Horses bite for a number of reasons, playful horses out in the spring sunshine will often take a nip at their equine friends as they canter in the warmth, reveling in the nicer weather – particularly if they have had a rug on all winter! Horses also often nuzzle at one another’s withers, giving a nice scratch to a friend in a hard-to-reach place. This type of biting is natural and a bit of fun, however, horses can sometimes give a painful nip – either to each other, or to the humans looking after them.
As horse insurance experts and horse owners, the SEIB team are well accustomed to encountering horses biting and knowing what to do if a horse bites you. Also - most importantly of all, how to stop a horse biting.
Why is your horse biting and how do you stop it?
It is really important to find out if your horse is biting because they’re ill or in pain. If they suddenly start biting for no obvious reason, it may be because something hurts. If you believe this to be the case, it is important to seek the advice of your vet. If your vet is able to rule out pain, infection or illness as the cause of the biting, it may be useful to speak to an animal or equine behaviourist for some advice. It can be tempting to discipline and reprimand your horse for biting, but it is always important to find out the cause before potentially creating a bigger problem and causing your horse unnecessary anxiety and discomfort.
If your horse is prone to giving you a nip when you put their saddle on and tighten the girth, it could be the anticipation that they’re going to feel pinched when the girth goes around their tummy. If this is the case, approaching saddling up consistently, slowly and gently can break the cycle. When you have put the saddle on, speak gently to the horse and reassure them, always make sure that the girth is done up loosely at first, let them take a few steps of walk and then steadily tighten it. In time they’ll learn that there is nothing to fear and they should stop the behaviour. Again, if you are unsure, asking for expert advice can be very beneficial for your horse’s wellbeing.
Some horses start to bite if they think you may have treats in your pockets. It is really important, especially if your horse is young, that they keep a respectful distance from you and that this becomes a habit. If your horse is biting to get to treats in your pocket, it is necessary to break the cycle. This can often be done by keeping any treats well away from them and definitely not in pockets. Keep treats just that – a reward and not an on-tap supply of snacks!
For more information, please see here for advice on how to stop a horse from biting from world renowned equine behaviourist Monty Roberts.
SEIB have been arranging insurance for horses for 60 years. This experience allows us to tailor policies to suit your circumstances and ensure that you and your horses are covered should the worst happen.