Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do you Stop
a Horse from Biting?
A: Biting is a very dangerous problem. Horses bite down with
approximately 80,000 lbs. per square inch. What adds to the
danger is that a horse cannot reopen its mouth to let go until
its teeth touch. The only way a horse could let go of your
finger is to pull away tearing the skin badly or biting the
finger off. Sounds brutal doesn't it? Well it is. I saw the
aftermath of a fight between two stallions. Both stallions
looked as if they had been shot with machine guns.
Biting is natural behavior between horses.
It plays a part of seeking their place on the social ladder
or what we call "pecking order". A horse biting a human is
a different matter altogether. It stems from poor handling
habits by humans. Young horses will nibble and humans think
it's cute. It's not so cute when the same young horse grabs
you by the sleeve a few weeks later and almost drags you to
the ground tearing your sleeve. The quickest way to start
a horse biting, is to hand feed him. Never offer a horse anything
from your hand.
Let's go through a few steps for prevention and caution:
So how do we teach a horse not to bite?
- Never allow any horse to nibble or even
put their mouth on you.
- Never try to hit a horse in the mouth or face
if it bites you, as the horse is much faster than you are.
You will only be teaching a horse a game you can never win.
- Never use gimmicks such as a loop of
wire around the nose, or tricks to catch the horse biting
so you can deliver punishment. The horse will never understand.
Let's go back to the beginning. He bites another horse because
it is natural to do so. Then, he begins to bite humans because
he has been allowed to start. He has, in his mind, put horses
and humans in the same class or category. We must teach him
(without using pain) never to bite a human.
I always try to teach a horse, whatever the lesson
might be, in a manner the horse will understand best.
Since horses are a "fear and flight" animal, and the only
time he will naturally run is when his instincts tell him
he is in danger, and he does not really like to run, we will
use running or movement as a deterrent. I will put a horse
that bites in a roundpen. Then, I remove all ropes or halters
because I want the horse completely free to run or stay. I
stand in the middle of the roundpen and allow the horse to
approach. Just as the horses start to move its nose to me,
I jump, holler, and chase the horse off forcing
the horse to run at least twice around the pen. Then I stop
and stand in a non threatening manner in the middle of the
round pen. I allow the horse to approach me and stand near
me. The second the horse makes another attempt to bite, I
repeat what I did the first time. I do this again and again
until the horse stands next to me for long periods of time
making no attempts to bite me. If the horse gives any inclincation
of biting, we start the lesson again.
The only changes that I make are in the number of times the
horse has to run around the roundpen when it makes the wrong
move. I change the laps from two up to five. The horse can
never know how many times he has to go around. Change the
lap count every time.
If you are just learning to use the roundpen, it
may take two or three times in the roundpen before he learns
bite equals run. When he figures it out (and he will),
he will never bite again. If he ever does,
give him a refresher course. His memory will come back fast.
I have cured stallions from biting in just one day using the
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Q: How do you catch
a horse that does not want to be caught?
A:The first thing we need to think about is why the horse
does not want to be caught. You can always corner a horse
and then catch it. However, that solves nothing because you
have to repeat cornering the horse every time you want to
catch him. Soon that horse will be even harder to corner.
Sooner or later, the horse will hurt you or itself trying
to get away.
WHY DOES THE HORSE AVOID BEING CAUGHT?
Reason #1: Now, let's look at the main reason
why a horse does not want to be caught: FEAR. To a horse,
"fear" means "run away before you die". This is instinct,
not reason. If I came at you with a club, you would use reason
to figure out I'm not coming to collect for the Red Cross.
That's reasoning power. The horse does not look at the club.
The horse sees the whole picture. What the
horse sees is the aggressive nature of the whole picture and
the horses' instincts tell it "something is wrong with this
picture", "get out of here right now." That's why sometimes
we do not understand why a horse seems to get so scared
over nothing. We see one thing and figure it out immediately.
The horse, on the other hand, sees the whole situation as
a threat and its instincts tell it to run away. We try to
make the horse stay and the fight to survive is on.
Reason #2: You have no real control over
this horse. The word is "control", which
means dominate, command, manage, govern, rule and/or direct.
If you have a hard-to-catch horse, you can plainly see you
have very little "control". So how do we get this control?
It cannot be taken, it must be given to you by the horse.
And, it cannot be given to you because you hurt the horse
and physically forced it to give up. It must be given because
the horse made the choice to do so.
Reason #3: The horse has been taught not
to be caught. Now, you say, "Why would someone teach
a horse not to be caught?" Most people do not realize
that they are teaching just that. They try to get a horse
to cooperate or submit, however, without realizing, instill
"fear" in the horse which starts the process of resistance.
The person gives up because of the lack of knowledge, and
the increased resistance. The horse soon learns that resistance
gives him freedom . The horse just wants to be left alone
to stand with the other horses, and resistance gives him his
wish. The lack of the horse owner's knowledge has taught the
horse how not to be caught.
There are many facets of the hard-to-catch horse and we can
only outline the predominant ones here. For more personal
attention, please contact us directly.
Here is a very simple answer to the hard-to-catch
horse: A horse cannot run away if there is no place
to run. When we at THF want our horses in from the pasture,
we first call them into a smaller area and each horse is fed
a little grain. (The tubs are far enough apart so there is
no fighting.) After they finish their grain, they are driven
into a smaller pen and the ones we do not want at this time
are turned loose.
Now we have the ones to be caught in a very small pen. Being
careful while approaching the horses, they are caught and
tied up. A little trick I learned from an old Indian a long
time ago is: Do not catch your hoses every time you
grain them. So, sometimes I'll bring them in and
give them a little grain. I leave the gate open and they leave
the pen when they want. Other times, I'll let them in the
feed pen for 30 minutes after they have finished their grain,
and then let them go. On Sundays, we bring them in for a little
grain and let them out as soon as they all have finished.
Through the use of this inconsistency, they never
know for sure if they are going to be caught or not,
but they do know if they come into the feed pen, they will
always get their grain. After a time, even
the new horses are easy to catch. Being fair and honest with
you horses will bring you success. Mixed with good horse knowledge
you will soon be able to walk up to your horse and catch him.
However, there are always exceptions to every rule. If you
require personal attention, please contact
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Q: How do you know
if your Saddle fits your Horse?
A: I want to start off by saying: (I personally never used
the word tack. It has nothing to do with horses. The word
tack is short for fishing tackle, which is a British term.
I prefer the term gear or equipment when referring to horse
related items.) There is a lot of very good used horse gear
out there to be found. With a good eye for quality and a little
market knowledge you can have the best horse gear at a good
If you are having a new saddle made, your saddle maker will
have many questions for you to answer. If it is possible you
can trailer your horse to him for a custom fit or he may come
to you. If this is your choice, your saddle maker will see
that you receive a good education in saddles as well as fitting
If you buy a production saddle, new or used, you will need
to put it on your horse before your transaction is completed.
Many stores that sell saddles today have an area in which
you can bring your horse and try the saddle on. The staff
in the saddle department will make sure you have a good fit
as well as a reasonable education at fitting a saddle. You
also should get to know a professional horseman. Not just
someone that has owned a horse for a few years, but a real
professional. You will need to call them and make an appointment.
Be very open and tell them your horsemanship level. Ask them
if they have some program that will increase your horsemanship
level. I could tell you many things here that would make me
sound very smart, but you are there and I am here. Your needs
may require one-on-one help.
If you cannot find a professional in your area, please contact
me and I will do my best to find someone in your area to help
you. Please contact me. I will do my best to find someone
in yourarea to help you. Remember, education is the answer.
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Q: Do BLM or Wild
Horses make good saddle horses?
A: The answer to this question is categorically"NO". I know
you have heard all kinds of great stories with a wonderful
Hollywood ending. If you follow-up on almost all of those
stories, you will find as well as see that those horses are
just horses someone has turned loose with a herd. What everyone
seems to forget is a real BLM horse or wild horse as they
are called, are wild animals that are equine by birth. What
people are led to believe is that these are horses that are
wild. Believe it or not, there is a big difference.
If you have ever been to one of these BLM sales, you will
notice they put the halter on the horse in a chute. Do you
have a chute to take it off and on in? Add to that, when they
get your animal finally loaded, they close-up every avenue
there is to keep your new prize from jumping out of the trailer
before you get it home. Are there any bells ringing yet? There
better be a lot of bells going off or you're in for a lot
of trouble. I have worked with mustangs, BLM horses and wild
horses. My advice is to Stay Far Away from all of them.
For a novice horse person there are plenty of good old saddle
horses out there for you to give a good home. I may receive
a lot of criticism for what I have stated, however I will
take the heat. Your safety and enjoyment as well as your future
in the horse world is a primary concern to me. Good luck!
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Q: Should you turn
a horse loose with a halter on?
A: A halter left on a horse after it has been turned loose
is one of my biggest pet peeves. I saw a horse break its neck
because the owner left the halter on in an arena. The halter
caught on a sprinkler head as the horse ran down the side
of the arena. The top rail was a large water pipe with sprinklers.
The horse was dead before she hit the ground. I can tell you
sad story after sad story about horses turned loose with a
halter on their head.
Some people say horses are easier to catch with their halter
left on. Even if that were true, wouldn't it be better to
be able to catch your your horse without the halter on his
head? Sooner or later, you will have to take the halter off
for whatever reason. If that were the case, when would you
take the halter off? Only after your vet administered euthanasia
to your horse at the age of 29 and it can't run away anymore?
This mind set is not even a consideration by professionals.
Never, under any circumstances, turn a horse loose with a
halter on its head. I hope there is no doubt in your mind.
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Q: What is the best
fence for horses?
A: The best fence for horses, hands down, is a well-made
pipe fence. There are many advantages for using pipe. When
I say well-made, I am also referring to safety. Any fence
can be made dangerous when erected incorrectly. One point
I will make here about horses and any type of safety fencing:
Never put horses face to face with any fence between them.
It is a very bad practice and horses will hurt themselves
trying to get at the other horse. Even horses that know each
other will sooner or later fight. I try to make it a rule
to be able to drive a truck or tractor between the fenced
horses. This is very safe and also makes it easy to feed as
well as check your horses. This practice in the long run will
save you money in Vet bills.
Even running all your horses together is safer than dividing
two horses with one fence. There are a lot of stable owner
out there that will want to choke me after reading this answer.
However, today, we do have a problem with having enough space
to stable horses. Having the pipes 6' high and 6" apart can
help lessen the dangers..
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