Indiana 4 year old MFT recently purchased, ridden in Tom Thumb and Bighorn saddle in  pasture only by riders who have ridden all our lives.

Question: We recently purchased a 4 year old Missouri Foxtrotter.  He has a
bad habit of nippping, people and other horses.  We were aware of the problem
when we bought him.  The previous owner seemed to cue the nipping, because it
has subsided dramatically.  We have had several suggestions on how to stop it.
Do you have any successful suggestions?

Cindy & John

From Panelist Erica

There are many different opinions from different people on what you should do with a nippy horse. I personally like to give the horse so much attention to their faces when I am around then that they cannot stand it. On the occasion that one may slip and try a nip I will slap it's mouth. 

I do not continue to punish the horse after the slap, and if I missed my chance to do so I will just leave them be. If you play a sort of "tag" with the horse when they try nipping or biting you will simply have two problems on your hands. Do not try to chase your horse's head down with your hands as this will do the "catch me if you can" routine. I also will not allow any non-horsey or beginner handlers near a horse who nips, simply because they
will not always know what to do in the event that the horse does nip. This only slows down my progress of stopping a nippy horse. 

Good luck with your boy!

Erica Frei

From Panelist Liz

Hi , Oh nipping can be so annoying and painful if they get serious!

Not a good thing.
I do see a lot of horses that are this way and many times has been spurred on by incorrect human handling.

When dealing with this I start with reteaching good leading and ground work basics and setting down the rules. When their head starts coming in to my space, with a rope halter I will bump them back into theirs. If they don't get it the first time them I start bumping harder. I will also use a finger nail held ready so every time they come into my space they get a jab in the muzzle. You can also use the handle of a crop to. I re-enforce every correction with a stern tone of voice and say "NO".

Also it is important when handling a horse that has started this not to play or rub the mouth and I stay away from the head completely for reward and rub the neck. Also one person coming to your horse and teasing or playing with the mouth can set it off again. So you will
want to enforce with the people DO NOT touch this  horse on the head or at all if they can't refrain. It is your horse and you have to live with it.

Good luck and be firm.

From Panelist Laura

You could try pinching his lip with your fingers everytime he grabs you (hold the halter with one hand so he can't move away) and quietly/firmly telling him no.  I wouldn't swat at his head since horses are very adept at ducking. 

Colts who like to nip also seem to enjoy a good game of swat at my head and I'll avoid it while trying to grab you again.  One of the nice things about nippy colts is that they do usually outgrow it, so you may find the behaviour goes away on its own if you don't help turn it into a game for the colt.


From Panelist Jonathan

Obviously this is a stallion or gelding due to the MOUTH problem . ;) And what is obvious as well is the previous owner did not command the respect you do . You must be doing something right or there would not be improvement to speak of . Just realize that a "two year" habitis not one to be circumvented in a week or less .

There are a host of ideas/gadgets floating around that are targeted towards this problem and just about all will do the job . Personally I do not go with the opinions that the "hand" should not be used to curtail the mouth atack ;) . After all , it is mostly the hand that is bitten and it is the hand that usually is available without a moments notice for retaliation ;), (a key factor of correction) . How much and how severe is a split secound call of judgement . So I can't help you there . What I can say is "no horse should be allowed to cross the dominance/respect line without a strong and certain understanding it is unacceptable , without question , period" in compliance with the three second rule . What is the three second rule ? ;) Basically you have the first three seconds after a mouth atack to retaliate within the scope of their attention span , so correction is understood ! Add this to what your doing with emphasis on proper horse human dominance protocall and all should be well with TIME .


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