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kicking chains

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  • kicking chains

    ok, not an entirely dressage related post . . . My 4 year old dressage horse kicks the snot out her stall, particularly during feeding time. I know she is happiest when she is living outside 24/7, but at this time in order to get top notch training, she must stay at my trainer's barn, which means being in a stall at night. She is out in a large field with another mare for about 8 hours a day, so it's not like she's locked in her stall all the time. She mainly kicks the stall during breakfast and turnout time, but also will kick if I put her in her stall for any reason during the day when all the other horses are out. (ie. waiting for the farrier, or just want to chuck her in her stall for a minute while I do something.) My trainer has suggested putting kicking chains on her. I have never used these before. Are they effective at stopping kicking? Most importantly, are they safe and humane for the horse?
    Thanks, Forte

  • #2
    Just a suggestion, try a calming product. I have a retired TB gelding who is a horrible stall kicker and we have him on vitamin B. It's about $9 for a container that lasts about a month and does a great job keeping him quiet and happy.
    I have thought about trying kicking chains previously too but couldn't make myself do that to him, he's had a rough life and just didn't feel right with it.


    • #3
      Kick chains can be a decent short term fix for stall kicking, to use while the habit is being trained out. I've used them on and off over the years, most recently about 5 years ago when I bought my mare. She was a stall kicker and pacer...the barn where I was boarding had gorgeous antique wood floors and stall walls. Not only was she damaging that beautiful old barn, she was loud as heck! (pacing with shoes on a hard wood floor is pretty darned loud since pacing wears through the bedding)
      While I was figuring out how to stop her habits, I did put kick chains on her hind legs short term so the poor BO could get some sleep at night. (he could hear her kicking and pacing all night in his nearby house)
      She hated the chains, didn't pace or kick with them.
      You could try using them until your young horse gets used to being in or until you figure out the cause of the kicking. I wouldn't recommend them as a long-term fix, they're more of a short term bandaid.
      Also watch your young horse closely if trying the kick chains. It can sometimes make horses more nervous, some horses won't lay down and rest in them, some will stand in one spot all night or only move their front legs and end up sore from being still and standing all night. (and tired) Make sure the kick chain collars are fleece lined and put on in the right spot on the leg and not too tight. Be forewarned that some horses don't care if they have chains on and still kick.
      A good way to "fix" stall kicking is to loosely hang lightweight rubber mats on the stalls walls. Attach with screws and washers (you need washers or the rubber mats tear at the screw hole over time) at the top of the mats and let the bottoms hang loose. The rubber mats not only muffle the noise, but many horses do not like the feeling of kicking the bouncy stuff or the horses give up kicking when they can't make that loud ringing noise. The mats also help mitigate any damage the horse can cause to it's own legs and the stall walls.
      Also check moving your horse's stall location, many times kicking can be caused by incompatible horses near each other. This is especially noticeable during feeding times as horses stalled next to each other can't control who eats first as they would if turned loose. If your horse is alpha over it's neighbor and the neighbor is getting fed first or eating at the same time so closely this can piss off your horse who is just trying to establish herd position. (which was the cause for my mare's stall kicking, took 3 different neighbors to find one that was submissive enough to not piss her off during eating times)
      Good luck, hope this helps. I really wouldn't use them long term and hanging mats is so much better as a stall wall protector/leg protector/sound muffler.
      You jump in the saddle,
      Hold onto the bridle!
      Jump in the line!


      • #4
        My guy kicks his stall and I HATE it. I try not to enable him or encourage his nasty little habit so I feed him first, hay and grain. Some boarding facilities used to feed him last which would just p*ss him off to no end and make him madder. If he is fed first, he quiets down faster and does not kick. I have kicking chains for him and have used them but not too sure if I would do it again if I had to. Tough choice but if she is hurting herself or the stall, I would probably go that route if that was the case.
        Keep in mind...normal is just a dryer setting.~anonymous


        • #5
          Try to avoid the chains, and she could actually do alot more damage to herself and the stall if she has them on, as she may try to kick out more to get them off, and possibly flip and not be able to get back up ( I've seen it happen)

          Have you tried some toys to take her focus off it??

          I find home made ones are better than brought ones, because the horses often pay more attention to them, and they're cheaper

          When my gelding hurt his shoulder, he had to be yarded 24/7, and would try and run around, making his shoulder worse. I filled an empty plastic Coke bottle (can't remeber what size, but it wa one of the smaller ones you can get from deli's and gas stations) with sunflower seeds, tied some twine to it and hung it from a tree. He flicked it around until all the seeds fell out and ate them.

          Hope you find out a solution =]


          • #6
            Posted by mandalea:

            possibly flip and not be able to get back up
            Not doubting you at all, but how does a horse manage to flip with kicking chains on and not be able to get up afterward?

            Just trying to visualize the sequence.

            Amazing what they can do when upset.


            • #7
              I have one that has worn them on both hinds since he changed barns.

              I was a bit queasy about it at first, but I really haven't seen any adverse effects from him wearing them. He seems to move around, lay down, and generally behave the way he did before. He's become pretty smart about negotiating his space while being "shackled." He also gets a *lot* of turnout, so it is certainly not as if he has to wear the things 24/7.

              They don't "train" the behavior out of them, however -- or at least they haven't with my guy. He knows when they are on. I equate it to wearing a crib strap -- it just curtails the behavior when the "preventative" is in place.


              • #8
                We had a horse in the barn who kicked so hard that he fractured his hoof, very difficult injury, laid him off for a long time.

                After he got this injury he got kicking chains- they worked great and prevented him from hurting himself.


                • #9
                  Growing up at Morgan barns half the horses had kick chains, I never saw any injuries from them. The only problem I ever encountered was my last horse who managed to get them off and hide them in his water bucket . Also, my mare can be a terrible kicker and also runs at the walls with her mouth open. I find putting her in a stall with no other horses near by helps. I think for her it is a bit of a territorial thing, but might be worth a try.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by JustMyStyle:

                    The only problem I ever encountered was my last horse who managed to get them off and hide them in his water bucket


                    • #11
                      I think someone already mentioned this but hanging rubber mats work. A bit of work to set them up but effective. Even if the horse decides to kick them, he will not injure himself and it's quiet!

                      We did this for one mare that was a chronic stallkicker and had an old rear pastern injury so stallkicking was not a good thing for her to do. We only put them on one wall because she only kicked one wall. She was in an end stall and only kicked the wall towards the other horses. Never kicked the front or back wall. The horse owner supplied the mats. We used 2 mats horizontally and overlapped them rather than cut them so they could be recycled for other uses later.

                      Mats are hung several inches out from the wall so there is nothing solid to kick. We strung a 2 by 6 , I think?, across, well supported on each end - nailed blocks under them, because they are heavy. Mats were attached to the 2x6 using large screws and washers to prevent tearing.

                      Worked like a charm.



                      • #12
                        They can be quite effective, but not always. Some years ago, I had a little mare who had to be on stall rest. She kicked incessantly and was doing serious damage to her stall, not to mention shearing her hind shoes off and capping her hocks. She actually kicked worse with the chains on ... until she figured out how to get them off. (At least then, she would spend some time working to get them off ... and not kicking. )

                        Not saying you shouldn't try ... just a caution that there might be the occasional case where they don't stop the kicking.
                        Equinox Equine Massage

                        In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me invincible summer.
                        -Albert Camus


                        • #13
                          I think they are considered shackles and are considered cruelty in USEF rules, so you would not be able to use them in a stall at a USEF recognized show.


                          • #14
                            I have absolutely used them on my older mare before. I only used one because she always used the same leg to kick when she was unhappy about something. It never bothered her one bit, she still ate, drank, walked around, laid down to sleep, etc.

                            And I can't imagine how a kicking chain could be considered "shackles" since they don't impede the horse from doing anything (my mare would still calmly pick up her legs even, she just wouldn't fire one off at the wall ) I'd like to see the actual rule stating that a kicking chain falls under anything to do with cruelty.

                            I'm sure they don't solve the kicking in every case, but it's an easy thing to try and at least doesn't involve any sort of chemicals or medication.
                            "There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it"


                            • #15
                              Generally, I have had success with using kick chains. For the horse that is a bugger at feed time, the trick is to get them on a bit before feed time (or when horse thinks feed time should be) so that they are more of a preventative rather than stopping while feeding and putting them on after the fact. We take them off after feeding. I have had one "brain dead" horse that was totally and completely unphased by them. Could not have cared less! But generally, I have found them effective. Usually, we try to work around the issue if possible - like bringing the horse inside after the meal has been served - if possible. Sometimes having a neighbor that they like can help the anxiety of being in "alone", or staying away from another neighbor that they dislike can help too. Whenever we get a new horse in, there can often be a juggling of stalls to get things worked out so that everyone is happy.

                              I would give them a try.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Forte View Post
                                My trainer has suggested putting kicking chains on her. I have never used these before. Are they effective at stopping kicking? Most importantly, are they safe and humane for the horse?
                                Thanks, Forte
                                Safe as long as taken off before horse leaves stall, NOT for turn-out. Effective for my mare. Humane? - Yes - never left a mark, I think it was equatable to popping horse with a whip to go forward.

                                Currently don't use them (haven't in about 2 years) but found - at least in the beginning - I kep on for about 1 month then left off until she tried again, put them on as a reminder for 2 days then off again. Periodically I'll put them back on as a reminder but as she's smart I think she's stopped (at least for now ).
                                Now in Kentucky


                                • #17
                                  My one experience with them was a success. It was for a young TB mare. The first time she kicked out with the chains on it fixed the problem. But then she was quite smart and never needed many repetitions to figure something out.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by BaroquePony View Post
                                    Not doubting you at all, but how does a horse manage to flip with kicking chains on and not be able to get up afterward?

                                    Just trying to visualize the sequence.

                                    Amazing what they can do when upset.
                                    Maybe if one chain got wrapped around the other leg or the chains got tangled together?


                                    • #19
                                      i used kicking chains with 100% success! my horse never kicked at his old barn because he was out rain or shine 365 a year. but we had mud paddocks. and when he was in at night he was fine. plus he had high walls and could not see the other horse next to him.
                                      when i moved barns to get better training, they had bars in between the stalls. my horse did not like it. and there was much less turn out time. and i installed the mats and he kicked through them. so installed more mats with puffy mats on top. he kicked through those and through the boards. so i put kicking chains on only in the stall. and he was fine. stopped kicking. and he didnt seem to mind. my trainer had said that the damage too his legs was far worst than him wearing a chain. and he was fine with them. he did not care. but we always took them off before leaving the stall.


                                      • #20
                                        Stall Kicking

                                        I have a 2 yr old who has just recently adopted this behavior. I know that he is bored, but he doesnt spend that much time in the barn. He has a large grass turn out to play in and other horses are brought in and out thru the day to play with him. HIs worst time is first thing in the morning if he has been stalled that night. I have not decided if I will use kicking chains or not but if I do please tell me whether to put them around his ankles or above his hocks, I have heard both.