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(sigh)...I can't BELIEVE I am going to ask this...

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    (sigh)...I can't BELIEVE I am going to ask this...

    My horse bites. He bites in play and to gain "points". I have tried ALL advise given to me: Hang on his head, stay away from his head, use the "kill" method (this worked for a very brief period of time), ignore it, keep a stiff bristle brush between you, make a loud buzzer sound when he acts like he is going to bite, flail your arms and chase him off...I swear, if it's been suggested, I have tried it.

    Today someone advised me to try....(Oh God, please don't let them burn me at the stake!!) The Parelli Seven Games.

    Has anyone successfully used this method to reform a biter?

    I am truly NOT trying to start a trainwreak. I accept that my horse does not respect me and as you can see I am DESPERATE for help.
    I've got the 3 things men want. I'm hot, and I'm smart!

    -The 6th Member Of The Bareback Riders Clique-

    Done correctly the 7 games can make amazing transformations.
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


      I am not going to delve into the goodness/not of Parelli; I've used some of their techniques; others I'm not crazy about. If you try it and it works, great! But my advise is to be careful, because if he's an established, dominant biter, he's going to act out more while you rework your relationship. Until he's sure you're in charge, he's going to do whatever it takes to keep his alpha spot, so watch yourself and be careful while you redefine your boundaries. Good luck!


        I quickly stand on the coronet band (quite hard) as soon as they bite, they soon stopped biting.

        I have heard of people pulling whiskers, using clicker training, biting them back & spraying breath freshner at them too, but havnt tried these myself as the coronet band trick worked a treat.

        Hope you find a solution as it really is annoying & damn painful if they get you good!


          I won't slight you one bit. Use whatever works.
          RIP Bo, the real Appassionato


            My horse, King, was a biter when I first met him. He is reformed now. Here is what I know about him as a biter:

            1. Lots of people (before me) hit him every time he threatened to bite, harder if he actually did bite. That did NO GOOD AT ALL and in fact, made it worse. My rule when I finally ransomed him was -- NEVER HIT MY HORSE, NEVER NEVER NEVER. I MEAN NEVER HIT MY HORSE!

            2. It's good advice, If he bites, stay away from his head.

            3. It was not hard for me to figure out why King was biting. He was angry. Nervous. Scared. He didn't feel good. He was tense. I don't know why your horse bites, but those are some of the reasons that King would bite. It was his way of saying, "Stop it!" to whatever was happening that he wanted to stop. Especially tacking up.

            4. He did not want anyone to invade his space. Not a good trait in a horse! But, I respected his wishes and NEVER snuck up on him in his stall. I would talk to him from outside first. Then, I would offer a cookie (I did this EVERY TIME for a long time. It did not bother me to start with a cookie and it made everything so much easier!). He would always let me in if I had a cookie.

            5. When he would offer to bite, I tried to calm him. Get him to trust me. I would grab his halter and pull his head down (firmly, but gently & calmly, I did NOT yank his head around!). I would scratch his ears, rub his neck, talk to him. When I felt the tension release out of his body, I would let go of his head and start doing what I was doing before. EVERY time he would start to bite, I would do the same thing until he calmed down.

            5. When we were finally over the active biting stage, we moved on to the threatening-to-bite stage. When I would walk into his stall with the saddle, he would threaten to bite. I would offer the saddle. "Here you go. You wanna bite something? Bite this!" He would hang his head in shame.

            I think that the key was I that I just stood my ground with him. I did not attack, but neither did I retreat. I controlled his head, but I did not hurt him. He came to both respect (I did not retreat) and trust (I did not attack) me.

            6. THE BAD PART -- Biting is one of those lines you do not want your horse to cross. Easier to prevent than to extinguish. King learned that biting and threatening to bite "worked" for him -- it frequently got the result he wanted, which was to be left alone. Sure, he might have had to endure a slap, but usually the person would back off -- at least for awhile. It is a latent behavior of his, and not one of his more attractive traits. After we bonded and had been together for awhile, he would still sometimes bare his teeth as if offering to bite. And I would just turn to him and say sternly, "Don't be ugly!" Sometimes, I would follow up with a longer conversation that provoked a lot of laughter in the barn. It went something like this, "I am always only ever nice and sweet to you, and I expect the same in return. Everybody has to work for a living, that means you, too. I don't feel so hot my ownself, Mr. Grump, but I am not beating you, so you can StOP being ugly to me!" Whereupon King would hang his head and beg forgiveness as if to say, "I don't know what got into me. I'm sorry for being a jerk." And we would go on about our business.

            I really believe the key is to not back down, but also to not attack. Respect and trust go hand-in-hand. You have to earn them both.

            King transformed to become the sweetheart of the stables and is the joy of my life. He is kind and gentle and extremely well-behaved. But I wish he had never learned to bite. However, it does sometimes come in handy when I tell guests to leave the old man alone, he bites.

            PS -- If anyone ever stomped on King's coronet band or pulled his whiskers or did any other such atrocious thing to him I would have to physically attack and subdue them into a bloody pulp! It is NEVER okay to attack a horse, IMHO.
            Last edited by King's Ransom; Jan. 19, 2007, 10:18 PM. Reason: Read some of the other responses. Ugh!


              Reformed Parelli-ite here

              I used to have a biting horse, gelding of course, and I also used to do the Parelli program. The Parelli stuff is good for many issues I think if it is done correctly but unfortunately I can say that in my experience, biting is not one of those issues. I did everything Parelli suggests about biting problems and it actually made things a bit worse. My horse then became very sneaky about the biting as it was all a big game to him. I eventually sold him, with the buyer completely filled in on his favorite pasttime. They felt confident that they could solve the problem but I don't know how they were going to do it. There is another horse at my barn in training that likes to bite also. Some days he is really bad and some days he isn't but he bites every day. Although he bites less when he is tired so maybe that is the key. I may have to try stepping on his foot a few times and see if that works.
              Proud owner of a very pretty but completely useless horse.


                more work and less grain may be the solution.
                Lostfarming in Idaho


                  I think the best point above is "don't back away." Well, along with "dont' attack" as well, but still. Backing away is a sign of submission in the animal world, both in prey and predator animals. As stated above, if you are firm, dont' back down, and persist in doing what you want to do with him, he'll learn that biting will not get him what he wants.


                    I went with a friend to look at a horse and the owner was a parelli person. Horse had no respect for this lady whatsoever. Lady had arm in a cast and from what I saw that went on between her and the horse, I wasn't surprised. I'm not much for playing with horses. They're big and play pretty hard, but to each his own.

                    Maybe part of the trouble is you've switched and tried a lot of different methods. Horses work best when they know where they are in the pecking order. Stick with one method. I'm assuming your horse doesn't have a history of abuse and is just trying to establish his dominance.

                    Biting is nothing to fool around with if you've ever seen the damage a horse can do if they really do bite. I'm in the camp of they better not even think about biting me. Hell hath no fury like what they're going to get if they even try to bite me. I give instant fury, about 20 seconds worth. They usually don't stick around for longer than 20 seconds. I never had a problem laying down the law to my young horses. I don't think you do them any favors by being overly nice to the point that they don't learn manners. Ever see an older mare out in a field correct a 2 year old? Think about being the older mare.


                      How to handle it depends on why he bites, can you give some examples of how, when , where (as in what location and where on you), he bites....


                        You know one of the problems with trying to act like that old mare correcting the two year old is that you are NOT that old mare. You do not weigh 1,000 lbs, you do not have hooves at the end of four powerful legs. If you think you can man-handle a horse, well ... you are just wrong.

                        I always like to take action with the end-goal in mind. Do I really want to escalate the violence between me and this 1,000-lb animal? Not so much. What I really want to do is achieve a calm, trusting, safe relationship. I want to take the violence DOWN, not up. This is why I think it is just plain foolish and counter-productive to unleash fury on a horse (or a child, or a spouse for that matter!). Do you want to have a relationship that consists of ever-increasing levels of violence?

                        One of you is not a horse. One of you is a human being with a higher IQ and lot more resources, actually. Fewer physically, but way more mentally. Don't act like a horse -- because frankly, you can't follow through. Act like a human. That is what you do best. Do it well and you will be the leader. Not the older mare. The leader. The rider. The one who is in control.

                        And by the way, that older mare never got that two-year-old to complete a flying lead change -- but you will if you use your head.


                          The parelli will help wonders with lots of lots of time. It is based on the herd behavior and there fore will gain your horses respect and will teach him you are indeed the dominant one in the relationship. It won't work a miracle in less then a week but if you give it time I think you will see improvement. A horse in my barn has recently gotten more dominant during the turnout time with the herd. His dominent behavior carried into when he was being handled by humans. They have now started doing parelli with him and I personally see a small improvement already and have heard good reports from the owner.
                          There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the
                          inside of a man.

                          -Sir Winston Churchill


                            To King's Ransom:
                            How's your system working for you since your horse still bites?

                            I've raised many horses from foals and none bite. I don't manhandle my horses but horses need to know who's in charge and that's me. And, yes, I can act like the older mare. Small ponies will boss around big horses, so it's not about size. I don't have to weigh 1,200 pounds to impress a horse. If that were the case, the horses would be riding us instead of the other way around.


                              Originally posted by daisy View Post
                              To King's Ransom:
                              How's your system working for you since your horse still bites?

                              I've raised many horses from foals and none bite. I don't manhandle my horses but horses need to know who's in charge and that's me. And, yes, I can act like the older mare. Small ponies will boss around big horses, so it's not about size. I don't have to weigh 1,200 pounds to impress a horse. If that were the case, the horses would be riding us instead of the other way around.
                              Just an observation from experience, but stopping a foal from biting is easier than stopping a grown horse..especially the older it gets. In other words, stopping a 12 YO horse from biting is way harder IMO than stopping a weanling.
                              RIP Bo, the real Appassionato


                                OKay - I would bite back if it is safer! I have used it a lot on a range of horses - and I dont care why they are biting just that they are biting.

                                A classic was a school horse (and i would be cranky if I was one!) who would nip at anyone who did anything to him - like girth him up. He didnt really do it to me when I got him ready for me - my trainer said that he knew which of us was boss!! But he would try and stand on my feet. Well, one day he got my foot trapped, gave me a look when I told him to move, and pressed harder on said foot. You could see him smirking. I grabbed his head collar and pulled his head down (he was 17hh) and my teeth met through his ear closest to me and my non-trapped foot swumg up into his chest (just a reaction from my leap and not intentional - kicking a horse just gives you a sore foot). This happened QUICK - like in about 5 seconds. He jumped sideways, stared at me and then quietly did what I wanted when I asked - incl in my lesson. My energy then went way down and I carried on doing things in my normal quiet way in the school herd. He never tried that again with anyone - including nipping people. He just needed to know that it was wrong and that he had to get with the programme.


                                  I have a horse that threatens to bite a lot. At first it scares people, because he is constantly pinning his ears. However, one quickly learns that he is just sort of a Grumpy guy. He loves his food, he loves his space, and if a person is near him it is his automatic response to pin his ears back and crinkle up his nose. However, you can always tell that his eye remains soft, and that it's simply the way he is.

                                  On a few occasions, though, he has crossed the line from threatening and being grumpy to actually biting. Most, if not all, of these occurances have been "accidents," where he did not actually intend to bite, but thought that I had food or became careless when flinging his head around. On ANY occasion when he aims his biting at ME, there are severe consequences. I think it is perfectly warranted that if my horse bites me, that I "bite" him with a slap on the nose. I'm not talking about attacking or punching or beating my horse, but a firm slap on the nose or cheek gets the message across. He knows he has done wrong when he bites, and tries to "repent," but that's not the point: he has crossed a line. After being reprimanded, he is MUCH more careful about where he puts his mouth.

                                  I think as others said, you just have to stand your ground and establish rules that you stick by. Keep his head away from you...if he turns towards you to bite, push his head away. If he bares his teeth or snaps at you, give him a smack.

                                  If using the 7 Games helps you, then by all means do it. Biting is a dangerous habit and not one that you want in a horse, especially one that is around children or non-horsey people.


                                    Originally posted by JB View Post
                                    Done correctly the 7 games can make amazing transformations.
                                    Yes - from a moderately mouthy horse to one that comes after you in a very nasty way

                                    (yes - I've seen this myself). This is probably not the board to ask if you should use parelli or not, however...


                                      Original Poster

                                      Originally posted by Percheron X View Post
                                      How to handle it depends on why he bites, can you give some examples of how, when , where (as in what location and where on you), he bites....

                                      Sorry I took so long to get back..DH wanted to watch a movie.

                                      I will give you a little history.

                                      When I first bought him he really wasn't too keen on me being anywhere near him. He wasn't handled much and had worn a halter since he was 3 weeks old. When I got him home I took his halter off and turned him loose in a 3 acre pasture because I wanted him to come to me and learn to trust me. I thought if I left his halter on I would be tempted to use it to control him. Today he comes when I call him, allows me to groom him, goes into the shelter through a narrow pathway on command (for feeding). I use positive reinforcement ALL the time. I rarely raise my voice to him. We have made A LOT of progress.

                                      I try to be careful never to express submissive behavior around him. I don't give him his feed until his ears are forward and he looks cheerful. When I'm filling the water bucket or hay trough I never walk away when he approaches, I stand my ground and make him come to the trough with a cheerful attitude. I try to express confidence without challenging him.

                                      When I first bought him he used to try to bite CONSTANTLY. I responded by pushing his head away. He got sneakier about it so I had to keep an object in between us. That didn't work so I tried "the kill" method. Now he is SUPER sneaky about it. He rarely tries when I am facing him. He will usually try when I am filling the water trough or bent over breaking they hay apart. He tries to get me in the back then jumps away. It is very obvious it is a game to him. His face is always bright and cheerful and his ears are never back.

                                      Thank you for all your responses, I am reading all of them. Perch..if this info gives you any insight on how to help me I would be SO appreciative of it!
                                      I've got the 3 things men want. I'm hot, and I'm smart!

                                      -The 6th Member Of The Bareback Riders Clique-


                                        Original Poster

                                        Originally posted by Dazednconfused View Post
                                        Yes - from a moderately mouthy horse to one that comes after you in a very nasty way

                                        (yes - I've seen this myself). This is probably not the board to ask if you should use parelli or not, however...
                                        Actually, I am looking for ALL feedback-if the 7 games not only don't work, but actually make the behavior worse, I def want to know about it!

                                        Like I said, I am desperate. At this point I would stand on my head wearing a chicken suit if someone could show me how that would help my problem.
                                        I've got the 3 things men want. I'm hot, and I'm smart!

                                        -The 6th Member Of The Bareback Riders Clique-