by: Andy Curry
I get a lot of horse training questions about stopping a horse from kicking. The kicking habits of these horses range from the horse kicking at virtually anyone to kicking at only the husbands.
It's a daunting problem that lots of people have no idea how to cure. That being so, I want to share some insight to horses kicking.
First I want to relate some causes of horses starting in the habit of kicking. Because a horse kicks is no reason to think he is naturally bad or unmanageable. I don't think there is a horse alive that is "naturally" vicious. In fact, they're made that way due to bad management or ignorant handlers.
Admittedly, there are some horses that inherit the characteristics of their ancestors. But one should never start to break a horse without first taking into consideration the nature, disposition, and understanding of a horse.
For instance, there are some horses that are naturally predisposed to have a "not so good" disposition. There are certain physical characteristics you can spot on a horse that indicate what his disposition is like.
Jesse Beery, a famous horse trainer from the 1800's, was brilliant at deciphering a horse's disposition. He even wrote extensively about how to do it. You can read about it at <a href="http://www.horsetrainingandtips.com/Jesse_Beery_etips.htm." target=new>http://www.horsetrainingandtips.com/Jesse_Beery_etips.htm.</a>
Anyway, now we can handle the horse according to its disposition. We can get it very nearly equal with a good dispositioned horse. All the difference in the world is due to the management and training of the colt. A horse with a "not so good' disposition will require more patience and thorough work.
All animals in nature have a self defense of some sort. A horse's self defense is kicking. After all, if you work with a horse that gets badly excited by some cause (such as ropes or chains coming in contact with his legs and those parts of his body aren't broken) his first inclination is to kick it out of the way.
The trick is to break a horse in a way that the habit never occurs in the first place. Too many people think a lesson will be enough to educate the horse to be ready to go. But if you're driving your horse and he gets caught under the tail or the cross pieces of the shaft touch his quarters...and those parts are unbroken, it would likely frighten and excite him enough to cause him to kick.
And the worse part is this: Once started, there is an increased inclination to go on kicking until confirmed in the habit.
So the cure is prevention. You must make all parts of his body submissive to sensitivity of his extremities. One way to do this is using a technique called poling. Essentially, you take a light pole and start at a horse's nose, rub it over the mane, back, belly, quarters, and sensitive parts of the body, until all muscles become relaxed.
But what if you have a horse confirmed in the habit of kicking?
If that's the case, I can give you three possible answers.
One is to sell the horse. If you feel it's not fixable then it's not a good idea to keep the horse around. You're going to get severely injured if you're not extra careful.
Two, get a professional trainer to help you. A trainer will charge anywhere from $400.00 per month to $900 per month. Is that worth it to get your horse to stop kicking? Only you can decide.
Third, you can learn to do it yourself. There are solutions out there that are pretty good. Jesse Beery, which I mentioned earlier, has a permanent solution to stop it.
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