Kicking Out

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Kicking Out

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  • My horse kicked the pack horse behind her
  • Horse kicks out at other riders

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    06-29-2011, 11:46 PM
Kicking Out

My 4 year old mare had 2 episode last summer where we were riding in large groups (30-50 riders) and she got antsy and in the process of getting to the back of the pack to calm her down again, she kicked out at other riders.

I know this is a bad habit and potentially a lack of respect, but I fully feel it was mostly anxiety based since it was isolated to the ONLY two larger group rides and ONLY when a horse was coming up behind her fast.

In small groups she's fine, with horses she knows she's fine whether they're above or below her in rank. She knows human time is NOT the time to establish herself with other horses...but I'm leery of taking her in groups again because of the 2 incidents.

Other than putting red ribbon in her tail and doing my best to keep behind her open, what would you suggest to get her accustomed to strange horses behind her? What can I do at home to prepare her for the big group situation?

My mom had a mare that would line another horse up and kick til she got them...with her, when she did that, I'd make her WORK til she quit worrying about who was around and just focussed on her rider. With this situation though, I don't feel making her work is an appropriate response if it's anxiety based. Yes it's still a BAD action, and I know I have to make the bad action hard, correct action easy...just confusing when it's not cut and dried as to reasoning.

Any suggestions? Thanks!
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    06-30-2011, 12:22 AM
Green Broke
Next time you are out with a strange horse, watch your horse carefully. You should be able to anticipate when she is going to kick or thinking about kicking. My grey has a problem with this, as soon as the ears go back I correct her. I will usually jostle the reins to get her attention and give her a verbal warning (I usually say ears like I'm going to kill her) If that doesn't re-focus her on me then I give her a small slap on the neck. If I still don't have her attention then I pull her off to the side and do circles vigorously.
I also reward her when she allows a strange horse to ride close to her.
It is an anxiety issue. She's young and probably insecure, but you still have to be firm. This a dangerous behavior and you shouldn't tolerate it.
    06-30-2011, 12:24 AM
I've never had this issue but when others have they put a red ribbon on there horses tail to let other rides know that there horse could possibly kick if there coming up for some reason why would they come up behind her fast?

Maybe when you're in big groups you could distract her, leg yield, playing with flexing etc etc.. keep her mind on the job and not on the other horses!
    06-30-2011, 12:32 AM
Green Broke
Also, since I started riding with the drill team (we frequently ride hip to hip) my horse has gotten a lot better about this. Exposure will help the problem, just make sure the folks you ride with know she's a kicker.
    06-30-2011, 07:44 AM
Super Moderator
Spank her butt and spank it good.

There is not one reason in the world to put up with this bad behavior or to put other people in danger. Other riders should not have to avoid your horse nor should you have to try to catch and interrupt her bad behavior over and over and over.

When someone would bring me a horse that kicked at other horses, I would ride them hard to get the 'fresh' and the 'edge' off of them and then go to the arena and start leading horses off of them. When they put their ears back and threatened the other horse, I just dropped the lead-rope and did a quick 'over and under' spanking and went right back and led the other horse.

I do this this with every horse I ride now and with every horse I sell. I want to be able to lead any horse from the back of any horse I ride. It is just part of having a well trained horse.

When you resort to putting a red ribbon on a horse's tail you are advertising that you are riding a spoiled, poorly trained horse and that it is everyone else's responsibility to look out for your horse. To me, that is just unacceptable.
    07-01-2011, 12:39 AM
Cherie - I have to admit I feel the same, but never really having dealt with a kicker before other than my mom's mare, I'm not 100% sure how to approach this. I have a large round pen available to me and many horses that my mare's not chummy with...might try your idea of leading off her. But like I said before, she's ok in smaller groups - I think last year it had alot to do with draft-baby-brain being overwhelmed by SO many other horses.

I'll try the leading exersize...I don't see her having an issue with that. But like you said, I don't want to just put a ribbon in her tail and advertise that I can't train my horse. Granted even if all the training to follow goes well, I'm still going to put a ribbon in her tail at least for this summer's trail rides purely because she kicked out last year...I want everyone safe.

Will let you all know how it goes! Thanks for all the advise!
    07-01-2011, 01:03 AM
JustAwesome - the ride we went on last fall was 60+ people on horseback and like 4 wagons through a park and probably 90% of them drinking. We stayed at the back as much as possible, but they were hooligans at times. In hindsight, not the best ride to take my green 3 year old - but I had a ribbon on her, did my best to stay at the back, and only had one incident where a stallion came trotting up from behind her on a narrow-ish trail...was an understandable situation for her to react, but not an acceptable reaction. Want to nip this in the bud! As for distracting her - she was quite green so leg yielding and flexing weren't suitable options.

I'm not one to tap my horse on the shoulder and think she feels it...the options I see from here are either to drive her forward with my seat, legs, and crop if handy at any threat on her behalf, make her move and focus on me instead of relaxing and thinking about kicking someone else - or to give her one good CRACK over the @ss next time she kicks. She's not an overly sensative horse when it comes to little taps and such...

My 6 year old Welsh Pony mare is lead mare in her herd of 8 and a big bully, but when she's led, ridden, or even if I'm standing in the pasture, she's completely oblivious to other horses and where they are in rank and whatnot. Total human respect...need to instill that in Eve! It's ok for her to be nervous and upset when riding, but kicking is NOT acceptable, ever.
    07-02-2011, 02:14 AM
Green Broke
The reason I give the second warning is because I don't always have the option of making my horse move. I don't want to drop out of line every time she is cranky. Also, if we are on a narrow trail and a horse is coming up fast from behind I don't want her to move forward if there is a horse in front of me.
Either way, the point is to get the horse's focus on you and nothing else.
    07-04-2011, 11:05 AM
Don't know what to tell you since the riders aren't respectful of others on the trail. If she kicked out at the stallion fast approaching it's rider should have learned from this. Stallions are normally banned from rides. Your mare was demonstrating a fear response. Your legs would have partly blocked her vision so her reaction was normal.
    07-04-2011, 12:14 PM
Horses kick out of a need for self defense. Your mare is letting you (and everyone she kicks at) know she's nervous and tense about the situation she is in. Punishing her for this behavior is unlikely to really solve the problem.

Rather than trying to deal with this on a big ride with loads of other people and horses, break it down for her. Get some competent riders on well broke horses to help you. (make sure they know the plan)

Start by riding at opposite ends of an arena or field... Just to get used to the idea of working near another horse. Make sure you are keeping her focus on you.

Gradually work closer together until she is no longer showing any signs of tension (might take one session, may take many... Don't push too hard all at once, it won't help you)

The goal is to teach the horse to have confidence in you. Be patient with her, and try to not put her immediately into a situation wherenshe feels the need to defend herself.

When she's comfortable working near other horses... And yes, by all means use more than one... Then start adding things like teamwork games. Horses seem to relax best when given a solid, achievable goal. I like things like toilet paper races, relay races, and horse soccer ... Fun for the people but you will also be working on her space issues.

When looking for your Helpers, try to choose those with enough experience to not get into a bad place and with horses who won't try to bully your mare. She needs support and encouragement to feel comfortable... But at the same time you will also have to let her know she cannot kick out just because she's worried.

You will do this by catching it early. A horse about to kick will almost always tighten the jaw, pin the ears and swish the tail... Somtimes with a tightening of the back or cocking a hip. Stop her when she starts the "kicking program" in her head, rather than punish the behaviornafter the fact. Once she's kicked out... It's too late, and you will only tend to make the situation more tense.

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