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My Horse Turns And Kicks At Me

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She writes:

I have read several e-mails you have written to others and I am hoping you can help me. I recently bought a 9yr bay QH mare from the local auction. She is huge and very beautiful. She is almost like a puppy dog untill you try to get her to do something. Thenshe turns into the horse from the dwelling place of demons!

I started out riding her with a turnnose and other than having NO control over her she was fine with it. I have tried several bits &hacks since. Either she will not respond to them (hacks) or she acts like a wild bronco (bits). She stans beautifully to be saddled, but hates taking the bit. when you get on her she becomes barn sour and refuses to move. Once you get away from the barn, she looks for any reason to act up, flies, muddy ground, mesquitos....anything.

So I decided to try ground work. As far as I can tell, she hasnever been on a lunge line and when you try to move her out, sheturns to kick you with BOTH hind feet.

As long as you treat her like a pet, you can pull her tail, pick upany of her feet, and even bite her ear. She does not care. I am notin the shape I was when I was an expert rider (25 yrs and 80 lbsmake a big difference) and I have been away from horses for far toolong a time. I NEED her to be a steady stable riding horse and ifshe cannot I will have to take her back and sell her.


My reply...

Your mare has some serious respect issues. Turning and kicking atyou with both feet when you ask her for something tells me that. And keep in mind I say that from a few time zones away knowing verylittle about the two of you other than what I read in your Email.

The first thing I would do with her is run her through my bonder procedure.I cannot believe how often I say that, but the bonder puts thehorse and me in an enhanced mentally connected relationship thatallows us to work easier through any problems we may have.

The Wildflower Ranch - Horse Art

I do not know the extent of this mare's kicking. It could beanything from a slight tossing of the hips to a full blown flat outattacking dual kick. Nor do I know your ability to deal with it. I would not take any chances with her. I'd go to Home Depot andget a 8 foot piece of 1 inch PVC pipe and keep it with me in thepen as a staff, extension of my being and as a club.

I'd tell her to move out according to the bonder scenario. Thefirst time she turned her butt to me and even "looked" like she wasgoing to kick, I'd vigorously apply the PVC to her butt with a veryloud & angry, "WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING???"

Whoa! Just listen to ol "take it nice and easy" me! I'm actuallyadvocating whacking away on a horse! Yep, I sure am. In a caselike this, a disrespect attack must be immediately answered. Butinstead of pain, well, not that much of it anyway, we are going tobe using surprise and noise. I doubt if it will take more than oneswat to get her to do what you want because it will be sounexpected she will move away before she realizes what she hasdone. As long as she "looks" like she might kick *AND* YOU ARESURE SHE WON'T ACTUALLY CONNECT WITH YOU scream at her and applythe pipe.

I'm not sure if you are using the lunge line in your round pen ornot. The horse should be bareheaded when doing the bonder. Noteven a halter, because even without a lead line a halter has someresidual psychological power. Once you get her moving around thepen and get the bonder started, it should go textbook tocompletion.

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I have a DVD that covers disrespect issues in details. It is an actual session where a young frightened owner gains the respect of her disrespectful horse. Gaining The Respect Of Disrespectful Horses

When the bonder is completed I'd do a lot of facial massaging. I'drub the daylights out of her cheeks, jowls, nose, her whole head. I'd devote most of my massaging time to her mouth. I'd run myfingers in her mouth (cautiously, there ARE sharp teeth in there),along her gums, the roof of her mouth, top of her tongue (boththrough the bit channel of course, those molars and incisors canflat make you weep). If she resists and moves away, send heraround a time or two and let her come back to you and then go at itagain. Soon, you'll be VERY familiar with her mouth and she willaccept you in it.

NOW we examine her teeth. We will look for wolf and canine teethin the bit path. If we do not see any, we'll examine the gum linefor unerupted teeth, or incompletely removed teeth, under the skin.

When we are certain there aren't any and the mouth is broken, cracked or split teeth, no rotted ones, no teethopposite of any missing teeth, no abscesses, no cheeklacerations...we'll fix up a bridle with a plain snaffle (no reinsat first), making sure the snaffle thickness is not greater thanthe distance between the mare's bottom gumline and the roof of hermouth.

If we find nothing out of whack, we put the bridle on her. I'llbet you'll notice a difference in the way she bridles. At thispoint, I would do the bonder AGAIN while she was wearing thebridle. Having gone through it once, she would go through itfaster. If she pitched a fit I'd get out of the way until shestopped or at least slowed down enough for me to take control ofher movement then commence the bonder.

When the bonder is completed again, I'd practice leading her(without any leadline) for a bit then I'd saddle her withoutrestraining her. I'd lead her around a bit more while tacked thencall it quits for that session.

At the next session I'd repeat what I had done so far and when Ireached this point again, with the reins on, I'd get a mountingblock and practice mounting and dismounting and varying the lengthof time I sat on her. I would ask her to do nothing. If she movedoff while I was on her I'd let her go. I would not touch the reinsunless it looked like I was in danger, I would do everything Icould to sit there until she stopped. Then I'd dismount, lead herback to the block and practice dismounting and mounting more.

I'd vary the whole thing as much as I could. I'd mix my actualmounting with a lot of playing around...put my foot in the stirrup,pull it back out, get off the block, lead her around, get back upon the block, start to mount, dismount, restart to mount. I'd justget her double used to being monkeyed around with while making surethere was no predictable pattern to my actions. If she can'tpredict what you are going to do next, she won't be able to go tothe next step before you are ready, she will learn to be aware ofthe now and not the future. I'd then end this session.

I'd read "Lyons On Horses" (ISBN 0-385-41398-X) Pages 109 to 118. Commit the concepts to memory then go at session 3. The horse willgo through the bonder rapidly, accept bitting, saddling andmounting much better. Then follow what Lyons says.

Make sure you can control that horse in the pen BEFORE you take herout of the pen to ride. *IF* she is still barn sour, she may verywell NOT be with her new mindset, we'll deal with that as well.

Good luck, keep me informed.

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