Seriously getting frustrated with the endless biting-colt bites me!

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Lil Timber Buck

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Okay....I am about to my wits end here and I am getting frustrated!
I have never had a biting horse, but have always been told that miniature stud colts are the worst. I BELIEVE THEM! So far, Clinton ANderson's methods have worked with my mini and my two big guys. Just moving their feet gets immediate respect. I have taught them all kinds of great things...but it has not worked on the biting. I know according to Clinton I need to establish my personal space and he littlerally could not reach me. Also, he has started rearing -no front kicks with it but getting up in the air and staying there towards me for a good 5 seconds or so.

The problem is that recently I have been trying to get him ready for the show season. That means I have taught him to lead right beside me instead of ten feet behind me like I used to do. He constantly has his head ran out towards my hand, leg, butt whatever with his mouth wide open and whenever he makes contact he BITES! Sometimes he immediately corrects himself and starts lunging around me because he knows that is what is coming, but sometimes like yesterday, he bit my back at the base and it HURT! I turned around and he just stood there. He respects me a lot, but I guess not enough to not bite me.

He will back a mile if I want, he immediately goes when I ask, stops when I ask, lays down on command, stands to be trimmed and brushed, etc. Also, anywhere I point him he will go and trusts me without backing away or questioning. When I am close to him doing anything-bathing, brushing, picking hooves, etc he is biting at me or the brushes. Not just me but anyone by the way. I have tried not to over-reaction and hit him because that will just make him headshy, but now I am questioning that decision. Everyone says not to run them in circles at 9 months because of their joints and their loss of air..I am at a loss here.

I have tried pinching his lips, backing him up immediately, sending him over and over with the lead and making him stand way away from me facing me, piching his should, yelling no and quit nad stop it and other bad words lol, etc.

Seriously don't know how to fix this and no matter how pretty he is and how well he stands at the the show, that type of behavior has to stop. Any tips??
 

earthchild

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Geld him. Then you can focus on his showring career. I've heard the AMHA has a gelding insentive program.
 

Mona

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I would pop him under his chin everytime you even see him coming towards you with the look that he is going to bite. Like when you were kids and do the "One potato, two potao, three potato four..." Hold your hand like that, and give a quick "pop" under the jaw...enough to jar him. Since it's under the jaw, he won't (shouldn't, as I never have had one) become head shy. If he comes running from behind to "get you", ct like a nasty old mare and squeel and kick out backwards behind you, even if you connect with his chest, that is good, yet not powerful enough to do damage, but enopugh for him to get the picture. Those colts can sure be stubborn with that at times, and yes, as already said, gelding will be great! And yes, they can geld this young.
Good Luck!
 

Mareish Mom

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You need to practice your "blocks". More a Parelli thing, involves using basic martial arts blocks. He turns to bite you and you "block" him, he basically runs into your hand or arm or leg. So, you aren't hitting him, he's hitting himself on parts of your body. He will realize it's his fault and it won't cause head shyness or anything like that. Hard to explain without a demonstration. Maybe see if you can find a video of it in action online. I have a big horse that's a biter (or wants to be anyway!), this is the answer. Gelding might help, but my would be biter was gelded at 6 months. He's 6 now and I never really turn my back on him. I always stay aware and ready to block with my arm or foot or leg. He thinks I've got eyes in the back of my head! For the rearing you need to give him one REALLY good scare. The first time my "biter" reared up behind me I spun around and roared at him like a lion. He never tried that again. These are all dominance games and it sounds like you're being too lenient so he doesn't quite take it seriously. You might just have to bite him back.
 

chandab

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When it comes to biting, I do give them a good smack, if that means connecting with there head, then so be it; they've got to learn biting isn't allowed. Sometimes it does cause a minor setback and they won't want you near their face for a short time, but not true headshyness. I just go back to business as usual, and usually they come back around.
 

Little Wolf Ranch

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Well, I would treat him the same way any of my other stud colts have been done when they start that biting phase. Think of yourself as his dam - what would his dam do if he bit her? Odds are she'd give him a good kick. Not enough to do damage, but plenty good enough for him to realize what he's done. As you're leading him and he goes to bite, take your right leg and give him a nice good firm heal kick to the chest or shoulder (NOT his face) and back him up vigorously. After once or twice, it will stop. I've done all my boys this way and it nips it in the bud very fast. I've even learned the "get out of my space now or I WILL kick you" alpha horse squeal - sounds silly but they know exactly what that means.
 

Kim~Crayonboxminiatures

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I've used some of the methods mentioned above, I've also tried the John Lyons method of yelling/backing them/slapping on shoulder/chest/neck with lead rope or crop/whip (not beating them, just enough to get their attention) and making it seem like all heck is breaking loose for 3 seconds and then go completely back to normal like nothing happened. But you must react immediately and only for 3 seconds. I've also carried a dressage whip so I could tap shoulder/chest area and not have to go for the head.

For really persistant biters, one method that worked well for me and wasn't aggressive. I use the Listerine mouth spray, the little ones for on the go. Keep it in your hand, when they come in for the bite, spray their open mouth. They generally don't like it, and just the smell of it in your hand will make them think twice about biting, but if they are smart they will also learn when you don't have it in your hand. It doesn't matter if you miss the first few times, if enough of it gets around their mouth it still has some effect. I try to get a really good spray in their mouth, so they get the full effect. It helps to break their mental cycle of trying to bite to get a reaction from you (remember negative attention is still attention).
 

Shari

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For big horse's, I found most of the worse bitters were teething. Every once in awhile, one was too aggressive, so they would geld them.

But with the others, we would use a loose Chifney bit, attached to the halter but not to the lead line. They could suck it into their mouths, chomp on it, play with it, was nice and cool... they really liked it. And the biting stopped, because a busy mouth was a happy mouth.

Some times, with some of them, no matter how many times you smack them, they aren't going to stop.

If you can't find a mini sized Chifney bit, then try a Miniature horse muzzle. Think Star Lake tack has them, or was it Ozark? Anyway, he can't bit you through them and pretty soon, he should stop.
 

Sandee

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As far as the rearing goes, you should try to pull him off his feet. That's what we were told. I was never able to actually throw them but a good hard jerk on the line works and a BIG voice - NO! Year and 2 years olds are probably the worst. They are still learning and trying everything. He's trying to be dominant to you. The idea of getting him "off balance" is for him to realize that on two feet he is definitely NOT in control.
 

Minimor

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With some horses it is just a compulsion--they continue trying to bite no matter what you do to discourage them.

Gelding usually solves the problem but in a few cases the biting continues even when the horse is a gelding--our worst biter ever was a Morgan gelding we purchased at 18 mos. I'm not sure how long he had been gelded when we bought him but the biting continued for a couple of years after we got him. He eventually "outgrew" it but it took a long time.

We have had very little trouble with Mini colts biting. I don't go much for running them backward or smacking them around for biting. Mostly I ignore it, or pretend to--and just make sure that when one goes to bite he rams his nose into my elbow or knuckles. He thinks he did it to himself & probably doesn't try it again. if one surprises me & actually manages to get a chomp in on me I'll turn on him with a bellow--the offender usually jumps back, eyes wide, and is quite obviously thinking "OMG she's a WITCH, I won't do that again!"

If you're going to show him & he is still trying to bite, you probably won't want to be bellowing, kicking or swinging at him or running him backward in the ring...you can do it and might have to if he figures out that he has to mind his manners at home but at a show you won't discipline him, but as a rule most exhibitors do tend to believe that discipline and training should be done at home--at shows it's better if you can limit yourself to discreet discipline, such as the elbow-meets-nose when he goes to bite. You can use a muzzle at home but while that prevents the biting, it doesn't teach him not to try, and you won't be using a muzzle at the show.

You will also want to cure the rearing before you go to a show--he could be perfect at home & still try rearing when he's out in the ring, but if he's rearing at home you can be certain he will do it at the show. People do not like to see young stallions misbehaving at the shows & there is the possibility he could get excused from a class for unruly behavior.
 

shelia

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Some of these suggestions sound like great ideas. I have one colt who was the worst at biting that I have ever seen. It started almost from birth. He was so bad that i was scared to go around him. nothing seemed to work as he was just not afraid of anything. I had to take an empty feed bag or empty dogfood bag with me to feed him. It made noise and he was definantly afraid of that. He has gotten much better now, but his urge to bite is so strong that he will bite on the fence and hold it when he is petted. He knows not to bite me, but just can hardly contain himself. He is not mean at all. He will eventually find a way to contain himself and hopefully outgrow it.

I think your colt will too. When you have him in halter, just hold his head low so he cannot rear up. He will eventually learn ot to do it.
 

ShadyGrovePonies

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I have a 10 month old colt that is doing the exact same thing. He thinks I am his playmate and thinks everything is a game. The nipping when he knows that he will get snapped or yelled at and loves to time it right to nip and run. Also, while being groomed, I have to watch him - he is quick. The rearing - think I have mostly stopped that with the backing up as soon as his feet hit the ground. Now, his new game is continually grabbing at the leadrope when leading. He is so smart and does not have a playmate, so I know that he is craving interaction like colts play. But, I am frustrated with him too and have decided that I need help. He will be going to the trainers next month to teach him manners and for the trainer to show me how to keep him mannerly. He is to be gelded next week - should have been sooner, but the vet kept rescheduling because of emergencies. I also like a lot of the suggestions here!
 

AnnaC

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The last poster has picked out a good point. "He does not have a playmate". Now I do not know anything about your set up or your other animals, but this little fella of yours, like the one mentioned above, is still a baby. And young weaned colts, yearlings as well, DO require others of the same age to simply play, fight and have fun with. They also need the space to run and chase, 24/7 if possible. Does your little man have all or any of the above things in his life?

You have obviously spent lots of time with him and he has learnt a lot from you in a very short time, but how much time does he have for himself to run, play and relax with a friend? I dont think gelding will make a lot of difference as he is still young and will still need to do the things that a young horse NEEDS to do for the sake of their mental and physical well being. He needs to get rid of his excess energy by other means than trying to include you in his 'games'.

I would also be very wary of fast backing a mini this young, also of putting him off balance or pulling him over if he rears. I do think that time and freedom to use that extra energy in another way, will solve your problem faster than you think.

Good luck!
 

JMS Miniatures

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I had one do this to the point where you didn't want to be near him. Now he is one of my best geldings I have. He was a onery 2 year old stud colt that was breeding but once he bred his mares he was very mean. Once he was gelded I don't even remeber if he had ever bite again.

Have you gone thru the Fundamentals with him? CA doesn't let them into his personal space until he knows he has control of their feet, there is a reason why leading beside is one of the last exercises in the Fundamentals. If he tries to bite you don't be nice about it. If he is shoving into you or tries to even bite get your palm up and bump his head with it. Make him think that he did it to himself. But pinching him isn't going to get across to him that what he just did is wrong. Has to be instant. As far as the rearing goes he's not moving his feet and resisting, Do whatever it takes to get his mind on you. He is really testing you and at this point you can't baby him, he has no respect for you.
 

Sandy B

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We have a full sized paint gelding that bites at you and rears and such, not in a mean way as it is all fun and games for him he thinks. The more you "pick" on him the more game it becomes. We have tried it all and we can keep him respectful but it means giving him a job and keeping him worked. This gelding has been on rehab (injured tendon) and of all horses he was the worst horse to have to do this with as he needs work. We have made it through the worst part and thank God are back on his back again because that is where its safe. In my opinion, your colt thinks of all of this as a game. I would not pick on him, but definitely try to sting him for biting behavior. Especially if its is not nipping, but actual trying to bite you. I would rather have him face shy than biting at you. Whatever you do, do not pick on him with light smacks or reprimands. Act as any herd leader would do. They would flat out go after him either by chasing or kicking the crap out of him. Think of how horses communicate- ears, tail, feet, mouth, neck, etc... That is what they understand. When he rears, as soon as he goes up I would knock him off his feet by shanking him more and running him backwards.

I too like Clinton's ways a lot and I would definitely get his feet moving away from you.
 

dannigirl

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When we have a biter here, we try to be consistent in the way we do things. First we will play with him/her (young mares have been the worst here) for a little while. Really lavish the attention. then we go to doing other stuff like cleaning hooves or whatever. Once we know they are a biter, we watch them closely. If they attempt to bite, we bust them in the mouth as hard (This must be done VERY quickly so they think they caused it.) as we can and then leave the area (go where we can keep an eye on them) After a few minutes, we come back, give them attention and then on to the work again. We repeat this as often as necessary, but only once or twice--out of dozens of times--have we had to do more than two lessons. Usually only once. For us, this is a way to let them know that biting us will hurt them. To some, this seems extreme, but if you have ever been bitten hard, you will soon know that their discomfort is actually minimal to the discomfort of their bite on you.

As for the rearing up--we use a broom--bristle end. Once they kick, we poke them and brush their legs and mess around till they settle down. We repeat this every time they take their legs off the ground. They don't like it and soon find that you will be doing it and they stop. I also tell them I am getting the broom. I make it clear what I mean--you don't have to say broom, you can say I am getting the teacher. You just need to make them connect that word to the punishment. Since they don't like it, they soon stop when you say the word. I have been in the ring and said "I am getting the broom" and the horse stayed on all four. He didn't stand still, but that is another issue altogether.
 

Lil Timber Buck

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ShadyGrovePonies and AnnaC, I think you two hit it on the dot! He is a ten month old...it isn't a lack of respect at all it is playtime. He doesn't have a playmate and we don't have the room for one. The big horses come talk to him over the fence, but I am the play buddy for him and biting is part of the play. I am working on trying to separate the two. So far, that is helping. Another thing helping with the biting is that I took him off alfalfa. That stuff was jacking him up!!! He is so much better without it. Thanks for all the great suggestions!!!
 

Riverrose28

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I don't have any colts that bite, yet, had to add the yet. I do have a two year old filly that is about to have my dominate senior mare put into her paddock, cause she is driving me crazy at feeding time being dominate and biting over food. Yesterday she bite my three yr. old grandson because he gave another filly some alfalfa before her. I can't take my eyes off of her at feeding time or I'll get hurt, I've done it all, yelled, made myself big, waved things, even hit her with my cane, no luck, but I know my dominate mare will put her in her place. When in doubt, use a dominate mare.
 

AnnaC

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I dont know if I'm right, but was it you who posted a video a few months back where you were showing your little lad having some playtime on the end of a long line?

If so, I have to admit that I did think at the time that he needed to play 'free' and not on a line! And if it was, then he already associates you with being his playtime companion!

Dont know if it will help at all, but get him out and loose as much as possible, even go play with him in his freedom area, but leave his headcollar off When you are ready for 'serious' time, then put the headcollar on (may be useful to change the one you have been using for a well fitting leather one so that it is something 'new' to him). When 'serious', be firm but patient and understanding, correcting him gently and praising him greatly for correct behaviour. Stallions learn the difference between normal turnout headcollars and the ones they wear when going to cover mares (well often they do!!) so your little lad may slowly begin to tell the difference between play and 'work'. We play constantly with our babies/weaned foals out in their field (admittedly they do have other companions), but when they are in head collars and being led around etc, they know something is different and thereby slowly learn their manners. Sorry if this sounds a bit odd, hope you can understand, am posting in a hurry!

I suppose you dont know of anyone with a colt of the same age who would be willing to 'loan' him for a few months as a companion? We also had one colt born late last year, but luckily we have a sweet yearling colt who is already friendly with the 'foal' who, from this weekend will be taking over as his new companion as weaning is about to take place.
 

Lil Timber Buck

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Anna C That was me in the video with the lead and halter playing with him. That was only because we live right on a main road and we were out of the fenced area at the time. He is WAY faster than me so I had to keep him close. We play all the time with no halter or lead and usuall he knows th halter means something different. I kep in mind that he is only 9 months old and has a lot of energy :). Thanks EVERYONE!
 

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