What to do with a biting horse is a common horse training issue. Because Parelli Natural Horsemanship always begins the process of solving a horse problem by first seeking to understand the horse’s behavior, we start by asking this question: Why Is the Horse Biting?
The Answer: Usually, a horse is biting for one of three reasons:
- The horse is afraid.
- The horse is trying to dominate you.
- Sometimes a horse will nip you to indicate he wants to play; this isn’t really biting
A Biting Horse Isn’t a Bad Horse
Horse biting is not a “bad habit” that your horse has. It is usually a very real response to something that is really worrying the horse. Either he’s reacting to something that is scaring or hurting him, or he’s telling you that you should move out of the way because he is the boss! Biting is a symptom, not a problem in itself. It’s feedback, really. The horse cannot speak to let you know that something is troubling him, so he kicks or bites or bucks.
Often people react to a biting horse by slapping the horse on the muzzle. This is not the least bit helpful. A horse is a prey animal and prey animals do not understand punishment. What is helpful when confronted with this problem is to figure out your horse’s personality, or Horsenality™. Once you’ve determined whether your horse has a Right-Brain or Left-Brain “Horsenality,” you will understand why he is biting. Right-Brain horses bite in defense when they are afraid or hurt. Left-Brain horses use biting to dominate. Each of the Horsenalities requires a different horse training approach to arrive at a humane, effective and lasting solution. In order to “cure” the problem, you have to first know where your horse is coming from.
Keep Your Distance!
Whether your horse’s biting is motivated from fear or a desire to dominate, the number one rule with a horse that’s been known to bite is: Keep the Biting Horse at a Distance! Until you’ve learned your horse’s Horsenality and what training method will get you the best and most lasting solution for that Horsenality, keeping your horse at a distance – and out of biting range – is a good interim solution. However, this means that you need to know how to skillfully back your horse up from a distance. For this, we recommend wiggling your rope using the Yo-Yo Game. Backing up your horse just a step or two may not be enough. You need to back him up until the look on his face changes. The Liberty & Horse Behavior home study program explains this in more detail.
“Backing Cures Biting!”
The Parelli Savvy Club gives you a place to belong, to learn, to grow. Parelli wants you to be a part of our community of like-minded individuals committed to a better, more natural way of developing a partnership with your horse. We realize that if you have a hard time loading your horse into a trailer, you might be having other problems that can be remedied by a better foundation of learning for both you and your horse. And, we want you to have FUN with your horse! The Parelli Savvy Club is dedicated to your growth as both an individual, and as a responsible horse owner.