Poochlover11

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Okay horse people, I recently started a job where I am working with horses (picking stalls, feeding, walking to and from the round pen, etc). I have had some horse experience before this, but not tons. I work with all kinds of horses from miniatures, to draft horses, from mares to stallions. My main concern is working with the stallions. I have heard before that stallions are known for biting and I am wondering what are the signs they display before they bite?

For example, I was picking the stall of a somewhat high strung stallion. I had pulled the cart up to the front of the pen and was in the back of his pen racking up some poo. He had gone to the front to sniff the poo that was already in the cart. And when I went to the front to put the poo in the cart he turned his head and had his top lip up in the air showing his teeth. Now I know stallions do this to smell mares and such, but it kind of freaked me out when as I was trying to get around him he had his lip raised like that at me. Should I have been worried, or was he just smelling? What's the best way to deal with stallions and what should you do if one attempts to bite you?

Thanks guys! Any stallion advice would be appreciated!
 

Tobysgirl81

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He was smelling the feces. The funny face he's pulling helps funnel the smells from his notrils to his vomeronasal organ to process all the smells, hormones, etc.

To be honest, the best thing you can do with a stallion is treat him with the same expectations you would any other horse. Would you let a mare come at you threateningly? Would you let a gelding pin his ears at you? Hell to the no. So don't let the stallions do it either. They ARE horses, even if they still have their brain tumors attached (no offense to any of the men on this board). If they come at you ready to bite, be ready to "bite back". A good growling "HEY! NO!" and and a swat can make the difference between getting run over by a horse and not.

I once said to someone, and meant it, you never know how many mares are between you and your destination until you're leading a stallion. Unless they're dead broke to the world (which some well trained stallions are) always use a stud chain when leading, and make sure they're paying attention to you. No yelling, no jigging, no acting like a jerk. Be firm, be consistent, and you'll be fine.

The only other thing I can add, is I'm sure they'll be some debate over whether or not to hit a horse. Don't BEAT the horse, but lay down the rules with them. Looking at a horse in a herd situation, if they infringe on each other's personal space they get a warning (tail swish, ears pinned, squeal, whatever) and if they don't back off they get bit/kicked/whatevered. If you establish where your personal space is and remain consistent in how you react, all the horses you work with will learn to respect it.

Just my two cents. I'm sure someone else will refute it.
 
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That's called the Flehmen response:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flehmen_response

It's not a sign of biting (although my one horse does that repeatedly right before he colicks every. single. time.).

As far as biting goes...I really wouldn't worry about it too much unless the horse is known for such behavior. Don't get hung up on the horse being a stallion either. My own stallion is gentle as a kitten, my mare on the other hand can be mean as a snake. My stud gives pony rides to toddlers and hangs out in the aisleway with mares right next to him with no issues. I wouldn't let a kid on my mare if my life depended on it (boy can she jump though!).

Signs of biting I guess would be the same as any aggression. Pinned ears, evil glares, angry swishing of the tail, cocked hind legs, etc. You're more likely to get kicked by a horse then bit I'd say. I've owned and shown horses since I was 5 and can count on one hand the number of times I've been bit intentionally (excluding accidental nips during carrot time).
 

Poochlover11

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Ahahaha! That pics pretty funny-poor dog, definately not his day.

Thanks for all the info guys. I'm more familiar with cattle then horses, but I know with any animal it's important to show who is boss. I just don't totally understand horses yet, and for some reason (which isn't terribly logical) I feel like if I am assertive with some horses that that would give them a reason to bite. And I feel a little wary everytime I walk behind a horse to pick poo cause I don't want to get kicked (I mean logically I know they wouldn't kick me without a reason, I'm just not totally comfy around horses yet).

I find though the more I work with them the more I understand their behavior. And when I am calm, they are calm. Horses are just totally different then cattle. One plus is that they can't kick to the side like cattle though! :thumbup:

Anyways, thanks for all the info guys :). Keep it coming if you have more !
 

chyactnate

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I have nothing to add to what has been said but Poochlover I Love you avatar...sooo funny. It made my night!!! LOL
 

Poochlover11

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I have nothing to add to what has been said but Poochlover I Love you avatar...sooo funny. It made my night!!! LOL

Hahaha! No problem! I remember seeing it as a t-shirt design online and thought....genius.
 

cowgirla

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One plus is that they can't kick to the side like cattle though! :thumbup:

Ooooh, you'd be surprised the directioons some horses can kick in. Don't relax too much, no matter where you happen to be standing!

As for the stud thing, the nicest horse I ever broke was a 3 year old paint stud. I just wanted to put him in my pocket and take him home. Total sweetheart, nothing phased him.

Like others said, don't think about the genitals. Treat him like any other horse, make him respect you, and you'll be fine.

I'll take a stud or gelding over a mare any day :laugh:
 

eventualeventer

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There are a few rare horses who are complete pills and regard any discipline as the start of a fight, but most horses back down if you make yourself louder, scarier, and/or more annoying than they are. :D

Poochlover, that is not irrational. It doesn't matter whether you are working on the horse or not, you should ALWAYS be careful around a horse's hind end. I have almost gotten kicked while cleaning paddocks and stalls because the horse decided to snark at their neighbor and kick out or kicked at a fly. It had nothing to do with what I was doing, but I almost received collateral damage from their normal daily activities.

Particularly if you work with the same horses regularly, you can train them to be respectful of people cleaning stalls -- they need to be respectful and mindful of people in general because they can hurt us without even meaning to. If they just stand there eating and move when asked, it's not an issue and I don't get in their face or ask them to do anything. If a horse wants to walk around or stand in my way while I am cleaning, I ask them to move over and stand against the wall. If they move, I'll sometimes use my (plastic) pitchfork to kind of guide them into place. I don't hit them with it, but I'll wave it at waist height a little in front of a horse that wants to walk forward and step in my muck tub and tell them to "stand". It doesn't take a rocket surgeon horse to figure out what I want after a couple mild corrections.

One plus is that they can't kick to the side like cattle though!
:laugh: Sorry, not being mean, but don't bet on it. They may not be as bad as cattle, but the term "cow kick" has been used for many a rank horse! Not that I blame the horse (I would kick if I were branded, too!), but here's a video of a horse taking out a guy standing next to the horse's hindquarters.
 

Poochlover11

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Ooooh, you'd be surprised the directioons some horses can kick in. Don't relax too much, no matter where you happen to be standing!

So they can kick to the side? Bummer :( I'll keep that in mind for sure.
 

Barnsey27

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Hahaha, that video is horrible!! It makes me forget why I love working with these high strung animals!

A few other suggestions: if you are very nervous about working around any horse, ask the owner or trainer at the barn you're working at for some hands-on advice for moving around horses and making them respect you. People who have been around horses for a long time tend to forget that there are people that have had little experience! Ask the barn manager to show you what he/she does with the stallions and voice any concerns you may have.

One other suggestion, if you're ever in a stall with a horse that starts freaking out for whatever reason (you know horses, something that wasn't scary a second ago can become terrifying in T-10 milliseconds), try to move with them and stay right next to their shoulder as they circle, buck, whatever. I witnessed a trainer tack up a horse and didn't realize the horse's rib was broken (it had a winter coat, couldn't tell), and he tightened the girth and the horse freaked and spun in the stall bucking and tearing around like crazy and the guy wasn't even hurt because he just kept his hand on her shoulder and moved with her until she calmed down. You get into trouble if you get stuck in a corner or stuck behind them.

Good luck! Horses are great, just keep at it!
 

Poochlover11

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Hey thanks Event for the info and vid. Geez, I am glad you guys are telling me this stuff. I thought I was safe standing to the side of a horse. Guess not.
 

Poochlover11

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Hahaha, that video is horrible!! It makes me forget why I love working with these high strung animals!

A few other suggestions: if you are very nervous about working around any horse, ask the owner or trainer at the barn you're working at for some hands-on advice for moving around horses and making them respect you. People who have been around horses for a long time tend to forget that there are people that have had little experience! Ask the barn manager to show you what he/she does with the stallions and voice any concerns you may have.

One other suggestion, if you're ever in a stall with a horse that starts freaking out for whatever reason (you know horses, something that wasn't scary a second ago can become terrifying in T-10 milliseconds), try to move with them and stay right next to their shoulder as they circle, buck, whatever. I witnessed a trainer tack up a horse and didn't realize the horse's rib was broken (it had a winter coat, couldn't tell), and he tightened the girth and the horse freaked and spun in the stall bucking and tearing around like crazy and the guy wasn't even hurt because he just kept his hand on her shoulder and moved with her until she calmed down. You get into trouble if you get stuck in a corner or stuck behind them.

Good luck! Horses are great, just keep at it!
Thanks for the advice! I'll def keep that in mind if I get into a sticky situation.

And I agree horses are pretty great, I am starting to really like them! We had a percheron a while back and it was incredible! When I was standing next to it in the pen it's withers were higher then the top of my head! It was like being in the pen with a dinosaur.

PS-and I am relatively tall for a girl-5'9''
 

eventualeventer

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Nope, the only safe position near a horse? On the other side of a thick stall wall. :p I say that lovingly, because I love working with horses, but you have to look out for yourself.
 

CanadianGolden

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While I agree that being assertive and confident with any horse is important, I disagree with the "show them who is boss" mentality (and that goes for any animal, not just horses). It's an antiquated concept and really not appropriate for dogs, cats, or equines. Cows I can't comment on as I don't have much experience with them. None of this alpha roll, intimidation, etc.

Honestly I think your situation sounds unsafe. If you are not an experienced horse handler I don't think it's acceptable for your employer to allow you to work unsupervised in a stall with a loose stallion who is known for being flighty. That is a job for someone who is very familiar and comfortable with horses and preferably stallion handling. I would hate for you to be injured because you were in over your head. Maybe more training is needed from your boss before you're left alone with the stallions?
 

AbbyNormal

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A couple of years ago my neighbor's horses kept getting loose and coming to my farm. Three of the four were sweet but one wanted to kick my butt. He charged at me and was ready to run me down until I threw my arms in the air and yelled. He stomped my dog and I don't mean kicked I mean stomped and all I could do was throw my horse's play ball at him and he ran off bucking. I got my lunge whip and he respected the whip. Didn't hit him just waved it at him. He moved away from it and I was able to maneuver him into an empty field. I would not have wanted to worked with him in a stall.
 
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Ooooh, you'd be surprised the directioons some horses can kick in. Don't relax too much, no matter where you happen to be standing!
Yeah, that's why they call it "cow kicking." Not all horses do it, but the ones who figure out how to "round house" with a hind leg are especially evil.

Still, I wouldn't worry about it too much. If there's a horse like that, they'll most likely be aggressive from the time you enter the stall and I would hope someone would have warned you about them already.

Good luck!
 

Poochlover11

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Honestly I think your situation sounds unsafe. If you are not an experienced horse handler I don't think it's acceptable for your employer to allow you to work unsupervised in a stall with a loose stallion who is known for being flighty. That is a job for someone who is very familiar and comfortable with horses and preferably stallion handling. I would hate for you to be injured because you were in over your head. Maybe more training is needed from your boss before you're left alone with the stallions?

Ya, it's not the most ideal situation-but the rest of the stallions are fairly well behaved and I have had some horses experience before. What I like to do is feed them while I clean the pen. The guy I usually work with is pretty knowledgeable, so I will talk to him about further advice for handling troublesome horses.

Thanks for all the advice and stories guys! Much appreciated! :)
 
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AbbyNormal

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What I like to do them is feed them before I clean so they are distracted.
Feed them and let them finish before you are in the stalls, right? My gelding is a big baby and I can handle him while he is eating but some horses are very protective of their food.

I hope you don't have to clean any sheaths. Fun, Fun. :rolleyes:
 

Poochlover11

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Feed them and let them finish before you are in the stalls, right? My gelding is a big baby and I can handle him while he is eating but some horses are very protective of their food.

I hope you don't have to clean any sheaths. Fun, Fun. :rolleyes:

Lol, it's the routine they are use to. While I pick the stalls they eat (that's what everybody who works here does). If I waited to feed them till after I was done cleaning they would get really obnoxious/impatient while I was cleaning.
 

smilin1590

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One plus is that they can't kick to the side like cattle though!
Unfortunately not true :( I used to ride a mare who when she was standing in her stall, standing on the cross ties, outside, being ridden, etc would always "Cow kick" I can't tell you how careful I had to be picking this mare's feet LOL! I was actually riding her one time and passing shoulder to shoulder with another horse and rider...needless to say she kicked that horse. She really was the worst and made my riding life a living hell for a short time...until I bought my paint GELDING. Moral of the story, horses can kick to the side so please be careful I don't want you to get hurt

I'll take a stud or gelding over a mare any day :laugh:
Agreed cowgirla, I love my 3 geldings LOL!:love:
 

Poochlover11

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Don't get hung up on the horse being a stallion either. My own stallion is gentle as a kitten, my mare on the other hand can be mean as a snake.
You aren't kidding! Man I thought stallions were my main concern, but I had a mare today that was an absolute pill!

She was in the pen with her newly born colt and she made it clear she didn't want me anywhere near her baby. But the problem was that her little fuzz ball kept going to the front to check out my poo cart-right where I needed to be. The mare would snake out her neck with her ears back when I came to the front to put poo in the cart. Anytime she came anywhere near me I said in a loud voice "Get back!," and even had to whack her a few times to keep her away from me.

:( Not a fun experience.