You head to the barn and are so excited to get your horse out of his stall! After entering his stall, you give him some treats and in return receive a big bite on the arm. If only your horse wouldn’t bite, he would be absolutely perfect. After all, what is a little nip for time with your perfect equine?
If you are frustrated with your horse biting look no further! We are going to give you some very important tips to stop the biting.
At Natural Equestrians, we love horses and their owners. For every problem, there is an equal and opposite solution. Come along with me, as we learn what makes horses tick so we can stop a horse from biting.
Something To Bite Onto- Prey Animal Mentality
Before we go any further it is essential to learn more about horse behavior. It doesn’t take long after being around a horse to learn that they are much different from dogs. Horses are motivated by different things. They are seeking confident leadership.
Horses are prey animals. By nature horses are more skeptical. They are hard-wired to think that they could be lunch for another animal. Even though we know that we would never eat them, they do not know that.
Once your horse is confident that you are not going to eat them, they will then try to assert their dominance. Horses are always assessing each other in the herd. There is a continual play of who is going to be the herd leader, as such it is essential that you earn your horse’s respect.
Once your horse respects you, he will no longer bite you. At Natural Equestrians we do not believe in force or intimidation. We believe in learning to earn their respect through their minds. We want a horse that does not bite, and wants to be around us!
While this is just a glimpse into horse behavior, it is certainly something to bite onto.
You adore your horse! You couldn’t love him more if he was your child (hyperbole)…we understand. We feel the same way. Horses are truly a passion of ours, and we know they are of yours as well.
There are several reasons why a horse might bite. If your horse is consistently biting you, there is a good chance that he isn’t trusting you. At the very least, it is a sign that he isn’t quite happy with something you are doing.
It is important to earn his trust. In so many instances, it can be greatly beneficial to spend undemanding time with your horse. Go out to the barn just to brush, don’t be anxious to saddle up and ride.
Put your heart into your hand and rub your horse with his halter and lead. Sit in the pasture and see if he will come over to you. Brush him and make sure he knows that you are trustworthy and that your tools are trustworthy!
You may be asking, “I thought this article was going to teach me how to stop horses from biting ?”, and that is exactly what we are doing. Natural Equestrians isn’t the quick fix site, rather we are showing you long term solutions!
Often, a trusting horse is a bite-free horse.
The Backup Bite Solution
Here it goes… I am going to give you a little glimpse into my horsey journey. I have always loved horses. I never dreamed of doing anything but loving on them, and I was such a sensitive individual that I would say it even pained my heart to think of it.
Along the road, I had to learn to earn my horse’s respect. This is something I learned to do not through intimidation or punishment, but by developing mutual respect.
One of the best things you can do for your horse is to work with them from the ground. Work with handling them. Practice backing them up. Horses work based on pressure and release, as soon as your horse backs for you it needs an immediate release from the pressure.
In many ways, backing helps stop biting. Once your horse realizes that he cannot barge into your space and that you are in fact in control, his biting will lessen.
- Practice backing your horse straight back. Pick a target on the wall and have him back in a straight line. If your horse has trouble doing this, do not release pressure until he has made an effort. As soon as he makes an effort you can release. This will get easier and easier each time you try.
- Practice moving your horse sideways. Ask your horse to move sideways away from pressure with your hands. You can have him pivot his hindquarters and his front end. Just as with backing, release the pressure when he has made the effort. It is the release that teaches.
- Practice picking up his feet. The more you get your horse to respond to pressure, the safer he will become. Teach him pressure and release with his hooves.
With time and attention, your horse will be viewing you as a leader and not a follower. This will greatly reduce his likelihood of planting a bite on you. As with anything worthwhile, this will take time, effort, and consistency!
Make Yourself A Moving Target
Raise your hand if you have seen this scenario. The horse goes to bite the owner, the owner goes to hit the horse after a bite, the horse raises its head and shortly after that plants an even greater bite on the owner. Ouch!
I have been witness to this scenario. It is not effective and not good for the horse or the human. With proper training, this situation can be completely avoided. We want our horses and humans to be happy.
Stop the bite before it happens! Casually start moving your arms up and down. Kick your butt with your leg. Make it difficult for the horse to bite you, and easy to do the right thing. Soon your horse will say… I don’t want to bite that! Make yourself a moving target.
Bucket Of Treats
Horses love treats, and you love to give treats to them! I understand…completely! As a fellow equestrian, I love nothing more than giving my horse a handful of treats. But, when you are dealing with a biting problem you need to change your method of delivery!
Horses need to learn early on that hands are not food. When horses become used to being hand fed, they will often start nibbling on your hands. One of the best things you can do is to put your treats in a bucket!
This simple solution can prove very effective and can make a big impact with your biting problem. When combined with the other solutions, you will see a behavioral change in your horse!
The Girthy Horse
You swing the saddle up onto your horse, and their ears go back. You take out the girth and start to put it on, you notice a seriously nasty expression on your horse’s face. Pulling up on the girth to tighten it, your horse turns his head and nips you in the arm, ouch!
We have all seen this happen at the barn, and if this is something you are experiencing your horse is what we equestrians call “girthy”. He does not enjoy having the saddle tightened. Chances are he has experienced some quick tightening on his girth in the past. While some horses can handle this, many will not.
One of the best things you can do is turn saddling into an enjoyable experience. How you may ask? Don’t worry we will tell you in the steps below.
- Bring your saddle out to your horse when you are not planning on riding. Yes, I know this sounds like a strange one, but it will truly help. Let him sniff the saddle. Let him get used to it, and comfortable with it.
- Rub your saddle on your horse. Rub your horse with the saddle, let him know that it isn’t scary and it doesn’t hurt. Do this until his ears no longer go back.
- Rub your girth on your horse. Rub your horse with the girth until he is completely comfortable and doesn’t have a sour expression.
- Practice girthing loosening and tightening. Gently loosen and tighten the girth by pressure and release. Once your horse has a happy expression release the pressure. Rub your horse with the girth. Before long, he will have learned to accept the girth and the pressure.
These steps are practical and can make a huge impact when it comes to learning to stop a horse from biting.
The Bite Stops Here
We hope you have learned something from these practical application tips! Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. With time and consistency, your days of being bitten will long be forgotten!
As always, we love to hear from you! Have you experienced biting from your horse? Have you implemented these tips?
Write to us in the comments below!