Absolute Beginner! :D Will she kick me?? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 40 Old 01-17-2011, 06:15 AM Thread Starter
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Question Absolute Beginner! :D Will she kick me??

I have become owner of a gorgeous 14yo thoroughbred mare called Elly. I ADORE her.

She has been ridden occasioanlly over the last three years, she was living with my cousin.

For 6 years prior to that, she was ridden occasionally and had some Parelli training with my Aunty.

Her history is of a gentle, sweet natured horse who has never intentionally hurt anyone.

I know next to nothing about horses. I have been researching and working with the Parelli 7 Games program with her. She is doing really well. I can rub her all over and get her to put her head down.

I am afraid of her kicking me. I know I know, she will sense that. That itself concerns me because she might boot me because of it!

When she was being loaded into the float when we picked her up, I saw her kick her leg forward. She bucked and kicked back as well. I understand, she was scared and nervous as it was the first time she had been floated in three years.

She had been here about two weeks and my 16yo niece had ridden her, I led. My niece was getting back up on her and Elly kicked forward again, getting my niece right in the thigh. It left a mark but didn't really hurt. At the same time as her trying to mount Elly, a grinder started some distance away and I suspect she got spooked.

When I run my hands all over her, she is calm and relaxed. She doesn't bite, I can massage her lips, rub all over her face etc. Run my hands down her legs and over her rump. I just can't bring myself to cross around the back of her. The problem is me and my confidence obviously. I don't know her, or horses, well enough, to understand whether she will pick up on nervousness when I try to walk around the back of her and boot me for good measure!

Can someone please give me any advice on what I can/should/shouldn't do?

Just do it perhaps!!

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post #2 of 40 Old 01-17-2011, 06:31 AM
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Well before you go behind her make sure she knows you are there. It is safer to stand right behind a horse than to stand a few feet behind.

Maybe she is in a little pain somewhere and that is why she kicked when your niece was getting up? How did she get up?
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post #3 of 40 Old 01-17-2011, 06:35 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Sarah.

She was mounting her on the left, one foot in stirrup and pulling herself up.

She knows I am there as I am doing the Parelli thing and rubbing her all over.
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post #4 of 40 Old 01-17-2011, 08:19 AM
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I can't remember how long you have had her but sometimes it takes a little bit for your confidence to build. And for her trust to be in you. The more time you spend with her, the more you rub her all over the better.

I agree with Frog as too the closer you are the better off you are at not getting kicked. I used to be just like you so I know exactly what you are feeling. If your not comfortable with walking around her behind, then don't do it yet.

Become more familiar with her. Keep up all the rubbing on both sides. Brushing her butt down to her feet. Sometimes, with my filly I will make her enjoy it by scratching gently up and down her legs.

She absolutely loves when I do that and gets super relaxed. That has helped me to feel safe and confident with a baby that has the potential to kick out of play or frustration. She never has and I don't think she ever will. She trusts when I'm there or behind her that I'm not a threat or something she wants to get rid of.

Granted, like any horse keep your wits about you and don't let down your guard. That's where you can get in trouble. Anything can happen but don't try and focus on that. Keep doing what your doing and give yourself time and her time to adjust to one another and build a trusting relationship with her.

Do this and you will have one heck of a horse and one heck of a friend!
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post #5 of 40 Old 01-18-2011, 10:02 PM
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To simply answer your question -- Of course she will kick you. She is working up to it since you did nothing to let her know that the behavior was not allowed in your herd. When you gave her a 'pass' on her unacceptable behavior, it emboldened her and in effect, told her that she is above you in the pecking order. When she 'cow-kicked' at your daughter, she should have been punished because now she knows that the behavior is ok.

Horses get their behavior patterns from normal herd behavior. I have studied herd dynamics for more than 50 years. I can tell you that just about everything a horse does when it interacts with a human -- especially on the ground -- is driven by this inherent 'hard-wired' herd behavior.

In a herd of horses, there is a 'lead horse'. Nobody but nobody messes with the lead horse. When she come by, the others part like the Red Sea to let her through. They let her have the first feed tub with no fight. There is quite a bit of jostling around between the others to see who get the 2nd and 3rd spot and so forth.

When we interact with a horse, particularly a new horse, that herd of 2 (the new horse and its handler) needs a dominant member and a submissive one. There are never 'equals'. Your mare is trying out for the spot of 'lead horse' in your herd of two. Right now, she is above you on that pecking order. When I interact with any horse or group of horses, I want to be the 'head pecker' (pun intended). I want to be the undisputed lead horse that they all respect and don't mess with. I want to be able to walk out through a group of 8 or 10 horses with a 5 gallon bucket of feed and I want them to stay a respectful distance and wait for me to pour feed into tubs scattered in a big circle. THAT is how it is at my house. This has not happened by accident. It means that I have effectively interacted with each and every horse so that each one knows I am waaaaay above them in the pecking order. I do not want them afraid of me because a fearful horse is more dangerous than a pushy one. I want their respect and attention 100% of the time.

Horses NEED that strong herd structure. They are far more confident and are about 1000 times easier to get along with when you are their undisputed leader. If you are not the strong, decisive leader that a horse needs, they are lost. They don't know what to do, but you can bet it will be wrong.

Very dominant pushy horses that are 'lead horse types' in a herd will step right up and take over. They will have a handler trained in no time at all. Less dominant horse are just lost without a strong leader and become frightful, fearful quivering wrecks. They are afraid of their own shadow and won't go anywhere they do not have to go.

Most horses fall somewhere in between. But, they all get very badly spoiled if they do not have a confident leader that they can put their faith in. Yours is in the process of taking over your relationship with her. She is becoming the boss and you the fearful submissive herd member that is way down the pecking order.

I hope this puts it all in perspective. Novice horse owners have a tendency to take it personal. I hear questions like "Why did she want to hurt me?" or "I have only been nice to her. I just can't understand why she would do this to me?" That is just not how they think. They like their other herd mates, too, but they will kick the crap out of one if they think it will get them a little farther up the pecking order. Two horses may be best of buddies and groom each other one time and may fight tooth and nail the next to see who gets the first feed tub. This is the way herd dynamics work. You need to have the resolve to be the strong herd leader that your horse needs to feel safe and happy.

I will try to get back to my computer tomorrow and lay out a plan of action that will work for a novice owner.

I can tell you that more time is not going to help. It will take positive action on your part to be seen as the strong herd leader she needs. When you understand herd dynamics better, you will find that trust comes from respect. The more a horse respects your position as herd leader, the more they trust you and anything you want to do.
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post #6 of 40 Old 01-18-2011, 10:27 PM
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The above lenthy explanation is true with regard to horse behavior. I don't know what motivated the horse to kick out. Going onto the float it was fear and a desire to run away from a scary situation. It sounds like from what you have described that the mare is not of a mean demeanor. So, it's a wonder why she kicked when the girl was mouting.
In any case , if that happens again, you must immediately react. If you are really close, whack her as close to where she kicked as possible, and don't mince words; make an impression!
Or, take the lead rope and immediately mover her around you in a circle briskly and with authority. She needs to have YOU immediately put her back down in the place below you where she started out.

On the other hand, most horses don't kick without some kind of warning. That's why when I am handling my horse I try to keep his face in my peripheral vision as much as possible. As a hroseman/woman you will learn to have visual and sensory feelers out around you at all times. You may be focussed on caressing some part of the body or examing a bump or lump or lifting a hoof, but you never give all your focus to that. YOu keep your perifpheral vision and your ESP sensors ON the horse. You stay aware of how the horse is reacting. Horse broadcast their feelings loud and clear, and if they are thinking of kicking, or biting, you can usually (and I say USUALLY, not always) see it flicker across their faces before they act on that thought. So, keep reading your mare's face as you work on her. Work toward her rear, and don't creep like you are sneaking. That only makes a horse worried. Go around behind her, so close that your arm in on her bum and her tail passes right under your arm pit. WATCh her as you do this and you may see her watching you, and see her head move as she has you in one eye, then you pass into the other eye. This is an important factor, being aware that you don't hang out in a horse's blind spot, but pass smoothly from one eye to the other.
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post #7 of 40 Old 01-18-2011, 10:40 PM
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Cherie when I 1st read the title of this post that is exactly what I thought -will she kick? Of course she will.
OP if you ever get a chance, sit and watch a herd of horses interact (especially at feeding time) its very enlightening.

So in lies the madness, the pursuit of the impossible in the face of the complete assurance that you will fail, and yet still you chase.
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post #8 of 40 Old 01-19-2011, 01:15 AM
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I agree with the other posters, confidence is the key to working with horses.
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post #9 of 40 Old 01-19-2011, 08:00 AM
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Today, 12:15 AM
#8 cfralic

I agree with the other posters, confidence is the key to working with horses.

Read more: Absolute Beginner! :D Will she kick me??
OK -- Now I am confused.

Where does someone that does not have a clue, suddenly get 'confidence'? Do they order it from Dover or some other E-store?

Confidence comes from knowing what you are doing; knowing that you are 'IN CHARGE'; knowing what to expect from the horse for each of your actions; and most of all, comes from knowing how a horse thinks and responds!

Confidence comes from competence. Competence comes from experience and knowledge.

You just do no go out the day after being kicked and say to yourself "Now, I am going back out there with confidence! I still do not know what to do and I do not know what to expect, but I have confidence I can do it -- whatever it is I need to do."

This is exactly why I tell a lot of people to go out and find a 'mentor' or befriend a competent, respected horseman in their area. You will learn more from osmosis than you can learn from DVDs or books that give you no feedback.
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post #10 of 40 Old 01-19-2011, 08:38 AM
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I'm a big believer in her dynamics and use that to my advantage. Watch eyes, ears, swish of a tail... All tells you how the horse is feeling and warning signs of things to come! And I agree with others on NOT letting her get away with any rude behavior with a swift consequence!
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