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Nippy gelding

We have 2 horses, a 3 year old gelding and a 7 year old mare. The mare loves to be brushed but when I try to brush the geld he nips at me and or walks away, I have tried not using the brush and just petting but it makes no difference. He is well broke and a good horse otherwise. thank you.
Jandro Lowe.

Hi Jandro,

Thank you for your question.

I would still consider the three year old a baby. Here is a simple and, I hope, easy solution to try; if you had a round pen, I would suggest you send the horse around the pen three or four times in both directions immediately upon him even looking like he is going to nip. You want him to stand quietly with you and not be 'nippy'. That is your goal. Sending him around the pen is making him being nippy very hard indeed. Remember to send him in both directions. After a few rotations both ways, offer him an opportunity to stand and be quiet with you (and not nippy) by saying "HO!".

Once he is joined up with you and standing by your side, try to stroke him with your hand. If he even looks like he is going to nip, send him off again. It won't take long before he understands that if he nips he goes to work. If you do not have a round pen, you can do this at the end of a lead rope. Make certain the horse lunges well first. Do not use too much pressure. You don't want to scare the horse, only send him to work by having him move around you in a small circle (again use both directions). In essence, you are making the wrong thing hard and the right thing (standing quietly) easy.

Once he allows you to rub him all over with your hand, go on to a soft brush. Then rub him down with lots of different things like ropes, plastic, hose, different materials (some noisy), anything you want him to get accustomed to. This is actualy called 'sacking' the horse out. Make certain you are not brushing too hard. The golden rule is: if you wouldn't like it, your horse probably won't either. Remember he can feel a fly anywhere on his body. That is how sensitive he is. There is a slight possibility there is something organic going on. Something like hyper-sensitivity through the skin. Your vet could check him for that if my suggestion does not work.

Thanks again for the opportunity to offer some help. Please keep me posted as to how it goes. I am interested and would love to hear the news. Good luck and Happy Horses!

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