How would you have handled this kicking situation? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 08-09-2013, 08:30 PM Thread Starter
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How would you have handled this kicking situation?

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.)


Last edited by azarni; 08-09-2013 at 08:35 PM.
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post #2 of 11 Old 08-09-2013, 08:49 PM
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I wouldn't have punished him - well, maybe a scolding at worse. He may have been kicking at the horsefly both times if he doesn't react to having his undercarriage fooled with.

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post #3 of 11 Old 08-09-2013, 08:52 PM
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I wouldn't have done much of anything different under the circumstances. If I had been able, the only thing I would have done would be to immediately go back to rubbing on his belly where he spooked from in the first place.

Just based on what you've said here, I don't believe that he was actually kicking out at you. He was kicking at the horsefly and you happened to just be in the wrong place at the wrong time. No malicious intent on his part.

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post #4 of 11 Old 08-09-2013, 08:55 PM
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I kind of get the feeling that he was kicking at what he thought was the horsefly coming back at him. horse fly bites can be so painful the horses really can hardly help themselves to react to them. I would not personally make a big deal of it, I'd just know that when a horsefly is there, you be very careful, more careful than usual , about where your body parts are in relation to him.
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post #5 of 11 Old 08-09-2013, 08:56 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys, I appreciate it. That was my gut feeling but then I started obsessing about how many times I've read kicking is NEVER OKAY and started freaking out that he'd turn into a kicker from this one ordeal.
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post #6 of 11 Old 08-09-2013, 09:00 PM
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Im reckoning you was the wrong place at the wrong time and sounds like he feels guilty for accidentally kicking you- if he done it by accident they usually come over to 'say sorry' if it was on purpose theyll usually go about their ways.

Could an ulcer too- and still wouldnt really blame him for kicking out in pain either.

Unless his ears were pinned sounds like an accident- just remember not to be jumpy when your at his rear end when youre back there after this.

When a horse is kicking on purpose- its best to get in close to his leg if you think hes drawing back to kick at you so he cant strike with all his force.. still gonna hurt but less than it would if he got you with all he had-- not that i think your boys guilty of being a kicker- just since were on the subject.

If it was on purpose id lunge him till he was super tired though.

Last edited by toto; 08-09-2013 at 09:03 PM.
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post #7 of 11 Old 08-09-2013, 09:02 PM
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Intentional kicking is never okay and should be punished immediately.

Instances like this usually aren't intentional. I've been kicked a lot of times by horses that aren't "kickers". Most times, it's because of something that I did to trigger their instinctual reaction. Every time I can think of that something like that happened, the horse immediately knew that they had connected with me and were immediately the horsey version of remorseful. Never had it happen twice with the same horse.

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog:
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post #8 of 11 Old 08-09-2013, 10:39 PM
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There was a horsefly biting at his belly he tried to kick away. Then it came back and he tried to kick at it to make it go away again. Only it was actually you and he connected. Oops. Sounds like he was watching you pretty close and expecting to have his hiney handed to him for that mistake right after, so he obviously knows that kicking at people is not okay and not allowed and realized he was potentially in some serious trouble and wanted to appease you after.

If this is a one-off thing, I wouldn't worry about him being a kicker. If it happens again, you'll need to have a CTJ meeting with him over it, but it doesn't seem likely from what you've said. My horse isn't a bucker, but sure enough sent me flying when he got bit by something. Hasn't happened in the two years before or the six months since. Horses can make honest mistakes too, even without trying to be ornery.
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post #9 of 11 Old 08-09-2013, 10:46 PM
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sounds like he made a booboo. If he starts doing it often and it becomes apparent that it's an issue then the instant he does it, I'd personally smack him but at this point, it sounds like the flies were making him mad and he was at war with them and your hand must have felt like a fly!

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post #10 of 11 Old 08-09-2013, 11:32 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all, I'm glad to hear it! And more than a little relieved. :)
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