Q: I have a horse that loves to nibble on things. Recently he bit one of my friends. He doesn’t bite hard, but I’m afraid this behavior could get worse. What should I do?
A: If you feed your horse treats by hand, you must stop doing this immediately, because it can encourage a horse to bite you. If you love giving your horse treats, put them in a bucket before you offer them to him.
Be aware of what your horse is doing at all times, and try your best to stay out of biting range. Tie him up a bit shorter than you usually do so he can’t reach you easily.
When you’re working around your horse, carry a brush with a hard back. If he lunges out to bite you, raise the brush so he bangs his nose into the brush instead of biting you. If he tries it again, make a loud, angry sound as he hits the brush so he pays attention to you and moves away. If you don’t have a brush in your hand, let him bump into your your bony elbow and make a loud sound to discourage him.
Smacking your horse in the face isn’t really the best way to teach him to stop biting. Poking or smacking him can become like a game to your horse, and if you do it too hard it can make him head shy and spooky.
This article originally appeared in the November/December 2014 issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!