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3 mth old pony colt biting and/or grabbing lead rope

Hi, so my pony colt grabs for the lead rope mostly in slow motion while leading out to the field with mom.
Mostly, it’s trying to grab the lead rope and grabs me by accident OR also will just bite me.
I’m not thrilled with him grabbing the lead because of rein grabbing later. I get after him every time and he is fine for a bit but then is at it again. It’s getting to the point where it’s a struggle just getting out to the field without getting mauled and in an argument.
He also flings his head back to the right and bites himself behind his shoulder while we are walking out to the field. I’ve never seen him do it any other time.
He will get gelded so I’m hoping that helps but in the mean time give me some hope and suggestions.
I look like a heroin user with all the bruises up and down my arms. :woman_facepalming:

When he goes to reach for the lead, flip it a little so the snap bops him in the chin. That way you’re not punishing him or making a game out of it. He’ll get the picture.

Yeah, I can sometimes do that. I also keep a loop in the rope and as he’s reaching for it I can flip the rope and bop him in the nose so the rope punishes him. :laughing:
I can’t wait for his between the legs brain surgery!


What if you use a shank that has some chain at the end? Not so fun to clank teeth with metal.

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Gelding may but probably will not help this behavior - many geldings do it too and it’s super dangerous. Some horses grow out of being mouthy but others don’t.

I like the suggestion of using the metal on the lead rope to discourage him but like with anything r timing is key. I’m curious as well about the COTH’s think tank suggestions…

I always play with their mouth until it irritates them and they stop the game. First couple times take time to really irritate them and then it gets shorter each time.


I did something similar with Max, my young colt who has been all mouth. He’d walk up with the intent of putting his mouth on you at days old. Mom flattens him when he bites her too much but people were fair game. At about a week old after trying gentler approaches and not succeeding I managed to grab his bottom jaw when he reached for me and held on as he tossed his hand and backed up. I didn’t try to prevent him from backing up but I did manage to get him backed into a corner. After his was sure he was going to die I let go. This got the message through and he’s been much more respectful with his mouth. Now when he needs a reminder I can gently grab and hold his nose/chin and he stops and goes oh yeah, I wasn’t supposed to do that, and is good for a while. He hasn’t gotten head shy at all. So you might have to get more firm with yours, depending on his personality. I think mine would find flipping the lead rope or chain a great game. Hopefully brain surgery helps, I’m debating when mine will need it.


I have a 2-year-old who was gelded very early. He is pretty mellow in general but whenever he was annoying as a yearling it was usually mouthiness related. I learned that I couldn’t discipline him for mouthiness by doing anything anywhere near his mouth–he always took it as an invitation/challenge (like a young male horse naturally would, I guess) and it always escalated things. Once I figured out that to discipline him I needed to literally move backward along his body (usually backing him up with pressure or even a smack on his chest or shoulder) he responded to the discipline much more productively and is really hardly mouthy at all anymore. (The no-nonsense mares he lives with also helped.)

When we had a mouthy young colt who was also getting hard to lead, I looped the long cotton rope around his mother’s neck with him on her right (offside) to lead and she (driving horse) pulled him along. She would reach back if he thought to bite or mouth on her! He planted all four hooves, got skidded forward! She didn’t stop or slow down, so he started moving forward again pretty quickly because getting dragged was no fun! She stopped him with the rope as he tried to run ahead, a bit of a surprise there! With colt on her right side, I was safely out of his range to not get hurt on the mare’s left side.

It seemed to be a stage of development, after a couple weeks of his mom leading him, he went back to being his usual nice self, leading in hand with no mouth or disobedience issues. The two colts, one month apart, both went thru this “you can’t make me!” attitude at separate times. Both learned mom COULD move them, prevent running off and did NOT tolerate getting bit with his shiny new teeth!

We think it helped having two that could play together, chew on each other as they learned new things. But at times you have to take a hard line in discipline to keep yourself safe. Any chain leads were always run OVER the nose. Horse learns to move away from pressure. Chain under the chin encourages rearing, a very bad thing to learn!! Chain over the nose gets head down easier, lets you back them up as the disciplinary action. Backing away from you is submitting to authority.

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I think that’s my next step. I’ll let you know what the lil sh!t thinks! :laughing:

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When we bought a 2yr filly that was feral until then, her automatic response to anything she didn’t like was biting. Not that I like doing it, but what we ended up doing was hitting her in the teeth. When she tried biting, at first we left the biting alone because her reaction was legitimate, but when she had no reason to bite, all it took was ten times, and then she stopped. She never got headshy. When I say hit, I am not meaning boxing her face, but a smart hit will make them think twice. many times when she didn’t like something. I would be in the way. At first, the biting was out of fear, but then it became a bad and dangerous habit, especially when kids and non horse people were around. With a young horse, I would leave it as a last resort.

I do this too, it definitely works. The mouthiness is them trying to engage, just in an inappropriate way, so it acknowledges that they need attention while making the attention they get from being mouthy annoying. They put two and two together and find more polite ways to interact pretty quickly.


My 2 yr old is extremely mouthy and at this point I have just accepted that it is a personality trait and nothing I am going to do is going to break him of this habit. He knows he isn’t supposed to mouth - he just lacks self control and I suspect it’s almost a pathological need at this point. Everything goes in his mouth. If he can reach it, it is in his mouth. I have just accepted that he needs a pacifier of some sort and I keep hoping that at some point, he will outgrow it.

I do correct him if he gets out of hand, but if i tie him up, he has his mouth on everything. He is either chewing on the lead rope, or he has his mouth on the fence or on something… It’s this constant obsession with chewing or touching something with his mouth. And he’s the same way in the field. He ripped up my sand bags for erosion control, shredded the blankets that protect the trees from getting frozen, took a bite out of my trailer window and disconnected the wires to the trailer brake controller. Tried to eat my rubber mats in the horse trailer, managed to shred my raincoat hanging in the barn… If it is not tied down, it’s either carried away or destroyed. He loves to play with lunge whips so now I have a collection of them because he destroys them.

Pain or injury is not going to correct him- he put his mouth on the metal wire fencing the other day, hooked his teeth and pulled back and I’m pretty sure that hurt based his reaction, but I guarantee he will be right back to putting his mouth on things like it never happened. And he was mouthing the hot wire- so he definitely learned the hard way about that. Is it going to stop him? Probably not.

Mentally he is a little child in a great big body. At some point he will mature (hopefully!). I really should have named him Curious George, but he knows his name so I’m not changing it now.

I did climb on him today and we did our first walking ride under saddle and he was absolutely fine with all that. He can be very good and he tries so I just have to coexist with his quirks. He is a fun horse because he is nearly fearless and super curious about everything. He will also be the most destructive horse I own because nothing is safe from his mouth.

Thankfully he doesn’t really bite- he mouths and may nip you by mistake but it’s not that he is intentionally going for you. He is just reaching for whatever you happen to be holding at the time and if he gets you, it’s more of an oops.

He is a total clown and you just have to have a sense of humor with him because he just wants to play, play, play.

He will also play tag with me out in the field - like that one scene in the black stallion movie. He thinks that’s fabulous fun. As long as he minds his manners I’m okay with that.

You want to work on manners without being so rough on them you terrify them.

Gelding did not improve anything- you do want to establish some boundaries and have a correction cue and teach a word like “drop it” or “leave it” similar to the way you would correct a puppy for grabbing your shoes. I often carry a whip with me and he is much better if he sees me carrying it. Use the whip to establish space so he isn’t in your bubble where he can reach you to bite.

3 months isn’t very old so hopefully time and socialization with other horses will help.

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Well, we had to have a Come to Jesus meeting.
He bit me in the boob no real damage but boy there are colors I’ve never seen before.

He’s been better since and he’s never to bite me again or we’re going to have a problem.

Ugh, colts :woman_facepalming:


Bummer! Those bites hurt! Hopefully it sticks. I think sometimes the boys need to have their life flash before their eyes before they get through their thick heads that biting is not acceptable. I know my mare flattened my colt when he bit her too hard and I haven’t seen him do it since.


Most of my mouthy baby colts outgrew it at weaning. It doesn’t always happen, but a lot of stupid colt tricks go away when they gain some humility after losing mom. Sometimes mouthiness is related to teeth coming in and some mouth pain, so I while I don’t allow it in a foal, I don’t come down on them with wrath of God either. I am very fair and consistent with what is and isn’t allowed. On yearling and older colts I may use a chiffney when leading so they have something in the mouth to think about (other than my limbs).

Over weaning age, I have two methods. 1) excessive interaction, play with the muzzle so much they learn to hate it. 2) for an honest-to-goodness intentional BITE (not accidental lips), I live by the John Lyons technique that you have “3 seconds to kill them.” Punch, hit, kick, strike, throw things, yell, scream, ATTACK the horse anywhere but the eyes, but ONLY for three seconds. After three seconds you act like nothing ever happened. No grudge, no hostility after 3 seconds, totally neutral. Realistically you cannot severely injure a 1200lb animal in 3 seconds, so make it count…make the horse believe you can and will kill him, that biting is a capital offense, because an intentional bite is a choice, not an accident, and that choice should have dire consequences.


I didn’t realize this was a John Lyons method but I heard it years ago and have been using it since. Works like a dream with young ones (sometimes the older ones fight back if they’ve been mistreated :confused:).

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I have used this method many times. I never heard of the punch, kick, throw things , attack anywhere direction though? Just more like lead rope to the chest and yell for 3 seconds like a maniac kind of thing( which I always did).

Very successful.

Did his son add the new ones? He does things very differently than dear old dad. I happened to see one of his trailer loading videos. No way. I will stick with John’s.

My preferred method. It’s almost impossible to do damage that way, though I have been known to manage to thump myself with the thick end of the leadrope a few times in the process.


Ha Ha. Me as well :wink:

I always figured I needed a tune up too.

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