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Painful Lesson Brings Breakthrough in Understanding

Response from one of Franklin's Students to being Bitten by a Horse

Another milestone. Got bit by a very large horse (not any of mine). Could have been worse... didn't break the skin and only mild bruising. After careful consideration, I learned the following very quickly.

  1. A horse that used to be a stallion (gelded later) probably retains many stallion behaviors including opportunistic biting.

  2. If you've been told that a horse has bitten in the past, remember it. Don't be cocky enough to think you'll be the exception.

  3. A horse's demeanor in one situation is not necessary an indication of how he might react in another. This horse was extremely affectionate and docile earlier.

  4. Don't assume that a horse that won't back up is simply untrained. Sometimes it is an indication of his dominance in the herd or an attitude of noncompliance (especially if his ears go back when you ask him to back up.)

  5. A horse that stands still for you isn't necessary being compliant. It is possibly assertive behavior.

  6. You'll never see it coming! Like being bit by a snake with incredible accuracy.

  7. Watch a herd carefully to see how they interact to know who is dominant (bullies), who is submissive (fearful) and if there are any stallion behaviors being exhibited even by a gelding.

  8. Notice who the true leader is (most balanced, smartest and calmest).

  9. Be very proud of myself that I didn't react with anger (or even feel it). Be proud of myself for not avoiding the horse, but beginning some appropriate training.

  10. Be aware of the fact that the horse could have done a great deal more damage if he had wanted to.

  11. It's very helpful to understand what might have caused a behavior. However, it's not a substitute to first preventing the behavior.

  12. A horse in a herd could be very different than when you have him one on one.

  13. If you are constantly seeking to improve your knowledge and skills, making mistakes is inevitable. Minimizing them is preferable. Learning from them is a necessity.

  14. Immediately after the horse bit me, he reared his head back as if expecting the customary hit for his action. That tells me that hitting not only doesn't correct behavior in a positive way, it actually can make it worse.