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Discuss Head butting and gentle nipping at the Horse Training forum - Horse Forums.

I am just getting to know this horse and I feel he is very friendly ...
  1. #1
    LLB is offline
    Full Member LLB's Avatar
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    Oct 2006
    Long Beach, CA

    Head butting and gentle nipping

    I am just getting to know this horse and I feel he is very friendly but the other day I was putting him back in his stall from the riding arena and he kep rubbing his face against me and nudging me. Every once in a while he also acts like he is going to bite me or nip me. Are these just signs of affection or should I be concerned that the horse is testing me?

  2. #2
    Senior Member+ lover's Avatar
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    Oct 2006
    At the barn


    I am not great on horse training, but I wouldn't put up with it. I would punish him if hes biting. If he is just rubbing his head on you then it might be cause he is itchy or playful. My horse does that all the time and she is 31.

  3. #3
    Senior Member alana529's Avatar
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    Jul 2005
    That's disrespect. The head rubbing is the horse using you as a scratching post, and it's something dominant horses do to lower ranked horses. I'd push his head away if he tries to do it, personally I never let my horse invade my space. If he's itchy, he can scratch on something else, but never me. The nipping is another respect issue, he's seeing where he ranks in the herd (you and him) and what you'll tolerate. That can quickly turn to biting, so I'd address that right away.

  4. #4
    DressageGirl's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    I agree, there is friendly and there is disrespectful!

    Head rubbing is dangerous! Do not allow it! They can rub their head on their own leg, WHEN you allow them to!

    As for nipping again inexcusable in my book. A verbal warning, followed by a short shart smack may do the trick.

    A horses head is a big weighty item that can cause you alot of pain, he keeps his head in his space, no yours......if you feel like patting him you go into his space, not the other way around!

  5. #5
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    freedom32's Avatar
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    Jun 2004
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    I'm with the general consensus on this one--head rubbing is a big no no, any attempt at nipping is also a bad thing, both need corrected immediatley.
    My horse is terminally itchy, and while I do not allow her to rub on me, as a reward I scratch her face with a soft brush after a ride (she loves this)
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  6. #6
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    Jul 2005
    Southern California
    When you're done riding be sure to take it's reasons alway to do this.
    Bush it's head alot.
    It is to convince this horse that you're not itchy, so doing this is another sign of dominate and this is it's idea and not yours.
    Reset it head where you want it to be and be consistant.
    If the horse continue this behavior, then he had the option to not do it and you must put him back to work moving it's feet until he discover the other option.
    Make it clear thats the wrong actions create hard work and good behavior creates relaxation and a well being.
    Biting is an another way horses shows dominates.
    Be first & quick to handling it's mouth alot when he is doing small nips.
    Start by rubbing, rubbing when he is displaying this behavior,
    creating friction with your hands, which will cause heat and discomfort,then he should learn to keep it's teeth for the purpose of eating grass & feed.

    Biting should never be allow and you must be quick to correct to convince him that he made a big mistake.
    If he does bit then give a quick, sharp and to the point smack to it mouth.
    You want him to understand- don't you ever do that again.
    You must rub and touch his mouth so he won't become head and mouth shy.
    This is dominate mouthy horse play that can become a big problem, so don't aid this bad behavior by carrying any treats on you or hand feeding.
    I hope this helps.

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