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Mare kicks my feet when riding

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    11-20-2012, 09:41 AM
Originally Posted by Cherie    
There is a HUGE difference between using a whip or crop and using long, split reins to DEMAND a horse go forward.

It is not unusual for horses to learn when the rider has a whip. This is also true for horses on the ground, too. They learn to ride and behave differently when their handler / rider has that whip in hand. They literally learn to respect (or fear) the whip but have not learned any respect for the person. I cannot count the number of times I have watched horses ride differently with a rider with or without a whip.

The other problem I see is that most riders carry a whip in the same hand all of the time. Their horses quickly learn to 'duck around' and do a 180 away from the whip any time it is raised up or used for more than a 'tap'. They also get accustomed to not responding quickly to the leg but respond to the visual 'cue' or 'aid' of the raised whip. That is NOT a legitimate cue or aid.

The difference of using the long, heavy reins is that they do not rest in the rider's right hand like a 'cocked gun'. They just are there all of the time. The other big difference is that when you learn to use an ' over and under' type of spanking action, the horse does not duck around but goes forward quickly. The 'front door' is the only one open to the horse and about any horse will get their butt through the door immediately.

If you do not think this is true, just look at how many horses spin around rather than cross water when their riders try to use a crop or whip. Reins work nearly every time to get the desired response while using a whip just usually teaches a horse to duck around and go the other direction.

Obviously, there are steps that are necessary for the rider to take when they use the end of the reins for discipline.

First, make sure you are NOT holding the reins too tightly by pulling on the horse's mouth at the same time. You MUST leave that front door open. We only use 7 1/2 to 8 foot heavy weight harness leather reins. They are long enough to let you do this (but that is not the main reason we use them). They have enough 'feel' to them that just moving your hand a little (with slack in the reins) gives a horse a pre-signal of impending action. Well trained horses will respond to just the moving hand with the reins still slack.

Second, if a rider has to use the reins to spank a horse, then, as soon as the horse has gone on and done the right thing, the rider should repeatedly pick up the reins and swing them around so the horse does not think that every time the rider picks up the reins, a spanking is coming. We do this all of the time on every horse -- not just after a spanking.

Most importantly -- if a rider needs to spank a horse, do it hard -- never using little 'taps' or 'slaps' with those reins. Do it hard and it will be effective. If you have to spank a horse more than two or three times -- EVER -- to get forward impulsion, you just used the reins to nag and peck at the horse. You usually get a completely opposite response. The horse will get MORE obstinate and will have LESS respect for the rider's requests. If you are not prepared to spank one hard, don't bother doing it at all.
This is absolutely true! This is how I was taught!
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    11-20-2012, 11:05 AM
Awww. I took lessons on an extremely sensitive mare years ago. Would not tolerate heels at all. All I had to do was to put my body into position for canter and she would respond eagerly. For trot, just slightest squeeze of knees would get result. Some horses will shut down with too much pressure -- whip or reins.
    11-20-2012, 11:07 AM
She has a history of pissy behavior her whole life when she doesn't get what she wants. I was a teenager when we got her and I didn't know as much about training as I know now and she was my only horse I didn't break to ride myself and I don't think she was broke very well to begin with. Now I've been working on her training for the past few months and this horse has made leaps and bounds in improvements in her training and her pissy attitude has actually decreased a lot, I know it doesn't sound like it but seriously it has. I have gotten several compliments on the difference in her responsiveness to cues and her attitude. Her cues are doing amazing, leg and a small hand movement is all you need with her. Honestly like I said they have 24/7 forage with plenty of grass. Any hay given in the winter is nice horse quality hay, I'm pretty picky about my hay . But they aren't on hay yet they still have plenty of grass. I'm going to ask my vet but this really isnt surprising its not like he was always well behaved and she's suddenly acting out. She was spoiked rotten for way too long. And like I said besides the feet kicking her behavior is actually way better instead of worse. Honestly with her pattern of cow kicking over the years I'm really not surprised she's trying to kick my feet. And I think it's just time for another attitude adjustment.
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    11-20-2012, 11:14 AM
accidently hit quote wanted to fix my typo
    11-20-2012, 11:36 AM
Thanks guys for your comments. Now that I'm fairly certain this is an attitude problem not me doing something wrong with her training I will correct it appropriately. The foot kicking is going to end immediately. Ill ask the doc about the ulcers just in case. Thanks everyone for helping me become a better trainer .
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    11-20-2012, 12:44 PM
Originally Posted by Saddlebag    
Perhaps you might try listening to her. If she's tired, continuing accomplishes nothing. She's telling you she's had enough. Don't turn it into an ego trip whereby your will has to win.
Oh yes - let the horse decide when the workout is done. Then who 'wins'?!

If pain is ruled out (saddle fit, ulcers, back, hocks) then she is being a smart mare and trying to be done.

I would suggest at a practice to turn her towards the leg she is kicking with. Obviously she will have to put the leg down to turn - or fall. The other option is to stop and back her right then and there. Just let your partners know you are doing training runs and may have to leave a gap on the line!
    11-20-2012, 12:50 PM
If you're using a western saddle you can always attach (if not already present) the 'decorative' leather strings on the back of the saddle, both sides, that way you have something to use as a popper on both sides. They're usually long enough and if you use barrel reins like what I'm familiar with ( looped and shorter than general split reins ) it'd be more beneficial.

My mare actually started cow kicking me when I was riding her bareback. She did it as a hissy fit (she had JUST had a vet check all over exam so we knew she didn't have any issues) and I went to signal her to turn and she kicked me in response. I didn't have my long reins with me (i have since switched her to my leather bridle because of this instead of the nylon bridle and reins). I don't ride with crops (all the horses I've dealt with have figured out crops and avoiding them) and my answer to her kicking me was to turn her into the offending leg to force her to put it back down immediately and work off that side of her body. She's repeated it a few times under saddle as well and every time I turned her into the offending leg ( be careful not to turn too hard since they will be 'off balance' being on only three legs and braced on only one on the offending side ) and kept her working in that direction. She has since stopped the issue and taken to cow kicking us when we go to lift her hooves instead. Bottom line if popping her good with the reins or a crop doesn't work give her a 'hard' work out in the direction of which ever leg has kicked you and keep her working there until she's willing to accept forward motion. Best yet try to recognize how she moves when she prepares to kick you so you can start heading her off and working her into that leg before she can kick. It'll teach her that attempting it will be just as quickly punished as carrying it out and she'll eventually learn that the extra work really isn't worth the effort of kicking you.

Since she is so sensitive to the touch on her sides I would go ahead and go back to desensitizing her around the stomach and sides all over and varying degrees of pressure from the ground (maybe holding a looped rope and 'pulling' all over her stomach with the same force as you'd leg pressure her?) to get her to accept the pressure. It sounds to me that she just doesn't want to be told what to do and likes trying to dominate you.

Best of luck with her!
    11-20-2012, 01:41 PM
Originally Posted by mls    
Oh yes - let the horse decide when the workout is done. Then who 'wins'?!

If pain is ruled out (saddle fit, ulcers, back, hocks) then she is being a smart mare and trying to be done.

I would suggest at a practice to turn her towards the leg she is kicking with. Obviously she will have to put the leg down to turn - or fall. The other option is to stop and back her right then and there. Just let your partners know you are doing training runs and may have to leave a gap on the line!
I thought the same thing when saddlebag said that but I kept my thoughts to myself. Anyways I think she is being her usual sassy self and thought she would try something new. I see moving her feet is probably this best option with her as it has been working consistently with her other dominance issues. I'm telling you Joy likes to keep it interesting I'm never bored lol. She's doing alright though I just had never had a horse do that so I was unsure of the best course of action. When she does it I've been just ignoring her protest and making her move on she typically only does it once the whole ride when it happens.
    11-21-2012, 12:27 AM
[QUOTE=Peppy Barrel Racing;1765115]If she had ulcer's wouldn't she be having weight issues? She is a really easy keeper weight wise. She keeps about the same weight. The only time she's ever lost weight was around right before we weaned her colt.

I worked with a hefty Fjord mare who was a REALLY REALLY easy keeper, and she got ulcers- dull coat, crummy attitude... so they don't always lose weight! When I suspect ulcers in a horse, I put them on u-guard (a powdered supplement from smartpak) for a few weeks... when the problem WAS ulcers, that supplement turns them right around :) I can't afford $450 for scoping every time I suspect it since they aren't my horses, so $20 for a bucket that lasts a few months is a pretty good option at least to test my theory!
    11-21-2012, 12:43 AM
One more thought- have you heard of PSSM? Polysaccharide storage myopathy is a disorder where the horses muscles can't properly store sugar, which manifests itself in difficulty or hesitation to move, they can be in pain and have really hard muscles... a mare of mine had this. Took a special blood test from the vet to confirm, and once we found out we changed her diet and she was a new horse :) just an idea, might be worth googling to see if she has any of the symptoms

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