggesting that people geld their unruly male horses unless they are serious breeders. To break this habit in your horse will take time and consistency. He needs some consequence for the behavior and 'work' is the best one and most appropriate. Could be he could use more exercise as well. Young stallions are used to running and moving a lot more than most humans have the opportunity to provide for them. BTW, I have found Arabians to be very leg sensitive. Touching a leg with a wand frequently prompts the horse to assume a bowing stance. But the biting needs to be addressed now. The longer it goes on the harder it will be to modify.

Yes, you can deal with this. A round pen would be very helpful. Relatively small circles aren't that great and the closer you are to the horse, the more risk for you. Working on a long line as much as possbile will help. But you really have no way to 'put him to work' immediately for the biting. Anyway, that is what I would suggest. good Luck and please keep me posted.

Sincerely, Franklin

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