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Trainer Q&A - Behavior Problems & Quirks - How do I prevent my horse from nipping me?

How do I prevent my horse from nipping me?

Bkumma Asks:

Hi there,
I've started exercising and caring for a couple of horses I haven't worked with much before. When I take them into the arena to walk them, they keep nipping my shoulder. How should I address this? Thank you!

Our Trainer Answers:

There are a couple of things I do to prevent a horse from nipping. One way is to correct the horse by making him uncomfortable when he does it. I like to tap him on the chin with either my elbow or the snap of the lead rope. The trick is to cause him to think that he is doing it to himself by the action of nipping, this means that your timing must be quick! The second that he opens his mouth, or puts his lips on you, tap him. You must also use enough force that he doesn't want to try it again. Whatever you do, NEVER EVER slap at a horse's face. Slapping at them will make them either head-shy, or it will cause the horse to turn biting into a game that you will never win.

The other way to prevent nipping while leading is simply to keep the horse far enough away from you, either sideways or behind you, that he cannot get within biting reach.

Thank You and Happy Trails!

Christy Mellington