Mustang Burro Newsletter
Cindy Lawrence Lawrence.firstname.lastname@example.org
Inspirational Quote of the week "Succeeding is not really a
life experience that does much good. Failing is a much more
sobering and enlightening experience." Michael Eisner
Question/Answer Section Page 2 – 6
Sanitize stalls at shows?
OK to hose a horse daily in the summer?
Horse.Com Article – Hoeses Teeth Page 7-12
Results from Prison Mustang adoption Page 13
Mustang Adopted 5/21 Trip home Page: 14-17
Poison Oak, Oh, NO! Page: 18-19
Events Page 20-21
Jewelry for Sale Page 22
Joke “Size DOES Matter” Page 23
Question 1: I have a mustang I rescued, that was pushed from
home to home, and had not had any health maintenance care
in a LONG time. After getting him his routine care (teeth
floated, sheath cleaned, vaccines, feet trimmed) he has put
some weight on, and is feeling good. The problem is, he is
getting pushy and biting my jacket & me. When he bites, he
jumps back to wait for me to respond. Yesterday he started
biting his halter and lead line. When he does any of these
things, he then waits to see what I will do. Any ideas on how to
nip this in the bud?
Ignore it unless he really tries to bite! From his reaction, he has been corrected for this already.
In the wild, mustangs 'mouth' each other. He is unsure of you and his surroundings and ignoring
this behavior is best. Soon, he will get to know you and stop biting or mouthing. Just nudge his nose
gently aside and give him a scratch on his whithers. On the equipment, use old stuff and just gently
remove it from his mouth or give him a cookie, anything but hit him. I don't know as he will stop
chewing equipment as some just love to do that, but popping or anything that really startles him
would be bad at this time. He needs to be reassured, not disciplined.
Biting is a difficult thing, especially since your horse knows better and he is
waiting for your reaction. He is like a kid acting out to get any kind of interaction,
because he doesn't know how to act for positive interaction, and maybe doesn't even
know what positive is. There is a horse rescue in my town that occasionally gets
spoiled mustangs, and I will work with them. They had a 4 y.o. gelding who had a
dangerous habit of biting and striking. This was not out of fear, because he had
absolutely no fear or respect of people. He had been adopted at weaning, and I
believe had no natural herd discipline, and of course no discipline from his humans
who dumped him at the rescue when he badly bit one of their children. Everyone at
the rescue would arm themselves with training sticks whenever they would go in the
field, to fight off "Jackson" when he would come after them or the horse they were
trying to catch. They showed me the bite marks on their arms and on the other
horses, and they all handled him with a 10 foot pole, so to speak. He was pretty
awful and unadoptable, but cute as heck.
I brought him home and put him in the pen that I had to go through to get to the barn
so we would have lots of interaction. He was extremely aggressive over food, and
would just amp up and get more aggressive when I would threaten him with a
training stick. The first time I longed him, he went along fine until I tapped the stick
on the ground to ask him to speed up, and he charged me with ears pinned and
teeth bared. He deliberately kicked me when he'd had enough grooming one time.
The really scary part is that he would go from happy to nasty in an instant,
completely unpredictable. He thrived on confrontation and bullying, and apparently
had never met the creature who could make him back down. I needed a different
I had a dog training shock collar, so I fitted it to Jackson and put it on him. I adopted
a very non-confrontational, relaxed, blasé attitude. I always watched him carefully
out of the corner of my eye, but rarely looked directly at him. I kept my shoulder
turned to him most of the time, like he was completely beneath my notice. I asked
him to do things with complete confidence that he would do them and behave
perfectly. I never scolded or warned him vocally or with body language. BUT, at the
slightest sign of naughtiness or attitude from him, I would hit the shock button and
light him up, and then proceed like nothing happened. Over a few days I decreased
the amount of shock he got to just a buzz, and added in some warnings to make him
mind his manners, because I knew that the people at the rescue would give him
warnings. I could retrain him, but not all of them, which is usually the downfall of
training problem horses. He was not allowed to approach me or touch me without
invitation, and he was never allowed to put his mouth on me or pin his ears in my
presence. I ponied him off my broke horses, every one, and he had to be shocked to
keep from biting most of them. But he got the picture, and became very well
behaved. I was very careful not to be looking directly at him when I would shock
him, so he didn't associate it with me. I didn't want it to be about me dominating him,
but about him punishing himself when he was naughty. I did not shock him when he
was doing the wrong thing during training, only when he was aggressive, which
included ear-pinning or shoving his hip at me.
Jackson had a very active mind, and so when you take out the bad, you have to
replace it with something good. I started him with saddle training, which he thought
was highly amusing. Letting him wear a roller snaffle bridle without reins gave him
something to do with his busy mouth. I taught him some tricks and lavished on
praise and petting (NO TREATS!!!) when he did a good job. He was very creative
and had a big sense of humor, and he definitely needed an outlet for his energy.
After a month, I took him back to the rescue with the understanding that I would take
him again and renew his rehab, but it was never necessary. I cautioned them all to
forget how he acted before, and treat him like he would behave himself, but NOT to
feed him by hand. (I do use treats with most horses, but not biters) Apparently it
was a success and he continued with saddle training and got adopted. Last I heard,
his new people are happy and having fun with him.
Note: Do not be touching a horse that you are shocking. You will get shocked too
and most likely kicked or run over when it reacts to the shocking. Shocking is an
extreme way to deal with a dangerously aggressive horse, and not for bad behavior
caused by fear. That will just increase the fear.
Does he have other horses to interact with? If not, he may just be a brat needing
to put into his place. Nipping is what they do to play.
Never slap or slug the horse when it bites you in play. A firm no as he tries to bite
and a quick shove of one of your fingers up a his nostril will get him to associate bite-
NO-unpleasant jab into soft nose tissue. Twice will suffice. Bet he won't need a third
reminder. It's easiest to "set them up" for this so you have your senses gathered and
do it rather fast. You are not hurting him, just touching him in a very unpleasant way.
Give him toys to play with if he does not have horses buddies. They express a lot
through touching things with their mouths and exploring. It's like not allowing a baby
to put stuff in their mouths when you take all that away from the horses they become
cribbers or jerks that try to bite you.
It's fun to find new horses toys. Old plastic soap bottles, remove the removable parts
so they can't be ingested. Big drums or barrels, tree stumps too large for your
fireplace will be made smaller by the horse. Eucalyptus branches to strip of leaves...
Old tires with a good sturdy short rope attached so they can't get tangled but they
can grab it with their teeth.
Have fun finding things for your horse to play with. Do not hand feed the biter! Put
his treats in a treat dispenser.
Biting is a dominance issue and your horse is trying to see how dominant (
aka"bossy") he is in the relationship with you. Mine did the same thing when we got
him. We did a lot of slapping and disciplining and found that Binaca breath spray
finally ended the issue. He likes to chew on ropes with knots and we have not
stopped that, as he primarily mouths them and doesn't destroy anything.
When your horse nips and then jumps back, he is checking to see if he can bite and
get away with it, thus being the dominant one in your relationship. You need to
control this asap, as if he knows he can bite and get away with it, he won't listen to
you when you are training him in other areas. He will be the decision maker and
you don't want that to take place.
Sounds like you are talking about my horse. When he came to me, he wasn't neglected
like yours was, but I just wanted to love on him all the time and be his friend. I didn't want to
be firm with him because I thought that would make him unhappy. He started out biting the
halter and lead rope, progressed to the reins and the stirrups, then started on me. Biting a
person's jacket is the same as biting the person. The horse was testing my leadership and I
came up lacking. You can find a multitude of resources on the web and in books about
dealing with a biting horse and many of the methods use punishment, but from your
description, someone has already slapped him or hit him for biting and that's why he jumps
back -- he expects you will hit him. Sometimes it is a game horses play, they tease each
other and duck and weave, but most often biting is a form of dominance. But unless you can
apply the punishment the second the bite occurs, it's too late. Most humans can't react that
fast. If your punishment is too late, the horse doesn't associate your reaction with their
behavior. So all you have taught him is that humans do irrational things out of the blue.
What I did with my biter was practice dominance ground games almost daily, such as move
your feet, back up, move your haunches, etc. I have my circle of body space that he cannot
enter unless I invite him. We even progressed to games at liberty in which he has to cross a
tarp on the ground, go between the fence and the tire feeder or jump over a barrel. You can
make it fun and interesting, not punishment, but what it does is elevate your leadership so that
you are the one telling him what to do and when to do it. My horse is dominant and he
sometimes has to have a refresher, but I no longer have to fear his teeth and we are both much
happier for it. Good luck!
Regarding the pushy, biting Mustang: If his biting is ever associated with food, treats, grain or
feeding, take away the food at once! It is also helpful to make him back away from you before
feeding him anything, and make him wait for you to put it down. He must be polite.
If he is mouthy and nipping as you are grooming him, a quick little jab with your fingernail on his
cheek will teach him to keep his face out of your space. Use a zzzzzt sound with the jab or a short
sharp, "Hey!" Let him know that nipping and biting are never acceptable. He is testing your
authority (leadership) and may need a lot of reminding for awhile. He should never put his face in
your space, no reaching around to nip your knickers when you are bent over cleaning his feet, no
pulling on your jacket, none of that behavior should be tolerated. If you are consistent he will
eventually stop trying to nip at you or push you around. Backing him away from you and turning his
neck and face away from you as you walk in a tight circle are good groundwork exercises to practice
every time he gets even a little bit pushy. You can be firm while doing this, but never angry--don't
punch him or yell at him. He's got some new confidence, now that you've cared for him and brought
him back to health. With this behavior he's asking, "Are you the leader, or am I?" Make sure he
remembers it is YOU, always. He actually wants you to be leader because it will make him feel more
relaxed and secure!
There are two surefire ways of stopping the biting, in my opinion. Try them in this order:
Use your elbow as a blocking device. This works with the vast majority of horses. No slapping, no
nose pinching; that just sets a mustang up to do battle with you, which is probably why yours is
jumping back waiting for the next action. Just be very aware of his behavior and always keep your
elbow or forearm at the ready. He runs into you. Now, you can meet him part way the second he
even comes toward you, but the impact with your bone is during his movement.
We have a wonderful little mustang; this was his biggest vice. He was just being a horse and this
was his big game. I think one day I blocked that mouth a hundred times with my elbow. After a week
of this and nothing but a sore arm, we went to method two.
2. Learn hip disengagements and shoulder overs and lateral movements on your lead rope. Every
time he tries to bite, get those feet moving. With gusto. I spent an entire morning grooming him and
in the ready mode to correct the biting. Your timing has to be really quick. Then you give
instantaneous relief. It took around 90 minutes of him moving those feet everytime he wanted to bite
and he got the message. No set up for war; no challenge of slapping and biting back. I just moved
those feet like mama or any alpha horse would. The next day it only took a few minutes and he
quit. And within a few days, he was really good.
But...if I am spending time with him, he likes to do something with that mouth, like a baby with a
pacifier. So I let him mouth an old cotton lead rope. Sometimes I bridle him up so he can mouth a
bit with copper and keep busy. We adopted him at 6 mos and he was not abused, so we give him this
indulgence because he is a hyper little guy.
If you don't know how to do hip disengagements, there are good quick videos and text and photos on
Look at the training section.
You have a general disrespect issue that is easy to solve with a bit of patience, consistency,
and education. Clinton Anderson has an excellent, easy to understand, book and/or DVD on
how to round pen, back up, get out of your space, yield body parts, etc. for respect. If you
don't establish that you are the fair, calm boss mare, your problems with this horse will only
escalate over time. There are many excellent natural horsemanship trainers out there to guide
you if can take the time to search the internet or pick up a book. Good Luck! You can do it!
Question 2: What is the best type of hay to feed mustangs,
and in what combination? Is it alfalfa, 3 way, or burmuda
grass? Should they get supplements?
I have found that basic good quality hay is generally the best feed, though alfalfa
does tend to make them fat if they are not getting regular (near daily) work. Orchard
grass is great and BOW or BOWA (3-way or 4 way) is also good. Bermuda grass is
pretty costly here (So Calif) and is messy to feed and you get a lot of waste, so I
have found orchard grass to be best.
I used some vitamins when we first got our horse and he was very thin and was still
fairly young (3 1/2 years). Once he had gotten to a reasonable weight and his coat
was in good condition, we discontinued them.
Some folks use oat hay but I can't get mine to touch the stuff - this from someone
who grew up eating cactus and weeds - pretty picky fellow!
grass hay is the best. I give some supplements and extra salt - even though I have a salt block they
can get to. for winter I either feed extra grass hay or will sometimes get mixed grass/alfalfa. about
80/20 mix. they just don't need alfalfa or high sugar feeds.
want to share what I have been running across for the pas couple of years in the Reno area with
hay. I like to feed Grass/Alfalfa all the time but in winter when I feed straight alfalfa, but I have had a
hard time getting good quality grass with alfalfa. If the grass is decent, the bales are full of dirt and
rocks and I am paying for that as well. I weigh the portions also to maintain good weight and all the
dirt makes this a nightmare. The last two batches (at 4 tons each) had nice grass but not
enough nutrition and I had to feed more, so that cost me more. Some had grass so stemmy that I
had lots of waste and this from all my equines. Have 5 mustangs, 4 Quarter Horses and 2 mules.
Yes, the mules weren't cleaning up either. I have had the grass tested and it has such a wide range
of nutrition values that I would have to have all bales tested all the time. So I have switched back to
straight alfalfa. I make sure it is horse alfalfa, no third cuts, etc. It has tested no higher in proteins
and sugars than most grass either. Matter of fact, most grass tested higher than alfalfa so to feed it
instead of alfalfa defeated the purpose of grass making a horse 'less high'. I have found that alfalfa
has not harmed my horses, nor made them noticeably hotter. I can feed with confidence that my
horses are getting what they need. I don't need suppliments although I do add sugarless beet pulp
in the winter.
Side note: be very cautious feeding mustangs until you know how they 'keep' as a lot are prone to
founder and need their sugar intake monitored.
Another side note: Davis did a study with starving mustangs and found that alfalfa was the best as
they digested it better than grass. After they were healthy they mixed the alfalfa with grass.
And one last side note: I have no waste, they poop less, and alfalfa is cheaper than the rest. But do
not overfeed as then there could be problems. I have had none in my years of feeding alfalfa. I fed
it all the time until I moved to Reno and was told that alfalfa was bad. It isn't if you don't overfeed.
One of our mustang mares and one of our domestic horses cannot tolerate alfalfa at all. I even
asked the BLM why they were feeding alfalfa when so many horses scoured on it. There are studies
and opinions out the ying yang on alfalfa for horses. In my opinion, you are always better off with a
grass hay for horses unless you are feeding a flake mid day to race or performance horses.
So, here is the definitive answer on supplements. If you are buying your hay in bulk from one
supplier, spend the money and get it analyzed. Around here it costs about $35. Our extension
office, ag office, 4-H office does it. If yours doesn't, they will know who does. Then you will know
what you are deficient in. Our ag office actually will have the chart with the tested hay. But you can
have your vet look at it, or you can go with the the vet out of MI who specializes in this and gives you
incredible feedback on how to balance your hay with minerals for your area. I think her name is Dr.
Bowkler; I follow a barefoot trimmers yahoo group and she gives classes in nutrition and hooves and
pops in on discussion when someone needs to look at their hay analysis. I know she does this for
the public and charges a fee.
BLM Lists EHV-1
BY: PAT RAIA
MAY 30 2011, ARTICLE # 18310
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) mustangs have so far been unaffected by the
recent neurologic equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) outbreak sweeping through Western
states, according to a statement issued by the agency on May 26. The agency
continues to monitor the outbreak, and has asked the public to contact local BLM
offices about outbreak-related restrictions before bringing domestic horses onto
agency-managed public lands.
According to the statement, the agency has been working with state and federal
animal health officials to protect the mustangs and burros residing on the range and
at BLM holding facilities from EHV-1 exposure. As of May 26, no BLM-managed wild
horses or burros residing on the range or in holding facilities are known to be
affected by the outbreak, the statement said.
In a May 25 letter, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) chief
innovations officer Holly Hazard urged BLM Director Robert Abbey to "discourage ...
private horse owners from bringing potentially exposed domestic horses onto federal
lands where they may contact and possibly infect wild horses or other equines."
In its statement the agency advised horse owners to consult with local BLM offices
before bringing their horses onto public lands.
The BLM is consulting with animal health officials on the movement of animals
between agency holding facilities or to agency-sponsored events that could put wild
horses and burros at risk for EHV-1 exposure, the statement said.
"Some lower-risk movements between BLM facilities or BLM facilities and adoption
events will continue," the BLM statement said. "Other movements may be cancelled
because of concerns regarding potential exposure to EHV-1."
Sunrise Horse Rescue's 2nd Annual Harvest of Hope is just
around the corner! Last year's event raised enough money
for us to rescue & provide sanctuary to five new horses as
well as build new shelters and a feed room! This years event
will be even more fun for those who attend and, as usual, all
proceeds go to support our rescue efforts. Save the Date &
we will see you there! P.S. please forward to everyone in
your contacts - without your help, we can't help the horses!
Jewelry For Sale………
From Cindy: I’ve enjoyed making necklaces for a little while now…..thought I’d throw a
few pieces out there for sale….if interested, just email me email@example.com I can
send you larger pictures.