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Why a horse bites and how to wean it

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The Pat Parelli Method. (translation of the book)

"When they ask me what would I do if a horse bit me, I usually answer:" I would say "hell!" and rubbed a bitten place. It would be trickier in the future. "
It is not normal! Most people cannot believe it. “You mean: you won’t hit her for this ?!”
The usual reaction to a bite is to punish a horse. Most people immediately turn around and hit her in the nose. This not only does not solve the problem (horses continue to bite for years), it begins to amuse the horse. The game is to quickly bite, and then deftly dodge a hand flying at you: it's a lot of fun!
Some schools insist on punishing the horse very hard for nightmarish behavior, which is expressed in the habit of biting. The path of punishment is aggressive, unjust, unnatural and can be dangerous if the horse decides to answer the same.
Aggression begins where Savvy ends. People turn to punishment and power when they have no other convincing arguments. All they really need is a little more knowledge on how to effectively use communication, understanding and psychology.
Punishment does not work with herbivores (Karen Pryor in his book on training methods "Do not growry at a dog" proves that with any animals, including humans, approx. Transl.). No matter how often I repeat it, it will never be superfluous to recall this again. Punishing a horse, you take a step back, because it pushes her to lose respect for you. When a horse reads in your actions manifestations of such emotions as fear, irritation or aggressiveness, this produces an interesting effect on it. This either causes her fear in return, or she learns to tug on your emotional “strings” and becomes a great master in using biting and other behavior that can make you angry.
/ I remind you that “punishment” means a reaction to unwanted actions that are delayed in time. Negative reinforcement is something that a horse would stumble upon and not bite you. It could be, for example, a sleeve moistened with vinegar, but this option also will not solve the problem, because to stumble on vinegar, the horse will still have to bite you. Then it’s hard to predict exactly the place the horse will aim at, not to soak all the clothes in vinegar! approx. trans. /

Build your behavior on Sharpness.

1. Do not let the horse get too close.
Leading the horse around, many keep it very close to themselves, usually right under the halter. Unconsciously, they bring the horse closer to themselves and give it every chance to bite them.
Teach your horse the Yo-Yo Game (No. 4 of the Seven Games) so that you can remove it from your personal space. If you are out of reach, it is physically very difficult to bite you. By forcing the horse to retreat, you force it to be more self-respecting, and this is the best solution to the problem.
2. Gain the respect of your horse.
If the horse respects you, it will not occur to her to bite you. It’s like with teenagers: all their tricks have a common root: a lack of respect for parents. And no punishment will make the teenager be more respectful, on the contrary, will make him more cynical. / Remember that a horse cannot be thankful for feeding and keeping it. Moreover, she does not know how you work at work in order to earn her a job. And she absolutely did not ask to be bought. Therefore, respect and self-affection will have to be won. approx. trans. /
Therefore, the question is: how to gain the trust of a horse. The answer is Seven Games. In this way, horses gain respect for each other. The one who is faster, stronger, bolder and quicker during the "domination games" - that will become the leader (alpha-horse). / Please note, Parelli does not deny the effectiveness of the use of force! Only skillful and timely application. approx. Trans. / Leader Horse is respected and trusted. All other horses are waiting for her instructions. After many years of observation, I realized that horses play with each other in 7 different types of games, that's why I called them "Seven Games." Each has a number to make it easier to remember in which order they should be played. When you can play and win the Seven Games, the horse will have deep respect for you and your relationship will become much better.
In this way all sorts of tricks are prevented. This means that everything possible must be done to gain the confidence of the horse, so that unwanted behavior never occurs. It's a shame that many are too lazy to "do everything possible", they are stuck on the old "hit her for this" mentality, because they believe that it will take too much time to learn the Seven Games. I always answer that you should not regret this time, you will make up for it later. The problem can be solved in one day, instead of continuing to beat the horse in the nose for years.
3. A bite is an invitation to Acumen.
If the horse bites you, you can be sure that:
- there was a reason
- you do not have enough Acumen.
Some of the reasons a horse bites are fear, self-defense, or lack of respect. If you punish a horse for a bite caused by fear, it is terribly unfair. It’s the same as beating a child for being scared and done in his pants. How then can he trust you? If the horse was defending itself, first ask yourself what did you do to make it defend itself? The reason may even be that you entered her stall without warning. Try to look at it through the eyes of a horse. How does she perceive you and your behavior? Are you polite? Are you acting too harsh and defiant? Are you criticizing her too much? Is there enough moral and emotional stimulation you give her every day? Sometimes the habit of biting is a legacy of the past. As a rule, the reason is not even mistreatment, but the fact that at one time she was not taught to treat people with respect and trust.
If you know horses well, you won’t be surprised to know that horses understand who they can bite and who they don’t. They have a very clear "smartness detector", which turns on at the moment when a person is just approaching them. They judge by how you approach, whether they attract their attention, how to put on a halter, touch: the list is endless. Do not think that the horse will not bite you in the first 10 seconds! The solution, of course, is to learn more ingenuity. Savvy horsemen are extremely rare or never bite at all.
4. Horses pulling everything in their mouths lack respect and reinforcements.
Foals and stallions are especially known for their love of tweaking and biting. For a young horse, this is quite natural (this is Game No. 2 of the Seven Games!). This is especially true for horses kept in isolation or orphans raised by humans. They see you as a friend with whom to play, and wait - they will not wait for the opportunity to play horse games with you. Usually the sharper you react to their antics, hitting them, the more persistently they will play. (Returning to the question of the ineffectiveness of punishment). They have no idea that you are not as strong as horses, so do not expect gentle treatment from them! / With regard to biting dogs, many suggest that if the dog has grabbed you too much, simply cry out, indicating that it hurts you. Indeed, in most cases the dog bites strongly not from anger, but because it has played out and has no sense of proportion and sense of strength. Note trans. /
Output:
Play foals in Games No. 1 and No. 2. After weaning from your mother, play all 7 games with them. This will help build respectful relationships and give the horse moral, emotional, and physical stimuli. The horse, locked up or isolated from the rest, lacks social interaction, therefore, it begins to assert itself in people. Their suppressed energy can cause their dissatisfaction and create difficulties in communicating with them. You can cool off this feeling of dissatisfaction by playing with the horse. You mean entertainment to her.
Pay close attention to the horse’s mouth and nose. If she wants to chew on a rope, put more and more rope in her mouth until she loses interest in her. Vigorously, but gently rub her nose, massage her lips and chin. Grasp her tongue and teach her how to act as a tongue. This will require a certain sensitivity, a sense of time and measure. One must be very careful not to grab and not to pull the tongue if the horse wants to put it back.
Stallions are a separate song. They need a person with great Acumen. WITH GREAT Cleverness! I doubt whether to give advice on a biting stallion, because using techniques without the proper approach, sensitivity, sense of time, measure, intelligence and experience, you can get the exact opposite result. Stallions are incredibly dominant, energetic and always ready to play. Domination - sitting in their blood, and they will not begin to look favorably on what is getting in the way of their sexual responsibilities. All the options that I proposed apply to stallions in the same way, just to prove something to a stallion, you need to have more experience and ingenuity, compared to what is required for other horses. I strongly recommend learning the Seven Games and Cleverness first on other horses, but only after reaching level 3, go to the stallions. I forbid my instructors to work with stallions until they reach levels 3 and 4. First of all, I care about safety, and the first rule for safety is to first get enough quick wits.
To summarize the above, horses bite and tweak for a reason, so the best way to solve the problem is to identify the cause and neutralize it. Fear, dissatisfaction, self-defense, disrespect, the desire to play and aggressiveness - all this can serve as a reason. Develop your smarts and strive to find the "root of evil." Play and win the Seven Games.

Method Ellen Ofstad

It is very useful for biting horses to hang toys in the stall that they could gnaw on. Very often horses bite because their teeth are being cut, they like little children and puppies drag everything into their mouths. Therefore, in addition to showing the horse that it is NOT possible to bite you, you must provide it with something that can be bitten. For example, hang or put a toy in her stall.

Suppose a horse clings to you, to a sidewalk or to an occasion when it is being led. Most likely, this is due to boredom and the desire to attract attention. First of all, you need to be at some distance from the horse, not to "poke" in her mouth. You can play with the horse, not letting her get bored. While you are driving it, try to go slower or faster, stop, take a couple of steps back, resume movement again, go between something and something, step over something lying on the ground, etc. Here the horse will be so focused on movement that it will not be bored. This, by the way, carries a lot of side positive results, the horse learns to look better under his feet, becomes bolder and more intelligent, and you have a lot of reasons to praise her for her good work. It will be more efficient and understandable for a horse to chart a route through poles lying on the ground than simply on flat ground. After several times of such exercises, you will notice that the horse not only began to walk better about it (there is never a “too good” state), learned to put its feet more accurately, but also stopped pulling a chombur in its mouth (occasion). If a horse chews a chombur while he is following you, just do not pay attention to it, but as soon as he spits it out, immediately praise.
If the horse begins to chew on the chombur while standing next to you, make it back up until it spits it out. Do not use upsetting as a punishment for chewing, this is just an action that distracts the horse from thinking about chewing, a way to take time. The less time a horse has left thinking about bad habits, the better.
Analyze all situations when a horse pulls things in its mouth and think about what behavior would be incompatible with such situations. For example, if a horse bites you from behind while you are uncoiling its hooves, try to think how to occupy its face while you are busy with work.
Another important point. If you can control the horse’s movements from the ground, she will respect you. Take the horse to levada (preferably a small “barrel”) and make him step one way and the other until you get clear answers to your commands. First of all, it is necessary that the horse’s attention to you does not weaken for a second. / This does not mean that the horse should be in constant tension, or that you should control literally every step of the horse. The principle here is this. You set the direction and speed of movement once and don’t give more commands until you need to correct or change something. The team should be clear and understandable, while one team should be enough for the horse to do what you ask. While you are "silent", it is left to itself, but in order to immediately hear your command, it must follow you out of the corner of your eye and listen to you out of the corner of your ear, constantly remembering your presence. How much this is - the easiest way to understand the speed of response to your teams. approx. trans. /
It makes no sense to require the horse to follow you with both eyes and both ears, but one eye and one ear must be directed at you.

Cheryl McNamee-Sutor Method

Many horses are far from seriously biting aggressively. But any horse that bites is potentially dangerous for communicating and working with it. All horses can be made to think that biting a person is not acceptable. In this article, firstly, I will talk about generally accepted methods for biting horses, along with all the problems that I see in them. Then we will talk about how to teach a horse to respect the place around us and explain the coaching techniques for several types of “biteers”. Enjoy:
Commonly used “solutions” for biting horses:
These methods sometimes work with some horses. However, I see many flaws in them. I will explain why they do not work with every horse and in all situations. And I advise you to stay away from these methods.

"Squirt the horse’s lemon juice in her mouth, she won’t like the taste"
Using lemon has worked for many people, but the only problem I see here is that you cannot use it constantly. Sometimes you may not have a lemon in your hand, and you can’t always be on the stream to spray juice into the horse’s mouth. Another drawback is when you spray lemon juice into the horse’s mouth because it tastes bad, the horse does not learn that biting a person is bad and unacceptable, she only understands that lemon juice is disgusting. Until you constantly walk with a lemon in your hand in anticipation of the opportunity when the horse can bite you, this method will not bring the desired result.

"Just don't stick your fingers in her mouth."
Of course, this is good advice when you don’t know the horse you are talking to, but there can be many times when you or someone else needs to put your fingers into the horse’s mouth. For example, when examining teeth, when the horse should calmly relate to the fingers in her mouth and not try to bite them off! Again, this method will not teach the horse that biting is bad and unacceptable. In addition, you can’t always prevent your fingers from getting into her mouth. And if she is a serious nipper, she will find a way to bite you wherever she reaches.

"Try the muzzle"
And again, this method does not teach the horse not to bite you, it only prevents bites while the horse is muzzled. When I see the owner leading his horse in a muzzle, it only shows me that the owner does not know how to communicate with the horse properly, while he is protecting himself from this behavior, and not correcting it.

"Hit the horse on the head, neck or shoulder"
The first drawback that I see in this advice is that most stallions and some geldings will take this as a call to war. Stallions fight with front legs and teeth. If you hit a stallion or gelding on the head, neck or shoulder, you can eventually get the horse to stand on a candle and seal you with a hoof. Another problem here is that many horses begin to be afraid of any touch on the head if they are often beaten on it.

So, above we considered methods that either do not work at all, or work in some cases or with some horses. Let's move on to the things that actually work.

Respect my space
First, any horse that I train is not allowed inside my personal space, until it earns the right to be there. And from now on, she should be “invited” there. I NEVER allow horses that bite to stand next to me. I ask them to stand a couple of meters from me, until they learn to respect my space. I never let a horse touch me until she is invited to do so.
Лошади в табуне используют похожую технику. Многие доминантные лошади не допустят других в свое пространство, пока те не начнут уважать его. До этих пор он попросит их соблюдать дистанцию, отправляя их подальше языком тела. И когда вы просите лошадь стоять на некотором расстоянии от вас, вы показываете ей, что доминируете. If you told her to stay at a distance, and she decides to come up without your invitation or call, then you must expel her until she stands calmly and patiently waiting for the "invitation."

Horses that "Fumble":
For horses that don’t bite, but they “tease” you all the time (most young horses do this), there is a solution: give them more attention than they want. When the horse starts rubbing against me with lips or tugging at my fingers, hands, etc., I immediately grab her face with both hands and start to rub it back and forth. Not too much, as it hurts, but you should pat it enough so that the place becomes warm and the horse feels uncomfortable. Then the horse will take his head away.
After several attempts, the horse will soon begin to keep his mouth away from you. She will learn that rubbing her mouth over you is not as pleasant as she thought.
Note: If the teasing horse is not weaned as soon as possible, then most likely (after some time) it will turn into a biting one, and you will also have problems with domination.

Serious "wire cutter":
For such a horse you need to use a completely different method. I show the horse that I am higher on the hierarchical ladder than she is. I ask myself: What will the dominant horse do to stop the other from biting, and how will she show her that she is a leader? Answer: She will bite in response and then ask the subordinate horse to leave her personal space.
If you observe the behavior of the horses in the herd, you will see that the dominant horses will always bite in response. So what do I do when a horse wants to bite me? I strictly say “No!”, I approach it and “bite” (pinch, push, or whatever else you want to use to simulate a bite) in the face with your hand. Having done this, I also ask her to move away from me in order to remove her from my personal space (until she receives an invitation to return back).
Note: You must react as soon as the horse has prepared to bite you. If you wait more than 2 seconds to punish the horse, it will be useless, since the horse will not know what its action you punished her. For example: let's say the horse is prepared to bite you, 3 seconds later she raises her head and waves her tail. At this time you are punishing her. Opa: you punished her for lifting her head and waving her tail (this was the last action), and not for a bite! The most important thing - the punishment for a bite should be instant.

"Finger Eater"
This method is for horses that are in a hurry to take carrots from your hands, without worrying about the fact that they can grab your finger. In this case, I hold a carrot near the horse’s mouth. Keep it close enough so that the horse can take the carrots with his lips. If she starts aggressively snatching carrots, I pick up the carrots before she picks it up. I continue this until she realizes that this method of carrot extraction no longer works.
Soon the horse will begin to try other ways to get a carrot. I don’t give even a tiny bit of carrot until the horse takes it carefully with his lips. I also do not stop the lesson until she "gently" takes the carrots, because I want the horse to know that she will get carrots only if she takes them carefully.

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Why does a horse bite

There is always a reason for any unusual behavior. If we do not see or understand it, this does not mean that it does not exist. Of course, psychology is a delicate matter, especially when it comes to animal psychology, but some of the possible reasons why a horse bites a person can still be called. We recommend reading about how to properly breed horses at home. So a horse or a mare can bite if:

  1. The animal is unhealthy. This reason must be excluded in the first place, because the presence of any disease that affects the well-being of a rational creature may well affect its nature. And, alas, not for the better.
  2. Feels your weakness, first of all - fear. The "leader" of the pack in the relationship between the animal and man should always remain the last, if this rule is violated, problems begin. Moreover, what has been said applies equally to all animals without exception. By showing our fear to the animal, we lose control of it. It is the absolute confidence of the owner in himself that provides him complete security in relations with the four-legged creature.
  3. Faces other abusive options. If you hit the beast in response to a bite or raise your voice at him, the situation may develop on the principle of "found a scythe on a stone" (aggression gives rise to retaliatory aggression). If you intuitively deviate from the horse's muzzle reaching for you, the animal can perceive this movement as a fun game and begin to develop an “attack”.
  4. The animal itself is afraid. A bite can be both an attack and self-defense.
  5. Offended. Analyze what you did wrong, in which you showed inconsistency. Look at your relationship through the eyes of an animal.
  6. It is a victim of improper upbringing. Active games, accompanied by bites, are considered normal for young foals. If, by encouraging such games with one's own participation, a person does not stop the played out bully in time and gently but persistently does not prevent the animal’s teeth from contacting his skin, the horse’s bad habit can persist even after the animal grows up.
  7. It is influenced by the "heritage of the past." Perhaps the horse was mistreated by its previous owner, and the animal is simply not accustomed to trust people or to feel warm feelings for them.
  8. Incorrect feeding. Such a bite is unconscious, the animal simply grabs the food along with the fingers of the treating person, so any breeder knows that horse treats should be given only on the wide open palm, in no case on the fingers.

Important!If possible health problems are excluded, the horse bites, as a rule, for one of two reasons: if it is afraid of the owner or does not respect him. Sometimes, oddly enough, these causes can exist simultaneously.

Another very important element in building relationships with the horse is the designation of personal space and the formation of respect for him. Respect your own horse space and teach her to respect your territory. Those who have ever “closely communicated” with horses know well: these smart creatures feel very well who can be bitten, and with whom such numbers do not go through. Moreover, a clear identification of a new acquaintance on the subject of “possible” or “impossible” takes literally a matter of seconds in an animal.

How the horses manage to “read” us so easily is not known, but the fact remains: almost no errors happen! Hence the first important conclusion: in the situation with a biting horse, it is the animal, and not the person, that is the injured party. Either the person did something wrong, or something wrong with the horse itself, and the inexperienced owner did not understand or did not notice it. Did you know?In 1389, in Dijon, the capital of the Duchy of Burgundy, the horse was convicted and sentenced to death for killing a person. And any schoolchild knows the legend about the prophetic Oleg, who “accepted death from his horse”. Strictly speaking, from a legal point of view, an unfortunate horse cannot be considered guilty of the death of its famous owner, but, as they say, an unpleasant aftertaste remained.

What is dangerous bite

The horse is a large animal, and its jaws are very strong, and therefore the consequences of such a bite can be very serious. In addition to the risk of infection, there is a high probability of causing such an injury that will require complex surgery and even organ transplantation. In particular, as a result of a horse bite, you can:

  • to lose a finger, part of the ear and even a limb (the amputation of a hand almost ended a very real story that happened with a 12-year-old resident of Kharkov who tried to play with a horse holding an apple in her hand),
  • get terrible injuries to the face (the animal tears off the skin with meat from it, so that subsequently numerous skin grafts and plastic surgeries are required),
  • “Earn” a fracture or dislocation, if with the part of the body clamped in the teeth, the animal will jerk its head or begin to move.

But, in general, such situations, of course, are extremely rare. Nevertheless, taking into account the weight category of the “striker”, the victim is surely provided with the strongest hematomas as a result of contact with his teeth. See a description of the best horse suits.

What to do if a horse bites

We will not talk about what first aid should be provided to the victim. It all depends on the degree and nature of the injury.

If the skin is not broken and if the horse is vaccinated against rabies (or the bite itself passed the vaccination within the next two years before the event), the bite site was not swollen and the functional properties of the affected organ were not impaired - nothing should be done except conclusions for the future . An open wound should be washed and disinfected. If a fracture is suspected, it is necessary to immobilize and fix the limb, and then consult a doctor. Important!Tetanus booster vaccine (as part of the standard vaccine DTP or DTP) for adults should be given every 10 years. In the absence of appropriate vaccination, a horse's bite is an occasion to urgently rectify the situation.

But the answer to the question of what to do with the culprit of the incident itself will surprise many. Absolutely nothing! You can not punish an animal with a word, or even more so with a deed. We repeat once again: the victim himself is always to blame for what happened.

How to wean a horse to bite

Ideally, you need to bite a horse off from childhood. But if an unpleasant habit in the animal is already present, you can turn a biting horse into a non-biting horse. To do this, you need to properly build relationships with the animal.

The first and most important thing to do is to show the horse that you are not a danger to her, but at the same time, the animal should be made to respect itself. One of the most famous methods for solving this twofold and seemingly contradictory problem is conventionally called "closer - further."

Video: how to wean a horse to bite It turns out that in the mind of a horse the concept of "personal space" is equivalent to the concept of "authority." The more an individual wins its own space, the more respect it causes for itself.

Using this information, you can make a horse respect himself in a very gentle and harmless way for an animal. Take a rope or any other object, preferably soft, about a meter long. Carefully approach the horse from the side at arm's length, increased by the length of the available tool. We advise you to read about how to choose the right horse for yourself, what to name the horse, and also learn how to properly transport it.

Now stretch out your hand with the rope clamped in it and swing your hand like a wing. The horse sees that no danger comes from you, but at the same time feels that his personal space is being violated. This feeling is followed by a predictable reaction - the animal moves away.

Thus, as if increasing our sizes due to a foreign object, we expand our personal space and increase our status in the eyes of the horse, without showing any aggression towards it. Now we move on to the “closer” stage. We call the horse to ourselves (we do not approach it, namely we call it). We use all our positive energy, facial expressions, possibly even refreshments. We do everything to make the animal comfortable next to us.

But as soon as the horse tries to push, bite, or do something that we don’t like, or show some discontent (alarm signal - ears pressed), we instantly respond with an increase in personal space: we wave our hand with a rope and make the horse move away . Important!An aggressive horse needs to be kept away from itself. Do not be afraid to drive it away from yourself, you will always have time to suspect the animal. But at a distance it will not be able to bite you, and, therefore, you ensure your own safety and guarantee yourself the respect of the horse.

It is not difficult for a novice to drive a horse away from him, it is much more difficult to perform a reverse maneuver. But there are secrets for this too. Keeping from the animal at a safe distance, we use any stimulus that violates the normal condition of the horse (for example, we actively and aggressively swing some object, the same rope).

As soon as the beast turns its head in our direction, we immediately remove the stimulus and relieve the emerging stress. Such a simple exercise, if carried out methodically and purposefully, will in the end accustom the filly to the fact that next to you it will feel comfortable. But not on your own, but on your terms. Note that we did not use any violence, we did not raise our voices and did not even touch the animal. We acted softly and unobtrusively. And the beast will appreciate it. No matter how amazing it may sound, the main secret to fighting a biting horse is to choose the right distance between the animal and itself. Did you know?Experienced horse breeders can easily calculate the leader in any herd of horses. Around such an animal, maximum free space is always formed. Waving our arms near the horse's muzzle, going behind, unexpectedly getting lost and appearing in the field of view, slipping our own fingers along with treats, we provoke the horse to aggression or an involuntary bite. The correct behavior, the ability to respect the beast and demand respect from him, will, on the contrary, ensure safety from any, even the most “uncontrollable” filly!

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