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Read About Biting Horse


Horses bite for a number of different reasons. While some of these may have to do with aggression, many are just the way the horse is able to express himself and communicate with his human companions. A biting horse should never be ignored; it is important to try to find the reason for the behavior. Then, by eliminating the cause and implementing positive reinforcement training you should be able to eliminate this unwanted behavior.

When horses interact with one another, they often nuzzle and nip at the other horse. When they are fighting however, they often bite as a show of dominance. It is important to identify why your horse is biting. Some common reasons for a biting horse include mouth injuries, dental problems, an incompatible bit shape, poor saddle fit, and feet that aren’t balanced. Other reasons include bad habits that the horse developed when repeatedly hand-fed treats, playful interaction (at least in the horse’s opinion), or aggression.

When giving your horse treats, it is best to drop them on the ground rather than feed from your hand. While hand-feeding treats may seem nice for both of you, you are actually reinforcing an unwanted behavior. Before long, you will find that your horse is nuzzling you all the time and try to get in your pockets to find a treat; sometimes this will be sweet and gentle, but other times it will be more assertive. Before long, the nuzzling will likely intensify and before you know it you may have a biting horse.

Since many forms of biting are signs of either assertion or clear aggression, it is critical that the behavior be eliminated and the “balance of power” in the relationship be restored. A biting horse needs to be taught that this behavior is unacceptable. Most horse experts agree that it is necessary to lightly strike the horse immediately following the bite, to signal that the behavior is not appropriate. This should be firm enough contact toImage get the horse’s attention but not inflict pain. A good suggestion is to use a length of rope to make a very quick contact with the side of the horse. You should never hit the horse on the face or nose, and it is critical that this occur within 2 seconds of the bite.

A biting horse needs to understand that this behavior will not be tolerated. If there are situations in which you know the horse will begin a nipping or biting behavior, stop it before it starts. Either eliminate the cause of the situation (for example, place treats on the ground, not in your hand), or place yourself in a position that makes biting difficult. Stand very close to the horses side, along his neck, and lead him quickly around in a tight circle a few times. When he backs off, praise him for not biting. Repeat this each time he starts to initiate cues that he may be about to bite.