My miniature horse foal keeps biting, bucking, rearing and jumping up. He is a 4 month old foal. I plan to geld him, but our vet said to wait until he is 1 year, so it won’t harm his growth.
Hershey wants to bite and chew on EVERYTHING. He has toys in the yard that he can play with, but I seldom see him using them. We have a pet goat who lives with him and his mother, and he is often seen chewing on her legs and tail (she has bite marks to prove it) I try to enforce the no-bite rule when I am around him by pushing his head away and tapping him on the muzzle, but when I leave for the day, there isn’t anyone to stop him.
Also, when I turn my back to him, he will often run up behind me and rear/kick me. He also does this to his mother by jumping up and placing his hooves right below her withers.
He is a very smart foal, catches on very easily and loves to please me. He let me take his halter on and off him at 5 days old and would move back and to the side with pressure too, but now he is so focused on biting or chewing on me that when I ask him to do something, he ignores my signals.
On a different hoof, when his mother goes to roll in the dirt, she finds it very difficult because he jumps over her. I have often had to hold him still so she can roll, because I am worried that he will tangle his legs with hers.
Is this a stage, or is it a habit??? And how would I be able to fix it and make him behave? Would gelding him early help? I am supposed to show him in showmanship this year.
First I want to be sure that you know how to search here on this blog and on my website for information related to Biting and other horse behavior and training topics.
For example, here on this blog, you can type Biting in the Search box at the top of the page or in the right hand column. It will bring up a list of articles here that talk about horses that bite. For example
You can also go to the article page on my main website www.horsekeeping.com where there are many more articles. On that page, you can see all of the articles by title, so the fastest way to find what you want is to go to the Behavior category and scroll down to the articles on Biting.
For example, besides the one on the miniatures that bite children, there are the following articles:
Now, to your questions specifically. It is generally a stage that colts (male foals) go through. If a biting horse is dabbed at or played with, or if you lightly tap his nose to tell him no, in many cases it tends to encourage play biting which is a socially acceptable behavior between horses.
You need to make sure your foal knows in no uncertain terms that you are top on the pecking order and biting is not an acceptable behavior.
You also need to set up regular handling sessions so that he learns to respect your personal space. This means 2-3 sessions per day every day – the sessions don’t have to be long – they could be 5-20 minutes each but should be structured. The articles I suggest above and other articles on my website will help with that.
As far as limiting his biting when you are not handling him or near him, that would be difficult. You can deter his biting of certain things like wood rails by coating them with a No Chew product, but that’s a big world out there, so while he is at this stage, perhaps teething, you should focus on his good manners when he is being handled and when you are near him when he is loose.
In terms of gelding him, here is a thorough discussion of why a horse is gelded, when, and aftercare. You should follow your own veterinarian’s advice as to when to geld but do know that many horses are gelding “early” which means before they are a year old – even at weaning – with good results and no negative effects. I don’t want to advise you on that as I can’t see your horse. Your veterinarian has the best picture of your horses, management and so on.
Best of luck and remember, there is no substitute for thorough regular effective handling.