“Hi Stacy, I’m getting a 2 year old stallion who is head shy and nips (a lot, as in every 5 seconds or so…) I’ve worked with head shy horses before but was wondering if you had any tips since he is a stallion. I’ve been watching your video diaries of jac and you really emphasize space. Usually I just get in their space and annoy them until they get bored and realize I’m not going to hurt them. Any tips would be awesome. I’ve had 6 years of training experience but have not worked a lot with stallions. Thanks :)”-Megan H.
I know this is just an internet opinion but here are my thoughts:
I see two different issues in your writing; head shy and biting. You mention that you have had success in the past when working with head shy horses. It is a short description but I pretty much agree with the idea that you outline. Here is the catch though: what will you do if that same horse bites you?
At that point you will need to either allow or correct the biting…and you will need to correct it.
My guess is that his head shy issue comes from one of two things: other humans correcting his biting or other HORSES correcting the habit. Both will cause him to be head shy as he chooses to continue biting. It is often part of the biting game that is often strongly driven by hormones.
When you watch me work with Jac, I keep my space to help break the habit of biting. During that time period (lets say a few weeks) the stallion has the opportunity to learn to interact in a different way and I don’t have to deal with bite-correct-bite-correct-bite-correct cycle. I keep my space, he keeps his, and he gets a chance to learn new habits.
As he gets more educated I will move in closer. At some point I will have to deal directly with the bite-correct cycle but my own personal opinion is that I don’t deal with it for very long. Part of my stallions being allowed to stay stallions is that they need to understand their boundaries. Once they have had an opportunity to learn I make my decision. Newt was right around his second birthday when I gelded him because he was mouthy. He is a nice horse and I could have tried harder but I would have been battling hormones and doing lots of corrections. Even turned out with my gelding, Popcorn, he would nip and nip and nip until Popcorn wanted to kill him. Mouthy studs can even drive other equines crazy!
There are lots of great stallions out there but there is nothing wrong with a great gelding.
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I had to laugh when I read this because the part about Newt sounded EXACTLY like my 2 year old who just got gelded 3 weeks ago because he started biting this winter. Not only was he biting me, but other people, the other horses, and any inanimate object he could get his mouth on. He would pick at my older geldings face all day until the gelding would just lay into him. Thank you for this post Stacy, I think it is an important topic.
I have this problem with my gelding nipping. I have taught him personal space; and he gets that. He does not bite when we are working. He bites when I am just next to him walking him. I have been doing a lot of chicken arms…. He knows he is doing wrong because as soon as he attempts or does bite he moves his head out of reach. Timing is everything and with him moving away so fast I am unable to correct. Any suggestions???
Please excuse the auto correct error where it says “up descended testicle”. It should read undescended testicle!
I agree.. But on the topic of him being a stallion, if you’re not planning on making him part of a breeding program I think I’d just geld.. Not to get on the whole slaughter vs rescue topic but why risk having a hormonal teenage if you can skip it (or at least take him down a few big steps)
From my own personal experience I couldn’t agree with you more. We bred our lovely palomino mare who produced a gorgeous sorrel colt with lots of chrome. He was bright, smart and very easy to work with until……he realized he had hormones. I had always planned on gelding hi but my husband felt very badly for him (I think all guys have this reaction!). It ended up that he had an up descended testicle so the gelding turned into a not so cheap surgery that required full anaesthetic and a stay at the horsey hospital. It made him a much easier to train horse. Most importantly I was able to join friends at trail rides, relax at horse shows and not worry about my young stepsons ever getting hurt by a horse bite or an aggressive stud. When the time came that I had to sell him due to my own health issues, he was easy to place with a great home. I had the pleasure of watching a young gal ride him to success in many shows, go trail riding and camping with him and just live him. Would that gave been possible had he been left a stallion? Not likely, nor would he been able to be turned out in acres of pastures with both mares and geldings. As hard as it was for my husband to take him to be gelded he always knew it would be the best thing for our boy to help ensure the safest future for him. Good luck with your new horse, Megan!
Thanks Jenny 🙂 the breeder I’m getting him from has 5 breedings to him and then he will most likely be gelded ( I love geldings:) but for now I want to correct it as much as I can. He is head shy from being hit in the face – they caught one of their boarders kids hitting him in the face 🙁 he used to not have issues.