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Training Tip of the Week: Mouthy Horse Tip – Prevention is better than cure

The best way to handle a horse that gets mouthy is to never let the problem develop in the first place. Horses that get mouthy are often bored and looking for attention. The more you work with your horse, moving his feet forwards, backwards, left and right, the more he’ll use the thinking side of his brain and the more respectful he’ll get. A horse that respects your space doesn’t lip on you; he stays out of your personal hula hoop space unless you invite him in. You also need to be careful that you’re not encouraging the horse to be mouthy. People often make this mistake with young horses like foals and weanlings. Because they’re small, they allow the foal to nuzzle them, play with their shirt, etc. Then when the foal grows up to be a 1,200-pound pushy, disrespectful horse, they wonder where they went wrong.

Don’t wait until the horse gets mouthy to do the groundwork; start earning his respect and attention before a problem shows up. I personally never lead my horses to where I’m going. Instead, I back them up, practice sidepassing, do the C-Pattern, etc., moving their feet forwards, backwards, left and right. I never waste an opportunity to teach my horses something. The busier you keep a horse’s feet and the more you keep him mentally stimulated, the less mouthy he will be. Remember, horses that are mouthy are searching for interaction, so give them your attention by moving their feet.