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Horse chews my hair

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  • Horse chews my hair

    Hmmmmm. I'm not sure where to put this thread. My 4 year old gelding likes to chew on my hair and ponytail. "Chew" isn't the best word - he likes to put his teeth on my ponytail near my scalp, press a bit and just stand there. He'll do this on my scalp, too. He doesn't pull, he doesn't bite, he's quite gentle, he just likes to put his teeth on my hair and stand there. Sometimes he'll press his tongue against my hair. Any idea why?
    Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

  • #2
    I would assume he's 'grooming' you. I don't think I'd let him keep doing this... It might be cute, but I feel like it could end badly if he got too enthusiastic about it!
    Pisgah: 2000 AHHA (Holsteiner x TB) Mare (lower level eventing, with a focus on dressage)

    Darcy: 7? year old Border Collie x Rottweiler? Drama Queen extraordinaire, rescued from the pound in Jan 2010

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    • #3
      Why? Because he tried it once, probably in a friendly "grooming" gesture, and you let him. Teach him some manners. Horses' mouths do not belong on any part of the handler's body. Ever.
      Click here before you buy.

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      • Original Poster

        #4
        Thanks guys. The horse isn't a particularly oral horse but he has a thing about hair. I wondered if it was a modified grooming behavior or something related to the foal experience. I've never known a horse so drawn to hair but not everything else they can put their mouth on.
        Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

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        • #5
          He's probably drawn to the shampoo/conditioner rather than hair. Change to something more medicinal smelling and do not allow that behaviour to continue.
          Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

          Member: Incredible Invisbles

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          • #6
            I'd be afraid he'd chew it off one day haha. If my horses get near my hair I make sure to get them away quickly.
            http://www.youtube.com/user/NBChoice http://nbchoice.blogspot.com/
            The New Banner's Choice- 1994 ASB Mare
            Dennis The Menace Too- 1999 ASB Gelding
            Dreamacres Sublime- 2008 ASB Gelding

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            • #7
              I've got a horse who likes to groom people and who also particularly likes the scents of pomegranate, grape, and vanilla. He doesn't chew hair as you describe (that is not on the list of approved behaviors) but I had to switch shampoos and conditioners because he'd follow me around the field just to put his nose in my hair. And then he'd just stand there sniffing...

              I do let T groom me, so to speak- I don't approve of teeth anywhere near me, but we've come to the compromise that he is allowed to lick or nuzzle my hand or mouth a towel. Since he tends to be stiff in the jaw and poll, it works for me to have him moving and loosening his jaw before I ride him.

              I would not encourage teeth near your head. That is asking for bad news.
              "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

              Amy's Stuff - Rustic chic and country linens and decor
              Support my mom! She's gotta finance her retirement horse somehow.

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              • #8
                I had a stallion who would do this to me. I never felt "in danger" so I never corrected the behavior, and I never had any issues with it. I had this horse for 8 years and we had a pretty special relationship, I allowed him a bunch of things I wouldn't allow any other horse but he never did me any harm.
                www.facebook.com/lusitanos4sale

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                • #9
                  Sounds like a friendly grooming gesture to me! I would cherish it. He thinks of you as a friend. As long as he is gentle and does not cross boundaries that are unacceptable to you, it is lovely.
                  Both of my horses occasionally stroke my hair (and other areas--my mare massages my back from time to time, usually when I am grooming her) in their own fashion. They are at home with us, and part of the family, and are expressing social bonding. We know and love each other.

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                  • #10
                    Teeth near the head and face can be disfiguring even if the horse (or dog) means no harm. The old guy is permitted to place his muzzle on my shoulder, which he loves to do, but I must not be lulled into a false sense of security. One spook and he could knock me flat, or unconscious just by whacking my head with his. So it's always a short and controlled touch.
                    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                    Incredible Invisible

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                    • #11
                      My guy likes to lick my hands. He also likes to press his nuzzle against my shoulders and chest. It's all very gentle and seems loving to me. He has always been pretty mouthy around me, though. He does know that teeth are not allowed contact with human bodies.
                      "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
                      Thread killer Extraordinaire

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                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Thanks everyone. Hmmm, the smell of my hair products - I hadn't thought of that. I might experiment with that hypothesis. This horse is a very sensitive and stress-prone young guy. He came to me a few months ago and his world turned upside down at that time. He didn't handle it too well. He has made significant leaps in his trust towards me and his calmness/attitude in general. At this point, I'm not offended by his overtures towards my hair, it's never in my face or anywhere else on my body. It's in the category of behaviors I may deflect later (like him rubbing his bit on the mounting block it took WEEKS to even get near) but currently suggest that he's making an attempt to come out of his shell and follow my leadership. I do agree with some of the posters here - sometimes, a special horse comes along that you can trust with your self and their mouth parts. My mare is like that and in 15 years, she's done nothing but reinforce her trustworthiness on multiple fronts. But she is one of those once-in-a-lifetime horses...
                        Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

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                        • #13
                          It's your hair/face/scalp, of course, but horses (and all other animals) respond to fair, consistent "leadership" even if it means quietly and persistently telling him "stop doing that". There's no need to be rough about it, but why wait until an undesirable behavior is entrenched and then have to un-install it when a few simple diversions or corrections now will see an end to the problem? It's quite possible to trust a horse and to consider it a very special individual indeed without letting it put its mouth on you.
                          Click here before you buy.

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                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                            It's your hair/face/scalp, of course, but horses (and all other animals) respond to fair, consistent "leadership" even if it means quietly and persistently telling him "stop doing that". There's no need to be rough about it, but why wait until an undesirable behavior is entrenched and then have to un-install it when a few simple diversions or corrections now will see an end to the problem? It's quite possible to trust a horse and to consider it a very special individual indeed without letting it put its mouth on you.
                            I hear you. However, these behaviors are not entrenched, as I mentioned, and I do not feel that being rough with a horse while delivering a correction is fair unless the handler's safety is in danger. The approach seems to be working with this horse, he is making key changes in his decision-making process. Of course it is possible to trust a horse and consider it very special without letting it put its mouth on you. It is also possible to trust a special horse and let it put its mouth on you. I'm not advocating it, I'm describing my relationship with the horses I interact with.
                            Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

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                            • #15
                              It sounds like you're still letting him rub his bit on the mounting block? That bugs me more than the hair thing. Talk about dangerous. And if he was already afraid of the mounting block, how's he going to feel when it grabs him by the mouth and won't let go one day?
                              "Absent a correct diagnosis, medicine is poison, surgery is trauma and alternative therapy is witchcraft" A. Kent Allen
                              http://www.etsy.com/shop/tailsofglory

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                              • #16
                                Who said anything about being "rough"? A vocal "no" and pushing the horse's mouth off your head would be just fine. Horses don't get hurt feelings when a superior tells them what to do. That is an entirely human construct.
                                Click here before you buy.

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                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by JackieBlue View Post
                                  It sounds like you're still letting him rub his bit on the mounting block? That bugs me more than the hair thing. Talk about dangerous. And if he was already afraid of the mounting block, how's he going to feel when it grabs him by the mouth and won't let go one day?
                                  Thank you. I'm not too worried about his bit getting caught on the mounting block, all the edges are smooth. I would not knowingly put the horse in danger or set back his training-that's counterproducting to the training process. And thanks, Deltawave. I was responding to your post. I'm not anthropomorphic, I work with the horse in front of me.
                                  Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

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                                  • #18
                                    No one ever thinks their horse's bit will get caught on whatever they let him rub it on. Just like no one thinks their horse will bite them or inadvertently clobber them when they allow the horse to mouth their person. There are some behaviors that aren't worth a roll of the dice because the potential for serious injury (physical and/or psychological) is too real. In my opinion, rubbing the face on anything, no matter how smooth, while wearing s bridle is one of those high risk behaviors that I just can't allow. But, to each his (or her) own.
                                    "Absent a correct diagnosis, medicine is poison, surgery is trauma and alternative therapy is witchcraft" A. Kent Allen
                                    http://www.etsy.com/shop/tailsofglory

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                                    • #19
                                      Boundaries strengthen bonds. Stop anthropomorphizing the horse; it isn't fair to him.
                                      www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                                      chaque pas est fait ensemble

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                                      • #20
                                        The horse is kind of grooming you the way horses do to other horses in the paddock. Ever watch horses in the paddock? One minute they are nibbling each other and adorable, the next minute they are squealing and biting.

                                        I'm sorry, but this is an accident waiting to happen. Gently but firmly tell him no, and put your finger against his mid chest or against his side of nostril and deflect him away. Say "good boy" when he stops. Reward him for the right behavior. Stop letting him rub the bit on the mounting block as well...he is young so encourage good habits now.

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