Monday, November 15, 2010

Stop Horses from Nipping/Biting

Hi there!

I was wondering if you could help me out. I have a year old orphan Kiger Mustang colt who, for the most part, has come a long way in his training, and has decent manners, but he is SO ridiculously mouthy. I realize that a lot of colts, especially orphans, can be very nippy, but I can't figure out a way to get him to stop this behavior... I have tried many training tips including pulling whiskers, and popping him with the butt-end of a crop, but to no avail. He has never been allowed to get away with nipping, but he continues to do it like he cannot help himself. Sometimes when he is disciplined for biting me, he will get frustrated and start biting himself... Any tips on how to curb his oral fixation?? Thanks!

First of all, is your colt gelded? If not , that should be immediately arranged. The problem is a bit more involved as you mentioned that he sometimes bites himself when you correct him. This may lead to self-mutilation which is sometimes seen, especially in stallions.

There are several approaches. First I hope that he is outside as much as possible. The ideal would be out all of the time with access to a run-in shed. I think you should do "mouth-work" with him. Linda Tellington Jones mentions this in her T.E.A.M. books. If you feel all right to do this, massage the outside of your horse's mouth, and also the inside. Going INTO his mouth and his space instead of his going into your space often changes their attitude. I suggest that you find someone to show you how to do this, however. You need to hold onto the halter with one hand and use your body correctly so that you horse cannot bite you.

If you prefer, just stroke the outside of his mouth with the bottom of your fingers. The purpose is to be assertive without being cruel. I do not know how long you had him or how he was orphaned, but I am guessing that he has been greatly traumatized in the past. Maybe he was not socialized with other horses if he was orphaned.

Also start teaching him a lot of ground work. You can start long lining him and lunging him slowly. Again, I will be glad to help you with any of this. The Team leading exercises will also be of help. ...keep him busy and occupied.

I will be glad to give you detailed instruction if you email me at or my web

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