So last night in my lesson, two of the barns staff were talking and I was passing by them just on my loose rein, ladela. Then I heard the one lady say 'I hate Phlora club' or something to that effect (Phlora is my horse). So I piped up and said 'Oh, what about my horse' and the lady responded 'Yeah, she kicked me in the ass the other day, I was out for four days!" and I said "I'm sorry, not really my fault.. but sorry to hear.."
She's a sweet horse, I have no idea what the heck is going on. This is the second time that this has happened during turn out... but when I had her boarded outside she never ever kicked at me. Ever, when I was taking her out or bringing her in.
Then I got to asking around. Both times they have lead her with this horse that I know she hates. The horse has kicked her and bit her in the past (saw it myself), it only makes sense that my horse hates her. AND a friend of mine who works there as well said she saw them just take off her halter when letting her loose with out turning her head to face them. That is just such a big no-no, you always turn the horse to face you to avoid getting kicked. I don't really know where this is going, but I'm feeling frustrated because I don't want my horse to be known as a kicker when it's not solely her fault. She is really happy if she is lead in/out with her 'boyfriend'... YES she is kicking (bad) but the staff should know not to release her improperly and should not to lead her with the horse she obviously hates. Please don't bag on me or anything, I just needed to get this out... And to prevent future injuries from happening I already wrote that she shouldn't be lead with the horse, talked to the BO, etc etc. I'd feel a bit bad asking her to be moved to a different pasture, but would that be necessary? I feel awfully bad about the girls who got hurt, but I know my horse would not do it without reason she is kind and not one of those horses who would do it maliciously.
Well, mare shouldn't be kicking regardless of whether she is turned to face or not. But turning a horse to face them before taking a halter off should be second nature to them, after years with horses it's my first instinct now. Nor should she need to be lead with her boyfriend, but I think these are very secondary to the main issue. And I think you realize these two things.
Why is she out with a horse that bites and kicks her to the extent she is afraid of it? And lead with it (assuming two at a time) on top of it? I really attempt to never lead two in hand if I can help it, god knows that will be the time when one of them acts up and I need both hands. Yes I have done it but I totally avoid it.
I do think you should have her pasture changed, the wrong pasture mates can really effect a horse's behavior and manners even when they are out of the pasture.
I don't really know where this is going, but I'm feeling frustrated because I don't want my horse to be known as a kicker when it's not solely her fault.
I feel awfully bad about the girls who got hurt, but I know my horse would not do it without reason she is kind and not one of those horses who would do it maliciously.
Doesn't matter whose "fault" it is or if it's malicious.
Your horse is a kicker. Period. End stop.
It's great that she's sweet and doesn't do it maliciously, but that doesn't change the fact that she does it. And yes, it sounds like the handling is setting her up for situations where she will kick, so that absolutely needs to be addressed.
But you, as the owner, need to take responsibility now for the fact that you have a horse with a tendency to kick. Figure out what tends to make her kick and make sure people know that, so they don't take her for granted. The fact that she's sweet actually makes this harder, because people will let their guard down, and that's when they will get hurt.
I guess my instinct would be to get more information. If worker got kicked because she was in the way and your mare was kicking out at or disputing with the other horse, that's different than seeking to kick the human. Some people will disagree with that statement but I do believe it can happen, that a nearby human can get caught in the "crossfire." I don't think I've ever known a horse who wouldn't kick at another horse; it's pretty common. But I'd certainly speak to the barn owner and try to see what can be done to set your mare and the workers up for success, such as instructions not to lead her out with the horse she doesn't get along with (or not turn her out with them), to face her toward humans before having her halter off, etc. like you said. But I would try to address it with genuine concern for everyone and not defensiveness.
Maybe your friend who also works there could be assigned to Phlora, or could assist with making sure she is handled properly (because not facing any horse toward you when turning them out is not good, safe handling).
"However complicated and remarkable the rest of his life was going to be, it was here now, come to claim him."- JoAnn Mapson
If worker got kicked because she was in the way and your mare was kicking out at or disputing with the other horse, that's different than seeking to kick the human. Some people will disagree with that statement but I do believe it can happen, that a nearby human can get caught in the "crossfire."
Yes, but if you have a horse that you know tends to kick in certain situations, than everyone needs to know about and understand those situations.
All horses MAY kick at another, but if this one TENDS TO kick at another, the human is at an increased risk of being kicked if they forget/take a shortcut/etc. Even if it's a crossfire situation and not something directed at the human.
I think people assume kicker = hates humans and wants them dead. Sometimes is just means the horse will instinctively go to kicking first (vs. squealing or striking at other horses in turnout, for example).
It is much better to accept, understand, and handle the horse as a sweet and non-malicious kicker than to be in denial about the horse's tendency to kick out. Especially if the horse is otherwise sweet and may lull people into complacency with ground manners.
My mare was similar to the OPs. Very sweet, not a malicious kicker, but in my mare's case, when she was startled she kicked first and asked questions later. The answer to this was not to brush it off as "any horse can kick when startled." That's true, but since the odds were significantly greater that my horse WOULD kick, precautions to make sure no one was in kicking range were also greater.
So I piped up and said 'Oh, what about my horse' and the lady responded 'Yeah, she kicked me in the ass the other day, I was out for four days!" and I said "I'm sorry, not really my fault.. but sorry to hear.."
If I discovered my horse kicked someone, I would be horrified and exceedingly apologetic. Then I would take steps with the BO to try to prevent such situations from occurring as much as possible, such as prohibiting barn workers from leading the mare in with another horse. And no, I wouldn't phrase any changes like this as a "barn worker doesn't know how to properly lead and turn out horses". It should be positioned as ways to keep the barn workers safe from an animal with a propensity to kick.
"Intent" really doesn't matter here. A horse kicking out of fear has the same end result as a horse kicking out of intentional nastiness.
I did apologize, and she did say thank you, and agreed with me that there is nothing I could have done, I do feel awful about it. I messaged the other girl on Facebook, also very apologetic. I just feel trapped, like I hate that my horse kicks and I'm not denying it is a very very bad thing that needs to be changed. I don't know, I definitely also am not trying to defend her saying that she is a kind horse like its the staffs fault she is kicking out. It is bad behavior that will not be tolerated. I'm just confused what to do to stop it - will she stop kicking if I change her to another paddock, or even put her in one of the pens? What if she doesn't? I do not want other staff to be hurt because of my horse and I definitely want to stop this problem before it escalates even more. I did talk with the BO about it, and she is going to be lead alone until we can have a longer chat this Saturday... Thanks for not being too harsh, I really would hate being called an awful or irresponsible owner for this. She's my first horse, I have had no experience with this before. It's really down heartening, again I feel super bad this happens.
Halt Near X has given you great advice . Particularly the point that some horses are simply more apt to kick, or bite, or strike... It just so happens that your horses "go-to" is to kick.
I have a client whose very dear pony kicks. She has now kicked enough people, or tried to, that her owner is very frank about it. She handles her carefully and warns everyone. Fair enough. When I trim her, I have permission to school her about having her back legs handled.
I also board one of the loveliest, kindest, easiest horses I have ever known.. And his thing, too, is kicking. He had never actually kicked me or his owner but he makes it clear that he might want to and we make it equally clear that it would not be ok for him to do so.
So being very honest with yourself and others is what matters here. Dont beat yourself about it, dont take it to heart, just remember to warn people and be diligent that you do not allow her to take any liberties with her hind feet around you. Good luck and be safe.
"Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
--- The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.
It's easy enough to see if she is a real kicker. Have her taken out by herself and see how she behaves. If she kicks then some no kicking lessons are in order. If she doesn't it is reasonable to believe she was being defensive because her enemy was walking beside her.
It is unreasonable to expect a horse to walk quietly beside a horse that has beat the sh*t out of it before! Much less repeatedly. And to turn loose a horse without turning it to face you is just plain stupid.
I got kicked once by my own horse when he kicked out at a filly who doubled barreled him and I just happened to get in the way. He was not a kicker but I certainly would not expect him to just stand there and be whacked on by any horse without doing something. He was tied up and couldn't just get away. Poor horse felt awful, you could tell!
Every mighty oak was once a nut that stood its ground.
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I'm just confused what to do to stop it - will she stop kicking if I change her to another paddock, or even put her in one of the pens? What if she doesn't? I do not want other staff to be hurt because of my horse and I definitely want to stop this problem before it escalates even more.
She's probably always going to have a tendency to kick. What you can do is ensure that she is always handled in a way to minimize the chances that she will want or feel that she needs to kick, and make it 100% clear to her that when she is being handled, she is not allowed to so much think about kicking.
You're already doing the right thing to start by talking to your BO. You and your BO need to come up with a plan that will keep the handlers and your horse safe and happy. It might be turning her out on her own, or it might just be that she needs to be led in/out on her own and there needs to be some gate manners training (for her and the handlers!).
When it comes to training her not to kick while being handled -- you need to get someone capable to work with you and her. I know what I did with my mare, but I won't pretend to be competent enough in a general sense to give advice about that online. But she needs to learn to keep her feet to herself when being handled, even if a horse she doesn't like is nearby, and you need to learn to recognize signs that she's thinking about kicking so you can correct her (at an appropriate level for the behavior she's showing) before she actually kicks.
This is not the end of the world, for you or for her. If your BO is experienced, they'll be able to help you sort this out. If they are at a loss, get a few lessons with a trainer to help you understand the best next steps. A lot of people think they don't have to learn groundwork stuff, but it doesn't come out of the air by osmosis, so there's no shame in getting lessons for this.
I'm personally not a fan of leading horses in two at a time because my old barn where I had OTTB lost a horse this way--the mare he was being lead with kicked him in the neck and he bled to death internally before the vet could ever get there. Even when a horse isn't a "kicker" (ie doesn't make a habit of it) accidents can happen.
I would see about having her turned out with someone else (or by herself if possible) and see if that changes the behavior.
I had a student who pony was very territorial in her stall, very, very territorial. the barn staff was told to never muck her stall or change her blankets while she was in her stall, to always put her on the cross ties where she was perfectly fine. This pony was very cute and only a medium so people found it hard to take this seriously. Many times the staff was found doing her stall with her in it. Again they were told not to do that again. One day the daughter of the barn owner, who was 10 years old was sent in to her stall to muck it, they again did it with her in it. The pony grabbed the kid by the throat and it was not pretty. Owner and myself was horrifed and yet the BO still made that same child go in to the stall and muck with the pony in it again the next day. Sometimes you just can't fix stupid, we moved the pony.
And then there is the people with the chip on their shoulder, that after you are 100% honest about the horse's vice, they feel the need, to not follow your explicate instructions on how to handle the horse, just to prove you dont know more than them. This is why I dont have staff.
Knowing that horses are horses and therefore, one shouldn't assume that even the most docile horse won't ever kick, it seems to me that standard safety measures should be practiced. I wouldn't think about NOT turning a horse around to face me before removing the halter during turnout. Nor do I walk within striking range of a horse's hind end. I'm either flush up against their butt or well out of range. It's just common sense. Even with my 23YO mare I've owned since the day she was born and have never had kicking issues with. These are just good habits to be in.
To me, this is BO's problem to address with her staff. They're lucky they've only been minimally injured thus far!
Sure, the horse shouldn't be kicking. To assume that because they shouldn't kick that they won't? That's like me saying "I have the right of way" at an intersection on my bicycle and assuming that the dump truck I see running a stop sign isn't going to hit me and kill me just for the fact I'm in the right. It doesn't matter that you're in the right if you're dead.
A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.
I sympathise. I hate when a horse gets a bad reputation. My very sweet pony has been disliked before - and she's never so much as pinned her ears at people, she's just aloof.
One of those western trainers on RFD once said, as he was starting a young horse - "you know, I'm not trying to get bucked off. I'm going to do as much preparation as I can to avoid that. It's part of my job to maintain this horse's good name throughout his life"
I totally agree with that.
You can do some exercises with a horse that kicks defensively at other horses. You can set yourselves up in an arena, both ridden, and have the kicking horse standing in the middle with the poor victim horse ridden at a safe distance, until you find the distance at which your mare first starts to become defensive. Have the other rider just ride to that point and away, over and over, and gradually decrease that distance.
(We did this very 50% successfully once with two mares who would pin and kick out at each other on trail rides. At the end of the session where my mare was the 'victim', her mare was cured. When it came to the next session where her mare was to play that role, needless to say she said Hell No. So all I ended up with was a slightly scared mare who still kicked out. ho Hum. You can't change people, though, only horses )
While I agree that alll horses should be treated as if they will kick, handling a known kicker is a little different. All horses have a "go to" and its just one more clue/bit of knowledge to keep in mind when working with or training that individual.
As far as the OPs situation specifically.. She now has the responsibility of treating her horse with a little extra care in regards to her rear end. For example, if a horse I know is prone to kicking takes a swipe at me, I am NOT ever going to give them the benefit of the doubt as to why it happened. A CTJ meeting is in order. For a horse who has never lifted a foot a growl and a exclamation of my disapproval might be all it takes. As far as the barn help goes... I would advise them that if they are foolish enough to lead her with another horse, they should assume a kickfest will begin. Do I think that is ok? Heck, no. I expect to be able to lead any horse by or with another horse and have them mind their manners and I am happy to make sure it happens. But these are not trainers, they are handlers, big difference. The OP should also to remember to warn the farrier and vet.
"Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
--- The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.
What did the BO say when you approached them about this?
If I come out to the barn, barn staff shouldn't be making snide comments about my horse, trying to guilt me into feeling like I'm a crappy horse owner or complaining to me about missing work from their injury. They need to speak to the BO if there is an issue with a horse's behavior. The BO can then address the issue, speak to the horse's owner, make any turn out changes if needed, re-train the staff, etc... Just as if I had a situation in the barn...I wouldn't address the barn staff but the BO who is their boss. You don't yell at the fry cook at McDonald's when you don't like your fries, you speak to the manager.