Seems appropriate to write a blog about biting right after writing about Zorro's dental issues. lol!
Lately, I have been seeing so many posts on Facebook about people's baby pony biting. It happens every year at this time. I think it's because that adorable little ball of fluffy cuteness you bought last fall is now coming into its own. The little colts are getting studdy and the fillies are having some hormone surges of their own! Also, it's warming up, so some of us are out with our babies more right now. This leads to more interaction and ultimately some behavior that we see as 'naughty'.
The responses to these posts always make me cringe. Literally. Sometimes I have to just click away.
Punch, hit or smack them in the face.
SCREAM at them.
Bite them back. Make them bleed.
Hit them with a bat.
So many more.
I have been listening to lots of pod casts lately by Warwich Schiller, Jane Pike, Elsa Sinclair, Wendy Murdoch, and Susan D. Fay and all of these people are interviewing other horsemen and women about a 'new' old way of being with our horses. They talk about forming pictures in our heads - of what it is we would like our horses or ponies to do - then giving them the space to respond. They talk about sharing space with our horses and ponies, without expectations. They talk about the deep relationship that can be made with these amazing beings we share our lives with.
Then I click over to Facebook and see the above responses. I guess people aren't as enlightened as I keep thinking they are.
So what do I do when Oliver bites me? Because, yes, he is starting to nip and bite and push with his body. He is putting EVERYTHING in his mouth and picking up and carrying things...
I do nothing. If I am not paying attention and he gets one over on me, then I will gently push him out of my space (no yelling or screaming or even waving of my hands) and not respond to the nipping at all. IF it's done in play.
If he is pining his ears when he comes up to bite then I will gently take his muzzle and gently rub it, honoring his desire to connect but not allowing the biting. This will redirect his mind as well.
(He has an appointment with the vet on April 5th! It can't come soon enough! lol!)
Mostly I make sure he isn't close enough to me to bite me. It's totally on me if he gets close enough to do that! It's not a hardship to keep him out of my space without using any smacking, hitting, kicking or screaming. Or even a bat! I use my energy and my thoughts and if I hold him at the end of the lead rope with my arm straight he can't reach me. lol! He is still small enough I can do that.
The rule here is if you go in my pens and someone bites you it's on you not on them. That was my rule when Zorro was a baby as well. And guess what? He bit everyone he could get his mouth on, IF they weren't paying attention. Does he bite people now? NO. He never puts his mouth on anyone. Kids can handle him and he would never bite. He outgrew it mostly. And he never had a reaction from me if he managed to get a little skin now and then.
So please, if you have a baby pony and it's starting to teeth and nip and explore it's world with its mouth - DO NOT HIT IT. DO NOT DISCOURAGE THE EXPLORATION. Of course stay safe, keep your kids safe, but don't blame the baby pony for being a baby. For instance, we had a little party last weekend. There was an almost 4 year old there that wanted to go see Oliver. I had to say no because he is simply not safe for a 4 year old to be around right now. The safety of that little one is on ME. It's not on Oliver to stop being a baby because there is a human baby around. It's unrealistic to think a baby horse will not bite a baby when it's interested in biting everything in its environment. It's up to us to keep the human babies and the pony babies safe.
Keep in mind, all babies put things in their mouths. My baby nephew was here this last weekend and anything within his reach ended up in his mouth. This meant I had to keep a close eye on the gross dog toys! lol! Did I hit him or scream at him if he managed to get something in his mouth? No.
Have you ever had a puppy that was teething? Everything goes in their mouth as well. Sometimes they will try to chew on your hand. I'll bet you do not scream, hit or bite that puppy. I'll bet you simply hand it a toy to chew. Maybe with a strict "No" voiced. And we make sure they have appropriate toys around to chew on. It's on US if they chew up our shoes. They are just being puppies.
Why do we treat horses so crazy?
I know, I know. Because they are big and can really hurt you. But the babies aren't. And screaming, hitting, punching and kicking them typically only teaches them:
You are scary, not to be trusted.
To be extra fast and sneaky biters.
They become head shy.
Many, many of the biters I have known in my life who were smacked for biting, stayed biters their entire lives and became sneaky biters. This is a horse that gets in and then gets out as fast as they can. Sometimes taking quite a chunk of your jacket with them. Or even your skin.
Though I'm sure lots of people have success stories of horse and pony babies that were smacked around for biting, just know, it's not necessary. There are other ways of dealing with things. As usual, there isn't one set in stone rule for dealing with another horse issue that comes up! Probably not a big surprise to you if you have been reading my blog for very long.
I'll wrap up with, as usual, if you don't agree or don't get any value from this post that is great! No harm no foul. But please keep your comments kind. Rude comments will be deleted. From here and from Facebook...