Lisa was describing in Questions for Jenny today, how she was going sooo… well with the connection work in The 9 Keys for Happiness with Your Horse. Then his sense of play came up, he bit her – she slapped him for biting and the lights went out…
Biting is so common, here’s my reply with a whole bunch of different options to handle it.
Darn it, you stuffed it up! Can you feel me smiling while you are reading this? So now you have an opportunity for a deeper understanding of each other and a deeper bond as a result as you fix that. There are a whole bunch of different ways that you can handle that differently for next time:
1. Stay in connection so that you feel the playful energy coming up BEFORE he bites you and then get him to go further away from you and express that playfulness in some other way.
2. Have a quiet mind session with him and explain that you don’t like biting and mentally show him how you would like him to express his playfulness with you instead. (that quiet mind lesson is a later bonus in your freebies The 9 Keys to Happiness with Your Horse series.)
3. Have a quiet mind session with him with the intention of understanding how HE would like you to deal with that problem – see if HE has any insights to add to the equation. Your connection with him was so deep straight away from The First Key to Happiness with Your Horse, that this could be a promising option.
4. You can express your displeasure by sending him away (in the way of the lead mare).
5. Or by leaving yourself. I know someone who completely turned around a very aggressive horse just by leaving every time he was aggressive, instead of meeting his aggression and escalating it. In your case he was clearly being playful, not aggressive, but it could work there too – you could just refuse to play.
6. I prefer to listen to my horses and my own insights these days, but Pat Parelli has a good contribution to this one. He always says “I find rubbing the bit spot helps” if the question is about AFTER you have been bitten and he advocates allowing them to meet your elbow AS they are coming towards you to bite. I have seen few horses take offence at that but your timing has to be excellent – and the timing is not excellent if your elbow happens AFTER they have bitten.
7. I personally prefer the gentler ways first, but I am not above using the elbow if no other way is working! It’s much better than getting angry about it.
I am going to post this up on the blog too, where more people will see it – thanks for great questions!
Grab the 9 Keys to Happiness with Your Horse at the top of our Training Page below – KNOWING that they are only the first step to solving a long standing biting problem. If all you want to do is solve a biting problem and keep on working with your horse in the same way, then you’re not going to be happy with the way we do things around here. but if you’re prepared for an entirely different relationship – one of mutual respect and happiness beyond what you thought possible with a horse, then stick around!