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Stallion with an oral fixation


I have a 21 month old stud colt that I would like to leave a stud. His full sister won the palomino world and two of his sisters are close to their superiors in the quarter horse world. I have been around horses most of my life and worked with and for trainers in New York and have actively trained and shown. But "Levi" is my first stud that I have trained; I have worked with geldings, mares and raised many foals for showing.

I read through your articles about putting them to work which I agree with a 100% and it works effectively with him as well. After his workouts he will stand pretty quite and wait for my commands. My problem is not after I start working him it is when I first start. When I lunge him I like to place a light chain through his halter, I blend it over the top of his halter so that it is not directly on his nose. As I am trying to do this he is constantly trying to nip at me. If he gets something to chew on, i.e. the chain, rope, etc. he will stand quite, but I don't want to start this habit either. He is quite an oral horse and loves to have things in his mouth.

Any ideas, help would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely, Deb

Hi Deb,

Thanks for your question. It sounds like you have done a lot with horses and have quite a wonderful Equine filled life. You have many Blessings.

His oral thing is very common among young stallions in particular. Some keep it for the rest of their lives and become biters. One stallion in particular I worked with, an Arabian and a beauty, just loved to joust with his mouth. He was close to your horse€šs age and really had this mouth thing going like yours. I personally don't care for stud chains, although I use them occasionally. I prefer to work all horses, even stallions, in rope training halters if possible. So, as it was my job to start this horse under saddle and teach him some ground manners, I only used a rope training halter. When he would joust with his mouth or get nippy at all I would snake the rope under the halter at him aggressively (which made the knotted rope halter rub his face) and back him very quickly about 10 yards or around the round pen all the way. I would verbally give him a NO also. I had to be sensitive as to what would be too much juice in my action as he reared easily and I did not want him to start doing that when backed. I would say he got to the point that he would immediately stop the behavior when the lead rope was shaken even a little. Unless you were sharp and new what I was doing, an observer would not even see I was cueing the horse not to use his mouth. Some trainers would pop the horse right in the snout (right on the lip over the top front teeth). They would do it hard, right on target and time it perfectly. I have done this too. With some stallions it will really work. I think it is best when done with a younger horse (under two) as it will become a lesson learned. With a stallion over two, generally they are sexually mature, and may take it as an "act of war" and attack back. I like not going to war, but rather making it unpleasant if he does what I don't want. That lead rope shaking is making the knots in the training halter hit the sensitive areas on his snout. That coupled with a firm backing should modify his behavior. It may not completely stop him using his mouth when you don€št want him to, but it might if you are very consistent. Get him to the point where just a little shake of the lead and a NO stops the behavior so you can attach your lunge line or bridle him easily. Then be as right on top of it as possible all the rest of the time and you may get him over the behavior completely. He may mellow with age and drop much of the behavior if it is not allowed to happen unchecked at this age. Again, this is a lesson more efficiently taught at a younger age. But, it is certainly teachable at his current age.

Good luck and please keep me posted. If you think there may be interest in my work in your area, I am free to travel. I am already going to Ohio, Michigan, Nevada, Colorado, California and Alberta, Canada during the coming months to teach and train. I also teach certification programs at a lovely ranch just outside of Aspen, CO. where I live most of the time now. Please let me know. Thanks again for your question.

Sincerely, Franklin

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