My Horse Kicks...What do I do?
My horse has always had some respect issues, mostly on the ground. I'm pretty sure he knows how he is supposed to act, because when I looked at him he was very quiet and obedient. My issue is just how I'm supposed to enforce the rules.
His lastest prank, kicking, has made me decide it is time to work on groundwork and respect. I was fingerpainting him with horse paint for a parade, and he did not want to stand still...I don't think he liked the paint, but he could've been plain antsy too. Anyway, he was scooting around while tied, and he was getting in my space, so I smacked him and made him back away. Then, within a second, he turned his hindquarters to me and kicked me to the ground. I'm not sure if his hoof even got me, as nothing hurts except my tailbone, which I landed on. It really freaked out my mom and me too. He has threatened to kick before and tried to, usually when I try to shoo him away or when I'm trying to get him to speed up on the lunge line. He kicked my dad once too, a year or so back. I thought he had grown out of this, but it's coming back again.
He also trys to rush ahead when I'm leading him and does not care where he puts his feet. I have been knocked over twice because he's been startled and jumps into me. I can't get him to slow down when I lead him, even when I bump him with my elbow or try to stop him and back him. He won't stop with me. He also has problems loading in the trailer - he balks until we get the lunge whip out. He respects that more than me unfortunately.
My riding is fair, but Rusty is my first horse and isn't the most obedient. What are some exercises I can do with him and how can I break this kicking habit before I or someone else gets seriously hurt?
This is an easy fix but extremely hard for me to explain to you in writing. You need the help of someone right there with you to show you the needed corrections, find someone. Quickly too, this is dangerous & could get worse.
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Simple. If your working with him carry a dressage (long) whip in your pocket. If he so much as crinkles his nose he gets a hard whack and yell "hey!". It has to be hard enough to mean something so the memory sticks. If you tap him with it your probably just going to tick him off more. One swift whack, then go back to what your doing.
If he threatens to kick you, ie moving his butt toward you, lifting a legs, kicking the air, tail swishing, etc make him think that he is about to DIE. Use your whip, a bucket, your shoe, back him, let him bump his butt into things (safe things, stall door, split rail fence), shake the lead. If you do it right he is going to say "whoa, better NEVER do that again". Then just go right back to what your doing with him.
Make sure when your around him he is ALWAYS on his best behavior. Little habits can snowball into big ones. Mouthiness to biting. Kicking out at the air turns to kicking a human. Expect nothing but good behavior from him. Don't let him get away with rubbing his head on you and biting then discipline him for kicking. Keep everything the same across the board.
Practice moving him out of your space. Make use you can easily move his hindend, shoulders, back and forward out of your space. All I have to do is say "move over" or "over" and sometimes touch her with my finger and she scoots over. If she doesn't listen I grab a cotton lead and lightly reinforce what she knows.
Make sure what your doing isn't causing your horse pain. Check to see if his back is sore by running your fingers on either side about two inches away from his spine. Run them over his hips and all the way to the base of his tail. I don't think its an acceptable thing for a horse to kick out when they.are in pain, but its worth a check.
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I wholeheartedly agree with Slidestop. I'm not going to add anything to that because that is EXACTLY what I would do in this situation. There's some pretty dang good advice there. If my horse ever threatens me in any way, I make him think he's going to die. They certainly remember it and don't usually try again.
Definitely work some ground work/respecting your space. I'd do it in the arena and carry a dressage whip. I find ground work sessions to be a huge help for many things.
Agreed. You need to turn from a push-over to a drill sergeant, at least for a while. Once he knows and is respecting the rules, you can be 'friends' again, but his behavior may get you or someone else seriously injured or killed.
DEMAND PERFECT behavior. If he so much as lifts a foot in irritation, gives you a dirty look, or fails to get out of your way, you need to react and correct him immediately- make him believe that you really will kick his hiney from on fencerow to the next like a good lead mare would. Once he KNOWS, deep down that you will not tolerate that kind of nonsense, he will stop trying it. It sounds like he's been getting away with pushing you around for a while, so you're going to have to get tough with him for just as long to overcome the bad habits you both have gotten into (you tolerating that sort of disrespect, and him dishing it out). I always recommend getting a trainer involved too- there is nothing like a extra pair of eyes to see warning signs and habits that you don't even notice any more and give you on-the-spot advice.
Slidestop is wise. :) Back the heck out of him immediately. And not a nice showmanship back but a crazy quick your face is on fire back. Your horse definitely has no respect for you and you are the low man on the totem pole here. And always keep his head tipped towards you. I like how Clinton Anderson explains it..."Two eyes are always better then two heels."
I'd pop him in the butt with the end of the lead rope (Hard enough to get his attention.) and make him turn to face you (when he kicks at you or even acts like he's going to). Practice making him yield his hindquarters away from you. Back him up a lot, too. He sounds like he doesn't respect your space at all. Maybe do some lunging. I agree that the little things can (and WILL!!) snowball into bigger things. Fix them NOW while they are still little. I'll see if I can find a video of someone yielding their horse's hindquarters...
Found one! It's not the best, but it gives you the general idea. I was sad that I couldn't find any of Clinton Anderson doing it... this lady (right?) isn't as demanding as he is...
If you are concerned about hitting him, and don't want to be mean to your boy, think in horse terms. He never for a second considered you when he kicked you. He told you to stop multiple times with his fidgeting and you didn't listen. He was telling you "hey, I don't like that. I don't like that. Stop." and you did not correct him. He got fed up with you ignoring his warnings and blasted you. Which should have sent you into a Taz-like tornadic rage beating him into the next county. That is considered dangerous behavior and a "killing offense". He doesn't care a lick about you so don't feel bad about retaliating. He could KILL you with this behavior.
The very first "No." he gives you needs to be corrected. Figure out what works best for you in gaining his respect. Backing him up furiously is often recommended. And then figure out what he is telling you. Watch his body, his feet, his eyes, his ears, his mouth. He will tell you when he is getting irritated. It is your job to listen and adjust his attitude.
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I have a pushy young horse. I had an issue with leading, he was pushing my buttons slow to stop on the lead, nudging me and being a pest. I put a stud chain on him over his nose. I stopped he did not and I popped the lead and the chain. He backed up and we did that for about twenty minutes. I transitioned him down to a normal lead. I find a lead with a chain can help. If nothing else it might give him something to think about. In my book, if he threatens to kick you again, you tear him a new one or make him think you will. Make it the most negative experience in his entire life, for a few seconds. Then go back to doing what you were doing before.
I'm against all training advice that has been given so far. Not because I disagree with most of it, but because I don't think you or your family is capable of carrying it out.
That he has kicked at your dad, and continually has threatened you tells me your family is not horsey enough to deal with this. I imagine what will happen is that you all will try to fix this, and not be tough enough to back it up and will instead make this worse.
Get a trainer involved. And not just a guy down the street that rides horses that buck, but someone who really is a horseman/woman. If you don't, the next kick could be the one you wake up dead from.
The lead rope thing as a correction for kicking is a major no no as it does not give you something firm enough, as a lash whip would do, to get horse off of you, plus you have to regather it, something that people that aren't good with handling horses will not be able to do in time to stave off any other behaviors.
A lash whip or even a branch gives you a diameter of protection.
But I really don't think you or your family will be successful without someone helping you.
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