a mustang recently and, though cute as a button and sweet as she is kind, she
does have some nastly little behaviors most of which I have found help to fix
but this one seems to baffle me. When we are riding her and rein her to the right
and ONLY to the right (she never does it while reining left) she turns enough
to bite at your feet (we can only wear steel toe boots to ride her). At first
it was a little scary but once you get to know her it could be manageable.
for all you do. Kris.
horse is a network of reflexes and reflex chains. That means that they often do
something physical as a reflex action, an automatic physical response. I discuss
this in detail in several of my books and even have a reflex map that shows certain
areas and describes what the action will be if the horse is touched in a certain
way in various areas.
In fact, I've posted an excerpt
on reflexes from one of my books, along with a map.
we train horses, we need to over-ride some reflexes completely, moderate others
and almost eliminate some. Other reflexes, we don't want to alter as they are
necessary for a horse's survival.
But in general,
if a horse over-reacts (especially in a dangerous way) to a certain touch or action,
the best thing to do is to repeat that action over and over until the horse becomes
accustomed to it, thereby reacting less.
example of tempering a reflex is the simple lesson of sacking out a horse to a
saddle blanket. At first it is the horse's natural reflex action to get away from
the touch and sight of the monster and the horse might pull away, swerve, rear,
duck its head or back or any number of evasive behaviors. If we patiently and
fairly touch the horse with the blanket, flap it, and increase the intensity and
duration, the horse gets used to the blanket and the reflex reactions diminish
With your horse, there is something
physical that triggers the biting response to the right. It could be pressure
on the withers from the saddle, pressure against the ribs from the rider's leg
or the cinch or any number of other tack related things that occur when the horse
bends. Horses often react differently on the left and right. If it were my horse,
I'd assess the horse's behavior fully tacked up but without a rider mounted. Do
some bending exercises in hand and see if you can mimic the right turn. If the
horse doesn't overbend and bite, then perhaps it is the weight of the rider in
the saddle that is causing the pressure that initiates the reflex. You will have
to do some detective work, trial and error, and perhaps enlist the help of a friend
so one of you can be mounted and the other handle the horse from the ground. Eventually
I am confident that you will narrow it down to a particular reflex response. The
and accompanying text will help you look for certain actions in relation to
certain areas. Then you help your horse overcome his extreme reaction by repetition
and daily review.
I'd be very interested in what you
discover and conclude.
Best of luck and have fun with