Horses Chew – But on You?

Horses Chew – But on You?

By John Silveira

Horses chew, we all know that, but if you’ve ever watched horses out in pasture they’ll perform types of grooming and bonding rituals with their teeth. Take a look sometimes and you’ll notice many times horses standing together while one is almost seemingly biting the flesh of the other. They’ll grab a little bunch of flesh and in a careful way kind of nip away with a little tug of the skin. This is very common and it’s a cooperative event where one horse allows the other. I’m quite sure I wouldn’t discourage such behavior amongst horses.

Now we (humans) come along and from day one we teach our horses- even from babies- not to bite. At the slightest indication the young horse is nipping us we’ll most likely retaliate with a little swat on the horses nose to discourage such a thing.

We spend a lot of time with horses; wouldn’t you suspect perhaps these wonderful sensitive animals would perhaps want to bond with us just as well? They’re practically like family aren’t they? Didn’t the Arab horses of old (maybe still) actually live in the houses of some people? Well yes. So why are we discouraging – well obviously having a horse even a baby horse come up to us and nip us on the neck just doesn’t make life pleasurable to say the least. Ok- so what’s the point, there is one.

The point is I’ve seen and worked with horses that were full of anxiety due to not being allowed to “Bond” with us. The urge for horses to nibble on us in a bonding way I believe is very strong. The point is rather than smacking your horse on the nose discouraging him and pushing him away perhaps we should find a way to be permissive of such horse behavior. But how is the question right? – Are you now thinking that perhaps I let my horses and other horses nibble on me? YES! I DO. I actually feed the side of my hand “Baby finger side” into a horse’s mouth palm facing up.

You’ll be amazed how many horses take the bait and commence with the nibbling. (Insert laughter here).

Here’s an example: I was called out on a job one day to shoe a horse, it was my first appointment with this horse. When I approached I immediately noticed the horse was full of tension and to a degree I’d never seen before. What puzzled me was there was no apparent reason for it, it was just part of his demeanor. Needless to say I was quite surprised by the behavior. To make a long story short when I fed this horse the side of my hand he took it and just practically melted right before my eyes, the tension just nearly completely dissipating. It was obvious this horse had been denied this urge to bond for quite some time, perhaps always.

Now by contrast I have been with other horses that when I encourage the nibbling behavior their reaction is one of almost “Fear” and panic! Obviously residual from being smacked anytime any part of the human body comes in contact with their mouth other than if there is “Food or a Bit” in hand. A pretty sad event when you think about it. The horse has the urge to bond and it gets beaten back by unsuspecting human beings. The horse literally filled with joy.

Ok – here is a word of caution if you’re intending to discover and pursue this for yourself. Some horses are so full of anxiety over being denied this that when you do first start to feed the side of your palm to them they’re going to clamp down quite hard (you must be careful and prepared and go slowly). Just sneak your hand in their mouth for a second and slip it out before they clamp down. And basically most horses will “Snap” the skin of the side of your hand with their teeth. So you’re pulling away slightly as they’re clamping down which causes the snap. They do it in the pasture as well; they pull the skin & snap.

So please be careful – every horse is different, you need to learn how to read them. Obviously I have an advantage because I’m a Farrier and I get to handle a lot of horses.

So should horses be allowed to chew on us? My answer is a resounding “Yes, but in a controlled manner. You’ll have a different horse as a result.

If you liked this story and would like to get your hands on a horseshoeing method that has a 16 year 100% track record “Not One Single Lame Horse” rush and click the website link down below in the Author Bio – do it before you and your horse loose out. Your horse will love you for it.

Thank you, happy riding and remember to Care4Horses.

Reprint rights allowed providing nothing is changed.

Author Bio: John Silveira, Farrier, Aikido practitioner, spiritualist, born and raised in San Mateo California the bay area. For information on his shoeing method and the 100% track record just go to and leave contact information. thank you and remember to Care4Horses

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