Can you teach a horse to kick? YES! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 31 Old 03-19-2014, 11:08 PM Thread Starter
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Can you teach a horse to kick? YES!

When I got my colt Cody (at 8 mos old) a friend of mine came over and "offerred" to help me work with him. This was fine since I was already training his older brother as well as moving, etc. so I had little time for both. One of the first things she decided to teach him was to respect boundaries, by running backwards at him and kicking his front legs with her heels to get him "out of her space". I found this bizarre and rude, since he was not IN her space, she would place herself directly in front of him (in HIS space), and then insist he move by doing this. I was not a fan of this "training method", so I discouraged her working with him further. But she continued to come over and do this to him from time to time, to see if he "remembered". Well he did, and he is now a kicker! He never even offerred to kick before that, and I believe she taught him that this is acceptable behavior. Now I have to UNTEACH him, which is much more difficult and dangerous. I think she thought she was behaving like a horse, but she is not a horse and he knows it. Now he thinks humans kick so he will kick them first. I am not a fan of the "think like a horse" method, obviously my horse did not like it either. They know we are not horses. Be the alpha human, not the alpha horse!
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post #2 of 31 Old 03-20-2014, 12:18 AM
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Even if she did act inappropriately, he should not be kicking! If I walk into my horse's space, I expect them to back up, just as if I was the lead mare.

He is probably confused, and testing out your reaction or imitating her behavior with you to try and control you. I would carry a long whip, and start tapping and ask him to back up... You can tap the leadline or the horses chest. I've even seen people teach the back up by tapping the front legs, however, I rather point the whip at the chest. There is also the wiggle the rope method until the horse backs up.
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post #3 of 31 Old 03-20-2014, 01:06 AM
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I very much doubt that he is mimicking her behaviour, he's not a parrot. Your horse sounds confused as all heck and kicking was his response to confusion. Not a great reaction, but his reaction nonetheless.
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post #4 of 31 Old 03-20-2014, 02:20 AM Thread Starter
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I agree that he is confused. He was never treated that way before, by either humans or horses, and it did change his behavior and attitude. He went from the gentlest cot ever to a kicker, and I believe it was learned from a human. I take some responsibility for allowing that human to handle him like that, and not stepping in sooner, but I still believe he was trained to kick by a human.
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post #5 of 31 Old 03-20-2014, 02:42 AM
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Every and each one of the gentlest colts known to humanity are bound to try and kick at least once in their lives. It is a normal learning curve of a growing horse, and a normal part of their communication. Although I seriously doubt that he is now mimicking your friend (give his intelligence some respect - he is well aware that your friend is not a horse!), you won't really benefit from trying to find a set reason for why he is kicking as such. Even if you're right, it doesn't mean anything anymore. Put it plain and simple, he just kicks. What is more, he is not a kicker - this behavior is not something that defines him, but just something he uses to express himself. It is nothing negative, it's just something many horses sometimes do.

Instead, treat every time he kicks separately, trying to understand the reasons behind the exact case, and not as something you have to re-train, but just as a normal, neutral part of your training. He is obviously testing his limits and showing a huge amount of disrespect towards his handler - and, if it happens while you're working with him, maybe it is worth considering if something in your body language, timing and precision actually provokes it! Good luck.

What else came to my mind - if he kicked just when your friend barged in his space, expecting him to move, I'd fully understand a kick from the horse, as he has no obligations to respect somebodies' space if they don't respect his and treat him without any feel, timing and common sense. It's just as if a person hit a horse in the face without a warning a reason, and then got all upset because the horse bit them in self defense.

Then again, there is a way to teach a horse to kick. Put some kind of intense pressure on him and then release it & back out of the situation as soon as he kicks. The horse will learn that a kick takes away the pressure and will acquire it as a "correct" behavior. What has been your reaction to the times you've observed him kicking?

I have come a long way, to surrender my shadow to the shadow of my horse.
/James Wright/

Last edited by Saranda; 03-20-2014 at 02:50 AM.
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post #6 of 31 Old 03-20-2014, 07:52 AM
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Every horse lives with a 'pecking order' mentality. If the horse is in a herd of horses, that pecking order is not a simple 1-2-3-4-etc. It is a separate pecking order between each pair of horses. So, horse A can be above horse B; Horse B can be above horse C; But, horse C can be above horse A. Many times there is a single very dominant herd boss and then there is completely mixed up sets of 'pecking orders' between each pair of horses in the rest of the herd. I love to watch these pecking orders evolve in the lower end of the herd.

How does this fit into a horse - person relationship? Well, each person is responsible for where they are with each horse. If I were to come to your house and your horse threatened to kick me (I wouldn't put myself in a position to be 'kicked'), I would immediately jerk the lead-rope HARD 5 or 6 times and would step aggressively toward him and make him back up several steps as a reprimand. That would immediately put me above him in the 'our' pecking order of 2 -- him and I. You are responsible for YOUR pecking order of him and you.

If he is kicking at you, at some point, he laid his ears back and threatened to kick or took a swat at you and you backed up instead of reprimanding him. Now, he has been 'confirmed' as the leader of this particular pecking order by threatening or kicking several times. You are going to have to make him think he is going to die to the aggression.

I absolutely hate using a whip or hitting a horse for just about anything. That would be the last thing I would do here. I would try to jerk his head off if he threatened to kick. I would make him think I was literally going to jerk his head off and hand it to him. If you are not very strong, I would add a chain or get a stronger, more experienced person to give him the initial 'what for'. After making him think you were going to kill him, just act like absolutely nothing ever happened. Only get after him hard or not at all. If you have to get after him more than twice, you are not doing it right. NEVER PICK, PECK OR SLAP at a horse. Get after one hard for aggression or leave him alone.

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post #7 of 31 Old 03-20-2014, 08:36 AM
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sorry, but that is hilarious. I don't mean to be offensive or anything and I understand that you would be POd about your friend pulling those shenanigans on your horse, but The image I have of it in my head is making me laugh.

Everything Cherie said there^^^ is your answer;

but still just cant stop laughing at the thought of some girl carrying on like that. Did she make horse noises while she did it?
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post #8 of 31 Old 03-20-2014, 08:38 AM
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Snort!!! ^^^^^^
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post #9 of 31 Old 03-20-2014, 09:41 AM
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Why did you simply "discourage" her? You need to flat out order her to keep her crazy far from YOUR horse.
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post #10 of 31 Old 03-20-2014, 10:26 AM
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so, firstly, I agree with Cherie, I second following that advice, especially the part about getting after him, then leaving him alone. I have seen some absolute disasters from people who pick and fuss at their horses.

Second, any "friend" that decided kicking my horses legs was a good idea would receive a kick in return - from me, and in a far less pleasant place than the leg. If you as the handler backs up, the horse should politely back up as well, staying respectfully out of the handlers space. There are more effective and respectful ways to teach this. Next time you see your friend doing this, walk over, and when they don't back up, kick them in the shin, hard. Then ask if they feel like being respectful

third. I am 100% positive that your colt is going through a phase, testing his boundaries, and has decided to try being disrespectful via kicking. Horses don't mimic people, any more than a cat will start barking because it lives with a dog. Horses naturally use kicking as a form of disrespect, fear or self defense.
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