Bad Habits You (and Your Horse) Can Live Without!


Posted on March 1st, by sciences in Right from the Start. 2 comments

By Cindy Morehead, instructor, The University of Findlay Western Farm

As much as you may love your horse, you have to dispense some discipline to keep him from developing or continuing bad habits.  Poor equine behavior can be more than just annoying; it can be dangerous in some cases.  Some of the most common undesirable habits include:

(1) Biting – Yes, some horses just seem to be “born to bite.”  Stallions tend to be nippy and some high-strung breeds may have more of a tendency to chomp on you than others.  Sometimes, too much interaction can encourage biting.  It’s best not to play “kissy face” with your horse as it just gives him more opportunity to become aggressive.  Hand-fed treats can also inspire biting in some horses, so drop treats into your feed bucket instead.

Make sure you tie your horse when grooming, again to give him less opportunity to grab you!  Horses have personalities just like people.  Some “bullies” will charge at you, scraping their teeth on the front of the stall.  You can break them of biting if you really get after them.  Putting a chain on your halter and rattling it when your horse tries to bite is effective.  Avoid slapping, as some horses see it as some kind of game.

horse close up

They always look so innocent!

(2) Cribbing – Cribbing is compulsive behavior that causes the horse to brace his front teeth on a hard object (like a board, fence or stall door) pull back; arch his neck and suck in air.  There are a lot of theories on what causes cribbing, including boredom, stress, indigestion, and anxiety.  It was thought that cribbing could contribute to colic, but now it seems that both cribbing and colic may come from the same origin, like poor nutrition or a stressful environment.  We do know that cribbing occurs more often in horses kept in their stalls for long periods of time, so it’s always better to provide pasture time when possible.  I also recommend more numerous feedings, so your horse has something to do in the middle of the day.  Cribbing straps or muzzles can also work in extreme cases.

(3) Wood Chewing – Unlike cribbing, the horse doesn’t suck in air, but actually eats the wood of his stall, pasture fence, etc.  Again, horses with plenty of exercise and pasture time don’t usually develop this habit.  Owners of “chewers” can paint a special bitter-tasting liquid on the wood, or cover boards with metal.

(4) Pawing – We’re not sure any horse has dug his way to China, but some have been able to put pretty big holes in their stalls and pastures!  Pawing, again, is usually the result of boredom and/or impatience.  Rubber mats can help and some horse owners have even put motorcycle tires on surfaces to block the pawing behavior.  If your horse starts pawing while waiting for his feed. . . feed him first so he doesn’t have time to show his impatience.

If your horse has one or more bad habits, or if you have managed to correct a few, let us know!





  • Pingback: Bad Habits You (and Your Horse) Can Live Without! | Oiler Blogs | Horse Health Tips | Scoop.it

  • Kelsea S.

    This is great advice! I have a bad habbit I would like to ask about…
    Ive leaved a 3 year old Arabian mare for about a year now. She was a rescue and we are not sure what all she went through, but I don’t “baby” her because of it. She is excellent at learning and very quick to pick things up. She is respectful on the ground and free lounges without leaving me. With all of this she has one very negative thing. When she is put into a stall she paces along a wall pretty much 24/7. She does it the worst when there is any activity in the barn. When she is outside she doesnt do it at all. I noticed she does it by the wall that the closest horse is at. We aren’t sure is she is closterfobic, stressed, scarred or what.

    I did one thing that seemed to calm her down. When she paced I would create a pressure but running up and when she walked away from the wall I would back off, giving her space. She would lick her lips and stand there for a little bit. But doing this all the time is not practical. She is worked every other day and is outside for about 4 hours every other day.

    Does anyone have any input or advice on how we might be able to break her of this. We are afraid it is almost like weaving, where once they start doing it they mostly do it for life.



From the Blog

Wondering what it's really like to be at The University of Findlay? Follow our bloggers and read—and sometimes listen and watch—their experiences. Real Oilers. Real stories. Real life.

Goodbyes and Good Food!

Our last week in Japan went by super fast. The first half of the week consisted of saying our goodbyes to everyone at Rakuno...

Tokyo, Tomoya and Tomoki!

Our last three days in Japan were spent sight seeing and shopping around in Tokyo. Tokyo is a humongous city!!...

Week 2 at Rakuno Gakuen University

Our second week is done and was full of some new adventures and experiences in the animal clinic at Rakuno Gakuen University. While working...

An appetite for adventure!

(Editor’s Note: Madison is on a summer study tour for pre-veterinary medicine students at Rakuno Gakuen University in Ebetsu, Hokkaido, Japan. The University of...

What a year!

I have just finished one of the best years of my life! Finishing my first year of college feels amazing and quite an accomplishment....

Saying Goodbye

A couple weeks ago I closed my last show at Findlay.  It was bittersweet, as have been all the goodbyes I’ve said.  I know...

It’s Crunch Time!

 

The year has been winding down quickly! It feels like just yesterday I was moving in, meeting my roommate, unpacking my stuff, and saying...

Graduation Bucketlist

Over the course of four years it’s tough to keep track of all the things you’ve done and the things still left to do...

A Weekend in Orlando

This spring, a group of Findlay pharmacy students and faculty had the opportunity to travel down to Orlando, FL for the national American Pharmacists...

SSC

What would you say to a whole day off of classes, free food everywhere, plus students and faculty getting awards and showing...

Grief and You

Letting go is never easy, no matter how much it may be necessary.  There is no easy way to say goodbye to people and...

It’s never too early to get experience

Meet Amber Dingeldein, Findlay’s Best!

So, you must get to know the most useful resource on campus that I discovered — the Internships...

Kid Sitting

Most of our time in the animal handling class is spent working with the baby goats (kids) — giving them shots and...

You’ve Been Pranked

I learned a valuable lesson last weekend — don’t leave your friends unattended in your room and do not leave your door unlocked! (Also,...

Students Have All The Fun!

It is hard to find a college like Findlay that has so many fun activities going on all the time for students to attend!...