WWYD… 3YO kicked handler

Tobiano

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OK so my very chunky 3 1/2 YO gelding managed to double barrel my friend in the chest yesterday. She has seen Dr and may have cracked ribs but will be ok. Obviously I feel dreadful but this is more about thoughts on how to deal with him going forward.

Situation was that friend was helping the groom to ride and lead the youngster from my other horse (I am off games at the moment with a bum knee and was in any case at work). Apparently youngster rushed past and kicked out as he went, catching friend in the chest. Thank goodness he is not shod and also that it was winter with lots of layers.

He's done this with me before, when I've taken him out to graze in hand when fields closed, but wasn't near enough to make contact. I don't know if it is malicious - I don't think so - but it is dangerous. I always wear a hat and gloves when handling him and also a dually halter and a long line. He has turnout about 6 hours a day with my other horse, stabled the rest of the time, and his groom takes him for a walk in hand about 3 times a week when he is usually ok.

He has been lightly backed and will be re-backed in Spring, but I wanted him to have the winter off to give his young bones a rest. He seems to be better when ridden.

So I've decided to can the ride and lead and just stick to what he seems to cope with better, but does anyone have any ideas as to how to prevent or at least manage his tendency to flick up his heels when he is a bit cross?

Thanks for reading.
 

bonny

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I would stop the riding and leading in hand and just turn him out for the rest of the winter. Sounds like a lot of faffing about for no real reason, the kicking is probably just a fed up young horse who could do with some chilling time.
 

SusieT

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He needs more turnout - a 3 yr old stabled for 18hours a dday will be fresh and handlers will need to be v. wary
 

gunnergundog

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does anyone have any ideas as to how to prevent or at least manage his tendency to flick up his heels when he is a bit cross?

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This won't be popular, but give him enough rope to hang himself, figuratively speaking, and when he kicks HAMMER HIM AND HAMMER HIM HARD, such that it is a lesson he won't forget. The response to kicking needs to be swift/timely and hard. It is not acceptable to kick - whether it be hounds, horses or humans. Just my old fashioned view, but no doubt someone will come along and tell you how to cure it with a sugar lump and carrot stick. :)

PS. Do agree though with maximising turnout and minimising intake of hard food! :)
 
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blowsbubbles

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Following as had similar situation. Leading an unbroken but handled 4yo. She is turned out 24\7 and no hard feed. Launched into a bucking rearing episode when bringing her in. Have brought her in since and fine but always quite wary now.
 

popsdosh

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This won't be popular, but give him enough rope to hang himself, figuratively speaking, and when he kicks HAMMER HIM AND HAMMER HIM HARD, such that it is a lesson he won't forget. The response to kicking needs to be swift/timely and hard. It is not acceptable to kick - whether it be hounds, horses or humans. Just my old fashioned view, but no doubt someone will come along and tell you how to cure it with a sugar lump and carrot stick. :)

PS. Do agree though with maximising turnout and minimising intake of hard food! :)
Lol could not agree more and as others have said turn out and let him be a baby. sounds like hes being handled a lot but in the wrong way to be blunt!
Hes a young horse and they do that sort of thing you should always expect the unexpected with a youngster!
 
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smellsofhorse

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More turn out would calm him down.
He is probably just feeling energetic or when scared/spooked.
You just need to reinforce good behaviour and not get in the situation where he could get you.
 

Tobiano

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Thank you all.

He is getting a couple of handfuls of Fast Fibre and a bit of low cal balancer, and soaked hay. I can see what you mean about the turnout - between April and November he is out 18 hrs a day. I will look into whether there is an option to get him out 24/7 although then worry that he will go feral! Any views on that?

I can see the point about faffing around - although apart from this behaviour he does actually seem to enjoy his outings.

I can also see what you mean gunnergundog - I am a bit of a carrot and sugar lump girl myself but have definitely wondered if this behaviour would justify a whack with a schooling whip. I can't bring myself to beat up a horse but a short sharp whack, I can entertain.
 

gunnergundog

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Sounds more like a buck tbh rather than a kick and hammering him is unlikely to stop this
Hmmm............the friend has cracked ribs....you MAY call that a buck, but I would call that a KICK! To be honest, WHATEVER you call it the horse would get disciplined HARD and yes, it DOES work.
 

Darkwater

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Sounds more like a buck tbh rather than a kick and hammering him is unlikely to stop this
My thoughts too. My 3 year old did something similar to me last week when I was bringing her in, but I wouldn't dream of telling her off for bucking - she's young, it was windy and I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and happened to catch me. I would either be turning away or working properly - there is nothing worse than faffing about with youngsters at this time of year.
 

Caol Ila

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More than a whack. Sorry if it sounds harsh to some, but I don't mess around with kicking or biting. The one time my three year old cowkicked at me and caught me in the elbow, he was very very sorry indeed, and believe me, he came to the conclusion that kicking at humans was the worst idea in the world and he never did it again.

And yes, I had put myself in a position where the horse could do that so it was my fault, but I don't regret going ballistic at him and making it plain that one should never, ever raise their heels at a human. I want a horse who understands that no matter what, you should not kick, and who is easy and straightforward to handle. If you let them off with, "He's only three and he's not been turned out and I was standing in the wrong place," then it is too much grey for their equine minds, and I don't want to deal with a horse who thinks it is ok to throw its hindlegs around whenever because they feel spunky, or the human did something they didn't like.
 
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Orangehorse

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Sounds more like a buck tbh rather than a kick and hammering him is unlikely to stop this
I am not so sure, I have seen this buck and kick out at a handler before, and generally agree with what everyone says. When they do it it does seem to be "intentional." A good telling off for kicking out wouldn't hurt, to start.
 

Tobiano

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My thoughts too. My 3 year old did something similar to me last week when I was bringing her in, but I wouldn't dream of telling her off for bucking - she's young, it was windy and I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and happened to catch me. I would either be turning away or working properly - there is nothing worse than faffing about with youngsters at this time of year.
Thanks Darkwater I can see what you mean about work when you put it this way. Its good to get some unbiased and experienced views on here - I think the people I get advice from IRL are probably not wanting to criticise, and also making allowances for the set up I have. I am going to see if I can change the set up and get him more turnout.
 

popsdosh

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My thoughts too. My 3 year old did something similar to me last week when I was bringing her in, but I wouldn't dream of telling her off for bucking - she's young, it was windy and I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and happened to catch me. I would either be turning away or working properly - there is nothing worse than faffing about with youngsters at this time of year.
Thats all so well and good, I am the last person on this earth to abuse a horse but if they do not learn at that age that they dont do that when being handled it will be somebodies head next time.He obviously looks on you as a playmate with no respect for you. I am sorry to say OP if all you wouyld do is a tap with a schooling whip dont bother as it will make things worse!
 

Spotsrock

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Having seen my old soft as grease mare 'nanny' several youngsters in her semi retirement, her tolerance, indulgence and affection were amazing. I

f one got rough with her tho she leathered it. Fixed the filly I thought would kill me in about a month, tho she did chase it thru the field fence.

Point is its how older horses teach youngsters manners. if op's has got to 3 without discipline from an equine, s/he will have to learn it another way ie from a human.

As long as its short sharp and timed appropriately tough love should prevent injuries long term and appears to be the horse way of educating their young.
 

Clodagh

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My youngster cowkicked me once, I immedialtey kicked him back, hard, in the belly and went ballistic. He is thick but the message got through. Horses don't think, they just react, so you need to as well.
Mine lived out for three years, with daily handling (feet, rugs, check over), and is much politer than an overhandled youngster.
I would carry a whip and give him a dam,ned hard thwack straight away. Or a length of blue pipe can be your friend...more noise and scare for your money!
 

vallin

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I am generally pretty calm and measured with my horse but she has a kick in her and EVERY TIME she raises her back legs she gets a VERY stern telling off. It is not acceptable behaviour whatever the reason, I.e. She once kicked out as a dog pelted behind her chasing a toy, kind of fair enough that she was spoked/peeved, but it is NOT acceptable behaviour and as such she got a good couple of smacks as soon as she raised her leg.
 

Spring Feather

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I'd imagine this young horse has not lived and been brought up in a proper herd situation. If he had he would most likely have learned very early on that this high-jinx behaviour is not acceptable within personal space of human or horse. I rarely have the odd newborn foal who will try to do this with me when they are a week or so old and they are always promptly reprimanded with a hard thump with the rubber feed skip across the bottom. I only have to do it once normally and they learn.

I don't really understand where you friend was at the time of the kick?
 

minkymoo

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Having seen my old soft as grease mare 'nanny' several youngsters in her semi retirement, her tolerance, indulgence and affection were amazing. I

f one got rough with her tho she leathered it. Fixed the filly I thought would kill me in about a month, tho she did chase it thru the field fence.

Point is its how older horses teach youngsters manners. if op's has got to 3 without discipline from an equine, s/he will have to learn it another way ie from a human.

As long as its short sharp and timed appropriately tough love should prevent injuries long term and appears to be the horse way of educating their young.
Yes, this. My youngster was turned out with the head honcho who seriously put him in his place. I

've never stood for any silly ******* from him, though once I did get in the way of a fly buck right onto my groin when he was about 10 months old but that was my fault as I was way too complacent!

Everyone comments on what a lovely polite chap he is for 3 (though he's only 3 for another week!)
 

gunnergundog

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I'd imagine this young horse has not lived and been brought up in a proper herd situation. If he had he would most likely have learned very early on that this high-jinx behaviour is not acceptable within personal space of human or horse. I rarely have the odd newborn foal who will try to do this with me when they are a week or so old and they are always promptly reprimanded with a hard thump with the rubber feed skip across the bottom. I only have to do it once normally and they learn.

?
And, to me, this is the sad fact....IF horses are brought up properly from day one, then the discipline/correction needs to be minimal. If however that behaviour is ignored or pandered to, then as the horse gets older and more ingrained in the habit so the correction needs to become correspondingly more 'violent'. :(
 
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I'd imagine this young horse has not lived and been brought up in a proper herd situation. If he had he would most likely have learned very early on that this high-jinx behaviour is not acceptable within personal space of human or horse. I rarely have the odd newborn foal who will try to do this with me when they are a week or so old and they are always promptly reprimanded with a hard thump with the rubber feed skip across the bottom. I only have to do it once normally and they learn.

I don't really understand where you friend was at the time of the kick?
What a refreshingly realistic and sensible reply. I suspect this young horse might have missed out on its early education with other youngsters that are supervised by a couple of feisty old mares? The harshest I had to be with a similar youngster I had bought was a very swift and very hard whack on the rump with the end of a knotted lead rope whilst growling like an Appleby horse dealer. The youngster froze with the shock of it all, but never ever tried to double barrel me or anyone else again.

I do urge you to toughen up a bit and deal with this quickly and firmly. The early life scenario you are describing is copy book for horses and ponies that are often the unwanted and abused in later life.
 
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Apart from the fact that I would NOT have been riding and leading a 3 yr old that had spent so much time inside, if that had been my 3 yr old, I would have walloped it immediately. Mind you, I wouldn't have let it get past my shoulder in the first place.
I would turn this horse out as much as possible, in a herd with a very confident boss mare and next time I got it out of the field would be taking a piece of blue pipe with me.
 

Dry Rot

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This ^^^^.

I am hear to learn about horses, not because I know nothing about animal behaviour. But wouldn't the best course be to pop the offender in with older horses who won't stand up for this sort of nonsense?

We've a filly foal here who has been spoilt rotten by the girls (not me!) and if she didn't get her way, she'd turn her backside to you and threaten. That has stopped dead since she has been turned out with an old nanny mare. The colts get turned out with the stallion. All now have impeccable manners. I make a point of engineering situations by putting the hay in one big heap so the oldster can have tight control. Any nonsense and the ears go back to instil instant manners!

I am not in favour of striking out at any animal, not because I am a softy (far from it! :)) but because I hate to see an animal flinch because it expects a blow. Certainly, if one could be quick enough to lash out with the whip the instant the horse kicked, I'd be in complete agreement, but the problem is to get that instantaneous reaction when you're recovering from a kick. Even a missed one can be unnerving!
 

Theocat

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Echo everyone else - up the turnout, do some basic groundwork (very short fun sessions) during the time he would normally be stabled to break up the boredom, check the diet, and if he does it again you need to make it absolutely crystal clear that it must never happen again. In my experience you should only need to tell them once - much kinder and fairer - and safer - all round than pussyfooting around.
 

Tobiano

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Echo everyone else - up the turnout, do some basic groundwork (very short fun sessions) during the time he would normally be stabled to break up the boredom, check the diet, and if he does it again you need to make it absolutely crystal clear that it must never happen again. In my experience you should only need to tell them once - much kinder and fairer - and safer - all round than pussyfooting around.
Thanks. This is very helpful.

I can't say where my friend was when kicked but she said he rushed past her, hence why she was in the kick zone at the relevant time.

There's nothing I can do about his past experiences but have had some helpful suggestions on here which I will take to heart. Thank you.
 
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