Kicking even during play is unacceptable and should always be reprimanded IMO! Would you let a 2 yr old child hit you because they are playing? No, we would teach them that its not acceptable behavior. Just like kicking is not an acceptable behavior from a horse. If you watch a herd, a young horse will not kick out at the lead mare even in play. And if it does the lead mare will reprimand it. It might not be "disrespect" now but if allowed to continue will turn into disrespect and is just an accident waiting to happen. 1000+ lbs versus my 160lbs?? I don't wanna find out who's going to win so I personally choose to avoid that kind of situation with preventative measures.
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