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A Thoroughbred gelding named Dream Catcher that I use for lessons has a tendancy to always paw with his front hooves, and pick up his back legs to try and kick while he is being groomed. I really don't think it's a health problem that causes grooming to hurt him, but rather behavioral issues. This is clearly not safe, and annoying because I'm constantly stopping. So, is there anything I can do to maybe stop this or prevent him from keeping it up? Thanks for any help!
 

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First, this behavior has nothing to do with grooming. Second, if this isn't your horse then it's the owners responsibility to fix it. Finally, don't stop grooming when he kicks or paws. Stay out of the way and keep grooming.
 

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To me this horse needs some basic ground training -- starting with you being able to work all around him safely. Kevinshorses has a good point that if it's not your horse, you shouldn't have to train it, but on the other hand, you don't want to get hurt either, so it's a discussion that needs to be had with the owner.

I would keep a crop handy at all times. When he lifts his back foot for any reason other than you asking him to move, you tell him no and force his weight back onto it by pushing or pulling depending where you are standing. You can push his butt from the opposite side, pull his tail or pull his head; whatever you need to do to change the weight and depending on the risk to yourself for a potential kick. He must understand that his feet have to stay on the ground at all times.

For his pawing, you can again force his weight, but I have always found that more difficult in the front. A firm no and pressure on the top of his leg to push it down might help. If necessary, smack him with the crop, lightly first and progressively harsher if needed.

In any event, if he actually kicks or provides a "I-wanna-kick-but-I'm-not-quite-sure-I-can-get-away-with-it" kick, he needs a solid smack with the crop on his back leg/haunch with your no and possibly and really nice big freak out on him, depending on his personality. Might be an idea to be close enough to the tie to be able to quick release and back him right away as well. No leniency whatsoever with the kicking.

I would watch him for ANY sort of behavior that is disrespectful. The pawing and kicking are only a part of it. Any time you are near him, be sure that YOU are the one dictating when he can and can't move. If you are moving hay or shavings or whatever be sure that he has to get out of your way, not that you are working around him. You must be the bully, not him.

If others are working with this horse, you all need to be at the same table.

Edited to add: agreed, do not stop grooming him. Discipline, then continue as before. Discipline as often as necessary and continue.
 

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I wouldnt pass this behaviour off as him just being rude and disrespectful completely. He could be a highly sensitive horse or he could be sore. Has he always done this is or is it a new behaviour?
 

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Is there any particular area you are grooming when he does this?

If he just does it in general, he's probably impatient. Hoover does the paw and the head toss when being trimmed, because he's my ADHD horse :p. I firmly tell him no, and take a pinch of his neck skin and twist it if he doesn't listen. The minute he stops, I release the skin.

As for the kicking, make sure you discipline him when he raises his leg, before he kicks, if you can catch it.

And everyone's absolutely right...do not stop grooming him unless you are in physical danger and have to jump out of the way.
 

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First, this behavior has nothing to do with grooming. Second, if this isn't your horse then it's the owners responsibility to fix it. Finally, don't stop grooming when he kicks or paws. Stay out of the way and keep grooming.
Yeeeap I second this.

You learn to deal with it and eventually the horse does it less and less when it finds it doesn't get a rise out of you.
 

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I read somewhere that you could tie an object to a string, and then tie it around the horse's foot so that when he paws the object flies up and pops his leg. In theory it would punish the horse every time so he wouldn't want to do it.

I've never done it, never seen it, I just read about it one time. So ...maybe it'd work? Obviously don't use something that would really hurt. Kind of like the cracking an egg on a horse's poll when it rears.
 

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Agreed: could use some behavioural evaluation and ground work. While determining the cause and remedy, you could try different brushes/techniques, on the chance that he is just hypersensitive (not unusual at all for some TBs).
 

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Although I believe this is most likely a behavioral issue as other members have stated, I'd like to add my two cents. Many TB's are thin skinned and ticklish, making them very sensitive horses. Maybe you are grooming too lightly and tickling him?

One of my geldings went through a phase awhile back where he didn't like being groomed--I later realized it was the stiff dandy brush I was using. When I switched back to the softer brush, he would let me groom him without protest. This gelding could just be sensitive to grooming techniques and tools if manners aren't the issue.
 

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im really sorry if i repeat anything that has already been said but im in a rush and dont have time to read all replies.

being that the horse is a thoroughbred it may be an issue of sensitivity. i have spent a lot of time working with tb's and have one of my own and they can be very sensitive. they are thin skinned horses and can often object to grooming. while it may be behavioural i would first look at this as an issue. i have found using a very soft brush and being particularly gentle can make a difference. my tb mare is particularly sweet but gets very agitated during grooming. i found a brush made out of goats hair which is incredibly soft and she enjoys this much more.

im not ruling out behaviour issues but i would also look at this as well. ive groomed many tb's in my time as i used to work as a strapper and at least 95% of the tbs i have groomed have been sensitive to grooming. just a thought :)
 

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my horse does this its just really bad manners she chews the door tries to bite and kick and paws the ground she is not sensitive as i use mainly towels to clean her so there is no drama with the brush. i find that if i tie her up outside quite short with maybe some hay it stops her biting. when she paws every time she raises a front leg i slap her really hard on the knee and say no. the hin legs are a bit more dangerous however everytime she raises it i slap hard and the belly and place my hand firmly onto her leg untill she lowers it it adds ALOT of extra time to your grooming regime but it does start to work eventually once they realise there getting groomed and thats final no0 matter how much they argue about it!
 

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my horse does the same thing!!! but the old owner said he has done it since he was very little....in one spot i brush him I think he is ticklish and does it but if the pawing doesn't hurt anything and if hes not trying to kick someone/something...then I wouldn't worry about it too much.
 

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Sunny paws when she's being groomed, especially when cross-tied. What I do, which has worked wonders, is as soon as I see her lift a front leg I push all of my weight into her shoulder and knock her off balance so she has to put it down. Immediately after I push, and I mean immediately, I go straight back to what I was doing. She has deffinately cut down on it, just about stopped all together.
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I agree. My younger horse paws sometimes because she is impatient. Its kind of a mini temper tantrum. I either ignore it & keep doing what I'm doing. If it gets too bad I give her a quick smack, say no & then go back to what I'm doing. The shifting their weight is a good idea too. I didn't think of that until now. I'll have to try that next time.
 

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J can somtimes get impatient and lifts his leg and paws or if its his back leg he will lift it up and move around. my solution to it is to talk to him and if he picks the leg ug I take hold of it and carry on working if he puts it down I continue for a litttle then stop when he stays standing still and give him a pat tell him he is good.

occasionally he does dance around like an idiot and when i know its more naughtiness rather than being sick of me pulling mud off him he gets a bit of a swat and told to stand still. seems to be working so far
 

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Although I believe this is most likely a behavioral issue as other members have stated, I'd like to add my two cents. Many TB's are thin skinned and ticklish, making them very sensitive horses. Maybe you are grooming too lightly and tickling him?

One of my geldings went through a phase awhile back where he didn't like being groomed--I later realized it was the stiff dandy brush I was using. When I switched back to the softer brush, he would let me groom him without protest. This gelding could just be sensitive to grooming techniques and tools if manners aren't the issue.
Addressing the problem on two fronts is the best idea, I think. First you get it across to him that no matter what, he MUST be a gentleman. Then you offer him your own cooperation in the form of a softer brush, possibly a gentler approach in general. We have a horse in our barn now that gets a goat's-hair brush. (With a TB, I think it's likely the grooming is too rough for him rather than too light, but try different things to see how he responds.)
 

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As far as pawing, my horse does the same thing...ive asked 3 different vets about it and they all says its just ger being impatient...and ive tried everything you guys have mentioned...from ignoring it, to tying somthing to it pops her everytime she does it..so using a crop and just popping her with it when she does it..everything..nothing worked...she only does it when shes tied up for grooming, or a bath, or etc and i walk away..so i know its just an attention thing but than again, if shes standing there to long (as she thinks) she'll start doing it as well...so theres her being impatient...but ive never had a problem with her kicking what so ever...sound like the horse needs more ground work.
 

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Another thing to maybe consider..again, not sure so correct me if im wrong...is look at the protein in the grain your giving and the amount of work the horse is under-going...a farrier once i know once had a client ask him about the pawing she her horse was on a 14% and wasnt doing to much but maybe a trail ride once a week or so and the horse was just so ancy..so she gradually cut her horse down to a 10% and it eliminated the problem...just something to think about.
 
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