Archives MAIN PAGE

Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

Professional support for you and your horse!

Horse Bites Baby's Foot

I visited my horse with my infant son for the first time this weekend. I introduced them and everything was fine. I asked a friend to take our picture standing next to my horse and he bit my son’s foot. He has NEVER been aggressive. I don’t understand it. Thankfully my son only has a bruise. How is that possible? I am looking for answers on why he may have done this. What can I do differently in the future? And, what is a horse bite versus a nip? I didn’t think they could release without biting down. Can they modulate the pressure of their bite?

I was looking for answers and found your web site.
Any guidance would be helpful.

Thank you!

Hi Lauren,

Thanks for your question. There could be a few reasons why your horse bit your son's foot. The horse may have a problem with being around an infant. Most horses prefer a conscious presence of any individual near it. Infants are not able to be neither connected nor really present with a horse (at least as far as the horse is concerned). They prefer to be with a leader. So, occasionally a horse will get unsure of it's safety around an individual, big or small, who is unable to connect with it and therefore attempt to dominate it with a bite or nip to see if that individual will 'give way'.

Another possibility is perhaps your horse was jealous somehow. Did you take time to properly greet and connect with your horse yourself first? How connected were you with the horse when you had the infant near it? That may have been a factor. Did you introduce the baby to the horse? That may have helped. The baby's smell somehow may have prompted the bite.

A nip is not done with a lot of force behind it and done with the tip of the front teeth. A bite incorporates the whole frontal jaw of teeth or at least most of it. The horse is kind of 'testing the water' sometimes with a nip. If he can intimidate with a nip, he knows he is the leader over whoever is there. They can regulate the pressure of their jaw and can open their mouths without biting down hard first. I have worked with quite a few stallions who can be very nippy and prone to joust with their mouths. I know from first hand experience if a horse wants to 'nail you' with a bite they can make it a hard one or not so hard.

I would suggest you not put the infant within range of the horse until the child is a bit older. Or make certain you or someone is holding the horse's head. Please do not blame your horse or hold him bad or somehow 'guilty' in your heart or mind or think him deserving of punishment. He was only being a horse for whatever the reason. I do know that conscious connection is what the horse craves all the time with everyone and if you were perhaps too distracted with the baby and had not acknowledged your horse or were really not connected to it in that moment, that could very well have contributed to the incident. You can get the horse acclimated to the baby the same way you could get the horse used to anything else. Do it slowly and patiently by bringing the baby around the horse, while someone steadies the horse's head. Talk reassuringly to your horse and baby. As strange as it may sound, you need to introduce them formally. As you probably know, horses are empathetic, sensitive and form strong attachments. Consider these things when 'sizing up' your horse’s behavior.

I hope I have offered some helpful information. Thank you for your question. Please let me know more of how it goes and if I can be of additional assistance.

Aloha, Franklin

Look for: