While I was grooming my Belgian x TB gelding today at his haunches, he kicked at a big horsefly on his stomach. I was standing on the right side. I reached under his belly to brush it away for him and for reasons unknown my hand's contact really startled him. He jumped away and kicked at his belly again, and his hoof made contact with the inside of my left knee. At this point I should mention that I've only had Leo for two weeks as of today, so I really don't know this horse, except what I've been told by his seller. He has never shown signs of threatening to kick whatsoever... He's had a hand or brush all over his legs and belly many times and he hasn't pinned his ears or moved away. He was also very underweight when I bought him and is starting to gain now; is it possible that his "true" personality is starting to show, now that he has enough energy to actually behave like his true self?
Anyways, after he kicked me he jumped/scrambled away maybe 8 feet. We both kind of stared at one another in shock, then I let slip many profanities that I won't repeat here. I sat down on the old monster truck tire that serves as a hay feeder. After watching me from the same spot for a few moments, he came over to me instead of his grain (NEVER happened - he's been very aloof since I bought him) and just stood with his nose maybe 4 inches from my head while I cried and called him mean things. Oops.
My question is, though, what should I have really done? I know kicking is unacceptable in any circumstance but I was just so shocked and then convinced it was an accident on his part that I didn't do much of anything. Obviously I have no way of telling whether it was an accident, though.
Our session returned to normal afterwards. I made sure to rub my hands on his belly and legs; he was fine. Totally unreactive. He behaved well for the mounting block when I just hopped on him bareback so he could graze, when it usually takes longer for him to stand at the block. He was eager and progressed well in his two short clicker training sessions.
My concern is that he learned the wrong thing from the kick today. What if he gets startled next time and because he got away with kicking last time, he boots someone in the stomach? The head? It's not okay to kick. Ever. But I have no way of knowing whether it was intentional - and even if it wasn't, should there have been consequences? Ugh. I don't know. And I'm so lucky it was in such close proximity, or I legitimately wouldn't have a kneecap right now. The hoof line on the bruise is right in that gap between my kneecap and joint. I'm alright, it hurts less than I thought it would but I'll probably be saying something different tomorrow.
So, If anyone can englighten me as to how they'd deal with the situation for a potential next time, please do chime in. I appreciate your help! If you were pretty sure it was unintentional, would you still punish your horse?
The culprit, maybe 30 min later. (Yes he's noticeably underweight. We're working hard on it, yes farrier and vet have been out. He just needs pounds. My saddle is being shipped for a trial on Monday so he's getting a couple more weeks' down time before I begin riding him.)