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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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Licking us all over

We recently purchased a 12 year old paint gelding for our 9 year old daughter. We were previously leasing him and he is calm and gentle. I have noticed that he likes to lick a lot and often wants to lick our hands and tries to lick my daughter's face. He also nuzzles at our clothes and such with his lips. I assumed it was out of affection until today. While licking my hand he got a hold of my pinky finger in his teeth. Didn't draw blood or anything but wasn't sure if it was by accident or intentional. He didn't seem to lunge for my fingers or anything. We are new horse owners and would love your advice.
Thank you, Karen

Hi Karen,

It is never a good idea to allow a horse to get 'mouthy' with you. That includes licking or nose rubbing on your body. What the horse is doing is looking for goodies mostly, not being affectionate. They are not affectionate with their mouths like dogs are. They explore their surroundings with all their senses including those located in the muzzle and mouth area. If you allow the horse to move its mouth into your personal space you leave yourself vulnerable to a nip and worse. Wave the horse's mouth away with your hand and say "NO". Set personal space boundaries right now with your horse and maintain them. The horse will respect you for it and be much more compliant and affectionate. Please read an essay I just wrote on Horse Affection that is on the website and in the help center archives as well. Remember keep your boundaries and show your daughter how to wave the horse's head away and say "NO" herself to behavior that is disrespectful or invasive.

Let me know how it goes and thank you for your question. I am here to help. Good Luck.

Sincerely, Franklin

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