Kicking with back feet
So, here is an odd question… Anyone have thoughts on dealing with a filly who is light in the back end?
That said, here is the background. This is an Arab filly, Egyptian and Polish lines, currently two and a half years old. She went untouched until she was two and a half, living out with the broodmare band. Last August the breeder trapped her in a stall and took two weeks to halter break her and teach her to stack for the show ring. Then she went back out to the broodmare band for two more weeks before coming home with me. We were not expecting a new horse at the time, and did not have time to do ANYTHING with her – I actually had to be bullied into taking her because I knew we didn’t have any time or money for another horse. She spent the next four months in a paddock with my gelding. She would get loved on, ponyed out on trails with me, and the farrier has managed to do her feet evey eight weeks.
Come the new year, my finances got better and the horses came in from 24/7 turn out, and went into stalls. She is turned out for eight to ten hours a day into a paddock - sometimes with my gelding, sometimes without – lately she is getting herd bound to him so more without then with. My gelding and her can touch noses over the side of the stalls at night – but the stable owner is thinking that needs to change.
In the last month, we have actually started having time to work specifically with her. The stable owner is very good with horses and does not allow them to misbehave leading, but for ease of dealing with the filly, tends to lead her with my gelding to and from her stall. She gets fed LOTS of good quality orchard grass hay and some rice bran.
Now, I am quite used to young unhandled horses being light in the front end with a tendency to rear. I have trained over 30 horses to saddle and retrained another 40 or so rescues – rearing is not a problem that I need help with, but this girl doesn’t rear, she kicks.
It started with the occasional stomp of a back hoof – which never went uncorrected with a harsh word or slap. But as she gets tame, it is getting worse. Today, my daughter (20) led her past my gelding and I on the way to the arena, and as soon as she was past me, the horse let fly with both barrels aimed at my head! Now my daughter spun her as she kicked so she kicked the wall and not me and then proceeded to do leading lessons up and down the driveway in the pouring down rain for the next 30 minutes – most of which was done backing and giving on the forehead and haunches – all requiring submission.
When the filly flashed teeth, my daughter used the three second rule to make her think she had to DIE. Apparently there is a dominance issue. When the filly showed proper submission, the two of them joined us in the arena. I was in the round pen working the herd boundness out of my gelding… (but that is something I can handle) Once I was done with the round pen, in went the daughter and the filly. Twice, in the next 45 minutes, back feet flew at my daughter – who was not amused.
The filly was pushed until she finally gave in and gave a join up, but it was not a complete submission. The filly was walked calmly afterwards and even laid down in the soft dirt for a good roll while still on her leadline. My daughter took the opportunity to scratch her while she was lying down – which we both took as a good sign.
But I don’t think this is over. However, in all my years of working horses, I have never had a horse who tended to kick out with the back feet. I am at a loss for how to specifically address this situation, other than addressing the general dominance challenge. Thoughts?
Keep working with her. I think your daughters reaction was very good and she needs to stay consistent with those corrections.
She needs to learn respect.
Id also carry a dressage whip or lunge whip and if she attempted to lift her hind legs in a bad way, shed get smacked in the butt and sent to work.
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This is exactly what Lucky did (and probably does again now *sigh*) when I first started riding her.
Lucky's issue was because she wasn't confident in her handler to keep her safe. I'm sure somewhere along the line someone let something happen to her carelessly and she has a slightly difficult time respecting someone enough to trust them without kicking at everything and anything behind them.
Lucky's a slightly paranoid, high-strung horse in general, which doesn't help her kicking at all. I used both a crop to whack her butt with (I whack her legs when lunging, because she just kicks more if it's on her butt. And she doesn't realize that a smack someone else has anything to do with her kicking) and I've done oodles of circle-work and worked her ass off afte she kicked at another horse. Occasionally I've yanked on the reins and caught her in the mouth because she'd get too into it and keep giving little kicks with her head down.
After about 5 rides like above, she was an angel for me up until recently (she has a new owner who isn't very..knowledgable, is the nice way to put it). Occassionally in a new place she'd have a "bad day", which translated to kicking at anything/everything, and becoming much too light on the front end (which..she's not a horse to rear, ever). I figure that since she trusts me and respects me so much, that when she had her issues at the two shows, they were so much worse because of that.
But, I agree that you need to just keep working with her and you'll get your respect, and then her trust in you as her leader relatively quickely as long as you're consistent.
I, personally, will work with a rearing horse before a kicker/bucker, but I didn't really have a choice when I started to ride Lucky. So, on I went. I think kicking is more dangerous than rearing if you know how to deal with it, so I never once went without correcting her if she kicked. I ran her around the round pen for about 40 minutes until she finally relaxed and stayed in a nice canter like I was originally asking for. She's too desensitised to the whip because of previous riders, so I have to actually tap her with it to get her to move off. She generally kicks out at the whip, and then I smack her again and have her speed up. Since I was reteaching her how to lunge, she didn't want to listen to voice cues, she felt they were only for when I was in the saddle. She'll walk/trot with voice now, but I'm done training to lunge since it won't be going anywhere but downhill with her new owner trying to lunge her, she's already gotten kicked in the stomach (and I only found out from another leasee who overheard her talking, never from her ofthe BO). I'm not going to put myself at risk of getting kicked while doing something I never like doing anyway (I can do all that while on her back, much safer for both of us that way). But since you don't have anyone constantly messing up the work you two have been putting into the mare, I think she'll come around relatively quickely. Good luck to you and I hope everything works out.(:
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Trust me, I would so much rather deal with a horse who rears than one that kicks. This is how I have managed to go so long without ever having to deal with one.
This filly sort of came to us out of the blue. She hasn't had human mistreatment, because that would involve human interaction. I know the breeder who she came from is really only interested in the front end of a horse, so to say. This filly was only handled enough to be able halter break her, not touch her.
The abuse that makes her scared about having things behind her came from the broodmares. There were some nasty mares out in the groups who would hunt the weaker horses - thus why I was bullied into taking this filly home. She had to get out of the pasture.
So, thanks! At least we are doing the right things. We will just keep at it. Other than the tendancy for those back feet to fly, she is a great horse. Heck, three weeks after I brought her home, having never had her feet touched by human hands, the farrier trimmed all four in less than fifteen minutes! That was the first time she had had any of her feet touched.
Coming from the other end:
Especially with an intelligent horse, who has no reason to kick, I really believe she is looking for a reaction, even if it hurts.
In my experience, mares kick mare than rear. Anyway, I had a kicking-biting-striking mare once, and didn't have a clue what to do about it. A cowboy told me not to try to stop it, but let her kick and kick and kick until she found out it got her nothing. So one day, when I was attempting to wash her, she started kicking at the water from the hose, and I let her kick and kick and kick. (She was about three and a half.)
It's hard to believe, but that was the last time she ever kicked, outside of dogs, or being startled.
I like to do a lot of rope training/ playing with anyway. I want them used to all sorts of wierdness - she will eventually be jousting in full costume.
I am thinking a lasso about a back foot with occasional pressure should keep her kicking for quite a while. I think I will wait on that until AFTER she has her feet trimmed on Wednesday, just in case I cause more problems than I solve. So far she has been an absolute angel for the farrier - I don't need to jinx that!
Yes, I couldn't figure out how to make her kick either. I'd have a rope on her feet to work them (for about a year, before I was confident) but she wasn't all that bad until a farrier sored her. Never got shoes on her again, but she had good feet, so I just kept them trimmed myself.
Well, I worked her today in the round pen - my daughter had to study for an exam, pesky college courses get in the way of horses!
Yeah, not one kick - which I am totally fine with. We worked for about ten minutes of stupid then got a half-hearted join up. Then ten more mintues of work for another join up and we called it quits for the day. She got lots of carrots and some love and hopefully we will never get a kick responce again. Here is to wishful thinking!
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