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Franklin Levinson's

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What to do with a nippy colt

Hello, my 3 month old colt sometimes nips me and I would like to know how to fix that. He has never actually "gotten me" but he has tried and he has actually bitten some other people. I volunteer out at a trail riding stable and that is where he is, so often, people that don't know about his nipping will put their faces on his and that's when he goes after their shirts. He used to threaten me with bites a lot but now that he knows me he doesn't do it nearly as often. As soon as I put the lead rope on him to lead him a little bit outside of his stall, he doesn't ever pin his ears but sometimes, when we have to use a wand to get him to move forward, he will wait until that person (or wand) is away from him and he will kick "up" more like he was kicking himself. He does, however pin his ears sometimes when you are trying to clip the lead rope on. It usually happens as soon as he doesn't want to do something.

I would really like to know what I can do and I would like to know of some suggestions on how to get him to trust me more, it seems that he is beginning to trust me more because he sometimes likes to follow me.

Thank you VERY much.


Hi Hope,

Believe me your problems with your horse will be greatly helped by more ground play. I used to call it ground work, but I rather play than work and so would the horse. There are several things I do for a nippy horse. First thing to try is to have him move in circles (short line lunging) around you in both directions if he even looks nippy (ears pinned). This is a non-abusive way to have the horse really go to work if he looks to nip or have a bad attitude. Once you get proficient at doing this you will find it of great value in a host of situations where your horse acts out somehow. You are making what you don't want hard for the horse. After having him circle around you in both directions a few times, offer him a "WHOA!", a place of peace for a moment or two. You will see his attitude change before your eyes. Doing this appropriately will also help the horse to being to trust you more. You are appropriately asking him to do something that involves real movement, real yielding to you. This is what gets his attention on you and being s to develop trust. For this horse the ground play will be most important as his whole life is people climbing on and off him and usually unconsciously. Be conscious and connected with him and do it on the ground first and a lot. You will see a tremendous difference in a relatively short period of time. You can also wave your hand (with or without a rope in it) in front of his muzzle. That will make it uncomfortable for him to think of nipping. Do not scare him though.

Thanks for your question and I hope I have offered some useful suggestions.

Sincerely, Franklin


Hi, Franklin

Well today I had a breakthrough!!!! I wasn't able to lunge him or anything when he got grouchy because he didn’t have a halter on. But when he pinned his ears at me and threw his head at me I waved my hands by his muzzle and that stopped it.

Since he was filthy, I decided to help him get used to me grooming him and he seemed to REALLY love it, in fact, as soon as I began to walk away he started to follow me! And today for the first time he let me get every single burr out of his little mane without even once giving me a grouchy look! I visited that Animal Communicator's website that you recommended to someone in another email and I kept looking for stuff like that and one website mentioned that you can just talk to the animal like they are a person and they will probably understand more that you would expect. I tried it with my colt, Levi and it worked GREAT!!! I was grooming his mane and I was standing on the edge of the barn so I was taller than him and he had his head too low so I said, "Levi, please put your head up a little bit so I can reach you better" and right then he raised his head. Then, when he began to get antsy from standing still while I got the burrs out, I said "Levi, I'm almost done, just stand still for a few more minutes" and he did just that, he stopped dancing immediately! Then I even tried it with another horse that I was trying to bridle but was not doing very well because I'm sort of short and the horse, Buck was tall. He kept raising his head so I couldn't get a good grip so I just said "Buck please lower your head" and sure enough, he lowered his head. Sorry that this is kind of a long message but I wanted to ask you if this is probably just coincidence and if I'm starting to fix the problem with my nippy colt. He hasn't nipped anyone else today that I know of.

Thank you very much.

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