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Joanna Cooke

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I just cannot pass up everyone’s helpful advice.:D I am having a bit of trouble getting my stallion, Buddy out of a biting habit. I realize that he is full of hormones and I think he’s just trying to “keep me in line” like he would in a herd. Because, when I lead him ANYwhere he will try and get on the other side of me, he’ll nip at my hand and back of knee, and sometimes he’ll try and get away from me, and toss his head up...
Anyway, I just want to be able to form a bond with him and show him that I am the boss, without confusing him or anything, if you know what I mean. How do y’all work with your stallions and form a bond? And will he change when I get a mare and he has his own kind around? Thank you!
 

Willow Flats

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Hi Joanne,
I am unsure of Buddy's age or background and if you are new to horsemanship. Anyway it sounds like you need to first get him to respect your space. Do you have a training stick?

Is he just pushy when leading or in general?
 

Joanna Cooke

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Hi Joanne,
I am unsure of Buddy's age or background and if you are new to horsemanship. Anyway it sounds like you need to first get him to respect your space. Do you have a training stick?
Hi!
Buddy is about 5 years old, and I am also not very sure about his past. He has been with 2 other owners before me (he is not registered). I am kind of new to horsemanship, I took care of my sister’s kid-friendly, extremely laid back quarter horse for a while, but didn’t really have to train her to anything, so I’m not sure if you can call that experienced. However, I like to think that I know some about horses, otherwise I wouldn’t have got into all this. I don’t have a training stick, but do have a lunge rope if that’s what you’re implying. (Sorry if that was a longer answer than you cared for;))
 

Willow Flats

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The stick would be used like an extention of your arm that you could tap him with to move him out of your space. You can also wiggle the lead rope and stop as soon as he steps away. He needs to learn basic manners just like any other horse. If you have someone experienced to help you in teaching him ground manners that would be great.

There is an online resource that would be helpful. Carson James has something called the Bucaroo Club on his website that is $20 a month (you can cancel at anytime) and there are all kinds of ground work videos where he breaks down how to do things in a very easy manner to follow. He has good videos on safely leading your horse.
I have had other friends use it for the ground work series only. One month would get you started on the right track.
 

Joanna Cooke

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Thank you very much! He is very in my pocket all the time looking for treats, which I think, is why he nips a good bit. I’m going to stop rewarding him with treats for right now, and hopefully, he will stop expecting them so much. I do stop when he misbehaves, as well as wiggling the rope to try and get him to back up. He will spin around, throw his head up, and start pushing me around. I’ve only had him for about a week, so I haven’t given it much time, but I just want to have a good boy and give him a good life.:D
 

Cayuse

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Hi. I have a similar mini. He bites and he also pushes. What helped with him was teaching him to stay out of my space. If a horse is not in your space, they cannot bite you (usually,lol). We started by teaching him to move away from pressure. "Pressure" for him was wiggling the end of a lead rope (rope not nylon shank, it is easier to work with). We started with him standing and asking for him to move a foot backwards by waving the end of the rope at his leg, sort of back and forth like a pendulem. If I got no result, I increased the "pressure" and waved the rope more. If still no result, I would increase the pressure more and let the rope hit his leg. As soon as he responded by moving a foot backward I IMMEDIATELY released the "pressure" and praised him and let him relax.
Once he got the idea to move one foot back we progressed to "backing up" a couple of steps using the method above. The we progress to staying at a safe distance while being led. This process took several months but now he will step away and out of my space if I just slightly wiggle the rope. Being consistant is the key, every time he "takes your space" you have to "take it back" by having him move away. Eventually it will become second nature for him to stay in a neutral space.
About the spinning around. What I would do is send him forward when he pulls that stunt. Always work with him using a long rope and if he spins, give him heck and send him FORWARD into a lunging circle and make his butt move. Just be careful of his hind feet when you do this, you don't want to get kicked and work in an enclosed area for safety. Hopefully he will decide that spinning will only get him extra work and he will decide it's not worth the effort.
Like Willow Flats said, a stick is a helpful aid if your mini is not afaid of it. I have used one in place of a rope for the "backing up" exercises. I hold it at the end so it is pointing towards the ground and let it swing like a pendulum in front of me, not touching horse.
I hope all this helps, it's hard to explain, easier to show in person. And what works for one won't always work for another!

Willowflats I am going to check out Buckaroo Crew! Warwick Schiller has some good videos, too.
 
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Maryann at MiniV

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For a "training stick" I've always used a Riding Crop. The length is good for teaching personal space and it's firm enough for poking when your fellow starts to crowd. If he plows forward ahead of you while on a lead, or does ANYTHING that indicates lack of respect, use the crop against his chest....not to smack (unless he's being a TOTAL ASS), but to apply pressure or poke....and make him BACK as punishment..... Horses HATE to back unless forced to by humans or for a survival situation.
Also, stomping on the ground and with a low loud growling voice of, "QUIT" helps with nipping too..... (I don't say "No" because it's too similar to the word "whoa"... I've NEVER smacked a bratty horse, dog, cat, OR child in the face. It instills fear, not respect. And it invades THEIR personal space. I'm sure you feel the same.
 

Cayuse

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Maryann, I agree about the smacking 100%. Doesn't work and makes them defensive.
I tried swatting my mini on the neck when he bit and it made him double down on it. He was a dedicated biter and his response to being insulted by a swat was to bite more. That was when I decided I needed help. With teaching him to respect my space we have come to a truce. He is never going to be a horse that is not mouthy but I can deal with a little mouthy vs alot of bite. But I am an adult and know the risk. He would never be a kids horse.
 

Willow Flats

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When I got my mare she was a biter and very pushy. She is still a mouthy horse, but has learned not to bite me. When she went to bite I would put my hand up flat, as in talk to the hand. Then when she turned her head away I would praise her, rub her side near her withers. I was consistent and she learned, face off of me = good, face on me not good. I also did a lot of backing with her. I tied a little flag at the end of my training stick which helped her move off me. She is very confident and stubborn, so I had to remember to ask her nice first to give her a chance to do the right thing and then increase intensity if she didn't respond.
 

Joanna Cooke

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Thank you everyone for the advice! Yes, I am going to start being WAY more consistent and definitely not working with him when I’m not in a good mood, because then everything he does seems ten times worse and I get more frustrated with him. I have a training stick now, and he already responded rather well to that today. He WOULD NOT back up if I tapped him on the chest, but he would take a couple steps when I tapped his ankles, so that was progress. I am going to work on keeping his head lined up with my hip when we stop, and him standing straight, looking forward, not with his butt swung around (that is his tendency). He’s also not very patient in general from what I have seen so far, so the training sessions will be kept to about 10 to 15 minutes. When he nips, I simply bump right above his nose, and I am going to really try to not touch any part of his face, other than his forehead. I have watched a few videos and I think, have a good start already, especially with everyone’s help here. If you think of ANYthing else that would help me and him, I would appreciate it. Thank you so much!
 

Willow Flats

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Thank you everyone for the advice! Yes, I am going to start being WAY more consistent and definitely not working with him when I’m not in a good mood, because then everything he does seems ten times worse and I get more frustrated with him. I have a training stick now, and he already responded rather well to that today. He WOULD NOT back up if I tapped him on the chest, but he would take a couple steps when I tapped his ankles, so that was progress. I am going to work on keeping his head lined up with my hip when we stop, and him standing straight, looking forward, not with his butt swung around (that is his tendency). He’s also not very patient in general from what I have seen so far, so the training sessions will be kept to about 10 to 15 minutes. When he nips, I simply bump right above his nose, and I am going to really try to not touch any part of his face, other than his forehead. I have watched a few videos and I think, have a good start already, especially with everyone’s help here. If you think of ANYthing else that would help me and him, I would appreciate it. Thank you so much!
Sounds like you are off to a good start with Buddy! I know exactly first hand the frustration that comes with a challenging animal. I just wanted to enjoy my new mare, but it was a real battle at first.

The thing that turned us around, was even though my new horse Annie was not a youngster I decided to think of her like a baby that knew nothing and that it wasn't her fault that nobody taught her manners. It gave me compassion for her and my irritation started to fade.

I may be teaching her, but I think I'm learning more from her than any other horse I've had. Looking forward to celebrating your training victories with you. Slow and steady is best. :)
 

Maryann at MiniV

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Seems you are learning how to "read" your boy. Keeping the training sessions short like you mentioned is very wise. Horses' attention spans can only focus for so long....kind of like young children. <smile>
Oh! And ending each session on a POSITIVE is really important....even if it's something minor.
 

Joanna Cooke

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I completely agree. That’s good, ending on a high note! Like giving him a whole bunch of attention or a treat or something? I hadn’t thought about that, because I am usually kind of frustrated with him at the end too, and ready to be done. Today’s session went pretty well. He already acts a bit better, but the session ended with him FREAKING OUT because I wanted him to move forward and he WOULD NOT, so I would tap him on his rump, and he didn’t like that so he spun around, reared up at me, etc. I am 90 percent sure he KNOWS what I want him to do, he just doesn’t like me telling him that I’m the boss. We’re getting there though! :)
 

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