A SPECIAL POST BY ADIVA MURPHY
Question: My young mare kicks if I don’t put her out right away with the others. She also kicks in the stall a lot, especially if another horse is being fed (jealous?). My thoughts are to use a form if kicking chain. I hope she doesn’t freak out and panic or get mad. My friend gave us a pair of those wraps with the weights they use on horses to make them lift their feet higher. Could they work as a foot chain? Will it be a bit painful when she kicks the stall wall?
Answer: I am not a fan of kicking chains and have never used them. However they serve a purpose and will cause the horse to discipline herself the moment she kicks. I am not against somebody trying it as long as the horse does not get hurt.
I am wondering if she is going through some major hormonal changes? This would also explain the rise in pecking order because it shows she is maturing.
As for jealousy, very common actually and if you run to her every time she kicks or feed her you are rewarding the behavior – even ‘reprimanding’ especially with a colt is attention and then it turns into a game.
If the horse were mine: I would work her on the ground – establishing leadership and being very picky about it too as she thinks she is ready to climb the ranks. I would be teaching her to drive away, back off, stand
still…lunge over obstacles do everything I ask and do it 100%. The more you make her move her feet – left right, forward and back the more she will become the less dominate horse (as you are her leader).
Once you have established these lessons and she knows you are the leader – I might take her out the second she acts up and work her really hard and fast and send her back to the stall to rest…as it will then be a sanctuary.
This may need to be done up too three times. Horses are easy to train in that – they are motivated by comfort – make something uncomfortable and they seek the comfort – you show them comfort the second they do what you want – they learn from it.
If that does not work – I would come to her stall and make her turn circles – back up using my horseman’s stick or a crop to be an extension of my hand – not hitting her but making her “work”. That will not be the attention she is seeking. I will not pet her or reward her but make her move her feet like I was the dominate horse…and I would mean it – with a lot of intention in my spirit. I don’t find horses respond to “punishment” they do not attack each other – they are hard on each other but the reaction is always instant and has phases to the firmness. You must remember that too. You also generally only have 3 seconds to do it too. She kicks and you are at the far end of the barn and it takes you 5 to get there – don’t punish her because she will not associate it with the kicking.
If a person lacks the skills and cannot correct the real behavioral problem then the kicking chain with solve the displayed behaviour – ALTHOUGH a new one might show up.
I am also wondering how much exercise she is getting, is her feed to “sweet” to much sugar (sweet feeds and beet pulp) and loaded with calories – even some hay can be a high energy feed and as she goes through puberty I might keep her on a first cut hay and complete feed to keep her ‘energy ‘ levels at bay. She sounds like she has a lot of pent up energy and is not expelling it on her own. In this case a change of feed and a bit of hard work every few days will be really beneficial and can sometimes completely remove the ‘bad’ behavior.
Hope this helps!