Gelding Threatening to Kick When His Feet Are Picked Up
So my gelding, Amaretto, is a rescue gelding, as some of you may recall. I have a trainer working with him twice a week, and she gives me "homework" to do with him when I'm there on weekends. He's a big guy, around 16.1 with a solid build. His general demeanor is good, he leads well and doesn't get in my space. However, he has an issue that I can't seem to work out. Whenever I try to pick up his back hooves to clean them out, he lifts his leg in warning, obviously threatening to kick. Oddly enough, he also does this if we groom past his rib cage, even with a soft bristle brush, but we can rub him down with our hands there and he's fine. The farrier can easily trim his front hooves, but can't do the back because of this behaviour. He was trained and owned by the amish, and we bought him from a kill buyer, so we have no history besides the fact that he's supposed to be 8. The vet has looked at him and can find no reasons that any of this would cause him pain. When he does it, I say "NO!" loudly, and he drops his foot, but will do it again as soon as I resume what I was doing. For reading all of this, I will include a picture of him :D Any advice on the cause, or how to deter it would be appreciated!
Whoops, here ya go.
Voice isn't enough. If he raises his foot you need to make him regret ever thinking about doing so. Give him a good solid smack, chase him until he's sorry. Let him know that you WILL NOT stand for that, because a horse who kicks is incredibly dangerous. Every time. He'll stop after not too long, because he'll start to understand that YOU are the lead horse, not him.
ITA with Shoebox, even THINKING about kicking anyone needs to be the biggest mistake this horse has ever made in his life. If the voice correction was sufficient you would no longer be dealing with this behavior.....
It sounds like this horse would benefit from some solid ground work.
I would be more apt to stick in him a round pen and get him moving everytime he threatened you on this one. This sounds like it will take more than once or twice to desensitize this horse so I would avoid smacking him everytime. However, if you ask him to move and he kicks out, then yes, I would give him a good hard crack with whatever is in my hand, (usually a lead rope).
What happens if, when he lifts his leg you grab the foot?
Some horses will loft the leg fast and high when they think you want to pick its feet and when the hoof is not held they will look as if they were going to kick out?
If he is genuinely trying to kick then I would first desensitise him with the 'hand'. A bamboo pole/stick about 5' long with a stuffed glove attached to one end. You can stand back by his shoulder and rub the 'hand' all down his legs. If he does kick then you can do one of two things, the first is the whack him with the pole or rapidly push the hand down the inside of the other leg.
When he is use to this and you can touch him with your hands down his leg get a long soft rope and place that around the pasterns and ask him to pick his leg up whilst you are standing by his shoulder. If he lifts it just a couple of inches lower it immediately. If he kicks keep pulling it up and only let it down when he stops.
Your farrier cannot be a lot of good as they should have been able to sort the problem and shown you how.
Right now we're only doing groundwork with him. He was a buggy horse, and I'm not riding him until his groundwork is solid. We don't have a roundpen where we board, just an arena that isn't secure enough to let him go in. Every weekend I go out, bring him in from the field, groom him, walk and trot him in hand, making sure he's conscious of my space and stopping because I'm stopping (and because I say "whoa"). Then I lunge him on both sides, going through his transitions. Then we go back to lead line and do trot poles, do some work with getting him to back up when I wiggle the rope (which is not his favourite, but he does it).
What other ground work exercises would you recommend? The trainer is also the BO, and she works with him twice a week. I was more wondering if anyone had some insight as to what in his former training/life would have caused this glitch, because it's out of character for him. However, I will start giving him a smack and see if it makes a difference, it could be what he needs, and we need to be able to clean his feet, as he lives outside 24/7, not to mention the various scenarios in which being able to access his feet is vital.
Thanks for the suggestions, keep them coming!
He puts his hoof back down and won't lift it, and then does it again. The trainer and farrier were the first ones to see it happen, and I trust that they recognize when a horse is threatening to kick. To be honest, I've never been there when the farrier is there, I live an hour away and drive there Saturday and Sunday. He seems pretty good, and came highly recommended. He usually does my guys when he's on a call there anyway, do you think it would be beneficial for me to try to be there next time he's out? I will print out the hand suggestion and bring it with, it sounds like a good solution for working with this problem, without getting myself kicked. Thanks!
Could use a rope. Get a. Rope looped around and pick it up with the rope so if he kicks it can't get you. Just follow his foot and let him kick. Hell quit eventually. Soon as he quits, put it back down, then (using the rope still) put pressure to lift back up
Repeat till you can pick it up without him kicking
Thanks for taking the time to reply :). So in this case, would I just have a helper hold him while I do this, or would it be better to put him in crossties? There are crossties in the arena, so I could clip him up there, have a helper on hand watching him, and rope him (I'm assuming around the pastern?), let him kick if he's going to. Up to this point, he just threatens and never carries through. Repeat this until he learns that a)kicking isn't going to stop me from picking up his feet and b) there's nothing to be afraid of in the first place?
In case anyone is interested, I've asked the trainer to help me on the weekend and evaluate how I've been doing everything. I worked with horses long ago, but they were mostly turn-key ranch horses. I wasn't looking to get a rescue horse, but I did, and I've been putting a lot of time and money into doing right by him. My barn came highly recommended, and I trust the barn owner's advice on many things. I'll be asking her what she recommends as well, but there is such a wealth of information here that I thought I'd get some suggestions here too.
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