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The other reprimand thread got me thinking, how about when a horse kicks out?

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  • The other reprimand thread got me thinking, how about when a horse kicks out?

    Here's a bit of a back story: Horse came to me 6 wks ago. young girl owns him. Good enough rider, needs some tweaking but good.

    Horse was sold as an OTTB to another girl in the old barn and then shortly after to my student when she rode at old barn.

    I have the past 4 yr vet records and no maintenance was done on this horse.

    Horse came to my barn and vet and I evaluated him. He rushes jumps, kicks out in his changes and kicks OVER the kids head when cantering.

    Horse was VERY back sore, hock sore and wither sore. I mean REALLY sore and could have been hurting for the past 4 yrs.

    We gave him 2 wks to settle then looked at him again. No change.

    Vet injected, withers, back, and hocks. Put horse on muscle relaxants and banamine for 2 wks. Sold ill fitting saddle and got one that fits well.

    Back is better, hocks are better, saddle fits fine.

    I decided to just restart this horse. So lots of stretching at the walk, asking and now finally getting stretching long and low at the trot. You could see him testing out the new saddle and his new back and figuring out that it doesn't hurt.

    But now we have been trying to canter and he is kicking out and above the kids head. I've got to hand it to her she isn't coming unseated.

    It doesn't seem to be pain I think that it's anticipating pain. I think it's a mental isssue. I've given him a bit of ace thinking that maybe he just needed to not be worrying that it was going to hurt. It didn't help.

    At what point would you reprimand him for kicking out? I'm going to give him some more time but I'm almost thinking it's habit and it needs to be broken.

    What do you guys think? How long till I get after him?

  • #2
    NOW...don't make excuses for his behavior. Even if there is some validity to thinking he is anticipating pain, that has now been removed and it's just a bad habit that he needs to lose ASAP.

    BUT...you are not going to reprimand him for kicking up. He won't understand what that is for. You are going to just apply increasingly stronger aids to go FORWARD. If he is kicking out for any reason, he is losing the forward and not responding to your aids properly.

    I say you because you need to be the one to do this, not the kid. It is hard to press forward when they misbehave, especially for a less experienced kid. Also tempting to let them startle you into letting them "change the subject" and not continue with what you were trying to get them to do.

    Even if this stuff starts with pain, once that is eliminated, they still have learned it works to "change the subject". Most riders back off pressing the issue when they start popping up behind or kicking out against leg and spur.

    Also, please consider this horse was rushed and has no idea what the heck he is supposed to do. If he is rushing fences, kicking against leg on changes as well as kicking up? He may not be very broke to the aids and not know what you think he should. Or what previous owners thought he did. Pretty common.

    Honestly, I wouldn't jump at all for awhile. Back to basics. After he learns quiet transitions, he can see some fences again.

    One thought...he may have been transitioned from track training to H/J by somebody who did not understand they don't know how to canter, just gallop. Be surprised how often alot of bad behavior in OTTBs is caused by timid riders yanking their heads off when they respond to the "go" command by galloping...or picking at them over leads and how quickly they picked it up. Gets them defensive in a heartbeat.

    Slow down, give it time, back to basics on the flat and teaching him 100% response to the aids. Maybe put the kid on something else-she may be overreacting a little or not wanting to press forward or add stronger aids (or smack him)when he is trying to stand on his head.

    The rushing over the jumps probably is a result of lack of canter skills and too many bad distances...that stuff kind of takes the joy of jumping out of the picture for them.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


    • #3
      ^ agreed
      There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the
      inside of a man.

      -Sir Winston Churchill


      • Original Poster

        Yeah, I agree. That is why I am restarting him. Believe me he wont see a jump till summer if even then.

        I am going to get on him I just wanted to let her work through this with him.

        I just didn't want to get after him when he only knew to kick out to comunicate that he was in pain. It's too bad that no body listened till now.


        • #5
          Well, you are not really going to "get after him" at all.

          Just insist he listens to you and be careful to ask nicely, then ask harder, then demand and follow up with the reprimand. In that order. And be consistent with that and the kid must do it exactly the same way.

          I will cheerfully and willingly admit such behavior in some horses has, at times, gotten me frustrated and even made me lose my temper. Anybody claiming they have never gotten frustrated working with one and never lost their temper is lying...or has not worked with too many horses. It happens..and you learn from it.

          I suspect this horse has had somebody pretty angry at him in the past-somebody that did not have the experience to follow through and correct the issue properly. That classic CTJ moment only works if a proper foundation is laid so they know how to respond and what they did wrong.

          You just need to get the foundation strengthened.

          You know...I might not even ask him to canter for a few weeks here, just walk, trot and transitions, extensions and collections in walk and trot. You may get lucky and he will forget plus lose the defensiveness along with any strength and balance issues he may have developed trying to protect what was hurting.
          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


          • #6
            My OTTB has a significant buck (as in look between his ears at the ground).
            He has decreased his need to use it as he has become stronger in the hind end and back to be able to do what we ask of him. He will still do it though if the work being asked of him is new and he doesn't understand it, or it is difficult for him (as in he is not strong enough). It is an avoidance technique that he has realized can be effective.
            We have worked through it by insisting he goes forward and depending on why we feel he is bucking sometimes changing his work to accomodate his needs, ie if it is confusion we approach the same exercise from a different perspective, if it is weakness we appreciate that and decide whether it is something he needs to work through, or whether we have pushed him too far on that given day.

            In your case I would work on letting him get his strength back. If you have the time and he is good at the walk and trot, maybe let him work on those to gaits until he is comfortable that he isn't going to hurt and let him regain his strength. Maybe also lunge him with the saddle on at the canter, so that he can figure this out without a rider.