“Hi Stacy, I’m getting a 2 year old stallion who is head shy and nips (a lot, as in every 5 seconds or so…) I’ve worked with head shy horses before but was wondering if you had any tips since he is a stallion. I’ve been watching your video diaries of jac and you really emphasize space. Usually I just get in their space and annoy them until they get bored and realize I’m not going to hurt them. Any tips would be awesome. I’ve had 6 years of training experience but have not worked a lot with stallions. Thanks :)”-Megan H.
I know this is just an internet opinion but here are my thoughts:
I see two different issues in your writing; head shy and biting. You mention that you have had success in the past when working with head shy horses. It is a short description but I pretty much agree with the idea that you outline. Here is the catch though: what will you do if that same horse bites you?
At that point you will need to either allow or correct the biting…and you will need to correct it.
My guess is that his head shy issue comes from one of two things: other humans correcting his biting or other HORSES correcting the habit. Both will cause him to be head shy as he chooses to continue biting. It is often part of the biting game that is often strongly driven by hormones.
When you watch me work with Jac, I keep my space to help break the habit of biting. During that time period (lets say a few weeks) the stallion has the opportunity to learn to interact in a different way and I don’t have to deal with bite-correct-bite-correct-bite-correct cycle. I keep my space, he keeps his, and he gets a chance to learn new habits.
As he gets more educated I will move in closer. At some point I will have to deal directly with the bite-correct cycle but my own personal opinion is that I don’t deal with it for very long. Part of my stallions being allowed to stay stallions is that they need to understand their boundaries. Once they have had an opportunity to learn I make my decision. Newt was right around his second birthday when I gelded him because he was mouthy. He is a nice horse and I could have tried harder but I would have been battling hormones and doing lots of corrections. Even turned out with my gelding, Popcorn, he would nip and nip and nip until Popcorn wanted to kill him. Mouthy studs can even drive other equines crazy!
There are lots of great stallions out there but there is nothing wrong with a great gelding.