How to fix kicking while handling hind feet - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 32 Old 07-04-2013, 07:40 PM Thread Starter
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How to fix kicking while handling hind feet

I have a 4 year old gelding who was untouched for most of his life. The first time he had his feet done was as a 4 year old (back in april) and his feet were tied up to do it because neither I nor the farrier had time to work with him properly and they badly needed done before i moved and took him with me. No good, I know, but on the other hand I've seen many horses have their feet tied up for their first trims with no ill effects so I wasn't worried about it. He had kicked at the longe whip in thhe roundpen a couple times before so I knew he wouldn't hesitate to use his back feet.

Fast forward 2 months. He has had his feet done by a farrier again (no ropes), but farrier was unable to do one of his back feet. The person who has been working with him has been playing with his feet and though he is still a bit nervous he will pick up his fronts and even his backs (last time I tried the backs he gave a halfhearted kick at me). He has kicked the other lady twice

What do I do?? He is QUICK with those feet and I don't want to get hurt. If it were my dad I know he'd tie his hinds up and make him get used to it. Trim them while he's tied up again. I would like to solve the problem through working with him but he has proven to be unpredictable with those hinds and, again, I don't want to get kicked. Like I said, he has been worked with for 2 months now. He is a big, solid guy lol. I'm tempted to tie them up so even if he tries all he's doing is fighting himself. I'd love any other suggestions!
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post #2 of 32 Old 07-04-2013, 08:26 PM
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This may sound a little bit cruel, but whenever he even acted like he wanted to shoot a foot at me, he'd be getting his butt worked off instantly. If he actually swung or made contact, he'd get his ass beat and then get it worked off.

Immediately after the correction, go right back and try to pick the foot up again. If he swings again, do it all over. If you are able, even once, to walk up and have him pick up the foot at all without swinging, give him a scratch and call it a day.

Of course, if you're not really comfortable doing this (there is a very real possiblity of getting kicked repeatedly LOL), I'd go ahead and go with tying his feet up.

There is another thread where I discussed something...hold on, let me find it.

ETA: Here it is, where I discuss a set of homemade "stocks" so that you can pull the feet in any direction you need them.
picking up feet
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Last edited by smrobs; 07-04-2013 at 08:28 PM.
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post #3 of 32 Old 07-04-2013, 08:37 PM
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I assume a big, soft cotton 'Scotch rope' was used to tie up his feet? That is what you need to get him used to having his feet handled; just stop short of tying a hind foot up.

Use the big soft rope to get him used to having them rubbed on. Get him used to having the big rope between his hind legs with you standing back far enough to be safe. Do not get after him for kicking. Just stay with it and out-last him. Take all of the pressure off when he does not fight it.

Then, use the big rope to come up behind his fetlock to bring his foot forward, take it off of the ground, and then pick his foot up with it. When he is relaxed, rub his leg and lift it up out of the Scotch rope and set it back down. Even bad kickers can be taught with the rope to willingly pick up their hoof, let you rub it, walk it back and set in on your knee and then let you set it back down. Do a little more with it each time you pick it up with the rope and be sure you take it out of the rope and set it down when he is relaxed and being good.

We have two big, soft, 25 foot cotton Scotch ropes. We use them to teach every horse to let us handle their hind feet. I am too arthritic, stiff and move waaay too slow to handle hind feet any other way. It is so much better to use this method than to have horses learn that they can take a foot away from you. Actually, we find it much more difficult to teach un-handled and spoiled horses to let us have their front feet and keep them up.
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post #4 of 32 Old 07-04-2013, 09:35 PM
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smrobs suggestion is good and is a fairly standard technique of some of the horse trainers out there. When he kicks out, work him hard...a lot of changes of direction, keep him moving...make him look at getting his feet picked up as a chance to rest. It may take a few tries but eventually he is going to get the point that standing and having his feet picked up is much easier than being winded, hot and sweaty.
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post #5 of 32 Old 07-04-2013, 09:53 PM
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Agreeing with a couple others here.

Indie was absolutely horrible about letting me wrap her hind legs when I first brought her home. I could spend over half an hour trying to get just one on and the only thing that taught her to keep still, was that I never gave up.

With horses that try kicking, I just get them moving... that's actually my solution for quite a few issues and it usually works well. :p

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post #6 of 32 Old 07-05-2013, 12:25 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone! I've actually never had to deal with a kicker so was a bit miffed. I like Cherie's thought of just sticking it out rather than getting after him - any other horse I'd have no problem smacking or running around if they kicked but this guy is already a nervous dude and I don't want to lose what trust has already been gained. I do think he is kicking out of nervousness rather than dominance. Glad there were some suggestions that didn't involve making him fear for his life (cause last time he did that he jumped an arena fence and smashed through another solid wood one lol)
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post #7 of 32 Old 07-05-2013, 12:38 AM Thread Starter
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Smrobs I like your idea of the panels and will definitely use that at some point in the future. Right now though I'm boarding and have limited facilities (no panels) and am suuuuuper broke at the moment lol (chasing a line of work that makes no money, silly me)
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post #8 of 32 Old 07-05-2013, 12:57 AM
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With this horse, I'm going to disagree with making her move. She needs to be desensitized more to being touched there. If the horse was previously good and started kicking, then I would agree to making her move.

When we got Harley, he had to have his legs tie to a pole or tree to trim his back legs. I started with tossing a lead rope at his rear legs. If he kicked or moved, I kept tossing it. If he stood still and relaxed, I would quit, rub his side and let him stand for a while before trying again. Once he stood still with the rope, I would rub his back and slowly work my way to his rear. Approach and retreat, slowly working farther back and down his leg. Once I could touch around his hoof with no reaction, I looped a rope around it. Standing straight out from his hip to the side, I pulled on the rope to get him to lift. If you stand forward of his hip and he kicks back, you could get rope burn or have the rope pulled from you. Standing to the rear, you could have a good chance of being kicked. To the side, you can keep pressure on without getting pulled around. Once he quits kicking, I released the pressure. With practice and patience, he started to lift his hoof before I even asked for him to lift it.
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post #9 of 32 Old 07-05-2013, 05:26 AM
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I have a lot of luck with this technique, get a stout white cotton rope AND A HELMET!!!! Start by looping the rope around his feet, one hand on either side of the rope. This is important, you hold either end . if he starts kicking out drop the rope and get the heck outta the way! When he is used to that and doesn't twitch, start pulling it snug against the foot. Same scenario, if he kicks drop it and get out of the way. Once he handles the pressure, start applying upward pressure until he lifts his foot, even if it is just a centimeter , and let it down. Slowly increase the height, until he is comfortable with it at trimming height. Then start on holding it there, as soon as he starts to act up set it down. Once he is comfortable with holding it for as long as you want at the height you want, start with your hands (this is where the helmet is important). This may take several sessions over several days, the key is steady, slow (as in glacial) progress, and making the horse feel comfortable and safe with his foot of the ground.
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post #10 of 32 Old 07-05-2013, 08:39 AM
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Actually, if you use a Scotch rope, you tie one end low around a horse's neck and only handle the other end well away from his kicking zone. My 2 Scotch ropes are 25 feet long and I have braided back a loop in one end of each. One is a 1 inch cotton rope that has been untwisted and rebraided in a soft 3-strand braid. The other is a 1 1/2 inch 'soft twist' rope.

I use a Scotch rope to 'sack out' every horse (while tied). It gets them used to having the big soft rope touch and flop around on them everywhere. You do not have to step back from a horse that has a 'come-apart'. You just stay right with them until they quit. THEN, you step back and take off the pressure.

I have done this with some really rank dangerous kickers and I outlasted them all. When they give it up, they have decided that it is OK and they are good with not kicking from then on. It works particularly well with high-strung reactive horses. Like tying one out, they find out it is easier to just settle down and be nice. With really serious kickers, I handle them very carefully for a good while. I ONLY tie up a hind leg (barely off of the ground) on viscous horses that are really trying to hurt someone. These horses are few and far between, thankfully.

Horses learn to kick by having someone get scared and drop a foot and step back away from them. This the perfect way to teach a horse to kick. Anytime you take off pressure and step away from any horse, you are teaching them to do exactly what gets you to step back away from them.
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Last edited by Cherie; 07-05-2013 at 08:42 AM.
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